As drug use at music festivals is put under the spotlight this week, a University of Wollongong academic believes the only way do deal with the problem is decriminalise it.
A coronial inquest into the deaths of six young people at NSW festivals is coinciding with a government-ordered special special commission of inquiry into the drug ice that is also examining the merits of pill testing.
There has been recommendations from both towards decriminalising drugs.
"For those of us who have been studying drug policy for our careers it's just de ja vu all over again," UOW law lecturer Dr Ben Mostyn said.
"We get these inquiries every five or 10 years, they say the same thing, and yet the government ignores them and people go on dying."
This week, the inquiry into music festival deaths at the the NSW Coroners Court heard information recently gathered by the NSW Ministry of Health. It suggested between 70 and 90 per cent of patrons took drugs at music festivals.
"On the basis of the NSW Ministry of Health reports, MDMA capsules are the primary drug of choice, with ketamine and to a lesser extent cocaine playing a role too," counsel assisting the coroner, Dr Peggy Dwyer said.
It was also heard the practice of "double dropping" was common at festivals, whereby patrons took multiple drugs at once in fear of being caught by authorities.
Dr Mostyn said if accepted by the coroner, it was "very strong evidence" of what many have suspected anecdotally while a fierce police presence at events was making the issue worse.
"It really is an extraordinary situation where police are creating a very unsafe environment," he said.
"The police argue that they're trying to stop people using drugs ... what they're doing is forcing them to use them in a dangerous manner."
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He said the most frustrating thing he found was all Australian states and territories were part of the National Drug Strategy which aims to reduce supply, demand and harm - with the role of police to focus on supply reduction.
"The police generally claim their role is to stop high level supply but yet these sniffer dogs at music festivals are clearly going after low level users," Dr Mostyn said.
"Police arresting people doesn't stop people using drugs, education and rehab does."
Dr Mostyn believes decriminalising drugs would save the government money on courts, prisons and police. He said this money could therefore be spent on better education, treatment and rehabilitation.
"The population is well ahead of the government on this issue - it reminds me of the gay marriage survey," he said.