When it comes to taking drugs properly, we could learn a thing or two from the hippies in the ’60s. For them, it was all about “set and setting”. In other words, formulate a game plan before you get on it: what are you taking? In what context will you be taking it in? And what mindset will you have going into it? Those three factors should determine what dose you take and how your environment could impact the experience.
For instance, if you’re going camping with some good mates next to a picturesque lake and you’re in a great mood, that would be a fuck yes “set and setting” to take enough magic mushrooms for the surrounding hills to become pixelated, breathing in and out like lungs. But if you’re in a hot, rammed club full of strangers and you’re exhausted from the week, that’s not an ideal “set and setting” to trip on mushies.
A big part of this is knowing what you’ve got in your baggie, because you can’t make informed decisions blind. It’s difficult to get your drugs tested in the UK – the only postal drug checking service we have is WEDINOS, which was established in 2009 by Public Health Wales. Drug checking charity The Loop also offer a monthly drug testing service in Bristol’s city centre and sometimes offer front-of-house testing at festivals, where punters can get their drugs tested onsite.
Since street drugs often contain synthetic cathinones, synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic opioids, you’d think that England would introduce postal testing. Postal STI tests so highly efficient now, it’s hard to imagine why getting your drugs tested can’t be a similar process. According to the latest numbers released by the Office of National Statistics, drug-related deaths in England and Wales are the highest since records began in 1993. In 2021, 4,859 people died from drug poisoning, the “equivalent to a rate of 84.4 deaths per million people”, which is “6.2 per cent higher than the rate recorded in 2020”. If there was ever a time to roll out drug testing everywhere, it would be now.
If you’re heading to a festival this summer and you want to get everything tested beforehand, here’s how to get any drug (apart from steroids) lab tested in four simple steps.
1) Print out a form
You need to download this PDF – titled WEDINOS Sample & Effects Record – and print it out. Unless you have an employer that is indifferent to drug use within the workforce, you might not want to print this off at the office. You’ll have to find that one friend who still has a printer in 2023. In my case, it’s someone who likes to scan and print dried flowers for reasons unknown to me. You can click on a green button here to generate a unique reference number for your test. Note that down, you’ll need it later to get your results.
2) Fill out the form
Write the reference code on the top of the form. Fill out the questions that are relevant to you, including what substance you intended to buy. It’s best to test before you try, but if you have already taken the drug, list the effects it had for you. It’s anonymous, but it does ask for the first half of your postcode to track drug trends to general geographical areas.
Make sure everything relevant to your sample is filled out. I noticed that some results on the website are listed as an “inappropriate submission”, so I asked about the biggest mistake people make when submitting samples. “Typically this is because the individual has submitted an incomplete submission form,” a spokesperson for Public Health Wales told THE FACE. “But there are not a great deal of samples judged as ‘inappropriate’.”
3) Post it
Next, clearly write the reference code on your sealed baggie or whatever’s containing your drug, and put it in a separate envelope. If you walk down any street, you’ll see a red cylindrical pillar… I’m joking, you know how to post a letter, right? Post it to this address:
Cardiff Toxicology Laboratories
4th Floor, Academic Centre
University Hospital Llandough
4) Get the results
WEDINOS publish the results of the tests on their website and you can search for yours using your reference number. “Typically results are published within three to five working days of receipt at the laboratory,” the WEDINOS spokesperson said. “In a small number of cases the samples may require further analytical testing to confirm the result, which may prolong this publication time.”
There are limitations, though. You don’t get any indication of the strength of your drug, for instance. And remember: just because you’ve got the drug you intended to buy, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. For instance, during a weekend at Parklife Festival last year, The Loop found that from the pills they tested, the average strength was a very potent 167mg. Knowing what you’re taking is very important, so getting ahead of the game and testing before the sesh is advisable.
Click here for more information about the testing process at WEDINOS.