Should We Be Able To Test Pills At Clubs And Festivals?
Last month we ran an article highlighting the dangers of ‘ecstasy’ pills containing the highly toxic stimulants PMA and PMMA and showed people how to test their pills to indicate what the active chemical might be.
In short, PM(M)A is similar in its effects and chemical structure to MDMA and is sold as such, however, it is much more toxic and has a slower onset of action. This means it takes longer to ‘come up’ encouraging clubbers to take more, so users need to treat it with caution. Nobody goes out dancing with the intention of taking their life. The reason people are dying at music events is because they don’t know how strong their drugs are, or even what’s in them.
What drug testing do we already have?
Public Heath Wales recently started their own harm reduction system. Now, anyone who resides in Wales can anonymously submit their pills or powders, and the results of the tests are published on this website.
In England we have a similar facility – curated by Fiona Measham – based at the clubbing institution Warehouse Project in Manchester where drugs that are found, confiscated, placed in an amnesty box or handed to paramedics, are tested onsite and the results are published on Twitter. This particular method provides accurate data for what drugs are doing the rounds at that rave, at that time. This means the technique boasts high levels of ecological validity and is the best harm reduction procedure our country has ever seen at music events.
We asked some professionals if all clubbers should be given the opportunity to test their drugs…
We have no plans to introduce testing centres for illegal drugs. Drugs are illegal because they are dangerous — they destroy lives and blight communities.
The police refused to comment when I contacted them. It seems that, with their ever-dwindling resources and manpower, they are overwhelmed with the number of recreational drug users in this country. They are unable to enforce the prohibition of drugs outlined in the archaic 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, yet they don’t want to admit it.
UK’s Most Prolific Club Promoter: Dave Beer, owner of the legendary ‘Back to Basics’ brand:
I would most definitely allow it. It can no longer be ignored that ecstasy is abused among the youth of today. It’s important that it is monitored to avoid any more tragedies like those that have happened in the past. It’s time for the authorities and legislations to come up to date and be more in tune with what’s going on.
Top Government Drugs Advisor and Director of Drug Charity ‘The Loop’: Professor Fiona Measham
That’s a tricky one. I think not specifically just to get the results because one of the concerns is that you need to contextualise the information.
One of the things I would advocate, that happens in some places on the Continent, is when people do get a test but it is part of a brief fifteen-minute intervention. They flag up all the issues and dangers of that particular drug and highlight the danger of combining drugs, or poly-drug use.
We don’t want a situation where people have a pill tested, they take it away and think ‘yeah, that’s great, it’s got the thumbs up’ because as we know, at the moment, people do die from MDMA. So if we are testing we need to be giving the wider context and the message that no drugs are safe – they all have risks.
All drugs have side effects and they increase with poly-drug use, particularly with alcohol. Field testing kits do have limitations [for instance they only show the main ingredient and not secondary substances] but beyond that it is about empowering the user, so the user isn’t taking drugs totally blind – it has a symbolic significance in that sense.
Individuals use recreational drugs even if they know there is a risk. Everyone knows what tobacco does but if you stand outside any pub in this country, what do you see? That’s right, people using it regardless of the danger. We have a moral responsibility to allow people to protect their health, and this means allowing drug testing at all music events. I personally believe that a club night or festival should have drug testing kits onsite as part of their licensing conditions. What do you think?
If you are a young person in this country who uses designer club drugs you need to ask yourself a question. Do you trust black market drug dealers and underground ‘chemists’ with your health? I thought not.
So take responsibility for yourself and test your drugs for the most active ingredient using one of these cheap field testing kits. You want the ketamine one to test for P(M)MA and MDMA at the same time but you can get ones for all the most popular recreational drugs; from weed (THC) to methadrone (bath salts), cocaine to LSD and beyond.
Please, guys, stay safe this summer: crush-dab-wait.
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