Drugs test­ing pro­pos­als make a lot of sense

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - OPINION - With Deb­o­rah Cole­man

IF a new drugs test­ing pro­posal is even­tu­ally in­tro­duced into the Na­tional Drugs Strat­egy, we could see sta­tions set up at fes­ti­vals and night club set­tings, to en­able peo­ple to check what is ac­tu­ally in the sub­stance they in­tend to con­sume.

There are cer­tainly pros and cons to such a pro­posal but it would take a cer­tain amount of joined up think­ing to make it work.

The idea is that such test­ing pro­motes ‘harm re­duc­tion’ as those who in­tend to take drugs can find out be­fore hand what sort of a mix­ture is in their pos­ses­sion.

In prac­ti­cal terms, those who are most at risk prob­a­bly wouldn’t take the time to do so - they would just take the drugs and deal with the con­se­quences, if any, later on.

The pro­posal did get me think­ing how­ever, and I think that the peo­ple who would be most likely to get their drugs tested, would be more en­cour­aged to dump the whole lot when they find out what their drug of choice ac­tu­ally con­tains.

If they go to the trou­ble of check­ing this out then they have a cer­tain level of con­cern and de­pend­ing on the re­sults, they are ob­vi­ously go­ing to think twice be­fore con­sum­ing a po­ten­tial lethal cock­tail of chem­i­cals - par­tic­u­larly if it is there in black and white for them to read.

A sec­ond sug­ges­tion is the in­tro­duc­tion of amnesty bins at fes­ti­vals which would al­low those hav­ing sec­ond thoughts or who want to dump an un­wanted quan­tity of drugs to do so safely and with­out fear of pros­e­cu­tion.

The finer de­tails of such a plan would take some iron­ing out - but for the most part any­thing that en­cour­ages a re­duc­tion in il­le­gal drug abuse is pos­i­tive.

Also, the author­i­ties sug­gest that hav­ing th­ese dis­carded sub­stances at their dis­posal would as­sist in de­ter­min­ing what is out there on the mar­ket at any one time, and what vul­ner­a­ble young peo­ple are con­sum­ing.

Those against the pro­pos­als say that drug-test­ing fa­cil­i­ties will sim­ply en­cour­age greater drug use - and while for some this may be the case, the re­al­ity is that it would al­most cer­tainly save lives and pre­vent as many over­doses.

If peo­ple are go­ing to take drugs, whether at a fes­ti­val or in a venue, then there is very lit­tle that can be done to stop them, so what­ever can be done to re­duce the risk is surely worth ex­plor­ing.

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