New Guide Tackles Issue of Drug Use at Music Events

Press Release December 22, 2014
Media Contact

<p>Contact: Stefanie Jones 323-377-8902 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384</p>

In response to an increasing number of deaths at music festivals and other events in the U.S. and a rising emphasis on use of police and enforcement tactics, a new guide aims to give event producers an alternate approach that places health first when it comes to drug use.  The recommendations in the guide include onsite drug education, mental health services and drug checking.

The guide states that alcohol and other drug use is “the norm at almost all events” while acknowledging that addressing illicit drug use is challenging.   Drug war-era policies, such as the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act — passed in 2003 and commonly known as the RAVE Act — have loomed large.  The RAVE Act has been misinterpreted by many event producers as grounds to shut down their business if they take any approach to drug use beyond zero tolerance.  “We know it’s a tricky subject, but it’s time to get real,” the guide states, concluding that, “The fact is, a pragmatic approach to managing drug use at events saves lives.”

As detailed by the guide, a pragmatic approach to managing drug use includes both improving practices event producers already employ, like use of security and medical teams, as well as adding new services, like onsite drug education and mental health spaces. 

The guide promotes a harm reduction approach to managing drug use at music events. This includes confiscating drugs without arresting people caught with them as well as advocating for the practice of testing substances like “molly” to determine if they actually contain MDMA or instead are riskier cathinones like methylone or MDPV (also commonly referred to as “bath salts”).  Paired with specific drug information given by trained individuals, the practice of drug checking allows people to make smarter choices about drug use and avoid ingesting unknown substances.

The guide debuted at the annual International Music Festival Conference in Austin, Texas earlier this month.  It was the basis for two panel sessions that addressed drug use at music festivals, marking the first time the issue has been formally discussed at a music industry conference.
The guide was produced by four organizations: DanceSafe (drug education), the Drug Policy Alliance (law and policy), Mutual Aid Response Services (medical and EMS), and the Zendo Project of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (mental health).  It is featured as a part of the “Music Fan” campaign run by the Drug Policy Alliance to stimulate conversation about drug use in nightlife and festival settings as well as policy reforms that would improve health and safety.

For more details about the guide, contact Stefanie Jones at the Drug Policy Alliance.

Managing Drug Use at Your Event Guide:

DPA’s Music Fan webpage:

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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