Drug checking in a prohibition culture

Drug checking in a prohibition culture

Unknown and adulterated substances are one of the many needless and grotesque cruelties of the War on Drugs, putting people at extraordinary risk that could be so easily avoided if drug checking were both legal and readily available. Approximately 80% of nightlife drugs are adulterated. Two new novel psychoactive substances are discovered in the global drug market every week. Fentanyl and its analogs have overtaken heroin in opioid overdose deaths. While it’s not the only reason drug overdoses occur, adulterated or unknown substances are responsible for a very large number of overdose deaths and touch every community of people who use drugs. 

Given the inherent dangers of consuming unknown substances, Students for Sensible Drug Policy advocates to make drug checking legal; promotes, but does not conduct, the practice of drug checking on campus, in nightlife, and for all people who use drugs; and encourages those who choose, as individuals, to facilitate drug checking to understand the civil and criminal risks, discussed here, which may be associated with the activity. Because of the possible legal consequences, drug checking must be considered an act of civil disobedience — one which has been proven to save lives.

SSDP does not sanction drug checking as a chapter activity. As an organization, we are unable to absorb the risks associated with drug checking. Chapters may not possess drug checking kits, allow others to use such kits, advertise such use, or conduct drug checking themselves. Any SSDP member who chooses to engage in drug checking agrees that they are doing so in an individual capacity.

However, we understand that the desire to save lives and protect people who use drugs from the needless dangers of adulterated drugs is shared by harm reductionists everywhere. So last summer, we brought together a group of students, attorneys, and SSDP staff to elucidate the most important things people should know before they consider drug checking. We present these guidelines as an educational tool for individuals choosing to possess drug checking reagent kits, allow others to use such kits, advertise such use, or conduct drug checking themselves.

This information is not legal advice.