Written 27th May 2012 by Olliers Solicitors

Section 4 and Section 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) 1971 determine that it is an offence to supply or possess a controlled drug listed in Schedule 2 of the MDA 1971.

A recent report based on data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed changing patterns of drug use at UK music festivals.

Drug Seizure

Last summer police seized £100k of substances at music festivals and figures show that drug choice is linked to music taste. Interestingly, individual events are likely to attract certain types of drugs.

For example, £44,869 worth of drugs, largely Ketamine, were seized at Glastonbury, £27,410 worth of drugs were seized at the Isle of Wight festival and £18,470 worth of drugs were seized at Bestival, both of which mainly consisted of Cocaine and Ecstasy. And, at V Festival £7,111 worth of drugs were seized, mostly Cannabis and Ecstacy.

At Sonisphere, where Metallica and Slipknot performed, £413 worth of drugs were seized, mostly Cannabis and a small amount of Cocaine. Ecstasy and Amphetamines, which are more commonly associated with dance music, were not found. Cannabis was the only drug seized at the Wiltshire festival and at Leeds the most common drugs found were Cocaine and Mephedrone whereas Reading consisted mainly of Cannabis and Methadone.

Police Presence

The statistics also showed the number of seizures caused by popular drugs such as Cannabis, Cocaine and Ecstasy at the festivals had fallen by approximately 65% since peaking in 2009. What is behind this? It is suggested that this is possibly due to changing behaviour, policing priorities and demographics. The Guardian suggests that police presence has either remained the same or increased by 15% and as a result has acted as a deterrent, however, it is unlikely that the average festival goer would have been aware of the police presence in advance. It could also be asked, does the quantity seized actually reflect the amount of drugs being carried or consumed? For example, if the number of police had declined, would the amount of drugs seized be less?

It is also suggested that the economic recession has had an impact on the drug user’s disposable income and as a result they are turning to cheaper drugs such as Ketamine as the price of drugs have increased. Could it not simply be that the price of festival tickets has increased therefore people are moving into a bracket where the drug consumption is characteristically lower?

Whatever the reason, for society, the fall in drug consumption is generally regarded as a good thing and is worthy of further investigation.

Saskia Abbot

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