Secret Garden Party, an annual arts and music festival in the UK, is making the festival experience safer for attendees. The festival is the first in the UK to offer testing to determine what exactly is in the illegal drugs attendees want to use before they consume them, reports the Guardian.
Created in conjunction with the local Cambridgeshire police and council, the illegal drug testing was offered as part of a 10-minute health and safety package provided by The Loop, an organization that provides forensic testing of drugs at festivals and nightclubs and offers followup support. In previous years, the organization only tested drugs seized by the police. Similar testing services have been found in music festivals in Germany and the Netherlands. About 200 festival attendees took advantage of the service.
"For the first time we've been able to offer the testing service to individual users as part of a tailored advice and information package provided by a team of experienced drugs workers ," said Fiona Measham, co-founder of the Loop. "This can help people make informed choices, raising awareness of particularly dangerous substances in circulation and reducing the chance of drug-related problems occurring. "
During the first day and a half of the festival, more than 80 substances were tested. The Guardian reports "very high-strength" ecstasy pills were identified as well as a number of drugs that were misrepresented such as an anti-malaria tablet sold as ketamine or ammonium sulphate sold as MDMA. According to Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst for Transform Drug Policy Foundation, about a quarter of the substances were thrown out after they were identified as a misrepresentation or as ineffective.
Scheduled performers at this year's Secret Garden Party include Caribou, Air, DJ Shadow and Jackmaster.