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Saturday, May 15, 2021
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Second pill testing trial hailed a ‘success’

Canberra’s second pill testing trial is being hailed as a “success”, held once again at music festival Groovin the Moo (GTM) on Sunday 28 April.

More than 200 people used the service at the festival on Sunday, up from around 125 who utilised services at last year’s GTM during the first trial.

“What these figures show is that there is a demand for this service at events such as music festivals which is indicative of people wanting to make informed choices,” said ACT Health and Wellbeing Minister Meegan Fitzharris.

The trial was run by Pill Testing Australia, who tested around 171 samples on the day. Minister Fitzharris said the most prominently identified substance was MDMA, followed by cocaine, ketamine and methamphetamines to a lesser extent.

“Of particular concern was the detection of n-ethylpentylone, and this information has been shared with ACT Policing and the Chief Health Officer. It was good to see that people chose to discard pills containing this dangerous substance,” Minister Fitzharris said.

Pill Testing Australia confirmed that in all seven instances where n-ethylpentylone was detected, festival goers discarded their substances into the amnesty bins provided after being made aware of the potential harms.

All festival goers presenting to the pill testing service were provided health warnings and safety information as their substances were tested, and Pill Testing Australia said feedback for the service was “overwhelmingly positive, with many participants saying that they would reconsider or take less of the substances they had in their possession”.

The trial on Sunday was only the second time pill testing has been offered at a music festival in Australia. The trial had the support of the ACT Government, ACT Policing and GTM’s organisers, Cattleyard Promotions.

The results from the trial will be independently evaluated by the Australian National University, and will be used to inform policy decisions and further trials, both locally and nationally.

The ACT Government has identified “exploring” further pill testing options at events in the ACT as part of the ACT Drug Strategy Action Plan 2018-21.

Pill Testing Australia has said the trial on Sunday would be the last it would provide for free, with the ACT Government now exploring other funding options.

Pill testing has been a major focus of political discussion as of late, with five drug-related deaths at NSW music festivals since September last year, and another two in southern Queensland over the Easter weekend.

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