Scottish Office grants show major shift in drug message

Official policy on dance drugs has moved away from the early ‘Just Say 3 No’ message. Thom g Dibdin reports on two Scottish Office-funded schemes to encourage 3 safer dancing.

‘Ecstasy is not for fun.‘ according to Neil Gow QC. Sheriff of Ayr. who added the dream tabloid quote: ‘A dance with ecstasy can lead to a dance 9 with death.‘

Sheriff Gow made this pronouncement in February at the end of his judgement at the fatal accident inquiry into the deaths of three young men at the Hanger l3 nightclub in Ayr. It was. on his own admission. 5 ‘colourful language' designed to grab attention and emphasise the danger of recreational drug use.

The problem with such language is E that it directly contradicts the experience of thousands of young people who regularly use ecstasy at dance events. There is no denying that for the vast majority of users. ecstasy is fun. By suggesting otherwise. Sheriff Gow may have reduced the impact of his recommendation for model guidelines to be drawn up on licensing clubs and raves.

Nonetheless. this recommendation is now being acted on. In a tacit acknowledgement that it is usually the circumstances under which ecstasy is used. rather than the drug itself that‘s harmful. the Scottish Office has put up funding for the Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF). an experienced drug advisory group. to prepare a new report. Guidelines for Good Practice at Dance Events.

The report‘s author is Lee Fawcett. a SDF development officer and regular club-goer. Fawcett is currently drafting guidelines which will closely follow Manchester City Council's recent safer dancing campaign. ‘They have recognised the club scene is contributing tremendously to the life of the city and is a tourist attraction.‘ says Fawcett. ‘They decided that they had an obligation to see that club venues were made as safe as they could possibly be. Now they have actually

Safer raves:

. made changes to the criteria for issuing i an entertainment licence.‘

The SDI" will be submitting a draft

5 report to the Scottish ()ffiee shortly.

which if accepted. could form the basis

4 ofguidelines for local authorities

granting club and dance event licences. The main issues addressed by Fawcett i will be the prevention of overcrowding. ; good ventilation and provision of i drinking water. ‘These are all related to '

‘It you are using drugs recreationally and you are controlling your drug use, that information can be passed on to other people who may not be as responsible about it.’

each other and contribute to over- heating. just as the use of ecstasy contributes to (wer-heating.‘ she says. ‘Staff must be trained to make sure that the people around on the premises would know what to do in case of an emergency.‘

Fawcett also believes that it is

‘acknowledging that it's usually the way ecstasy is used rather than the drug itself that's harmful'

important to educate people going to

' clubs. ‘They must know how to look

after themselves how to recognise the signs and symptoms of the early stages of heatstroke in themselves and in the people they are with.‘ she says. Edinburgh-based drugs information agency Crew 2000 has been trying to

i get this message across to clubbers for

three years. Its aim is not to stop people taking ecstasy but to provide them with information so that they can use drugs with greater safety.

Until now. Crew 2000 has been taking its message to large events such as Rezerection but. having established itself as a credible source of drugs information. it recently received

= Scottish ()flice funding to open an

advice shop on Cockburn Street in Edinburgh.

Besides providing information. the shop is a safe place for ecstasy users to pass their own experiences on to others. One danger with the drug is that there is no quality control any toxic but slightly hallucinogenic or stimulating substance can be passed off as ecstasy.

‘We need to know what it is people

are taking.‘ says Crew 2000 co- ordinator Liz Skelton. ‘We are giving out information. but in order to keep it up to date and as accurate as possible. we need to know what is going about so we can warn other people.‘

Drugs users can also teach each other about safety. As Skelton says: ‘lf you are using drugs recreationally and you are controlling your drug use. that information can be passed on to other people who may not be as responsible about it.‘

Ecstasy use is illegal and cannot be condoned by the Scottish Office. but these two developments show that ecstasy use is now being treated realistically by Government. Together they may go some way to ensure that a dance with ecstasy will not be a dance with death.

The Crew 2000 shop is at 32 Cockbarn Street. lidinlnagh. 013/ 220 3404. The opening party is on Saturday 3 June at 2.30pm see Club newsfor details. Lee Fawcett at SDI" can be contacted on 014/ 22/ 1/75. She is anxious to hear about dangerously ran clubs.

I lllghts track Leading Scottish libertarian Helena Kennedy will be the keynote speaker at a Glasgow conference on women‘s rights. Kennedy will talk about the treatment of women by the legal system. focussing particularly on the treatment of women who have been sexually assaulted. Other sessions include sex discrimination and employment; maternity rights, and women as carers. The conference is organised by the Castlemilk Law Centre and is on

Saturday 3 June. Contact 0141 634

6900 for details.

I Community care Know someone who has played an important role in developing a community project which has benefited others? Then Scottish Education and Action for Development wants to hear from you. SEAD is gathering nominations for its new £1000 prize for an individual who makes their community a better place to live. Contact SEAD on 013] 225 6550 for details.

I Lottery wins Projects such as the Millennium Forest are expecting to hear this week iftheir applications for lottery funding have managed to make it through to the next round. The

shortlisted proposals announced this week will be scrutinised further before the winners are announced in July.

I Women’s health A new lesbian health clinic is being set up for Strathclyde women. Plans for the clinic will be discussed at a public meeting on Saturday 3 June at the GET. Glasgow from I lam—2pm. Further details from Ruth Henry at the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard on 0l4l 332 8372.

I In therapy New Scottish music awards are being launched next week as part ofa fundraiser for the Nordoff- Robbins Music Therapy charity recently set up in Scotland. The winner ofthe Silver Clef. for ‘major artists

who have made an outstanding contribution to the Scottish music scene‘. will be announced at a charity lunch on Tuesday 6 June. The Silver Clef award has been made in London for the last twenty years and the list of previous winners reads like a Who‘s Who of mainstream rock and pop. Artists with Silver Clefs on their mantelpiece include Phil Collins. Eric Clapton and George Michael. Nordoff- Robbins promotes music therapy for children and adults who are isolated by disability or illness. It uses music therapy to develop communication skills and help self-expression.

The List 2-15 Jun 1995 5