Berlin Wants to Create Facilities to Test Drugs

November 1, 2018, by

Ecstasy, amphetamines or cannabis are part of Berlin’s party life. The city now wants to allow consumers to test drugs for their active ingredients.

After years of consideration, Berlin wants to create test facilities for drugs such as ecstasy pills. A model project for so-called drug-checking has now begun, said a spokesman for the health administration. A survey commissioned by the Senate showed that party-goers in Berlin are using drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy.

Drug checking means that an official body chemically analyzes pills from the black market. According to the health administration, the aim is to obtain as accurate and comprehensive information as possible about the ingredients and their dosages and to publicize the results.

Drug checking is part of a package of measures announced by the Red-Red-Green government in the Coalition Agreement to “Reduce the Accompanying Risks of Drug Use”. Advocates expect that, in addition to public warnings, they will gain better access to consumers in order to educate them about risks. Some also hope that the manufacturers pay more attention to safe products because of the controls. In addition to the damage to health caused by active substances such as cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy, risks can also be impurities, the stretching of the substances or too high a concentration.

The Berlin Senate is providing a total of 150,000 euros for the pilot project in 2018 and 2019. The contract was awarded to a community in which, among others, the addiction aid organization Fixpunkt is involved. In Berlin, among other things, it operates drug consumption rooms and provides syringe dispensers. The carriers should first obtain an opinion on the legal feasibility of the test offer. Because of the legal situation in Germany Berlin needs for the test offer a special permission of the federal institute for medicament and medical products.

Results will be published online

In Germany, the Narcotics Act prohibits certain drugs, their production and import, trade, purchase and, to a large extent, ownership. But there are many exceptions for medical and scientific purposes. An opinion of the Scientific Service of the Bundestag from 2009 states that binding statements about the legal permissibility of drug-checking are not possible. “The law does not explicitly regulate this situation.”

Chemists who investigate drugs may be liable to prosecution for unauthorized possession. The same applies to the consumer. If the police were to watch him deliver the drug, they would have to intervene. What is needed is a “clear legislative decision” to establish legal certainty. There is something like that for drug consumption rooms in some federal states.

But even in the case of success, it is unclear when and how drugs can actually be tested in Berlin. The request of the institutions provides for the recruitment of staff and the provision of equipment and laboratory resources. A website is planned on which results will be published. The porters should announce the project and offer consultation hours.

In Zurich, drugs are tested twice a week

Efforts to introduce drug-checking in the capital date back to the 1990s. Already in 1995 the association “Eve and Rave” in the Berlin techno scene drew attention to dangerous ecstasy pills in Berlin. With drug-checking, the club, founded in 1994 from the Berlin techno-party scene, wanted to reduce the risk of consumption. However, it came in 1996 to conflict with the judiciary, a search and a preliminary investigation of the prosecutor’s office were the result.

In other countries like Switzerland, drug-checking has been around for years. There, twice a week, the City of Zurich’s Drug Information Center (DIZ) offers appointments for drugs for analysis. The result can be asked later. Warnings are also posted on the Internet. Several times a year there is also a so-called mobile drug-checking at various points in the city. This analysis takes about half an hour.