Festivalgoers say governments and promoters should fund future pill testing services, after Pill Testing Australia confirmed Sunday's Groovin the Moo would be their last free trial in the ACT.
Thousands of people attended the Canberra leg of the travelling music festival at new venue Exhibition Park, with Billie Eilish, Regurgitator and Coolio among the line-up.
For the second year in a row, Pill Testing Australia carried out drug checking in the medical services area of the festival
Gino Vumbaca from Pill Testing Australia said this year was much busier than last year, with both infra-red spectrophotometers going "non-stop".
"There were a lot more people and we tested a lot more samples," he said.
"A number of red flags came up, more than last year although we have tested more samples, including n-ethylpentylone [a potentially lethal substance also detected at last year's event]."
The consortium also helped paramedics by testing drugs taken by patrons who'd had an adverse reaction.
"We were able to test for them and give advice to paramedics," Mr Vumbaca said.
ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the ACT government was committed to "contemporary approaches" to harm minimisation and would welcome similar trials in the future.
But Pill Testing Australia's Dr David Caldicott confirmed Sunday would be the last free trial in the ACT.
"I think the data required to make a formal assessment on whether it works or not will be more than adequate after two free trials," Dr Caldicott said.
Mr Vumbaca said they would like to continue testing in the ACT but could not continue to self-fund and ask volunteers to cover their own costs.
"Pill Testing Australia is a not-for-profit, we're only looking at cost recovery," he said.
The consortium has not approached the ACT government for funding and is investigating several funding models, including public subscriptions and promoter-based funding. It has also been crowdfunding through its website.
"You could argue quite cogently the healthcare benefits of having a pill testing system but there are several other ways of funding it," Dr Caldicott said.
"There is some dialogue that says 'why should we be supporting someone's drug consumption habit'. You already are. The difference is the payment that you're making is in taxpayer dollars towards the treatment of the overdoses.
"This is a health issue and we should be approaching it as such."
However Dr Caldicott ruled out charging patrons for the service.
"We will never charge the punter. This is a healthcare intervention and we are trying to encourage young people to learn a little about the stuff they are putting into themselves," he said.
Ms Fitzharris said the independent evaluation of the second trial being carried out by the Australian National University would "no doubt inform future policy decisions for government and potentially influence expanded opportunities for pill testing in future".
Festivalgoers were in largely favour of future trials but said governments and festivals themselves should pay for the service to be provided.
"It should be at every festival," Renee, 16, said.
"It's like a duty of care thing," Riley, 17, said.
"It's a really progressive thing for a festival like this to do," Meg, also 17, added.
While all punters The Canberra Times spoke to this year were aware of the trial, there was still a lot of confusion about where and how the service operated.
One festivalgoer revealed they had smuggled in 30 caps but would not get their pills tested because they were scared they would be forced to surrender their drugs.
"We've spent money on this, you're not going to stop us taking it," the patron said.
However the patron was in favour of an alternate approach to reducing drug-related harm.
"Educate us, don't scare us, otherwise you'll make us eat them all at once at the gate," the patron said.
Jayden, 20, was sceptical that medical professionals would be able to convince festivalgoers to throw away the drugs they'd purchased.
"Most people buy it knowing there's a risk and will go 'I paid $20 for this, I'm going to take it anyway'," he said.
Another pointed to the price of alcohol and drugs as a motivation to take pills.
"Two drinks in here cost $24 but one cap that lasts the whole night is $25," the patron said.
However Brooke, 21, said: "If someone told you it was going to kill you, you aren't going to take it."
Others praised the approach the ACT had taken.
Molly, 21, said she had seen a 15-year-old having a seizure at another festival, and later learnt the teenager had taken all of her drugs in one hit after becoming scared by the presence of police.
"Drugs should be treated like a public health issue, not a criminal issue. We're from NSW and people die there from what's in pills. Harm minimisation is key," she said.