Drug Amnesty

(Media Release, 11 December 2019)

Drug amnesty bins a welcome beginning to minimising harm at music festivals

The NSW Government’s introduction of amnesty bins at music festivals has been welcomed by Alex Greenwich, Member for Sydney, as an important first step in keeping people safe.

Mr Greenwich, who has long advocated in NSW Parliament for a harm minimisation approach to drug policy, said "Amnesty bins are a good step towards minimising the harm of drug use at music festivals."

“Allowing people to discard their drugs without the threat of consequences is far better than intimidating them into digesting large quantities through strong police and sniffer dog presences.

“Festivalgoers have lost their lives after panic ingestion of large quantities of drugs. We have ample evidence that police and sniffer dogs do not deter drug use and is not reducing the risk of harm. Amnesty bins may help prevent such tragedies.

“It is crucial that amnesty bins are used as an opportunity for police and health to work together on policing protocols around the bins and more broadly at festivals. The focus must be on keeping people safe, not making arrests, and I urge the government to work with festival operators to ensure amnesty bins are effective.

“This has long been something I have recommended to the government, and with my independent colleagues Dr Joe McGirr and Greg Piper, I look forward to working with the government as the policy around amnesty bins develops.

“However, we still need a comprehensive harm minimisation approach based on evidence in line with the Deputy State Coroner’s recent recommendations that we introduce pill testing, decriminalise personal drug use, overhaul strip searches and drug dog operations, and undertake a drug summit.

“I will continue to work with the government as they implement this reform and advocate for the implementation of the Deputy State Coroner’s full recommendations on drug use at music festivals.”