BY: JESSICA BEUKER
Last July, the summer music festival, Secret Garden Party, became the first ever UK festival to offer its attendees a somewhat controversial service – drug testing.
Festival goers were given the opportunity to take their drugs to a specified location and have them tested before ingesting them. The idea being that those who plan to participate in drug-use, should at the very least do it safely.
According to Dazed, throughout the weekend 80 substances of concern were tested. This included high-strength pills, anti-malaria tablets sold as ketamine and ammonium sulphate sold as MDMA. Over 200 people used the service across the first day and a half.
After the drugs are tested, festival goers can opt to have them destroyed or disposed, an option many people took advantage of after finding out they had been sold harmful substances or duds.
The idea itself is not new – festivals in Germany and the Netherlands have been using this kind of pro-active initiative for quite some time at festivals to promote safe drug use. It is however, the first of its kind in the UK.
Given the success of last year’s initiative, several major UK summer events are now following suit. Spearheaded by Festival Republic, festival goers at at least 6 different festivals will be able to have their drugs tested before they ingest them. An agreement has been made with the authorities so that the initiative can work. The police will only destroy what is handed over.
While many might criticize the initiative for being lenient with drug use, the purpose of the initiative is to prioritize health and safety over criminal justice. The reality is that young people – especially during festival season – take drugs. Having a drug-testing area available will not raise these numbers, nor does it promote drug-use. It will only ensure that those who are engaging in the activity are safe while doing so.