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Controlling Illegal Drug Use at Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

Some research suggests that in excess of 50% of music festival event goers take illegal drugs when attending a festival. What measures can festival organisers put in place to control and inform visitors about potential dangers of taking unknown substances and make their events safe and enjoyable for everyone.    


Since the early days of the music festival drug taking has been part and parcel of attendance however, with bad publicity arising from drug related incidents over the years festival organisers and the police have been under pressure to eradicate illegal drug taking at festivals. This action often resulted in swarms of police with sniffer dogs roaming festival grounds to find drugs and make arrests. However, in recent years views have altered towards protecting event goers and providing a safe environment for something that is unlikely to ever be eradicated.

Zero Tolerance. 
A quick look at the terms and conditions of ticket sales to attend a music festival will reveal that every music festival has a zero-tolerance policy regarding drugs. Visitors can expect to be searched at the festival entrance and in some cases backed up by police presence. However, with so many people to process these searches tend to take place on a random basis if at all.

On-site Information. 
Working in conjunction with medical professionals, addiction specialists and the police many festival organisers make available information to visitors on the taking of illegal drugs. This will also include tell tales signs to look for if someone is reacting adversely to a drug (overdose),
along with actions to take and availability of medical facilities.

On-site Testing.  
Recent developments have taken place where a handful of festival organisers have installed pill testing facilities. Although this seems to go against the zero-tolerance policy the organisers publicise the provision of an on-site testing lab going some way towards keeping event goers informed about what they are potentially taking.

Working With the Police and Other Organisations. 
It has become generally accepted that there is little that can be done to eradicate drug taking at music festivals and organisers should work closely with the police and other drug related organisations and medical professionals to set up sensible processes and procedures for handling this contentious issue. Indeed, the police are generally more interested in apprehending the drug dealers and suppliers than users.

In modern times most festival organisers accept that a zero-tolerance policy can never really be enforced and despite the PR around these statements in reality they prefer to focus on the health and safety of their event goers rather than prevention. Providing information and easy access to water plus any related support services seems to be the way forward to ensure visitor safety. 

For any music festival organiser planning to get their event live this summer using a software management platform like
Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors guestlists and ticketing. 

Image by Wunderela from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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