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Should Festivals Offer Drug Testing?

As summer draws closer there will be plenty of people looking to enjoy the sunshine and some music at a festival. However, the festivals often have a dark side with lots of young people taking illegal drugs – without really knowing what they are putting in their bodies. So, should festivals offer drug-testing for those who are attending?

The idea has already been trialled successfully in the UK, with last year’s Secret Garden Party including a drug-testing tent. There are now hopes that the tents will start appearing at other UK festivals. The question is whether these are encouraging or legitimizing drug use – or if they are simply a sensible reaction to an inevitable problem?

The chief executive of Britain’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), Shirley Cramer offered:

“While the use of stimulant ‘club drugs’ such as ecstasy can never be safe, and RSPH supports ongoing efforts to prevent them entering entertainment venues, we accept that a certain level of use remains inevitable in such settings.”

She continued:

“We therefore believe that a pragmatic, harm reduction response is necessary. The pilots carried out… last summer suggest providing drug safety testing facilities to festival-goers and night-clubbers is a promising part of the equation in preventing these deaths, both by exposing and reducing the circulation of super strength or adulterated pills, and by providing an opportunity to impart practical harm reduction advice to an audience who would not normally engage with drug services.”

What do you think? Is this a good idea to protect people against potentially harmful substances – or do you fear it would only encourage more people to take illegal drugs?



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