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According to a GP, popular festival drug MDMA was not too dangerous

Photo: GP on pill tests: 'MDMA not too dangerous'
A GP has weighed-in on the debate surrounding pill testing at music festivals in NSW and Victoria, saying popular festival drug MDMA was not too dangerous.

As debates rages in NSW and Victoria over pill testing at festivals, one GP has weighed in saying MDMA "is not that dangerous".

"If it was in a pure form, and you're a healthy person ... it's probably not that dangerous," the GP told the Australian Radio Network.

The declaration, by specialist GP David Charles Thomas, has been made with a few caveats and comes with advice against taking the drug, also known as ecstasy.

In a podcast titled Triggered, by Deborah Clay, the GP explains the way MDMA works to heighten excitement on users but also limits their ability to self-regulate temperature.
"It can make them feel like they have a lot more energy, but it also decouples their temperature regulation and their perception to the extent of any warning signs," he said.

Combined with the heat, dancing and general exertion of music festivals, users could easily overheat, he said.

In NSW, pill testing has become a hot topic ahead of the March 23 election.

Five people died after taking drugs at festivals in the state between September 2018 and January 2019, prompting a public outcry for pill testing trials.

But the NSW government remains firmly opposed.

The podcast, broadcast late last week, comes as former federal senator David Leyonhjelm called the government's opposition "stupid".

The Liberal Democrat, who is running for the NSW upper house, says people are going to take pills anyway and testing would make the activity safer.

"Just because you disapprove of something does not mean you should prohibit it," he said.

Professional business woman Maggie, whose surname was withheld, told the podcast she went to great lengths to ensure she enjoyed MDMA at festivals, while also purchasing a "home" pill testing kit to mitigate safety concerns.

The regular music festival patron said she concealed the drugs in a condom placed inside a tampon which she inserted into her body.

"MDMA does not kill, if it did I would be dead," she said.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard disagreed, saying the popular music festival drug is dangerous.

"What we do know, absolutely categorically, is that MDMA cooks your organs from inside," he told the podcast.

The government won't accept pill testing as it's "crazy" for community leaders to endorse drugs, he said.

Mr Hazzard cited overseas research findings that people take more drugs when they get their pills tested.

"You can take a fraction of MDMA and still end up in a coma and die," he said.

"You can test the pill, but you can't test the person."

Opposition leader Michael Daley has said his party is open to exploring the option of pill testing if Labor wins the election.

In Victoria, the government remains opposed to the idea.

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