The pill-testing trial at Groovin the Moo in Canberra has found some odd and even lethal ingredients in what many festival-goers believed to be party drugs.
A total of 85 substances were tested at the music festival over the weekend by Safety and Testing and Advisory Service at Festivals and Events (STA-SAFE), with many consumers surprised by what was revealed.
They found some “quite pure … high quality” ecstasy, as well as cocaine and ketamine.
More troubling, though, was the discovery of two highly toxic chemicals, including the “absolutely lethal” N-Ethylpentylone (ephylone), which is responsible for a number of mass overdoses around the world.
STA-SAFE member and emergency doctor David Caldicott said the tests were conducted mostly on pills and capsules with some powders also examined.
“We found a Polish toothpaste in one of them; we found arnica, which is a muscle rub; we found Hammerite paint,” Dr Caldicott told ABC Radio Canberra.
“We found a whole bunch of very unusual products in many of these pills that the consumers would regard as duds.”
Dr Caldicott said many people, who are not the sort of users who normally seek help, felt they had been misled by their dealers.
“Initially there’s quite a lot of depression and sadness and occasionally some anger,” he said.
“I think it disrupts the market, but … by coming to the tent to have their pill tested and to chat with the workers they’ve avoided a trip to hospital.
“They’re able to enjoy the music, which is what everybody wants to happen.
“I have not seen it myself in the ACT, I imagine it’s been around, but the big seizures were early 2017 so I’m not sure if it’s actually caused significant overdoses.”
The crew at the medical tent were inside all day, offering consultations on drug use for 128 people, ranging in age from 17 to over 40.
Dr Caldicott said five people used the bin provided by the medical tent to get rid of their drugs, but said between 10 and 20 per cent said they were considering binning it.
“Certainly more than that were convinced that it would alter the way they would consume drugs on that day,” he said.