Monday, 29 May 2017

Double- double--etc bluff

From The Evening Standard:

Some of the UK’s biggest music festivals are planning to let revellers test their illegal drugs before destroying them.

Reading and Leeds Festivals and a number of other live music events will introduce the testing, with the support of local police forces, for the first time this summer...

1. For this to make any sense, we have to assume that people will buy slightly more than they intended to use, secrete most of it and then take a token amount for testing. If they get the thumbs up, they sacrifice that bit and consume the rest.

2. AFAIAA, testing for what's in substances is heinously difficult. If you take some random powder or liquid and test it to see if it contains cocaine or speed or whatever, you can normally get a 'yes' or 'no' answer. But you can only find what you are looking for, you can't tell what else is in it.

3. The list of chemicals in the so-called designer drugs is more or less endless, you'd need a fairly big sample (several grams?) and plenty of time to go through them all, and the user would have to give the tester a fairly accurate description rather than using the drug's street name.

4. Some drugs are often cut with something else to bulk up the volume, some are harmless, some are downright dangerous. the tester can probably test for the common ones, but not all of them.

5. So even if the tester can confirm that the substance actually contains what the user intended to buy, the answer will probably be "it's 60% [what you actually wanted] plus 30% [icing sugar] plus 10% heck knows what".

6. It's usually the "heck knows what" that kills you, meaning that an ethical tester will have to inform most users that the drugs are "probably" unsafe, even though statistically, only about one dose of illegal drugs per several hundred thousand is actually fatal.

7. So in most cases, the user is none the wiser. Even if the tester can identify some chemical or other, how is he to know whether the user will have a bad reaction to it? Clearly, most don't or the number of drugs deaths would be tens of thousands a year, not a few hundred.

8. It's highly unlikely that such market forces will work back to the actual source. If the manufacturer/importer knows that his drugs will be tested this way, he'd concentrate on producing the purest, safest stuff. But the distribution networks are so long and vague, this is unlikely to happen.

9. This is all beating round the bush:

David Raynes, of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said: "I'm cautious about it because it normalises drug taking behaviour. Every year there will be a new generation of of festival goers who will be influenced. Those [drugs] are illegal because they are unsafe and it will lull people into a false sense of security."

No, you twat. Drugs are unsafe because they are illegal and not the other way round.