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Level 11, 456 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne,
Victoria 3000
45 Gheringhap Street, Geelong,
Victoria 3220
62 Kepler Street, Warrnambool,
Victoria 3280
Articles
Feb 29, 2024

Drugs & Music Festivals in Victoria

Music Festival

By Jonathan Brancato

The debate surrounding pill testing at Victorian music festivals is back on the agenda after recent incidents involving overdoses at multiple events in Melbourne. These incidents were found to be the result of festival attendees ingesting MDMA. 

Some of those who overdosed were surprised to find out that the substance they ingested also contained methamphetamine. These individuals had not knowingly consumed this substance, which could have been laced in the MDMA.

While the Victorian government has stood firm on its stance not to introduce these measures, a 2019 Australian Electoral study revealed that “almost two-thirds of the public support pill testing at music festivals.” 

Context and Background

Drugs and music festivals have gone hand-in-hand for many years. Music festivals are also a major part of the cultural fabric of both Melbourne and the state of Victoria. However, as it has become easier to buy pills or other drugs, the risks for overdoses and getting a bad batch has also grown exponentially. In turn, this has raised further safety concerns for festival attendees.

Led by coroners, advocacy groups, and other prominent individuals, calls for pill testing at music festivals in Victoria have existed for many years. As recently as January 2024, Victorian Premier Jacinta Allen has stated that she is “seeking further advice” on this issue, which could signal a potential change to the current stance of the State Government. 

Whilst other states in Australia, namely ACT and Queensland, are trialling pill testing at music festivals, Victoria has not and has no plans to introduce pill testing as it currently stands. This includes a refusal to introduce a pill testing trial.

Although the debate surrounding this issue continues, the possession of a drug of dependence still carries serious implications that we will explore below. 



Implications for Drug Possession at Music Festivals


Pill and other illicit substance testing at music festivals aims to inform the user about what they are actually consuming, and could deter them from consuming the dangerous substance.  

The reality is, drugs are illegal in Victoria, and if you are caught in possession of drugs, you are likely to be charged. In the state of Victoria, possession of a drug of dependence is governed by section 73 of the Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1986 and carries a maximum penalty of a fine of not more than 30 penalty units (1 unit = $192.31) or 1 years imprisonment or both (if court is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, was not committed for the purpose of trafficking section 73(1)(b)). 

If you are currently seeking a drug defence lawyer in Melbourne, Geelong, Warrnambool beyond, please contact us today.


Our services are also available to clients in various other locations, including:

Wangaratta

Warrnambool

Waurn Ponds

Craigieburn

Echuca

St Albans

Werribee

Geelong

Portland

Casey

Hamilton

Koroit

Lara

Latrobe Valley

Lorne

Newtown

Belmont

Shepparton


Elements

The offence of possession of a drug of dependence has two elements that the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. That the substance in question was a drug of dependence; and
  2. That the accused possessed that substance.


Possession

The three ways that the Prosecution can prove that an accused possessed a drug of dependence are:

  1. By relying on the common law definition of possession, and proving that the accused intentionally had the drug in his or her custody, or under his or her control (He Kaw Teh v R (1985) 157 CLR 523. 
  2. By relying on the deeming provision in Drugs Act s5, and proving that the drug was on land or premises occupied by the accused; or
  3. By relying on the deeming provision in Drugs Act s5, and proving that the accused used, enjoyed or controlled the drug.


Which Court Will My Case Be Heard?


The offence of possession of a drug of dependence is likely to be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

If you are charged with possession of a drug of dependence, it is important that you contact a lawyer who is experienced with defending drug offences. Gallant Law has defended numerous clients charged with all types of drug offences.

Our director and Accredited Criminal Law Specialist Lauren Cassimatis has been sought-after by clients in need of a compassionate and comprehensive defence for drug charges, no matter how minor or major they may be.

We are ready and have experienced drug defence lawyers in Melbourne, Geelong, and Warrnambool


Disclaimer: Legal Information and Advice


The information provided on this blog is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The content is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a solicitor-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.

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