With the help of Lincolnshire Police, Circle Night Club is now testing clubbers for drugs. But this is not going to reduce drug-related harm and deaths. Testing drugs is a more sensible way to protect people’s safety.
This approach makes no sense
On Saturday 2 December, officers were present at the club in Lincoln’s city centre. They took swabs of clubbers’ hands and analysed them using drug itemiser machines (costing £20,000 to £30,000). Anyone who tests positive will have to speak to a police officer and could be searched as well.
Sergeant Claire Hime said that clubbers gave “really positive” feedback, adding that “everyone was happy to be swabbed”. But that may be because this operation deters people who use drugs from going to the club, rather than deterring people from using drugs. People will take their MDMA and cocaine elsewhere; or worse, take it all in one go before arriving at the club, increasing the risk of an overdose.
Henry Fisher, Health and Science Policy Director at drug policy thinktank VolteFace, makes that point and says this strategy is expensive and pointless. There are many ways for clubbers to avoid detection – such as by simply washing their hands.
Officers plan to expand this operation to other clubs in Lincoln and waste even more police time in the process.
Testing drugs, not people
There is an ever-growing need to test MDMA. Harm reduction charity The Loop is doing this important work and has found ecstasy pills containing pentylone. This is a substance which left people at Kendal Calling festival “being agitated and paranoid for around 36 hours”.
People are also taking ecstasy pills of unknown strength and dosage. In February, six people were hospitalised after taking ecstasy pills stamped with the UPS logo. These pills, made in Holland, contain 278mg of MDMA. RollSafe recommends taking less than 120mg to minimise undesirable effects and health risks (higher doses are more likely to cause neurotoxicity).
In 2013, Martha Fernback, 15, died after taking 91% pure MDMA. She had no idea of its strength. Cases like this show why “it’s time we tested drugs for people, not people for drugs”, as Fisher puts it.
The more that people know about drugs, the better. We need organisations like The Loop working up and down the country, not just at festivals, but at clubs as well. This isn’t about stopping people from using drugs, since that’s unrealistic. The aim of drug testing is to ensure that people can make more informed and safer decisions.
– Support The Loop.
– Read more articles from The Canary on drug policy.
– Join us, so we can keep bringing you the news that matters.
Featured image via Wikimedia
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?