Music festival organisers will be forced to take responsibility for the safety of attendees under tough new measures that are set to be rolled out across NSW.
The deaths of five young people from suspected drug overdoses has triggered the new guidelines as well as renewed calls for pill-testing facilities at events.
Early toxicology reports obtained by 7News have identified the cause of four of those deaths, with MDMA (Methylene Dioxy Methamphetamine) or Ecstasy responsible, meaning the pills contained exactly what the dealers would have claimed.
“The war on drugs is a war on people,” Greens Leader Richard Dinatale said in response to the new measures proposed at a protest in Sydney on Sunday.
However the Government’s long-held opposition to pill-testing remains and is finalising the tough new guidelines including a new licence festival organisers will have to apply for.
“It’s not enough for them to wash their hands and say it’s all the government’s responsibility, no, they need to take responsibility as well,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
Event organisers will have to liaise with police, liquor and gaming and a panel of experts and include safe, chill out zones and on-site medical care.
Doctors say the value in pill-testing is having young people speak to a professional who can help them take drugs safely if they insist on doing so.
“At the very worst [pill testing can advise how to] use products safety, and at the very least, for heatlh professionals to be abel to give them a message,” AMA President NSW Dr Kean-Seng Lim said.
MDMA is a stimulant and a hallucinogen. It raises blood pressure and causes irregular heart beat and chest pain, clenched jaw and headaches.
Stomach cramps and nausea are common and the drug can raise body temperature, which over 40C can be fatal.
The Government says festival goers will be able to speak to healthcare workers without fear of being charged.
“There will be chill out spaces, no questions asked, where people can get help as quickly as needed, no questions asked,” Premier Berejiklian said.
The new guidleines will be rolled out from March 1.