Testing Times

Can drug testing at festivals save lives?

Testing Times Music festivals are a staple for people of all ages looking to let loose for a long weekend, but recent years have seen their reputation mired by drug-related deaths. Would drug amnesties make safer gigs?
“We do [drugs] to enhance the experience, to enjoy ourselves, to live life”, says one festival-goer, amongst half of the attendees who say they use drugs at such events. Some festivals have begun allowing individuals to test their own drugs for the first time, which can spot those above normal strength or laced with other potentially lethal substances. The amnesty from law enforcement has its critics; "I'm mildly against it because I think it does normalise drug use", says Tom Tilley, who works in the testing lab, "[but] that doesn't mean that I don't see the advantages in doing it." Christian Kobel has been running a similar service for years in Switzerland, and claims events he has operated have yet to record a drug related death. "When we hand out the results after testing, that's where we give the safer use tips, so they can reduce their risks", says Kobel.

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