Here at Ears To The House, we don’t take a view on whether drugs are a good thing or a bad thing. We believe that’s for others, such as politicians, to decide – the only comment we have is that people are going to take drugs, regardless of what any law tells them whether they can or cannot.
Which is why we think drugs testing services are a rather good idea. Let’s face it – under the current law in Britain and numerous other countries, no one who chooses to take an illegal substance actually knows exactly what they’re about to put into their body. That tablet could have literally anything inside it, and you have no way of knowing.
We first wrote about this subject in August 2021, following the sad death of a 21-year-old called Bill Hodgson at London’s The Cause. And we’re far from the first – the long-defunct Muzik Magazine published a brief piece on the topic of drug testing all the way back in January 1996.
But if you want to have drug testing services at your event now, how do you go about it? Well, the Home Office – who are responsible for drugs policy across the UK – have all but kiboshed attempts by festivals such as Manchester’s Parklife to do any of it this year. And all because of an apparent change of policy.
Previously, festivals could work alongside their local police forces to come up with something which worked for them. This localised policy, by and large, worked quite well – it meant that the police and event organisers could work closer together.
But the Home Office is now demanding that any events wanting to run drugs testing services must now apply for a licence to do so. The process costs £3000 per application, can take up to three months to complete, and requires a visit from a Home Office official to view the infrastructure – often weeks in advance of the event.
Seeing that the average festival only set things up days ahead of time, the result is there won’t be any such services at the vast bulk of British festivals this season. Has the British government placed penny pinching above the lives of people who potentially now have to take a huge gamble as to whether any drug they wish to take is at all safe?
You can decide on that one…