[The Guardian] Just say 'know' to drugs: can testing facilities make festivals safer?
Drug testing is increasingly becoming part of UK festivals and clubs. Could it be an effective way to change behaviour and reduce the harmful effects of drugs?
For the first time, people going to BoomTown this weekend will be able to find out what’s in the drugs they plan to take, by getting them tested by non-profit organisation The Loop. Front of house drugs safety testing, or Multi Agency Safety Testing (MAST), was first offered by The Loop at Secret Garden Party and Kendal Calling in 2016. This was such a success that they have been invited to provide their service at a number of festivals this year, BoomTown being the next on the calendar.
A growing number of festivals are now openly discussing a new approach to drugs, based on information and harm reduction rather than criminal justice. This shift in attitudes is coming at a very welcome time. Recent developments in the European drug market have seen an unprecedented rise in the strength of ecstasy tablets, with a number of recent reports of adverse health effects, including emergency medical treatment and fatalities, attributed to MDMA toxicity. Indeed, Office for National Statistics figures show an eightfold increase in deaths related to ecstasy in five years, rising to 63 in 2016 from an all-time low of 8 in 2010.
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