Testing recreational drugs for purity saves lives so let's legalise them

We have been pointing this out for some time now, that proper and rigorous testing of illegal drugs saves lives. For the basic cause of most overdoses is that people don’t know what they’re taking, at what purity level. If those little packets of fun - and yes, they are fun, why the heck do you think people take them - are tested to see what’s in them then here will be fewer such mistakes over dosage and fewer deaths.

Thus the answer is to make drugs legal:

An alarming rise in drug-related deaths at music festivals can be countered by testing illicit substances onsite, according to the first academic study of its kind, which has triggered calls for similar services to be rolled out at all major events.

Testers found that one in five substances sold at the Secret Garden Party, a four-day festival in Cambridgeshire in July 2016, were not as described by dealers.

Samples contained ketamine instead of cocaine, while a drug sold as MDMA turned out to be n-ethylpentylone, a long-lasting cathinone that can cause anxiety, paranoia, insomnia and psychosis.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you

Read more

Others contained pharmaceuticals and cutting agents such as anti-malaria medication, as well as less harmful ingredients such as brown sugar and plaster of paris.

Chemists from the non-profit social enterprise The Loop analysed 247 drug samples brought in anonymously by festivalgoers. Two-thirds of people who discovered they had had substances missold to them subsequently handed over further substances to the police, according to the study.

Knowledge saves lives so let’s have more knowledge.

About as far as most liberal opinion is prepared to go is that such street pharmaceuticals should be decriminalised. We, being proper liberals, insist that proper legalisation is the route. For only when producers can in fact advertise - yes, advertise - their brand will they have that skin in the game. They’ll have something valuable which they don’t wish to destroy, a reputation for not killing their customers. Thus they won’t, we’ll get drugs which actually are what they say on the packet.

The analogy here is to the early days of food brands. 1830, 1840, saw that England had been rapidly urbanised and the old methods of food provision didn’t really work. No one did buy repeatedly from the bloke next door in the village any more. Adulteration was rife. Brands arose competing upon the quality and purity of their ingredients and proliferated in the 1850s. The first serious laws about food adulteration came in the 1870s, by which time the problem was largely over.

The same, but in inverse, came with the slightly later technology of canning. A hit and miss affair to start with, those brands that are still with us and still valuable - as examples, Heinz and Campbell’s - distinguished themselves by getting canning right and killing fewer to no consumers. They became valuable as a result, a value the owners have preserved.

Once there’s a value to having a drug brand then people will produce clean and dose controlled highs. They can and only will gain such value when it’s legal to have a drug brand.

Thus we wish to have legal drugs. Assuming, that is, that we wish to reduce the danger of drugs rather than just insist that other people shouldn’t be doing what we think they shouldn’t.