Safer Partying

At the Drug Policy Alliance, we believe that people who attend music festivals, concerts and clubs should have access to honest, accurate drug education and life-saving services. They should not be needlessly criminalized.

Criminalizing Partygoers Causes More Harm than Good

Whether for purposes of healing, ritual or fun, humans throughout history have combined the use of intoxicating substances and music. The vast majority of people who use drugs do so non-problematically — meaning they aren’t addicted or causing great harm to themselves or others.

Nonetheless, zero-tolerance drug policies and enforcement efforts are ubiquitous. They haven’t stopped people at music festivals from using drugs. Instead, they cause unnecessary arrests and deaths, disproportionately of young people.

Harm Reduction is the most effective stance to take toward drug use at music events. This approach prioritizes access to honest drug education, onsite harm reduction services and safe settings at every festival, concert, or club. 

We’ve managed to create room for a very risky drug — alcohol — in our lives and party spaces. Acknowledging the risks and benefits of other drugs is the foundation of building a healthier relationship to drug use for our society.

Focus on Saving Lives, Not Arrest and Surveillance

DPA’s “Safer Partying” campaign works toward the following four goals:

  1. Ending stigma against people who use drugs at festivals, concerts and clubs.
  2. Amending the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act (2003) – known more commonly under its original name, the RAVE Act. This law holds event producers legally responsible if they are found to be knowingly operating “a drug-involved premise.” The law makes event producers and club owners reluctant to provide onsite harm reduction services like free water or cool-down spaces.
  3. Making drug checking happen in as many places and forms as possible.
  4. Stopping the criminalization of partygoers. Punitive drug laws cause as much harm as the drugs themselves, and often more.

We know that the threat of arrest doesn’t stop people from using drugs when they party. We want people to have honest, accurate information to stay safe, enjoy the music and have fun.

DPA’s Work

DPA has been working to make festivals, concerts and clubs safer for a number of years. DPA fought the RAVE Act when it was initially proposed in 2003 by then-Senator Joe Biden, warning that it would have unintended consequences if passed. Now, the work of fighting to amend the RAVE Act and reduce harm in the music scene in general is encompassed by the #SaferPartying campaign.

Insomniac’s Ground Control team distributes DPA flyers at the Electric Daisy Carnival festival in Las Vegas, May 2018.

Learn more about this campaign, get resources, and get involved here.

If you’ve been arrested at a festival, concert or club and are in need of immediate legal assistance – or can offer some – DPA’s Safer Partying campaign has partnered with The Festival Lawyer to create the Fest Law Network. We see it as harm reduction for our current drug policy.

Safer Partying