Drug testing is finally becoming a reality after the organisers of Secret Garden Party piloted a new drug testing service for the first time in UK festival history.
With drugs deaths seemingly on the rise, many people in the dance music world have demanded drug testing services so festival goers can know exactly what they are taking, and how strong they will likely be.
Obviously the police would rather take you to the police station, but instead this weekend they were persuaded to join forces with the local council, drugs safety charity The Loop and Secret Garden Party for a safety-first approach where users could test their drug without fear of recrimination.
“For the first time we’ve been able to offer the testing service to individual users as part of a tailored advice and information package provided by a team of experienced drugs workers,” The Loop co-founder Fiona Measham told The Guardian. “This can help people make informed choices, raising awareness of particularly dangerous substances in circulation and reducing the chance of drug-related problems occurring.”
Apparently the service was used by 200 people and saw 80 different substances tested for strength and purity. With the results in hand, around a quarter of the users disposed of their drugs, after finding out that they weren’t what they expected.
Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst for Transform Drug Policy Foundation, was influential in brokering the deal with local authorities. “Around a quarter of people who brought in their drugs then asked us to dispose of them when they discovered that they had been mis-sold or were duds. We were taking dangerous substances out of circulation. Until the laws are reformed, testing and encouraging safer drug use is the least we can do. We hope this groundbreaking service becomes the norm for all such events. It is now up to others to follow, to protect the health and safety of their customers. In truth it would be negligent for them not to.”
“Harm reduction and welfare is a vital part of hosting any event and it’s an area that for too long has seen little development or advancement,” said Secret Garden Party founder Fred Fellowes.
Hopefully this progressive approach to drug taking and harm prevention will become more common place at more UK-based festivals soon.