Drugsland takes viewers into the world of recreational drugs - the dealers, the party people and the politician who thinks that drugs laws aren't working.
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This programme contains some strong language
ELECTRONICALLY DISTORTED VOICE: I don't see myself
really as a drug dealer - I see myself more as just a salesman.
I've got LSD, I've got MDMA crystal, I've got MDMA pills,
I've got 2C-B pills, I've got 2C-I pills.
A couple of rolls of outdoor-grown weed, and we have Afghan hash eggs.
I sell 16 different types of drugs.
All of the major ones.
I do not sell heroin, I do not sell crack cocaine.
I sell to a wide variety of people.
They're students, a huge amount of young professionals.
They will take drugs, but they're never going to talk about that
at work because they'll get fired.
People have been getting high in one form or another
since the beginning of time.
Drug pureties are going up, drug prices are coming down.
The government will recognise that illegalisation doesn't work.
I know it's wrong and I know it's bad. But I do enjoy it.
A lot of things need to change in the way we treat drugs in this city
and in this country.
I've got surgeons, I've got lawyers, I've got doctors,
a huge amount of young professionals.
-Down on the floor, now!
Open your mouth.
Don't swallow the drugs, spit them out!
The risk would go away if everybody said no to drugs,
but just telling people to say no to drugs hasn't worked.
This is quite a small one.
Bit of a tickler, you know what I mean?
There's a bigger law than the law that we adhere to, and that law is,
like, mushrooms, do them!
Theresa May has stunned Westminster by announcing plans
to call a general election for the 8th of June.
The learned behaviour of a politician is,
don't campaign on drug reform in election time.
But Bristol has a drug problem.
It's got well above average rates of drug use and misuse.
-What's your name, darling?
-Kechi? What about this little one here?
-And that's her beret.
I've seen a massive increase in homelessness, drug-related issues.
For me, having family, I sometimes feel scared when my family's out.
I have seen the harm that alcohol and other drugs cause,
and I have seen it up close, I have seen it in my personal life
as well as my political life,
and I think seeing it in my personal life and being affected by it
There is a lot of drug-taking in this flat.
I know so, for a fact.
My son got his jaw broke two weeks ago and that's drug-related.
-Nice to meet you, Geraldine.
-And you, take care.
There are many, many social problems that affect everybody else
that are caused by drug misuse,
such as anti-social behaviour or drug litter.
One way or another, we are all paying for the misuse of drugs.
Whether we take them or not, we're all paying for it.
Most of us most of the time want to make the world a better place.
And as a politician, you get particular opportunities to do that.
All right. Nice to meet you, Katrina.
Some people enjoy coffee.
Some people enjoy going to the gym.
We like psychedelics...
We're going to this radio station called Ujima.
..and the law tries to stop us doing what we enjoy and what we love.
And we're not harming anyone.
We're bringing more joy.
Joe and I are friends first,
but we also work together as performance artists.
Always in character.
Our play together evolves around two characters,
myself and Joe as the Oracle and 3pZero,
who travel through space to come to Earth cos it's in trouble,
and we don't want it to end up like our planet.
-3pZero, is this it?
No, just patching the dials.
And we've been performing under the name Micro-Rave
for about eight years...
And 3pZero in the place.
..working all over, from festivals to town fetes and clubs...
..and it's basically about unlocking the childlike nature
inside all of us through a mashup of old-school computer gaming,
raving and interactive theatre.
Hello! How are you?
Go and kill some dragons!
-You don't remember us!
-Nothing to see here!
Nice, nice, nice.
Just wanted to introduce,
we've got the guys from Micro-Rave in the studio.
We've got the Oracle and 3pZero. How are you doing?
Very good, very good, Tommy Popcorn.
So, what's happening with the Micro-Rave?
You've got a gig coming up, haven't you?
Yes, we've got some rebel factions in Bristol town,
namely the Munter Gatherers,
and the Munter Gatherers are putting on an event
at the Blue Mountain on the 13th of May,
and we are orchestrating a robot battle in the upstairs room.
The gig was called Rabotech, right?
RADIO: The Liberal Democrats have confirmed
that plans to legalise cannabis will be included in their manifesto.
The party says that the sales would be strictly regulated,
and could generate up to £1 billion a year in tax revenues.
But let me give you one of these.
-If there's anything else you want to know, give me a call.
Did the Lib Dems' cannabis reform
come up at all on the doorstep this evening?
-Cos it just happened today.
-It did, actually.
What happened when it came up, Tom?
Well, it was somebody who'd voted Conservative last time,
and they were saying, "I don't really want to vote for the Lib Dems
"cos I'm pro-Brexit, but actually, the drug legalisation thing
-"makes sense to me."
-Well, that's interesting.
If you see the charts of the harm done by alcohol and drugs,
alcohol and heroin come at the top, not cannabis.
-So I get their reasoning, but we're not criminalising alcohol.
So, for me, it was sort of,
-"Why aren't we talking about all the drugs?"
Why are we thinking about an evidence-based policy review?
-I don't know. Would you vote for that?
-I think so, yeah.
I think I would! It's not in our manifesto.
Thank you all, guys, so, so much.
-Are you going back to the office?
Lots of people in my time as MP told me that they felt
the drug laws needed reforming.
I don't think we have a good answer to this,
but I do know that as a politician,
part of my job is to try and find a solution to it.
NOTES PLAY ON SYNTH
When's the time to have the symbolic ingestion?
-When's the time to take some mushrooms?
I'm actually going to eat a mouthful.
You should take another, cos I'm going to eat the whole...
Mushrooms open up new pathways in your brain, new ways of thinking.
I can already feel them now, inside me.
-I'm in a cool place.
-Whoa, so sweet!
We find it unlocks innovation and new ways of looking at creativity.
Whoo! One, two, three, and...
-# Wha-wha-wha-wha-wha Wha-wha-wha
# Wha-wha-wha-wha-wha Wha-wha-wha
# Wha-wha-wha-wha-wha Wha-wha-wha
# Wha-wha-wha... #
Yeah, we're going to need...
One, two, three, and...
RECORDED RHYTHM PLAYS
The onset of mushrooms, especially with creative endeavours, for me,
it causes a doorway, which is such a splurge of output.
And it sort of like throws away the careful craft of something,
-into, like, a real...
Into a real, like, psychedelically violent, like, approach to it.
THEY PLAY BONGOS
RECORDED RHYTHM PLAYS
Yeah, I can feel those mushrooms, it feels nice.
-It's real good.
Come on, baby. Let's find the right place for you.
You just keep on spinning.
We lose touch with the inner child,
and mushrooms can really put you back in touch with that.
SYNTH PLAYS, THEY LAUGH
Mushrooms are a joy.
They're a sheer, uplifting reminder...
..that you don't have to live within the confines
of what your mind sets up for you in daily life.
I'm just looking at your face and it's, like, slightly trippy.
Literally, right now, I would be quite happy going for a jog.
A gentle sprint.
Why would you...? Why do you want to go on a sprint?
All right, OK. Let's do this.
There's something very heart-warming about a psychedelic experience
reminds me of the goodness that's in the universe.
It's like a slow softening of your heart.
HE CHUCKLES This is where we're at!
Yeah, it's good to mooch about cities, man.
It's a Friday night, we take some mushrooms.
We're not beating anyone up.
Why is this against the law?
If you are a functional, hard-working person
and you choose to use certain substances in your spare time,
then why should anyone be able to tell you that you can't do that?
The fact of the matter is, making them illegal does not work.
It doesn't stop people from taking drugs.
People who really care about this issue,
it is for something far greater.
It's about stopping all of that money,
so many millions of pounds,
going into the black market when it could be going into the country,
into roads, education.
Positive things to help everybody.
I'm a self-employed woodworker.
And on top of that, I work full-time doing timber frame construction.
So, this last two weeks,
I've crammed in, on average, about 14 hours per day.
My friend Freya, she started a clothing company
about two and a half years ago now
and the clothes are really, really popular.
So, Paul, what time are we meeting at yours tomorrow?
-I've never, ever been with you on your birthday before.
-Oh, I think we're just going to go to a nightclub...
..and then back to the house, and drop loads of acid.
Drop tiny amounts of acid?
A quarter of a tab at a time, I think,
that's probably the order of the day, isn't it?
-I find micro-dosing it is much more manageable.
-You're not necessarily out of it in any sense.
No, not at all - you're completely lucid.
-You're just there.
Everything's brighter and more vivid and more hilarious.
I don't know if it's technically micro-dosing, what we do.
-A quarter of a tab...
-It's just a very small amount.
It's a small amount, yeah.
Do you remember that first time that we were hanging out, Freya?
When I met you, you were in the process of being arrested.
-Well, I think I HAD been arrested.
-You'd been arrested!
-You were in the process of being charged.
I'd been to 11 festivals and I'd been, like,
selling drugs at every single one of them and got away with it,
and obviously pushed my luck, and the universe just said, "No,"
and I got caught with an ounce of MDMA, 30 hits of 2C-I,
seven grams ketamine, all individually wrapped up.
But I mean, that particular experience taught me a lot
about what not to do, ie, sell drugs,
because it's just a dead end, isn't it?
And now I don't sell drugs, I just take them every now and again -
-it's way more fun.
ELECTRONICALLY DISTORTED VOICE: The general public
might make the assumption that all dealers are violent criminals,
which, of course, some are, but...
some of us do actually really like to give a good service.
A banker or an estate agent doesn't want to do business
with the type of dealers who carry knives.
I'm going to be washing the cocaine.
I've been told by my supplier that it's from Bolivia, it's 89% purity
and it's uncut.
What's that other 11%? That's what kind of worries me.
I want to wash it up in order to give people a cocaine experience,
rather than a white powder, money-making experience.
Really, all that we're doing is cleaning it up
to make the drug purer.
I honestly actually care about people getting decent drugs
at a decent price, and not getting mugged off.
I'm incredibly happy with the wash on this cocaine.
We've got rid of that disgusting chemical smell
that really shouldn't be there.
This cocaine - I'll be selling it for £80 per gram.
There is a lot of people who sell significantly worse coke than this
for, like, £100 a gram.
Just because you're paying a lot
really doesn't mean that you're getting a good product.
It possibly just means that your dealer's a greedy bastard.
The vast majority of cocaine use is just sociable cocaine use -
it's not problem cocaine use whatsoever.
It can also be...
..an escape, and that's when it becomes a negative cycle.
But people need support through that -
they don't need criminalisation.
Nobody's shown me a drug yet that has no downside to its upside.
There's a misunderstanding that the harmful drug use
comes from only the most harmful drugs.
But there are really horrible mental health problems
that can result from ecstasy, or MDMA, or cannabis.
I work in the brief interventions team...
-..which specifically works with anyone
-that uses recreational drugs problematically.
So, anything that's not heroin, crack, or problematic alcohol.
-There are lots of different drugs that we work with.
So, if you've got cocaine, if you're using it daily,
you're depleting the sort of happy hormones in your mind,
you're losing your serotonin and your dopamine very quickly.
It costs a lot of money.
So, before you know it, there's debt piling up.
-With cannabis, it's only been recognised recently
that there's a cannabis withdrawal syndrome.
So, if you use quite regularly for a period of time
and then try to stop,
you can get physical and psychological difficulties.
We don't tend to see referrals for MDMA and psychedelics
as a main drug, but they tend to be a secondary or third drug
that people use but don't tend to want to address at that point,
because that's their fun drug that they're not addicted to.
To people who have no experience with drugs whatsoever,
but who may be concerned about a friend or a family member...
To them, they may well think, "Well, surely all drugs are harmful."
And our message is always,
the only 100% safe way to take a drug is not to take it.
-Not at all. Yeah.
-But if someone has the information...
-..knows the risks...
-..and is able to make an informed decision...
..that's their right.
With my team,
we have a lot of people that use recreational drugs
You know, and live out a functional life of working
-or going to uni or so on.
I think when we talk about negative effects,
it's as if someone has found that their drug use
-has then caused them to miss work...
..or it's caused them... their mental health to deteriorate,
or they feel that they're taking more and more than they want to.
And how far do you think that levels of education about drugs
in schools nowadays are able to help young people
make those sorts of assessments of themselves?
We do a lot of harm-reduction stuff,
and just educating people on looking at testing their drugs,
or looking at getting enough sleep, eating, looking after your friends,
all of these different things,
and I think if that was used in schools,
it would be less of an issue.
-Most of what we see at BDP is alcohol-related issues...
..and also heroin and crack.
-Alcohol is completely legal, and yet it is very harmful.
But I can get access to good information about it
much more easily.
And alcohol always stays as alcohol,
whereas if you look at pills and MDMA,
and the purity levels have gone up in the last couple of years...
If we don't have that education out there to show people,
-and put that harm reduction in place...
..the likelihood is there will be more deaths.
For every person suffering from drug addiction,
there may well be five or six or seven other people
who are using the same drug, not suffering addiction
and aren't finding it as problematic in their lives.
Wow, this is such a huge amount of speed,
I definitely won't need all of this.
Poor man's cocaine.
Or rich man's...erm...
Probably not - it's probably a similar price to coffee.
-It's probably cheaper.
It's a lot cheaper.
This is... This is quite a small one.
Bit of a tickler, do you know what I mean?
Do you want some speed, Freya?
Er...a tiny bit?
Doesn't even give you, like, crazy energy, it just keeps you awake.
It's the best and the worst thing about speed,
-is the fact that it means you can't sleep.
-That is it, isn't it?
I mean, there's been occasions where I've taken one line of speed
at 5.00 or 6.00 in the evening, and then not slept until the next day.
That's not great for mood, if you're not feeling good.
It's not the same as, like, for example, like, MDMA,
which I used to take a lot of.
I can't stand MDMA any more, because you end up, like,
rolling around with your eyes in the back of your head...
You end up looking like what Tristan's looking like!
I feel tired, but I feel great.
Is that cos you took half a pill?
-Do you want some speed?
Yes, I take drugs and I absolutely love it!
Let's do this.
I'm going for a wee, 'scuse me.
I've put myself in some uncomfortable states
through excessive drug-taking.
But that's down to me being excessive.
It's quite a liberal attitude to drugs, especially in Bristol,
and I think that's because the police and the powers that be
realise that no-one's actually doing anyone any harm.
Every weekend, people go out and party at clubs all over the city.
By criminalising drugs,
you criminalise a big chunk of the population.
MUSIC: Church by The 2 Bears
# Come on, girl, let's have some fun We can jump and shout together... #
It's fun, and you have interesting experiences,
and it opens your mind...
..and you feel loved-up if you've taken MDMA...
..and you feel full of energy if you take speed.
Some drugs are harmful in excess.
Some drugs are habitual...
..and therefore are taken to excess.
Of course there's risks involved in drug-taking -
there's a risk involved in anything.
People should be careful -
it's not something to be dabbled with lightly.
For the most part, recreational drugs, if done responsibly,
are not harmful.
You can't possibly police and enforce a law which...
nobody's interested in adhering to.
This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever come across,
and I've come across a few, but that is definitely up there.
-Pete, catch! Go on!
-Pete can't catch!
SNORTS OF LAUGHTER
That was wicked, wasn't it?
-Pete, careful with the oncoming traffic.
-Oh, my God!
-Off he goes...
-"Young man dies in accident on longboard.
In the two years that I've been an elected politician,
I've tried to create lots of different spaces and different ways
for people to engage with me.
When I look at particular problems that are affecting my constituents
or affecting the country, what I want to do in each and every case
is to talk to the experts, read the evidence,
listen to what's out there,
and try and come to an informed decision.
So, I'm really glad that we could do this.
And the reason being that in this city,
Bristol has staggeringly high levels of harm from drugs,
and I suppose that's one of the reasons why I'm glad
we're having this meeting,
is because I felt all along that what was missing for me
was the expertise of people who do the science.
I was surprised that you agreed to see us, to be honest.
You know, drugs is a very...
It's a topic that MPs generally like not to be engaged with,
or generally like not to be challenged by.
A mother close to me cried pretty much every day
of the last 20-odd years of her life
because of the death of her middle child to heroin,
and it haunted me,
and it haunts me still that she was suffering the harms of drugs
long after he was, but so were his children, who didn't have a dad.
And so was he - you know, something was clearly badly wrong.
We don't seem to have managed yet, as a country,
to have an evidence-based approach to policymaking on drugs.
The thing about the Misuse of Drugs Act is it's 45 years old,
and it's exactly the same as it was the day it was written 45 years ago.
-Is it really?
-Well, it's been tweaked here and there,
everything's illegal apart from alcohol and cigarettes,
and here's how we classify them
as which are more dangerous than others.
Now, I can't think of any other socio-political policy
that's not changed in 45 years.
We've completely overhauled the education system, the judiciary,
health, you know, endless revisions of these policies
in line with evidence-based practice as it emerges...
-..yet the Misuse of Drugs Act, it's completely not fit for purpose.
We need to decide what...
What are the goals of our policies,
and one of the great disappointments is that both this current government
and the previous Labour government, in their strategy,
they never had reducing harm - harm reduction was never used.
The continual mantra was, "We must reduce drug use."
Most people use most drugs without coming to great harm
most of the time.
So, what's the difference, then, between drug use,
drug misuse, and addiction?
And what I bring to this is...
trauma, and child abuse, and poverty, and social exclusion,
and poor education, and poor housing - a lack of opportunities.
Those are the factors that turn a drug user into a drug misuser.
But so many people turn to drugs or alcohol...
..because they can't get any other services.
You know, it's the only way they can really deal
with this chronic, ongoing pain they have.
The idea that if drugs were softened or regulated,
we'd all be high all the time - it's just utter fiction.
There is no evidence to suggest that would happen at all.
But there's better - there's evidence that it DOESN'T happen.
Yeah, there's evidence that it reduces...
It doesn't happen in the Netherlands,
where cannabis is legal.
People aren't stoned all the time.
They use less cannabis,
because again, the black market is driving cannabis use here.
So, Portugal 15 years ago,
decriminalised personal possession of all drugs.
They did it for economic reasons, because the prisons were filling up
and they wanted a new strategy.
In those 15 years,
deaths from heroin in Portugal have reduced to one third
of what they were before, because heroin addicts get treatment -
they don't just get put in prison, or they don't get just punished.
In Britain, over the same 15 years,
we've INCREASED our heroin deaths by over a third,
because our policy is simply to punish rather than treat.
That sums it up.
Imagine a little shop out there now, selling cannabis,
ecstasy, amphetamine, magic mushrooms, LSD.
Now, if you say that to most people,
they find that an extraordinary thing, they couldn't imagine it,
that would be terrible.
But then I say, "Well, OK, so where are these drugs now?"
Well, the truth is, they're not in a little shop there,
they're in that kitchen over there,
where someone's bagging out bags of cocaine
with a couple of three-year-olds on the floor.
There's two people sitting in a car there selling ketamine.
There's a man in the pub just there selling heroin.
They are everywhere - the drugs are already in our society.
We can keep doing what we're doing now, because it isn't working.
At the moment, it feels so alien that we could change it,
but just imagine if we changed it - we had a regulated drugs market -
and actually it worked.
I don't know yet if complete abolition of all drugs laws
is the answer.
Let's say all drugs were legalised.
I'd still have to explain to the next mother of a child that died
why I'd decided that it was OK to legalise drugs.
But I'm also struck by the fact that the fact that it is illegal
isn't stopping them.
The people like me that are saying drug policy needs reforming
are not saying it so that we can all take more drugs.
We can take plenty of drugs - that is not the issue.
The reason we care about is we want the drugs to be cleaner,
we want education to be better about it
so people can make more informed decisions.
-Thank you for everything!
-You're welcome, thank you.
-I love you.
-I love you, too.
-I love you!
-Where are you going?
-I love you!
-You're not going anywhere, are you?
Bye, people! Bye-bye!
Bye-bye! What's her name, Martha?
It's just this law that has no effect on our day-to-day lives.
-It's actually very true - it has absolutely no effect.
It has no effect at all...
-If you're not a dealer.
-..on what we want to do.
We choose to take recreational substances occasionally
at the weekends.
It gives us really amazing experiences
in a way that you don't when you're not on drugs,
because your inhibitions are so incredibly lowered, and...
You think THAT'S the problem?
I mean, the fact that we're so reserved
-that it actually takes drugs to open up to that extent.
What if you really enjoy your drug,
but you also really enjoy having fun at the weekends,
-and it's just, like, kind of...
-But I do both those things.
There's a real tension there.
It's very difficult to stay up all night taking drugs
-for all weekend, and then go and perform well at work.
-I do that.
-I do that.
-OK, it depends what job you do, maybe.
I'm not saying the drugs themselves are great - they're just a tool.
In fact, sometimes they're not,
but they're a tool to get somewhere that perhaps we could get...
-without the drugs in a different...
-When is that ever going to happen?
-Yeah, not in our society.
Do you know what Martha said?
She said she's amazed and surprised
at how much more people in England take drugs than in Spain.
-And I think that's...
-We do like to smash it in this country.
No, honestly, we take way more drugs in England than in most... Yeah.
-Binge drinking, binge drug-taking, do everything to excess.
-It's part of our...
-Because we're so reserved?
I think it is partly that.
Do you know what the Spanish have that we don't?
-They have a much closer-knit sense of community and family.
That's true. I feel like you're my family.
But we only know what we've experienced.
Maybe there's other people that feel the same element of closeness
without ever having tried any drugs at all.
ELECTRONICALLY DISTORTED VOICE: Most people want to take drugs
just to have a good time, and I see it as my job
to make sure that's possible and safe.
Whenever I get something new in,
I test them with test kits to make sure that it is actually what it is.
I will then, in-person, test it, so either myself,
or I will give it to a group of people who know what the deal is.
I check that everything's safe before we go on and bag it up,
and eventually sell it to people who have their lives together
and just want to have a good time.
I don't want to have to eat a pill and go,
"Ooh, yeah, I think that was good."
I want to just be able to pay
to get someone to tell me exactly what's in my pill.
If I ended up selling something that killed somebody,
I really couldn't live with myself.
If every dealer had easy access to a lab test...
..then there'd be a lot less deaths.
Most of our typical weekends in the summer are in fields -
that's our jobs.
Some weeks, we'll work sort of 70 hours on the shop.
Not partying constantly -
you're working and you have some responsibility.
But you still get to enjoy carefree-ness and letting loose.
It's actually nice to come up here, because I was a bit...
I was feeling a bit...
When there's, like, a million people in the shop,
it's a bit hectic sometimes.
It's just like any other festival, really.
People come here to have a good time,
some of them want to take drugs.
And nobody's really looking down at you or frowning at you,
and it doesn't really feel like anything's being done that's wrong.
We know drug policy doesn't work.
Pretty much every single person at this entire festival
is on the same page, as far as, like, those laws are just...wrong.
Imagine if you went to a festival
and you knew that you wanted to have some drug experiences,
and you could do it from a place
where they'd give you all the information
about what this particular substance might do to you,
and they sat you down and said, "Right, OK, just so you know,
"if you are willing to try this substance, whatever it might be,
"this is what it's going to feel like,
"and these are the possible side effects, and...
"are you comfortable with doing that?"
There are these places already where you can go and get your drugs tested
and find out exactly what's in them.
It's happening at lots of festivals around the country already.
-Hi, can I help you?
-What have you got for us?
Do you think it's MDMA?
I've been told it's ecstasy -
I would imagine it's probably cut with something.
-What was the logo on it initially?
-It was an emoji...
..with cross eyes.
And you've not taken any of this batch?
-I haven't, no.
-Yeah, looks good to me.
-The wait's about two hours.
-And that's it, OK?
This is the busiest festival we've been at.
Yesterday, we were conducting one test per minute.
Basically, we are bringing drugs workers to the field,
to people who probably wouldn't step into a drug service themselves.
So, with the cap, if you can take a spatula end's full,
and pop it in this bag?
Most people that we see are in the 18 to 25 age group.
I think it's a good idea,
if we can engage people earlier on in their drug-taking career,
then we think that's a really valuable service.
-Hi. You all right?
-How are we doing? Come on, take a seat.
-My name's Becky.
-Nice to meet you.
-You don't need to tell me your name,
but that's really kind of you, thanks, Joe.
So, what do you believe you've given us to be tested?
An emoji ecstasy tablet, yellow.
And do you know if any of them are from, like, the dark web?
-Most things are these days.
And have you ever had a negative experience?
-I've had a negative experience with mushrooms once...
-OK, sure, yeah.
..but I was taking the piss - I took about 700 in Cornwall.
-That'll do it, yeah!
-Yeah, and it was deep.
The MDMA content we found was to be a high content.
So, we have a grading system of one, two and three,
and it was a grade three.
So, what we'd really advise people doing
when it comes to high-content MDMA pills
is starting with a very small amount.
This kind of thing helps to actually deal with it,
and accept the fact that people just want to have a good time.
When people are dying year on year at festivals,
something's got to be done.
-Something's got to be done, yeah.
-We can't just let that happen.
-Thanks a lot.
-See you later, Joe.
We've got the highest drug-related death rate on record.
Last year, 63 people died from ecstasy-related deaths,
and six of those were at festivals.
It's gone up eightfold in the space of seven years.
So, you believe this substance to be MDMA, is that right?
For us, it's about identifying contaminants,
putting out alerts to raise awareness,
to help reduce drug-related harm.
The substance was not MDMA.
It was a compound called N-ethyl pentylone,
which has a very similar appearance to MDMA,
but it's actually a distant relative of mephedrone.
So, we've identified chloroquine,
which is a malaria tablet that's been mis-sold as cocaine.
We've identified boric acid,
a household cleaning fluid and pesticide,
and we've identified 100% concrete that's being mis-sold as ecstasy.
Also at this festival,
we've found different psychoactive substances being sold as MDMA.
Pentylone is a concern.
We've had over ten samples so far over the past two days.
What happens is they could be awake for up to 36 hours
with this very strong and lasting stimulant,
and they'll have agitation, paranoia, insomnia,
elevated blood pressure and pulse.
We're not encouraging or increasing drug use -
we're actually trying to identify and establish
and decrease drug misuse.
Nationally, we're not seeing a move towards drug policy reform,
but in the regions, we are seeing a shift
towards diversion, away from criminal justice
and towards public health-related measures.
And what's really interesting is this is already happening in the UK,
it's happening in festivals,
but I think it would be good if we could formalise this
in terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act as well.
As it is, it's an unregulated market.
There's no laws protecting somebody who wants to take a pill of ecstasy
at the weekend.
They don't know what they're taking.
Is there a particular vision that you've got
of what you want drug and alcohol services to look like
as the commissioner?
We've got a pretty good understanding
of the needs of the population in Bristol.
We've still got a particularly large issue with heroin in this city
and increasingly, you know, issues around club drugs.
Fiona, could you tell me just... I know it's a thing called The Loop,
but what is that, exactly?
It's not not-for-profit,
so it's an enterprise that we set up in 2013.
If people have any substances of concern, they can bring them
and we'll conduct four different tests,
and it will say what's in the substance, the key ingredients,
and also it can give an indication of the purity, as well.
In relation to ecstasy, we've got a specific type of analysis
which will say how much MDMA is in an ecstasy tablet.
At the moment, very high strength is a particular concern.
We had stuff a few months ago in Bristol marketed as Darth Vader,
and we had that tested, and that was 270.
And so really, really, very high-potency stuff.
And what are the consequences of that?
Ecstasy-related deaths are increasing in the UK.
We don't really know all the full reasons for that,
but we suspect part of that is the fact
that ecstasy tablets have got more MDMA and so they're stronger.
-With illegal drugs, nobody knows what's in the illegal drugs
and I suppose the unique thing that drug testing can do
is it makes that connection between what people think they've bought,
-and what they've actually bought.
We identified boric acid was being mis-sold as cocaine,
and 100% concrete had been made into ecstasy pills
and were being sold on site.
I want people to know if there's concrete
in things they're about to take.
We ask people at the end of the intervention,
would they like us to dispose of any other drugs
-they've got on their person...
..and one in five people said yes, and gave us drugs to dispose of,
because they didn't want to take them.
So we're taking drugs out of circulation.
I love this idea, I'm fully behind it -
I think it should be happening everywhere.
What's the long-term outcome of there being drug testing available?
Is there any way of measuring that?
In Switzerland, Austria, and the Netherlands,
they have very good early warning system red alerts.
An example I'd give of that was the red Superman tablets.
And they put out a red alert, and nobody died in the Netherlands.
But in the UK, we didn't have a national public health alert
and four people died.
I get what you're saying completely, and I am actually...
I'm convinced of quite a lot of things that need to change
in the way we treat drugs in this city and this country.
If you were going to start from scratch and create drug laws now,
knowing what we do now,
we would not create them out there as they are now.
-They make no sense.
-..we'd just make alcohol and tobacco illegal.
-Yeah, we'd do that!
There's three big things that are on my list as a policy-maker,
and one is about decriminalised possession, and then testing...
..enable testing to happen.
The third thing is about illegality.
Should I not be able to purchase my drugs legally
if I know that they are well-tested, well-regulated?
If I'm going to purchase them, is it not better for everybody
if I purchase them in a safe environment?
-I think that may be...
-It's a harder leap for people to make.
-A huge step.
I am going to do my best to try and make this a political priority
It's not my government, but that doesn't mean I can't try.
This is the calm before the... Hopefully, the storm.
Let's create a storm!
After eight years of doing this...
-..I am yet to feel...
..like I fully know what I'm doing.
I've got the tunes.
-I've got the tunes that we need.
All right. There is a lot of love in the house!
Nights like these wouldn't happen
without my initial and continuing psychedelic experiences.
You definitely can draw on the energy of psychedelia,
but you don't need it.
Both of us have tried and failed to imbibe substances whilst performing.
Generally, it's just not a great idea.
Give it up for the 3pZero in the house!
Yes! Earthlings in the place, I am the Oracle!
Tonight, you have a chance to save Trevor!
RETRO COMPUTER GAME MUSIC PLAYS
With Micro-Rave, people can feel invited
to experience the fun and joy that exists in all of us.
Psychedelics do that for us, but not everyone takes these kinds of drugs.
We're about to play the challenge called Creepy Neighbour!
Which one of you is the creepiest?
Player two might have it!
You never know how a Micro-Rave night will turn out
or whether the public will even understand it.
Actually, it doesn't matter if they do.
As long as they lose themselves for a while in the madness...
She has unlocked a rave tune!
We're giving people an excuse to give reason to their celebration.
Saving the galaxy or the planet from a robot invasion threat.
Are you ready for battle?
Earthlings, are you ready for battle?
The robots are going to attack!
When we raise Trevor in the air,
90% of the people might not understand - what is this?
It's like some sort of cardboard broccoli.
I love the chaos of it.
Just making it a crazy spectacle.
HE SHOUTS WILDLY
Opportunity to raise their fists in the air and say,
"Yeah, we defeated the robots!"
Give it up for the players, the ones and the twos and the ha-wa-wa-was.
RAVE MUSIC PLAYS
Drugs and dancing go hand-in-hand - it's deeply tribal like that.
That's greater than the psychedelic experience on its own.
I allocated a certain wedge of my personal energy
to putting on parties.
I'm not saying everyone should take drugs.
I'm just saying it's really good to feel connected.
Life is psychedelic.
Without psychedelics, we wouldn't be putting on nights like this.
This is Micro-Rave out.
You know how to protect Trevor and you guys know how to rave!
That was fucking crazy!
-Yeah, that was great, bro.
-That was great, yeah.
I thought that was great,
I thought that the general response of the earthlings was, you know...
better than usual!
-That's what it's all about, guys!
It is 8.00 on Thursday, the 8th of June.
The headlines this morning -
voting is under way in the general election
at polling stations across the UK.
-Hiya. Do you have your polling card?
OK, no worries.
Millions of people will cast their votes today in the general election.
Polling stations across the UK opened an hour ago
and will close at 10.00 tonight.
Today's the 8th of June, polls close at 10.00 tonight,
and it's your chance to cast your vote
to help decide what sort of country you want to wake up in
BIG BEN CHIMES
BBC News at 10.00. I'm Sarah Louden.
Polling has just closed in the 2017 general election.
I think probably somebody, an MP at some point -
I don't know if it's going to be me -
but somebody's probably going to have to be brave enough to say,
"We need to reform the law on drugs."
There may be electoral consequences,
but I think it's the right thing to do.
At the election held on Thursday, 8th of June, 2017,
the number of votes cast for each candidate is as follows.
Debbonaire, Thangam Elizabeth Rachel,
I would like to thank all the volunteers,
particularly the young people, who've joined us in their droves!
Yesterday, Bristol West voted for progressive politics,
loudly and clearly!
And for hope.
The housing crisis and the schools crisis
are the two things at the top of my list.
There are too many people sleeping rough on our streets,
there are too many people who are hidden homeless.
This must stop.
The difference between being elected and not is huge.
When you are a politician,
I do get to stand up in front of the Home Secretary and say,
"What are you doing about drug law?"
And it's one of the things that I will be pushing them on
over the next few years.
SHOUTING AND CHEERING
CROWD CHANTS: Thangam Debbonaire!
ELECTRONICALLY DISTORTED VOICE: Doesn't really matter
what government's in power, what their attitude to drugs is,
how they're going to tackle drugs, how policing for drugs is funded,
because the biggest change in drug dealing and drug supply
has happened in the past five years.
It's called the dark net.
No-one ever predicted it would actually take off in the way it has.
Really, it's a train that's already got going
and there's no way of stopping it.
It's absolutely fucking massive.
Not only do you have a choice of, let's say,
1,000 different vendors selling it,
but you've got an eBay rating system.
Vendors who are not legitimate,
who don't send out what they say they're sending out,
will be outed incredibly quickly and people won't buy from them.
So here we go -
he's essentially not sending out the pills that he said he is,
so someone is...very pissed off.
He's got a lot of bad reviews,
so there's absolutely no way that I would buy from this guy.
You've got to be able to work out how to use encryption tools,
and you've got to be able to work out how to purchase Bitcoins
without identifying yourself.
If you can't work out how to do that,
I would really suggest that you just stay far away from the dark net.
It is a bit of a hub for criminals.
You've got to think about what you're funding,
you know, whether you're funding people-trafficking,
whether you're funding prostitution rings,
whether you're funding debt collection through violence,
all kinds of things.
You're never going to stop drug dealing on the dark net,
but what you can do is you can stop criminalising end users
who are doing absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever.
So, Mr Deputy Speaker, I do have the following criticisms.
do not include an explicit aim of reducing,
or ideally, eliminating premature deaths caused by drug use,
and I would really like to see that
front and centre of the drug strategy.
The organisation The Loop showed me one of the huge life-saving benefits
of being able to test drugs such as ecstasy in clubs and festivals,
and I want that full protection of regulation, education, testing,
and a licensing regime...
There definitely are negative aspects to drug-taking.
I've experienced them myself - along with the highs,
there are definitely lows.
But in the long run, if drugs were actually legalised and regulated,
then it would be a hell of a lot safer for everyone involved.
I want all honourable members to take a moment
to be quite imaginative, and imagine the nature of the shops
that there currently are - they already exist -
for people to buy drugs if they wish to.
But they are dangerous, they are illegal, they are unregulated,
they are untaxed, they are unlicensed...
I make a lot, lot, lot more than the average salary,
like, a huge amount.
I would be happy to make none if we could make it legal tomorrow.
I'm not suggesting that we should jump straight away
to full legalisation of all drugs.
I'm simply raising the importance of considering whether and how
to revise and review the legal framework for all drugs.
# Shroom-picking Out here with my bro! #
I'm not condoning drugs per se.
I think that people need to make their own decisions,
and I think that's the issue.
Just having that black-and-white blanket rule around it,
I think, is detrimental.
How can something that's growing naturally be illegal?
Oh, look at him, just all alone!
Oh, he's such a little beaut. Ah!
Look toward the light, my son.
It's a very complicated problem to try to wrestle with.
The legal system we've got is not helping people to reduce their harm
and to keep themselves safer.
We could use the evidence that we've already got to construct legislation
about drug use, drug misuse, drug treatment,
to protect everybody from harmful drug use.
For a free poster with information about drugs
and their effects on society, call 0300 303 3554...
..or go to the address below
and follow the links for the Open University.
Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire, substance-misuse experts and some recreational drug takers question whether the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act is still fit for purpose.