Drug testing for impurities and strength is essential for keeping users of drugs safe. Many claim using them is more effective than a zero tolerance approach to drugs, which simply casts drug taking into the shadows, prevents people with drug problems from getting any help and people considering use from getting any solid advice. Depending on the kind of test, harmful substances can be detected that may have been used to cut a drug to make it spread further or used to replicate a substance entirely. It finally seems that these kinds of tests are making their way to UK music festivals.
One of the biggest names it is being considered at is VFestival, however it seems that police have released a statement outlining a harsh drugs policy so talks are still continuing to find a middle ground for the testing service to operate. Even though information is not entirely clear, it seems more than likely that these testing tents will be popping up at the infamous event in order to lend a helping hand to the young people attending. If allowed, a tent will be set up on the site that takes in a sample of drugs from festival attendees (given at their own choice) and test them. This test, will test for any impurities, adulterants and dangerous ingredients within the substance and owners will find out exactly what is in their drug, some may even offer a strength test which lets users get more information on purity before deciding on a dosage.
Once tested, samples will be swiftly destroyed. Having these tests at such a large events can be a huge helping hand in reducing the increasing harm that surrounds drug use, as it gives people a reliable account of what their are putting into their bodies, and in the case of impure drugs can even put them off usage all together or at least let them make a more informed decision. It is good to keep in mind that no matter how pure a drug, no one can be sure of the effect it will have on them and negative reactions to a pure substance can never be ruled out, as everyone experiences their effects differently.
Better yet, it seems that VFestival is not the only festival where this kind of scheme may be introduced in 2017, it is expected that between six to ten festivals will be taking part in the initiative. Some of these are said to include, Reading and Leeds festivals, Latitude, Wireless and other private events across the country. This is not however the first this idea has been implemented in the UK, in 2016 Secret Garden Party offered the service and reported outstanding results. Claiming over 200 people came to get their substance tested and many who found their drugs not to be as pure as expected, openly decided that they were not going to go ahead and use the drug, choices which may have saved many fatalities.
Unfortunately as with many drug safety campaigns there are opposing communities. Many anti-drug campaigners are annoyed that this backed scheme will be taking place, claiming that it is condoning use and has not been properly thought through to take in the opinion of the whole community. They are attempting to get the movement stopped amongst worry that it will normalise the use of drugs and encourage more people to try doing it if they assume it is safe for them to do after testing. On top of this they have also made claims about the schemes benefit to dealers, stating that it means they ‘can get their supply checked before they go off and start pushing’ A statement which many disagree with. Only time will tell if the campaigners efforts will have any effect on the plans to support festivals, but their argument that something against the law should not be so openly supported may just gain the backing of citizens who strongly believe in upholding the law.
The hope for this service is that it will expand throughout the country for a safer and more knowledgeable future. Many of the festivals taking part do not necessarily agree with the use of drugs nor condone it, but they do understand that their approach needs to be adjusted to do more for the people who will continue to use substances despite their illegal status. They have noticed that drug use will not likely stop as history has clearly displayed, so safety of users must come first as the initiative is partially in response to the rising number of drug related deaths at festivals in recent years.