With the rise of EDM stateside came the increased use of chemical enhancers. In steps the Bunk Police, they’re probs the only coppers you wouldn’t mind showing up at your rave and telling you what’s in your baggy. Rashers Tierney fields them a few questions.
There seemed to be more caution around pill use years ago than now. There was a much more heightened awareness of the need for pill/drug testing in the 1990s. Do you feel that it has waned in recent years and moved somewhere out of focus for harm reduction strategies?
Until recently, yes. It seems that harm reduction as a whole has fallen by the wayside for unknown reasons. However the introduction of cathinones and other research chemicals to the market has resulted in renewed interest.
Most US. states take the same approach, as does the federal government. There are a few areas that would consider the kits drug paraphernalia. Yes, fear of possible prosecution absolutely puts a damper on harm reduction efforts.
When it comes to festivals, can you give me examples of how you work at them? Have you ever had hassle from the cops? Do different festivals have different attitudes?
We distribute test kits in any way that we can – either as an official vendor or using various guerrilla techniques. We have also had good results encouraging people to order test kits prior to events. Most festivals or raves choose to turn a blind eye when it comes to our presence although we have been asked to leave a few events. Most often their reasoning is vague, it seems that they feel it’s best to not take a chance with us for fear of provoking federal organizations.
We have never been hassled by law enforcement, in fact just the opposite has occurred. We’ve had nothing but encouragement from police across the country as they use the same reagents (testing chemicals) as we do to determine the content of seized substances. They see the logic in what we’re doing and would prefer not to deal with people after a night of taking mysterious powders.
Can you give me examples of where law enforcement adopt positive and progressive attitudes to harm reduction when it comes to recreational drug use (as opposed to problematic drug users like opiate addictions etc..)?
The above is just about the only example in the US that comes to mind.
Right now we’re just trying to stop substance dealers from intentionally adulterating or misrepresenting their product for personal gains. Beyond that, it’s not our place to say what an eventual system would look like – however education and counseling would most likely be key.
What do you think of the Dutch DIMS model of testing? Is the sort of pill testing kits you guys offer not individualizing the problem, when really the state should act?
State sponsored testing, education and counseling – along the lines of the Dutch and Portuguese models – have proven very effective in reducing harm and substance use in general. Hopefully we’ll see a number of countries take cues from their examples.
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