Illicit drugs will one day be decriminalised but in the meantime "we talk and they die".
This is according to Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Alex Wodak who, along with former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer, says Australia's drug policies are failing.
They say young people would benefit from pill testing at music festivals following a spate of overdose deaths last summer.
Mr Palmer, who was AFP commissioner for seven years to April 2001, says it's time for the nation to accept police-based prohibition has failed.
He says young people are continuing to take drugs at music festivals despite anti-drug campaigns and drug sniffer dogs.
Mr Palmer says pill testing is the obvious solution on the back of studies in the UK which have seen massive reductions in hospitalisations a music festivals where pill testing has been introduced.
He wasn't always a supporter of pill testing but says evidence from European countries that have done it for almost 20 years is impossible to ignore.
"We must be prepared on the back of that evidence to trial pill testing more broadly. I think we will surprise ourselves enormously positively," Mr Palmer told AAP.
Dr Wodak said the country was a global "laggard" in terms of drug policy reform.
He said the arguments for pill testing had already been won but young people were dying at music festivals due to political inaction.
"But we're not seeing the political change," Dr Wodak said.
"The problem is we talk and they die."
He said decriminalisation of some illicit drugs would happen in the future.
"Decriminalisation is no longer a radical option, it's what a lot of countries are starting to do now," Dr Wodak said.
"I believe we have to go further and try to regulate as much of the drug market as we can."
He said taxing and regulating cannabis should be the first step in any process of decriminalisation.
Australian Associated Press