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The municipal council in the city of Rosario, Santa Fe Province, announced last week that it will begin to carry out quality control checks on ecstasy pills at electronic music festivals to ensure that another tragedy like the one at Time Warp last weekend does not happen again.

The studies will be carried out by the Center of Advanced Studies in Drug Dependency and AIDS (CEADS) from the National University of Rosario and will focus specifically on synthetic drugs. Various drugs will be analyzed in a laboratory, which will subsequently enable drug users access to information about the substances that they are taking.

Clubs and bars will also be obliged to provide free drinking water in order to prevent dehydration among party-goers.

“We cannot ignore the reality,” explained Daniela León, president of Rosario Municipal Council, speaking to Página 12. Rosario is a “very important market in the foreground of electronic parties” and “in these spaces, recreational drugs circulate.” León admitted that the prevention of drugs in such venues is currently not working, therefore it is necessary to initiate an “alternative plan” and “to create strategies to reduce the damage” caused by recreational drugs.

Daniela León, head of the municipal council in Rosario. Photo via
Daniela León, head of the municipal council in Rosario. Photo via

The decree was passed unanimously last week by a legislative body in Rosario, headed by León. The principal focuses of the program will be to:

  1. Create strategies of intervention in order to reduce the damage caused by drugs
  2. Contribute to the formation of teams working within this specific field
  3. Conduct surveys on drug consumption at electronic music festivals
  4. Coordinate drug consumption reduction schemes between official bodies and the emergency services
  5. Make Rosario the pilot of this initiative, which includes on-site pill testing that will provide information about drug consumption and the risks involved

Similar initiatives are already in place in countries such as Spain, Colombia, Holland and France. Various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) offer free drug testing within clubs and at festivals, which allows party-goers to find out what they are ingesting. EcstasyData, an independent laboratory pill testing program, tests ecstasy pills and other recreational street drugs sent in by users from all over the world before publishing the results online.

The implementation of this educational program in Rosario follows the tragic deaths of five young people at Time Warp electronic festival last weekend. Three more remain in critical condition in the hospital, after ingesting what is thought to have been synthetic drugs sold as ecstasy, although this has yet to be confirmed.

Rosario’s sensible response is in line with several other politicians’ responses, including Buenos Aires City Health Minister Ana María Bou Pérez, who last week suggested that the possibility of decriminalizing drugs be opened up to conversation.