Organisers of the Falls Festivals, which are currently on in Tasmania and Victoria and kick off this week in NSW and WA, sent an emergency alert text to ticketholders for each event warning them of an “extremely dangerous orange pill” that’s in circulation around the country.
This text message has just been sent to those at the Falls Festival site in Marion Bay, highlighting a dangerous drug is in circulation. pic.twitter.com/LLixwjktQy
— Monte Bovill (@MonteBovill) December 30, 2018
A longer message posted on the festival’s Facebook and Twitter accounts spread the message further, including to people who might be considering taking something on New Year’s Eve at other events or parties.
— Falls Festival (@fallsofficial) December 30, 2018
“Although we’ve had a safe Falls Festival to date, our medical teams have alerted us to a dangerous orange pill that is currently in circulation across Australia. Regardless of pill variation, we want to remind everyone of the potentially fatal risks that come with illicit substances. You do not know what is in them, how your body will react, there is no safe level of consumption.
“One pill can kill.”
The festival confirmed to an ABC Hobart journalist that there were no specific incidents at any of the festivals – the medical teams were aware that the bad pills are currently going around, and organisers felt it warranted a precaution.
#BREAKING : Just received confirmation from @fallsofficial organisers at #MarionBay that there have been NO pill incidents at the Tassie festival. There haven't been any sightings of the "dangerous orange pill". Organisers said the warnings were a precaution #politas @abchobart
— Erin Cooper (@ErinCooper27) December 30, 2018
The alert comes the same day as the news that a 22-year-old man died after taking an unknown substance at Lost Paradise festival in NSW’s Glenworth Valley, and two more people were hospitalised.
There has been no suggestion that the orange pill was responsible for either the death or the hospitalisations.
However, it’s worth noting that party drugs are an unregulated black market product, meaning you never know what you’re getting.
The organisers of Falls Festival have warned attendees that there is a dangerous orange pill in circulation but are legally unable to provide potentially life-saving pill testing. Outrageous. pic.twitter.com/pgDOLbvYK0
— Denham Sadler (@denhamsadler) December 30, 2018
While the safest thing is not to take anything, embracing on-site pill testing at festivals can help mitigate the risk and puts people planning to take substances in front of trained medical professionals before they take anything – and it might have saved lives in the ACT this year already.
But while pill testing is still being resisted by governments around the country despite the evidence supporting it – meaning organisers can’t have it at their events even if they want to – an alert like this is a valuable step in harm minimisation.
It acknowledges that drugs are a normal part of a festival experience for plenty of young people, and folks are going to end up taking whatever they buy – unless they have further information that offers a compelling reason not to, beyond the tired “drugs are bad” rhetoric.
Here’s hoping everyone has a fun and safe New Year’s, and that 2019 is the year that governments take their fingers out of their ears and embrace drug policies that work in the real world.