Allowing pill tests at music festivals would not increase ecstasy use, the study found. Image: Koen van Weel

Allowing pill tests at music festivals would not increase the use of ecstasy, research from Western Australia has suggested.

The Edith Cowan University study interviewed 247 people and found that pill testing at an event or in a fixed, permanent location had no positive impact on respondents’ intention to use MDMA.

The results were the same regardless of whether the person had previously used ecstasy, contradicting the argument that pill tests would send the wrong message and would effectively give people permission to use drugs.

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Lead researcher Stephen Bright said there had only been two attempts of pill tests at music festivals in Australia and more work was needed before they could be rolled out in WA.

“Our study showed that the biggest impact on a person’s intention to use a pill-testing service at a festival was how they were seen in their friendship group,” he said.

The study found that pill testing at an event or in a fixed, permanent location did not positively affect respondents’ intention to use MDMA. Image: Paul Barbaro

Dr. Bright said unlike other states, WA doesn’t have peer-based harm reduction groups to positively influence people’s attitudes towards pill testing and other interventions.

“It would be a shame to test pill tests in WA and not make anyone use them,” he said.

Dr. Bright would like the state government to fund similar services to other states.

Pill tests have been tested twice at ACT festivals and this jurisdiction plans to introduce a permanent on-site service so people can have their medication checked during business hours.

“A permanent drug control service could be more effective here until we have peer-based harm reduction services funded by the Washington government,” said Dr. Bright.

Previous research by ECU found that festival pill testing could be the most effective way of reducing the harm to first-time ecstasy users.

Five people died of overdoses at music events on the east coast in the summer of 2019.

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