Pubdate: Thu,  1 May 2003
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 The Georgia Straight
Author: Ken Tupper


The RCMP Drug Awareness Program's obstinate refusal to allow the testing of 
pills at all-night dance parties shows a willful disregard for the basic 
principle of harm reduction that underlies Canada's Drug Strategy and calls 
into question their commitment to protecting the health and safety of 
Canadians ["Partiers Serious About Safe Fun", April 10-17]. By the RCMP's 
own statistics, a large percentage of pills seized in Vancouver that are 
sold as ecstasy contain no MDMA-like substance. A simple field test such as 
the Marquis reagent used by DanceSafe can screen for such bogus pills and 
allow people to make more informed choices about whether to consume drugs 
they've purchased through the black market.

However, Cpl. Scott Rintoul's observation that a simple field test cannot 
verify drug concentrations or purity is correct. This is why MindBodyLove 
advocates for the availability of portable gas chromatography testing 
equipment (which can fit into a small van and be set up at party venues). 
These are more sophisticated tests and can give drug users a much more 
accurate assessment of what they intend to put in their bodies. Some 
European cities have such testing available at dance events.

Of course, abstinence from drugs is the safest way to party, but tens of 
thousands of young Canadians choose other than to "just say no" every 
weekend. A public-health approach (rather than the RCMP's criminal-justice 
approach) to dealing with this reality would allow drug testing at parties 
and give a message of "just say know".

Ken Tupper,
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