The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Drugs Scourge -


The de­bate, such as it is, over drug test­ing at mu­sic fes­ti­vals fea­tures an ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of mis­in­for­ma­tion and mis­con­cep­tions. Among those mis­con­cep­tions is that drug test­ing would im­prove the safety of young peo­ple tak­ing drugs at such events.

Even if test­ing was able to pro­vide quick and re­li­able re­sults amid the de­cid­edly non­ster­ile at­mos­phere of a mu­sic fes­ti­val, all that such test­ing could do is at most de­ter­mine what chem­i­cal com­po­nents are within a sub­mit­ted tablet.

Sup­port­ers of drug test­ing be­lieve deaths could be re­duced if im­pu­ri­ties are found. What they clearly miss is that the drugs them­selves are the im­pu­ri­ties.

A test that shows an MDMA tablet to be a 100 per cent pure MDMA tablet does not mean that the tablet is safe. It means it is an MDMA tablet and that con­sum­ing it may be fa­tal.

NSW Poi­sons In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre tox­i­col­o­gist Pro­fes­sor An­drew Daw­son ex­plains that MDMA causes a po­ten­tially deadly body tem­per­a­ture spike.

“Nor­mally, what will hap­pen to peo­ple is that they will of­ten get in­creas­ingly ag­i­tated, they can then be­come con­fused and that’s of­ten a sign they al­ready have a tem­per­a­ture,” he told The Daily Tele­graph. No im­pu­ri­ties re­quired.

Test­ing ad­vo­cates as­sume it should be a gov­ern­ment re­spon­si­bil­ity. That is, they be­lieve that the gov­ern­ment should test sub­stances the gov­ern­ment has de­ter­mined are dan­ger­ous to the point of il­le­gal­ity.

Putting aside the ab­sur­dity of that sit­u­a­tion, why are the cashed-up or­gan­is­ers of mu­sic fes­ti­vals not ar­rang­ing their own drug test­ing? Ig­nore, for a mo­ment, the ob­vi­ous le­gal com­pli­ca­tions and con­sider in­stead who is ac­tu­ally di­rectly re­spon­si­ble for the well­be­ing of mu­sic fes­ti­val at­ten­dees.

If or­gan­is­ers of events that are more like drug fes­ti­vals with a small mu­si­cal as­pect wish to con­tinue prof­it­ing from these events, let them in­vest in the safety of their clients.

After all, test­ing ad­vo­cates as­sume test­ing is such a sim­ple mat­ter that all it re­quires is gov­ern­ment ap­proval. If this is the case, then it ought to be just as straight­for­ward for or­gan­is­ers to ar­range their own on-site test­ing fa­cil­i­ties

Be­yond a cer­tain point the whole de­bate be­comes use­lessly com­plex. But there is one easy way to deal with the en­tire is­sue.

Don’t take drugs.

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