Edwina Rowan argues that pill testing could save lives.
Edwina Rowan argues that pill testing could save lives.

OPINION: Bring humanity back to drug testing debate

WITH summer music festivals heating up, tragically another young life has been cut short by drugs.

Glen Mcrae, a young 24-year-old man from Melbourne's inner-west suffered a cardiac arrest at the Strawberry Fields festival on Sunday after reportedly taking a cocktail of cocaine, MDMA and GHB.

The deaths of young people, who have consumed drugs at music festivals, is profoundly and overwhelmingly tragic.

Glen McRae passed away a mere few weeks after a NSW coroner called on the NSW Police Commissioner to cease a punitive approach in regards to personal drug use and to concentrate on those supplying the drugs.

After hearing weeks of evidence, the Coroner said the government needed to look upon the need to prevent drug-related harm at music festivals with "fresh eyes" and "there is a need to reframe our main priority from reducing drug use to reducing drug death".

The Coroner also tellingly concluded, that there is no doubt whatsoever that there is sufficient evidence to support a pill testing trial.

Yet, despite the expert medical evidence and the pleas from desperate parents the appeal is still falling on the deaf ears of authority.

For many young'uns at music festivals, drug taking is not a crime, but a rite of passage.

We need to carefully bring some humanity back to this conversation and remind ourselves that young people are impressionable and vulnerable.

Offering drug testing provides a lifeline to education about ingesting an unknown substance, harm reduction, support and counselling.

If we continue to meander along with our eyes blinded by the same way things have always been done, we cannot expect any different result except the poignant realisation, perhaps too late, that harm reduction measures may have saved a young person's life. 

Edwina Rowan is a Bundaberg lawyer and chair of EDON Place women's domestic violence service.

Should pill testing be allowed?

This poll ended on 07 December 2019.

Current Results

Yes

33%

No

66%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.



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