Britain’s biggest festival organiser dismays campaigners by backtracking on support for drug testing
‘Considering the huge profits made by companies like Festival Republic from ticket sales, they should be funding essential services like The Loop to protect festival goers from avoidable harm’
There have been several drug-induced deaths at events run by Festival Republic in recent years ( )
The UK’s largest festival organiser has reversed its previous support for drug testing facilities in a U-turn that drew criticism from experts and campaigners.
Festival Republic — which organises Reading and Leeds Festivals, among others — said testing “has the ability to mislead” and cast doubt on the growing body of evidence which suggests testing festival goers’ drugs for potency and impurity, as well as providing individualised advice, reduces drug-related harm.
“Determining to a punter that a drug is in the ‘normal boundaries of what a drug should be’ takes no account of how many he or she will take, whether the person will mix it with other drugs or alcohol and nor does it give you any indicator of the receptiveness of a person’s body to that drug.”
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Such a licence is unlikely to materialise since the government’s current position is that “no illegal drug can be assumed to be safe and there is no safe way to take them”.
Steve Moore, the director of VolteFace, a drugs policy think tank, said that “festival organisers can no longer shun responsibility by hiding behind the ‘zero tolerance’ mantra” after last weekend’s tragic deaths, given “what we know about that the dangers of the current illicit drug market”.
“As businesses that legitimately profit from facilitating hedonism on a vast scale they have to be at the forefront of investment in harm reduction and lobbying public authorities for the legal clearances to do so,” he said.
The Home Office said earlier this week: “Drugs can devastate lives, ruin families and damage communities. This government’s approach remains clear that we must prevent drug use in our communities and support people through treatment and recovery.
“No illegal drug can be assumed to be safe and there is no safe way to take them.
“Our drug strategy brings together police, health, community and global partners to tackle the illicit drug trade, protect the most vulnerable and help those with a drug dependency to recover and turn their lives around.”
In comments on his change of stance on drug testing, Mr Benn told The Independent: “Yes, this has been a change but it’s a minor change. However, the change developed after much discussion with medical professionals, police forces and licensing authorities.”
“There are no safe illegal drugs.”
For complete article https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/music-industry-giant-festival-republic-backtrack-support-drug-testing-a8379296.html (cited 20/6/18)