Pill Testing Supporters Rally In Sydney
Hundreds of people in support of pill testing at raves and music festivals have marched in Sydney in a bid to pressure the NSW government to allow the practice.
Protesters of the current drug policy danced and marched their way from Town Hall to Hyde Park on Saturday, with placards reading "Just test the dam (sic) pills!" and "Pill testing saves lives".
A coalition of groups, including Keep Sydney Open and Unharm, organised the event, which took place a week after Alex Ross-King, 19, died in hospital after a suspected overdose while attending the FOMO festival at Parramatta Park.
"The failed war on drugs has killed our friends, family and others in our community for decades while politicians and police have wilfully ignored the mounting evidence that zero-tolerance drug policing does not work," organisers said in a statement.
Five people have died after taking drugs at music festivals in NSW alone since September.
A number of politicians, including Greens leader Richard Di Natale, joined the campaign for a harm minimisation approach.
"How many more young people need to pay with their lives before we put in place pill testing, which we know saves lives?" Senator Di Natale said on Saturday.
Independent MP Kerryn Phelps, who is a GP and former president of the Australian Medical Association, also addressed the crowd to promote a policy change - a day after a prominent group of doctors came out in support of pill testing trials.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, which represents more than 17,000 physicians and paediatricians, has sent an open letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her counterparts urging them to follow the lead of the ACT.
"Ideally, we would all like young people and the wider public not to use drugs illicitly, however, the reality is that they do in large numbers and the moral message to abstain from taking drugs is not getting through," Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones said on Friday.
They now join the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, who are also urging governments to adopt pill testing.
Pill testing involves users anonymously submitting samples for forensic analysis and feedback on the purity and composition of their drugs so they can make an informed decision on whether or not to take them.