Back in the early days of rave culture, many venue owners were quite relaxed about having drug workers on the premises, helping people feeling unwell in the chill out room, giving out advice and information - and some saw it as a positive and responsible service to offer customers. Bur ever tighter licensing regulations have driven workers out of clubs as owners came to fear their presence would make them targets of police and local authority attention.
But we now have a generation of people never exposed to the harm reduction advice of the 1990s - and at a time when the ecstasy on the streets has never been stronger. Hardly a week seems to go by now without another story of young people hospitalised or worse.
So what to do? Venues and festivals by and large do what they can to prevent drugs being bought, sold and used on the premises. But we live in the real world and it would be wrong to point the finger of blame in their direction. Drug workers are still present at some festivals and The Warehouse in Manchester has teamed up with a charity called The Loop to provide on site drug testing (with police approval) and access to help and advice.
But initiatives of this kind are rare if not unique, there is neither the public money nor the political will to fund more comprehensive coverage. So maybe the business has to step up to the plate. But realistically, no single organisation would want to put its head above the parapet. The way to do it is for a group representing all sides of the business involved in running clubs and staging festivals to set up a body and channel funds in that way. If you also involved the Local Government Association and the sympathetic chief constables that do exist, this could fund more drug workers on the ground, roll out more drug testing, pay for targeted and credible social marketing campaigns and so on. This is not about condoning drug use, it's about trying to reduce harm and save lives and it has to be better to give it a whirl than imagine you can deal with drug incidents simply by shutting the door.