Peking Duk call for drug-checking at festivals
After two festival deaths from suspected drug overdoses in Sydney last Saturday and in Adelaide yesterday, Stereosonic mainstage stars Peking Duk have spoken out in favour of providing drug checking at Australian festivals.
“Fuck this,” the pair wrote on Facebook earlier today. “Heavier policing will not prevent deaths. Australia, it’s time to start testing.” Read their message below.
The Canberra duo’s thoughts echo the president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Dr Alex Wodak, who told Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser, “so many drug experts have been asking why, given the spate of these recent deaths attributed to ecstasy, we don’t at least trial drug checking… It seems to work well in half a dozen European countries — and seems to shift the market away from very dangerous drugs.”
But Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan and South Australia’s Minister for Police Tony Piccolo said that drug-checking services would not be considered by the government.
“On the spot advice isn’t a safeguard and you can actually lead a person into a false sense of safety…They are not necessarily reliable,” Piccolo told The Advertiser. “The only 100 percent sure and safe system is not to take drugs.”
Harm reduction expert Johnboy Davidson disagrees; he told inthemix earlier this year that studies in European countries with drug checking show that testing services do in fact reduce risky drug-taking behaviour.
“The studies show again and again that people are far less likely to engage in risky behaviour if they have the information,” Davidson said. “There’s nothing more credible than being able to point at a spectrographic chart on a machine and say, ‘that says this pill contains PMA, and this is the Wikipedia page for PMA – see at the very top where it talks about the number of deaths caused by it? Do you still want to take it?’”
Stereosonic urged punters on Friday to “look out for each other” and “ be sensible, safe, and aware of those around you,” ahead of this weekend’s Melbourne and Adelaide events.
A second message posted yesterday on the Stereosonic website urged punters once again to be aware of “the risks associated with taking any type of illicit substance. We are imploring people to see the dangers of the situation, enjoy the day and please be safe. Our first aid team and staff are here to help.’’