At music festivals throughout the UK, in a tiny trailer used as a make-shift laboratory, volunteer chemists conduct tests on pink and purple pills that look like children’s vitamins. They aren’t vitamins, however. And they certainly aren’t for children. In fact, in some cases these pills can be extremely harmful, even fatal.
Why the tests?
Reports show that the UK has the highest rate of MDMA (the drug known on the street as “ecstasy”) use in Europe.
These onsite forensic tests take only about 15 minutes, and can literally save lives. The volunteers, who are professional chemists, Ph.D. students and pharmaceutical researchers, donate their time and expertise out of an abundance of concern over the serious dangers of taking drugs of inconsistent purity and strength. Some are tainted with other deleterious substances, all unknown to the festival-goers.
Says Fiona Measham, co-founder of one of these volunteer organizations called The Loop, “They give us one pill or a small scoop of powder, and they won’t get that back…Normally the substance is destroyed in the testing process. So there isn’t really anything left in our possession.”
Ecstasy the Most Popular Drug at Music Festivals
According to Measham, “My research shows that MDMA crystal [“ecstacy”] remains the most popular party drug amongst festival goers and clubbers but purity and contents can vary considerably in illegal markets. When purity increases it takes a while for behaviours to readjust and we often see more problems. We want to keep people safe and advice as simple as ‘crush-dab-wait’ could save lives.”
The Loop is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company providing welfare, forensic drug testing and harm reduction services on drugs, alcohol and sexual health at UK nightclubs and festivals across Europe. The Loop was the first UK organisation to warn about the Superman PMMA pills prior to the death of 4 users.
For more information about The Loop contact firstname.lastname@example.org.