In a new take on so-called drug “harm reduction,” students at the University of California-Santa Barbara are providing the means to test the “safety” of illegal drugs like ecstasy.
The College Fix reports that a student group is offering the free drug-testing kits in order for users to “see what’s in the drugs they’ve obtained before they use them.” The university is offering its full support and is promoting the program.
The analysis kits are the brainchild of student senator Patrick Dohoney, who provides the usual argument for harm reduction that weeding out contaminated drugs from merely dangerous drugs is a means of reducing “drug-related emergencies,” according to the UC-Santa Barbara student newspaper The Bottom Line.
To make sure they’re just popping “pure” ecstasy, students can take drug-testing kits home with them and run the drug, technically known as MDMA, through the analysis to screen for additives. After drug testing is complete, the students bring the device back to the university. The initiative was paid for through a student fundraising drive.
“It is very naive to deny the fact that there are students on this campus that are doing hard drugs,” Dohoney told The Bottom Line.
Campus spokeswoman Jackie Kurta told The College Fix why the university is supporting the project.
“Over the last few years we have had many conversations with our students about MDMA testing kits and we are very aware of how beneficial these and other safety practices can be for students,” she said.
“It is our understanding that a student group on campus has developed an initiative to fund and distribute these testing kits,” Kurta continued. “Although the Alcohol and Drug Program will not be providing funding for this initiative, we have offered to collaborate with the students to promote their efforts through our ongoing social media campaigns and outreach programs.”
Kurta points out that the campus student group “Life of the Party” would lend its helpful assistance in getting out the word about the drug testing kits. The organization encourages the “safe” use of “illegal drugs or substances that are not prescribed to you.”
Another student senator echoed the claims that the drug testing provides “safety” for students. “Although the use of the drugs is not encouraged, the senate understood that it is better for students who plan to experiment with them to do it in a safe way,” Izabella Kipnis told The College Fix.
Though UC Santa Barbara is assisting in the promotion of the drug testing kits, the university does not officially endorse drug use.
The university’s stated policy on drug and substance abuse reads: “Unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, use, or sale of alcohol or of controlled substances by University employees and students … is prohibited.”