Drug testing kits to be introduced in Irish nightclubs

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Free drug testing kits could soon be provided by nightclubs to check the ‘purity’ of substances bought by users to help reduce the risk of accidental death.

The tests will ensure drugs such as cocaine and MDMA do not contain other dangerous ingredients. Many users of “street drugs” are unaware of what may be mixed into the drug they are using so these new kits will provide a safe method for drug use among young people across Ireland.

A special steering committee, to develop a new national drug strategy, will submit a final report to the government within the next few weeks.

Following the death of three people in Cork and Dublin last year from drug use, DCU student and chairperson of the university’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) Eleanor Hulm, decided to provide safe testing kits for students.

Funded by donations, DCU SSDP purchased drug testing kits from the internet and set up a “SafeSesh” initiative which began to advertise the kits on Facebook.

“These people died as a result of taking drugs that were sold to them and they didn’t know the quantity, the purity or what was in what they were taking,” Hulm told the Irish Independent.

“I was very angry because nothing was actually done about this from a higher level. Everyone knew about it but there was no proactive response to the situation.” She added.

Hulm hopes the new drug testing kits will be a more permanent feature within Irish Universities.

The committee drawing up the new national drugs strategy say the provision of these testing kits does not necessarily mean illegal activity is being condoned, it is more of an effort to reduce fatalities from toxic substances while a number of legal issues will also have to be resolved.

Health Research Board figures from 2014 show that 697 people died from drug related abuse; a 62 per cent increase from 2004 figures.

Critics say the move will risk normalising drug taking and say no drugs are truly safe.

Andrew Byrne

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