Over the weekend Secret Garden Party, a festival notorious for its bacchanalian levels of excess and brilliantly batshit vibes, became the first UK festival to offer punters the chance to use a forensic drug testing service. The service was offered by a non-profit community interest organisation called The Loop – with the cooperation of local Cambridgeshire police – and ended up being used by 200 people during the event. Of those 200, reports The Guardian, a quarter went on to ask the testing service to get rid of their drugs, as they’d either been sold duds or something entirely different from what they thought they’d bought.
It seems odd that it’s taken until 2016 for a service like this to arrive at UK festivals – a good decade after the British festival boom, and at a time when, according to OnePoll, roughly 14 million Brits plan on attending a festival. We’re well aware that the drugs The Loop are offering testing services for are illegal, but if you think that’s going to stop festival-goers from taking them, then you’ve clearly never been to Glastonbury’s Stone Circle at 5am. Sure, not everyone who goes to festivals takes drugs, or even drinks, but plenty of them do and to pretend that its not happening is a pretty bad look, especially when people are dying from misuse. The deaths of two teenagers at T In The Park earlier this month were treated as drug related and last year saw the death of an 18-year-old man at Kendall Calling.
The Loop know what they’re doing. They were the first people to warn about the negative affects of PMMA Superman pills, which went on to cause four deaths in the UK. Their research has recently seen a significant increase in the purity of MDMA – it’s currently at 83% and, at some festivals, even higher – meaning accidental overdoses could be more likely, as people don’t wait for the affects of the drug to kick in before taking more. Combining MDMA with booze – which is likely when you’re in the vicinity of a tempting looking cider bus – is also more likely to have adverse affects on the user. The Loop know that even though there are deaths, and even though there are warnings, people are still going to take drugs. So they’re helping people make an informed decision, rather than one based on a guy called Speedy whose Ford Escort you just nipped into and told you he definitely had the ‘good shit’ in this week.
It seems that you like you’re on board with what The Loop are trying to do. A poll of NME.com users saw 66% of readers saying that yes, they would use the service, and only 7% saying they wouldn’t, with the remaining 17% saying they didn’t take drugs. Now all we need is for others to follow Secret Garden Party’s lead and try and make festivals that little bit safer for everyone.