By Dominic Giannini, Online Sub-Editor
Groovin the Moo: the biggest consumption of alcohol by people dressed in cow onesies at a festival your 14-year-old cousin totally reckons is a “bush doof”.
For the 13th consecutive year, the Groovin the Moo festival has been touring regional Australia to showcase the best and brightest of Australian music and talent, as well as some outstanding international acts. Only this year, Tharunka went up to Maitland to bravely ask the questions that most festivals-goers don’t want their parents to know: how many drugs do you do?
For as long as there have been music festivals, there has been a clandestine narcotics market, whether it’s a more organised large scale organisation, or your mate Baz wrapping three pingers in a condom.
Traditionally, the NSW Police Force have used police presence and sniffer dogs to try to deter drug use and smuggling into music festivals.
However, recently the debate has shifted. Should a harm minimisation strategy be favored? Should initiatives such as pill testing be used to create a safer environment for festival-goers who engage in recreational drug use?
Our interviews found that, of those who did take drugs into, and at, music festivals, an overwhelming number of attendees seemed to favour pills and drugs like MDMA and Ecstasy because of the ease of smuggling and the drug’s long-lasting effects.
Some individuals revealed that they decided to turn to “party smarties” as a result of the high cost of alcohol at festivals, as well as the quantity of alcohol they needed to consume to enjoy a similar level of inebriation.
Drugs that don’t need to be “topped up” as much, such as LSD and mushrooms, are also popular. These drugs offer users a euphoric feeling, with the effects lasting for hours, depending on the dosage.
Tharunka also found that an overwhelming number of respondents did not think the use of sniffer dogs was effective, and that their deployment often led to more dangerous situations instead of preventing drug use.
Here’s what a few punters had to say:
“I think pill testing should be favored because ultimately it’s about a harm minimisation strategy rather than cracking down heavily on something that is going to happen anyway. At the end of the day, a sniffer dog can never tell what’s up someone’s bum.”
“I think [sniffer dogs] is probably the wrong approach, as it causes some pretty dangerous situations … I think people, you know, people see sniffer dogs and freak out and might just take all their drugs. I think pill testing is definitely a better option in terms of safety.”
“From experience, I know people who have brought heaps of drugs in, and I’ve been standing with them, and they don’t do anything. Like if I’m in a crowd of eight people, and eight people had drugs … nope, don’t catch any of them, but I’ll give them a pat because I love ‘em.”
“I don’t take pills to be completely honest, but if I was going to, and I knew there was a scheme that I knew what I was going to take, I would be doing it.”
“I’ve seen girls eat all their pills because they’re scared, and it’s not a good idea.”
“Sniffer dogs, all they do is make me really happy to pat them, they make the people that aren’t with drugs really happy to pat them, and people that are with drugs really scared and eat all their drugs … the only thing it is is dangerous.”
“I’m totally against drug taking, but I would much rather have a friend take a drug safely, than watch them buried.”
“I love doggos.”
Friend: “You can’t pat them though, they’re working.”
One thing is certain:, long after the music’s turned off, the jaws have stopped chattering and all that remains is a graveyard of cans and pizza boxes, these questions will endure. It is our responsibility to answer them.
We asked members of the NSW Police present on the day for comment but were told they were not allowed to comment, and all lines of inquiry should be forwarded to the Media Department or the Constable in charge of that day’s operations. We will update you on any replies.
Tharunka does not condone the use or supply of illicit substances.