Canberra's pill testing trial has been given the thumbs up by independent researchers, but they say participants commonly misinterpreted their results
Punters were slightly more likely to take the drug once it had been tested than before, according to an independent review into the trial from the Australian National University.
However when the drug was not what the participant expected it to be, they were less likely to take it.
The trial at Canberra's Groovin the Moo in April tested 170 substances, with seven pills sold as MDMA found to contain the deadly drug N-ethyl pentylone.
Every participant whose pills were found to contain the drug decided to bin it.
The report, released on Tuesday, said almost a third of participants reported they would use less of the drug than planned after having them tested.
Researchers said results were commonly misinterpreted or misunderstood with some punters believing they had been given a purity level of their pills, despite the equipment not being able to provide such information.
There also seemed to be confusion among stakeholders.
Researchers said there was no negative impact on the day from the confusion, but recommended developing standardised language to deliver the drug testing results in future.
The report also found the lack of signage - which was a condition set by the promoters - meant some patrons struggled to find the tent.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said she would be writing to ministers across the country urging them to take the findings seriously.
"Any action that can be taken to reduce the harm of illicit drug use at music festivals must be explored," she said.
The government is yet to commit to any funding to ensure the program runs at next year's festival.
Pill Testing Australia's David Caldicott said the time had come for the ACT government to provide funding for the what has until now been bankrolled by the organisation and volunteers.
It is yet to be confirmed whether pill testing will run for a third time at next year's festival, but it appears unlikely without government support.
"If we do it next year we'll definitely be doing it bigger, better and with more technology," he said.
Lead researcher Dr Anna Olsen said the report clearly showed pill testing was viable.
"The data we have shows that the service was implemented really well and it had a lot of really positive impacts on participant's behaviours around their drug use," she said.
The reality is that young people are taking these drugs even though they're illegal and even though public health information advises against it.Lead researcher Dr Anna Olsen
Dr Olsen said even when people went on to take the drug they had tested, there was evidence they did things to lessen the risk like taking less, drinking lots of water and spacing out their drug consumption.
"The reality is that young people are taking these drugs even though they're illegal and even though public health information advises against it," she said.
"These drug-testing services don't endorse drug use but they provide drug and health education to people who can access them."
Dr Caldicott, who is also an emergency department doctor in Canberra, said an independent evaluation of the trial was an important step to gain public confidence.
"This was not a foregone conclusion," he said. "It could have gone horribly for us."
He said the idea there were significant medical or scientific arguments against pill testing were "quickly vanishing".
The ACT was the first jurisdiction in Australia to conduct a trial of pill testing in 2018.
The report evaluated the territory's second trial in 2019.
Following the success of the trial in Canberra, Pill Testing Australia extended the offer to conducting a free trial at music festivals in other states and territories