The Baird Government is worried about a trend of drug overdoses at music festivals.
The Baird Government is worried about a trend of drug overdoses at music festivals.

Greens call for pill testing, not sniffer dogs

NEW South Wales Greens MPs have signed an open letter to Premier Mike Baird calling for legalised pill testing to replace sniffer dogs at music festivals.

The call comes after a 23-year-old woman was hospitalised in a critical condition after a suspected MDMA overdose at Field Day in Sydney on New Year's Day.

It also followed the recent drug deaths of Stefan Woodward, 19, and Sylvia Choi, 25, at Stereosonic festivals in December.

"Despite the increased presence of drug detection dogs the facts remain the same: many of the young people attending music festivals will choose to take drugs. Policing has not, and will not, stop this," the letter states.

"Police operations are incapable of removing or seriously inhibiting the dangers presented by illegal drugs at music festivals.

"Therefore other options to reduce harm must be urgently considered."

The letter, also addressed to Police Minister Andrew Scipione, concedes pill testing does not prove a drug is safe but argues allowing people to identify and discard known unsafe chemicals will save lives.

"If a drug fails the test it can then be safely discarded in an amnesty bin," it said.

"Every drug discarded in this manner is a win for the health and safety of young people at music festivals."

The Baird Government this week threatened to shut down music festivals if overdoses continued.

"Practice overseas where pill testing is allowed proves that not only does pill testing work on an individual basis it also works at a broader level by providing potentially life-saving information to other festival attendees who are planning to consume drugs," the letter continued.

"Once a drug has failed the pill testing then its image and details are shared on social media networks and news feeds, and at music festival pill testing stations."

Greens MPs David Shoebridge, Jenny Leong and Mehreen Faruqi all gave their support.

Other signatories included Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Dr Alex Wodak, University of Sydney associate professor Kane Race, lawyer and UnHarm co-founder Miles Hunt, RMIT lecturer Dr Peta Malins and UnHarm director Will Tregoning.

To sign visit