Transform Drug Policy Foundation and Anyone’s Child were very excited d to be part of making drug policy history at this year's Secret Garden Party festival in Cambridge. We were there to support the first ever drug testing service at a UK event. This allowed people the chance to have their illegal drugs tested to establish their content before they decided whether to take them.
Thanks to the wonderful Freddie Fellowes, who founded the festival, Transform had a stall for the third year running. This provided an opportunity for us to spread the word about the need to legally regulate drugs, sell our new merchandise (more later…) and attract new sign ups to our campaign.
“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. This can help people make informed choices, raising awareness of particularly dangerous substances in circulation and reducing the chance of drug-related problems occurring.”
The testing resulted in the discovery of over 80 substances of concern including very high strength ecstasy pills and multiple samples which weren’t what they were supposed to be, including anti-malaria tablets purporting to be ketamine.
Furthermore, around a quarter of the people who had their drugs tested asked for them to be disposed of when they discovered the drugs weren’t what they had expected. This demonstrates how the testing took a number of dangerous substances out of circulation from the festival.
The drug testing attracted a large amount of media coverage across the UK press (including multiple quotes from Transform’s Steve Rolles). Some of the highlights include:
Surprisingly rational reporting from The Daily Mail
In the Economist: The Economist
For Anyone’s Child and Transform the drug testing at Secret Garden Party is clearly an important intervention - until the drug laws are reformed, testing and encouraging safer drug use is the least we can do.
However, we also recognise that drug testing is only necessary because of prohibition. There’s no testing service for beer sold at festivals because people quite rightly assume that it won’t be cut or mixed with other drugs or be of widely varying potency. We are therefore calling for ingredient listings and safety information on all drugs which can only happen when the market is legally controlled and regulated.
We developed a new range of merchandise for the festival including Transform water bottles. Please take a look to show your support for the campaign.