Debunking Myths and Discussing Harm Reduction on This Week in DrugsMadalyn McElwain
Sarah Merrigan from This Week in Drugs (TWiD), a podcast about all things drugs, hosted DanceSafe’s Kristin Karas and Madalyn McElwain in a round table discussion highlighting nightlife harm reduction. The three, who are all alumni of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, discussed the importance of DanceSafe’s services and debunked the myth that DanceSafe always performs drug checking–just in time for festival season and #MythBusterMonday.
“[Harm reduction services] are services that are inherently needed within the context of a prohibitionist drug policy climate,” states Karas in the TWiD interview (available here). “We know that with black markets comes adulteration and misrepresentation, and that’s where drug checking came into play.” DanceSafe is notorious for offering drug checking which, as discussed later, makes promoters hesitant to bring DanceSafe onsite for their events. It is important for event managers to know that as a public health organization, DanceSafe offers more than just drug checking.
“Over time, DanceSafe has evolved into so much more,” continues Karas, “we have tacked on other services and our operations have become a lot more formal which has given us an opportunity to meet promoters where they’re at […] that’s what harm reduction is all about. We want to be able to offer [DanceSafe’s] services in a number of capacities, even if this means forgoing drug checking.” For example, DanceSafe handed out approximately 250,000 free condoms at events last year, thousands of ear plugs, hundreds of gallons of free water, and factual literature about affirmative consent, risks of hearing loss, and information on heatstroke and dehydration between the national office and local chapters.
Also discussed in the TWiD podcast is why promoters are reluctant to have DanceSafe onsite. Namely, a piece of legislation that is colloquially known as the RAVE Act. It deters venue owners and event organizers from offering on-site harm reduction services like drug checking at events because they could potentially been seen as knowingly maintaining a drug involved premise under the Act. Drug checking kits are also considered illegal paraphernalia in many states, and there is, of course, the implication of testing illicit substances. The laws currently in place, however, do not deter people from engaging in risky behaviors such as sex or drug use, and therefore DanceSafe’s services are necessary.
It is DanceSafe’s mission to keeping the nightlife communities safe and healthy. DanceSafe recognizes that this is also a goal for promoters, artists, performers, security, medical staff, and venue or landowners–all of the stakeholders who are creating the container for members of the community to experience personal and spiritual growth, connection, and everlasting friendship. Maintaining partnerships with everyone involved is what is going to help keep participants safe.
For more information and to sign the Amend the Rave Act petition, click here.