Could Geneva Introduce Drug Checking in 2017?

Geneva, Switzerland (TalkingDrugs) – Drug checking, a key harm reduction tool which enables users to have their synthetic drugs chemically analyzed in order to increase safety of their use, could be set up in Geneva in 2017.

Regional newspaper Geneva Tribune reported last year that Nuit Blanche? — an organization offering harm reduction services at festivals — has submitted a project proposal seeking to create a laboratory which will allow people to find out exactly what is in their products prior to using.

Prepared in cooperation with the addictology unit of the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), the project proposes two possible structures:

  1. A mobile facility that  Nuit Blanche? will take to festivals and which will offer results on testing to be available within 20 to 30 minutes;
  2. A static facility where people will be able to send their drugs to for checking.
Image Source: Courtney Rhodes, Flickr, Creative Commons Rainbow Pill Background 3

Image Source: Courtney Rhodes, Flickr, Creative Commons
Rainbow Pill Background 3

According to Geneva Tribune — the only source on this news for the moment — the consultative commission on addictions has accepted the project and a study launched in May 2015 by the State Council is being conducted to question its feasibility and determine its legal framework. The results of this should be available by spring 2016, and if everything is approved then drug checking could be set up in 2017, estimates Geneva Tribune.

Nuit Blanche? has previously reported that on average one test in every six in Zurich — which has had a drug checking program, Saferparty, in place since 2001 — detects a dangerous, even potentially fatal substance contained within recreational drugs.

In addition to helping reduce the number of drug-related accidents because of the unknown purity of illegal drugs, Nuit Blanche? argues that drug checking will facilitate the dissemination of information and harm reduction messaging through interviews with each user. It will also encourage access to consultation or treatment facilities, and provide information on the substances currently used. Detecting new trends of drugs and drugs use is important to quickly respond to dangerous new substances, Nuit Blance? stress.

Corine Kibora, the spokeswoman of the organization Addiction Suisse, highlights that drug checking furthermore facilitates contact with drug users that would not normally approach drug programs.

Drug checking is not a particularly novel idea, but has only successfully been rolled out through a handful of local initiatives across European countries including Spain, Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium.

This report prepared by Joy Nobel for Talking Drugs.