Seven potentially deadly pills were detected at a pill testing trial at Canberra’s Groovin The Moo festival on Sunday, prompting organisers to hail the harm minimisation efforts a resounding success.
234 festival attendees presented 171 samples for testing, a marked increase from last year’s tally of 128 participants and 85 samples.
Pill Testing Australia volunteers discovered seven samples containing the substance n-ethylpentylone, which US one study said “appears to adversely effect every organ system.”
The seven potentially harmful pills presented for testing were discarded in amnesty bins before consumption.
Pill Testing Australia’s Dr David Caldicott told ABC the discovery of n-ethylpentylone in those samples was worrying, and that it is “becoming established in the market.”
Despite the n-ethylpentylone contamination, Caldicott said Pill Testing Australia encountered samples of MDMA with extremely high levels of purity, and that punters advised of the contents of their pills said they would take smaller quantities – if at all.
That level of purity did not extend to all samples, however. Caldicott told ABC someone brought a ‘pill’ for testing which turned out to be a breath mint.
Taking to Twitter, Caldicott added only one ambulance was called to the festival grounds after a punter’s intoxication, and only as a precautionary measure.
1 [one] precautionary ambulance ambulance carry for intoxication, for a fantastic music festival of over 20k attendees?
Canberra has the safest music festivals in Australia.
Come at me. pic.twitter.com/3AvU5xDEQo
— David Caldicott (@ACTINOSProject) April 28, 2019
That stands in contrast to the Saturday’s NSW leg of the festival, which saw fourteen people hospitalised after suspected drug or alcohol use.
As it stands, the ACT is the only jurisdiction nationally to permit pill testing trials, and pressure will continue to mount on other state and territory governments to permit pill testing operations at their music festivals.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has long opposed pill testing and refuted evidence but said she would consider instituting the potentially life-saving measure if presented with evidence of its efficacy.
Luckily for her, researchers from the Australian National University are gearing up to compile the numbers from the second Groovin The Moo trial to create a more complete picture of the measures. Watch this space.
— Anna Olsen (@AnnaM_Olsen) April 28, 2019
Image: Groovin The Moo / Facebook