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Speaking to Rock&Pop radio station yesterday, Buenos Aires City Health Minister Ana María Bou Pérez said that in light of last weekend’s Time Warp tragedy in which five young people aged between 20 and 24 died after reportedly ingesting so-called “Superman” ecstasy-based pills, it is important we begin discussing the possibility of decriminalizing designer drugs.

“We need to find a way of looking after our children,” she said.

“In some societies, there are NGOs that regulate the purity of pills before they’re let in to these kinds of parties. This is a decision other societies have made; we’d have to see if we agree with this measure or not, or if we want to deal with the problem in some other way. Let’s not forget that [drugs] are illegal.”

Drug checking services are available in certain countries such as Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, although these aren’t typically offered on festival sites themselves and are generally offered by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), like Bou Pérez said. The idea is that drugs are going to be taken; it’s what people do at electronic shows. So why not make sure it’s done safely.

By decriminalizing designer or synthetic drugs, criminal penalties for drug law violations would be removed. The logic behind taking such action is that risks of drug misuse would be reduced thanks to the investments that would go into treatment and harm reduction solutions, thus improving public health and safety.

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Bou Pérez’s statements are a giant departure from Cambiemos’ War on Drugs, being arduously waged by the Security Ministry. Patricia Bullrich herself indicated she saw the Time Warp tragedy as a reason to intensify anti narco-trafficking efforts. According to a local expert, 95 percent of the anti-drug budget is allocated to combat the supply of drugs, with only 5 percent going to education, prevention and health programs.

Synthetic or designer drugs are produced to mimic the effects of regular hallucinogenic or narcotic drugs but having a slightly altered chemical structure. These chemicals can cause huge damage to the human body, as tragically displayed this weekend in Costa Salguero.

Currently, all drugs in Argentina are regulated by the same legislation, Law 23,737. It contains a long list of drugs that is updated periodically and treats their consumption in the same way.