Here at Elsewhere Man, I focus mostly on backpacking culture. But drugs and festivals can be a big part of that culture, and I’ve been seeing the former a lot in the news lately, especially in context with the latter. Given this site’s role as my mouthpiece, I’d feel it remiss to not say something about an issue currently becoming more and more prevalent. It’s one I care a lot about, especially with regards to the implications it has on personal liberties and social responsibility.
I’ll get my biases out of the way first, and if your opinion about my own is colored by the choices I make in my life, then so be it. At least I’m honest. So here’s the thing: I have absolutely no problem with drugs and think every single one should be legal. I think they can be an incredible gateway into understanding both your own mind and the world around you. While there are obvious health issues with them, especially the harder and more addictive ones (looking at you, heroin), the psychedelic ones are amazing tools with plenty of health and psychiatric benefits – from treating PTSD to marriage counseling to deciding your own place in the world.
The key is being responsible about it. Before anybody tries any new drug, they should research it. They should learn exactly what it does to their body, how it operates, and what sort of side effects – both short and long term – they can expect. I’ll be linking some resources for this at the end of this post, but I’m not going to delve into my actual findings. This post isn’t about trying to convince you that drugs aren’t bad. Chances are you’ve already made up your mind about them. This post is about responsible use.
And responsible use doesn’t end with the person using them.
Electric Zoo, an EDM festival in New York, cancelled its final day this weekend. Such is the impetus of this post. Two people died from complications related to taking drugs they thought were pills of Molly. I know I’ve phrased that in a slightly odd way, but the distinction is important. We don’t know if it was Molly that they took and we don’t know if it was an overdose that did them in. A lot of these deaths are actually caused by dehydration, heat stroke, or hyponatremia caused by drinking too much or not enough water while dancing for ten hours in a crowd.
Of course, that’s not how the news is reporting it. The news is rustling up the usual scare tactics. Let’s look at this article for example, which states the victims died, “after ingesting MDMA, a powerful form of Ecstasy better known as ‘molly.’” I’ll ignore the fact that Molly isn’t some powerful form of ecstasy (ecstasy is MDMA cut with something with properties that allow it to be pressed into a pill shape – usually some kind of amphetamine). What annoys me is the blatant disregard for facts – these people haven’t even had autopsies yet.
So lets get back to responsibility. Trying to demonize and ban drugs at music festivals will be as successful as banning music festivals themselves. Just ask our 40-year war on drugs how it’s going. How do you really stop kids from accidentally killing themselves? You do it by representing the drugs realistically. Education.
Let me ask you a question. How many shots does it take to get you drunk? Probably between 3-6, right? How many would it take to kill you? Probably around 20.
Let me ask you another one. How many pills of ecstasy does it take to get you high? How many does it take to kill you? Do you even know?
The problem is that we never talk about this sort of thing. We never hear about amounts when it comes to illegal drugs unless we’re talking about police busts. A shipping container with a ton of cocaine found inside. A cartel deal with a hundred pounds of weed. We never talk about the good kid around the corner who picks up a few pills from his friend so he can have a good time at a concert. And because of that, the good kid has no concept of how to do drugs responsibly. So the kid dies. Only then does his drug use become part of the narrative, because that’s the narrative that sells. This all-or-nothing mindset is literally killing people.
It’s not just the newspaper. We’ve got dickheads like Miley Cyrus talking about Molly in her pathetic attempt to be treated like an adult. Kids look up to these people and turning it into a buzzword puts a luster into that that shouldn’t be there. Drugs aren’t something to be taken lightly. I really hate Miley Cyrus, you guys.
So lets get into the responsible use on the part of the users. The answer is still education, mixed with a bit of cynicism. Molly is pure MDMA, yes, but that doesn’t mean what people are selling as Molly is the real deal. Growing demand comes with shoddier chemistry. There are kits out there to test the contents of your pills. I’ll include links to them at the bottom of this post.
In an ideal world, festivals would realize that people will be bringing drugs in no matter what kind of security they have in place. In an ideal world, they would provide safe and non-judgmental ways to test your drugs on-site, similar to the needle exchange programs a lot of cities already provide. But that’s still a long way off. It’s going to stay a long way off until we change the way we think about drugs.
Until then, people need to take care of themselves. They need to realize that a drug isn’t just the latest fad in pop music, and that there’s preparation – both mental and physical – that goes into trying it. They need to be informed.
Hopefully one day the rest of the world realizes that and helps them get that information. Because until then, there are a lot more dead kids on the horizon.
DRUG INFORMATION: Erowid
PILL IDENTIFICATION: Pill Reports
DRUG TESTING: DanceSafe