A new Multi Agency Safety Testing (MAST) initiative launched in Durham, England last month as a measure to curtail the risk of harm to the public over drug use.
The confidential drug testing service is the brainchild of Loop, a non-profit establishment that offers confidential drug safety testing to members of the public for free.
In the new venture, Loop chemists cooperated with Durham University in determining the contents and purity of substances submitted to their labs.
This action is meant to advise on matters concerning the potentiality of harmful drugs whose information will be disseminated to the public via warnings.
In a nutshell, the service aims to mitigate pressure on health institutions at a time of the year when drug and alcohol-related admissions hit the ceiling.
Durham suffers the effects of a robust darknet-supplied drug ecosystem. Specifically, a significant number of Durham University students have been raking thousands of pounds in revenue by selling dark web-sourced drugs to their peers.
Reportedly, the drugs sold by Durham University undergraduates are usually bought over darknet platforms such as Dream Market and are said to attract profits of up to 700 percent.
These substances are usually distributed at night events in Newcastle and beyond.
According to an investigation by Palatinate, a student-run newspaper at Durham University, undergraduate students engage in the dark web drug trade for three main reasons.
First, a host of these drug dealers aim to derive economic benefit from drug sales.
Second, the desire for a free social life motivates some students to venture into the drugs market.
Lastly, the “thrill” of selling illicit goods stimulates the drug trade within the nucleus of Durham’s student population.
There exists a subculture of drugs in Durham that enables the thriving of an underground drug network.
How Does It Work?
Last month, the MAST service opened its doors to members of the public in the submission of substances to The Loop’s pop-up lab, situated in St. Nicholas Church.
According to Fiona Measham, The Loop’s co-director and a criminology pundit at Durham University, the lab aims to serve students who are considering to consume substances at the end of the academic term.
At the pop-up lab, submitted drug samples are subjected to forensic testing techniques.
Results are produced in a record 15 minutes, a process that would attract no charge but guarantee utmost confidentiality for the sake of consumers.
Still, miscellaneous risk factors could be taken into account, including aspects surrounding the medical histories of subjects and alcohol use.
What’s the Point?
The Loop’s past activities on drug safety testing have demonstrated the importance of such an initiative on matters public health.
Therefore, the drug testing initiative is bound to change overall behavior as much as substance use is concerned.
Hospital admissions are expected to drop when the public becomes fully aware of drugs occurring in their daily interactions.
It is also clear that this venture will advance the interests of drug intelligence concerning the circulation of substances across community levels.
Additionally, emergency services may be alerted promptly in events meant to curtail drug-related harm to the community.
This follows the reality that a majority of substances tested by the lab prove not to be the drugs that people thought.
Ultimately, the sets of information expected to be provided by the lab’s procedures will go a long way to inform subjects’ decisions.
So far, the plan has received sufficient support by leading voices in Durham.
Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg has lauded the initiative which, in his view, will serve to ensure safety and prevent drug-related deaths in the area.
Similarly, Durham Police Chief Constable Mike Barton reiterated on Hogg’s statement by praising the initiative that will effectively provide vital information to law enforcement agencies about the circulation of dangerous substances at the local community level.
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