A Sydney doctor has announced plans for a privately-funded drug testing trial at upcoming music festivals, set to forge ahead without the blessing of the NSW state government, which maintains a strict opposition to the practice. 

Fairfax report that Dr Alex Wodak of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation has teamed up with emergency medial specialist David Caldicott for the trial, in defiance of current laws.

The pair have said it makes sense to run pill tests at a place where “everyone is using drugs anyway”, and said that the government’s priority should be on making sure young people return home safely from festivals.

Wodak, who pioneered Australia’s first medically-supervised heroin injecting centre in the 1990s, told Fairfax:

“We are going to do this. Doctors, analysts who know how to operate the [testing] machines and peer interviewers who can translate the scientific results and explain to people why the drug they bought is talcum powder or highly toxic. The idea is to save lives. I am prepared to break the law to save young people’s lives.”

Wodak has said that he planned to roll out the service at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, but ran out of time; he has his eye on Stereosonic and Splendour In The Grass as examples of other festivals that might be suitable.

“We want to do a big one,” he said. “We want to do several big ones.” 

This news comes along with reports that Mike Baird‘s government, despite maintaining their opposition to drug testing at festivals, have sought policy advice as to how such harm minimisation strategies might occur.

Will Tregoning, the founder of drug law reform group Unharm, says that last week, the government requested a copy of his discussion paper, outlining the statistics behind drug testing services and the legislative changes necessary to introduce them.

Source: Fairfax.

Photo: El Pics / Getty.