Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Ecstasy testing outside nightclub, Brixton, 1998.
Photo: Ivan Coleman

News And Other Busyness

Test Proves Positive

Drugs activists launch ecstasy testing kits in Brixton. Sam Wild was on the front line.

Squall 16, Summer 1998, pg. 7.

DRUG AWARENESS-RAISING GROUPS calling for a reassessment of current drug legislation pulled-off a brazen publicity stunt in Brixton, South London recently. Parking a 7.5 tonne curtain truck outside the Fridge nightclub, campaigners offered passers- by and Love Muscle club night attendees the opportunity to step inside the mobile ecstasy testing chamber (complete with settee and chill out space).

A few curious clubbers volunteered their pills and found out that most of them contained speed despite buying the pills as ecstasy.

The test is similar to that pioneered in Holland (and is increasingly being supported by the Dutch authorities) in which a scraping from a pill is mixed with Marquis Reagent solution and a simple colour change indicates the presence of MDMA, Speed and 2CB.

The Green Party Drugs Group and (the web site set up by the author Nicholas Saunders who tragically died recently) which spearheaded the action have been reassured by the sales of DIY ecstasy testing kits and have recently launched an interactive database on the web site which allows people to add the results of their tests.

Shane Collins, a Green Party representative explained: "The long-term aim of this campaign is to change the law on E testing and prohibition in general... In an unfettered illicit drugs market, there are no quality controls and testing is a rational response to an identifiable need."

By launching the cyber arm of the ecstasy testing campaign, are hoping to internationalise the issue through the Internet and are encouraged by the numbers of people already using the database facility. "Over three million people a year, seeking accurate information on all aspects of ecstasy use, access the site making it the ideal host for such a scheme," said an spokesperson.

Campaigning groups are now pointing to recent surveys on drugs as evidence that the Governement's tough line is not working including one carried out by Greater Manchester Police which found that six out of ten people arrested for all crimes, and who volunteered for an anonymous drugs test, proved positive to recent drug use. Yet, despite the increasing popularity of actions of this kind, the Government remains intransigent. A Health Education Authority spokesperson stated: "Anything which encourages people to take drugs is irresponsible."

Drug awareness-raising groups and the Government also clash on figures connected to ecstasy seizures. The Forensic Science Service (which tests drugs seized by the police) maintain that 85 per cent of drugs seized as ecstasy contain ingredients from the ecstasy 'family' (MDMA, MDEA, MBDB and MDA). Fully comprehensive laboratory tests carried out by, however, found that of 35 tested pills only six contained any MDMA.

Activists see the link between drugs and crime as artificial and the result of Governmental policy which, through prohibition, encourages the control of the illicit drugs market by criminal organisations.

Test kits can be purchased through the Green Party Drugs Group, 1a Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ. Web site:

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