Even when festivals, clubs and concerts adopt a harm reduction approach, they often do so at the same time that they add more surveillance and enforcement efforts.
Our drug laws are the direct cause for this conflicting response – and they cause at least as much harm as the drugs themselves, and often more.
Making arrests for drug possession at a music event has little to no impact on broader drug use. And for the people unlucky enough to be caught, an arrest can make future schooling, employment or housing difficult.
We need to end drug possession arrests, the use of drug-sniffing dogs and other invasive search tactics - at music events and everywhere.
As for drug sales, few people realize that in many states if you simply hand a drug to someone else you are by law considered a drug dealer, whether money exchanges hands or not. People busted for selling drugs at festivals are often young, inexperienced, and sometimes aggressively targeted by undercover cops.
If you’re in need of immediate legal assistance – or can offer some – DPA’s Music Fan program has partnered with The Festival Lawyer to create the Fest Law Network. We see it as harm reduction for our current drug policy.
Ultimately, we must stop criminalizing partygoers, just as we should stop criminalizing people who use and sell drugs outside of music scenes.
It’s time to put all options on the table, and that includes opening the conversation about regulating MDMA and other drugs commonly used at festivals, concerts and clubs.
Only when we’ve changed drug laws will our society be able to develop a healthier relationship to drug use.