The NSW Greens have called on the premier Mike Baird and police commissioner Andrew Scipione to allow pills to be tested at festivals to prevent overdoses.
Police with sniffer dogs are a constant presence at music festivals around the northern rivers region, and elsewhere in the state.
Critics argue that young people using drugs are likely to consume what they have if they see police testing, and are also often unaware of the potency of the drugs they are consuming.
The Greens call follows a Four Corners episode this week indicating that heavy handed policing and a zero tolerance approach has no deterrent effect on drug taking.
Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge has written to the NSW premier and police commissioner calling for the urgent implementation of pill testing to at music festivals, yet in both instances they have passed the buck to a struggling police minister.
Mr Shoebridge said police minister Troy Grant had demonstrated he was ‘not up to the job of overseeing an intelligent evidenced based police response to drug use’, with his zero tolerance approach to pill testing labelled ‘wishful thinking, simplistic and rash’ by an international committee.
‘The Greens are calling for premier Baird to take this out of the hands of a clueless police minister and give pill testing a role in the suite of harm reduction strategies in use in NSW,’ Mr Shoebridge wrote.
‘If pill testing can save lives, why aren’t police being told to step back and let it happen?
‘Allowing pill testing is not a statement in support of drugs but it does unambiguously reduce the risk of harm and allow for young people to make informed decision.
‘We know that the police-driven war on drugs is failing – and that ideological approach is placing young people’s lives in jeopardy.
‘This is a law and order problem with a massive over-investment of $1.2 billion in police, courts and jails that needs to be re-directed to evidence-based harm reduction measures.
‘The evidence is clear that pill testing can remove at least some dangerous drugs from circulation.
‘Every time this happens is a win for safety and harm minimisation and it’s remarkable that premier Baird can’t see this.’
The Greens stance on pill testing follows calls last week for the government to reconsider its approach to drug driving in the state.
Mr Shoebridge has promised that he and Ballina MP Tamara Smith would be pushing for a parliamentary inquiry into the regime.