Secret Garden Party scheme offers ‘safe’ drug testing

Secret Garden Party festival has become the latest in the UK to let festivalgoers test class A drugs without fear of arrest.

Run by charity The Loop, the scheme offered confidential forensic testing of drugs at this weekend’s (22-25 July) festival to let attendees know exactly what they were taking.

Fiona Measham, co-director of The Loop and director of its drug testing programme, said: “My research shows that MDMA crystal remains the most popular party drug amongst festivalgoers and clubbers, but purity and contents can vary considerably in illegal markets.”

The charity uses the hashtag #CrushDabWait to encourage drug users to consume a small quantity of drugs like MDMA, rather than taking a large amount all at once.

“When purity increases it takes a while for behaviours to re-adjust and we often see more problems,” continued Measham. “We want to keep people safe, and advice as simple as Crush-Dab-Wait could save lives.”

More than 80 substances were tested at Secret Garden Party, with around a quarter then being disposed of once users found out what they contained.

The scheme was developed in partnership with Cambridgeshire Police and local public health authories in an attempt to reduce the risk of overdoses and poisonings at the festival.

Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst for Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said: “We all want to keep festivalgoers safe, so Transform congratulates the Secret Garden Party, police and council officers for supporting a pragmatic, health-based approach to drug use.

“For many young people, ‘Just say no’ simply doesn’t work, so ‘Just say know’ is vital to help protect them.

“All drug use involves risks, but these are magnified by criminalisation, which gifts the market to criminals and unregulated dealers. Until the laws are reformed, testing and encouraging safer drug use is the least we can do.”