Spring Weekend is a pretty big unknown, especially for a freshman (yes, hi, guilty as charged). Thanks to Brown’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, there’s an opportunity to take one serious unknown out of the mix – just what, exactly, is in the substance you’re about to ingest.
Until Friday afternoon of this week (the sooner the better – high demand is expected on Thursday and Friday), Brown SSDP is conducting free and anonymous drug identification testing. To access the service, just text the number that corresponds to your area on campus (see the map below). One of SSDP’s five-member team will arrive, and test a tiny amount of the substance – you need to have it there on hand – with one of their drug testing kits. The whole process takes about 10 – 15 minutes for MDMA identification and 5 minutes for LSD identification. This year, for the first time ever, SSDP has kits that can test for the presence or absence of LSD.
It’s “awesome, judgment-free” and “totally anonymous, of course – we do not save numbers or texting conversations” said Brown SSDP’s president Kathryn Duckworth in a phone conversation. The state-of-the-art testing kits – recently approved for funding as part of SSDP’s annual budget – are entirely legal to own and carry under federal law. Each kit can perform up to 60 tests to discern the composition of the given substances. SSDP will come to you with these legal kits, as opposed to students traveling with the significantly-less-legal substances to meet the SSDP testers. Students never need to provide their names or any details about the substances they want tested in their text correspondence. A simple “Hey, when are you free to test?” will suffice.
The national chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy aims to end the war on drugs; the decentralized chapters then interpret and implement policies differently. In Duckworth’s own words, “prohibition doesn’t work.” She says drug use will remain, regardless of whether drugs are legal or illegal. By definition, illegal drugs are unregulated drugs. Duckworth cites Wesleyan’s infamous molly overdoses and the prevalence of substance-related sexual assault as casualties of these “unregulated, adulterated drugs that can cause erratic, even violent behavior, especially if you thought you were taking a different or unadulterated drug.” It’s easy and important to know your drugs, or, as SSDP member Nick Diaz ’20 wrote on a Facebook post, “#TestBeforeYouIngest.”
It’s “safer for literally everyone in the Brown community: both those who ingest drugs and those who do not ingest drugs but might be near someone who does,” Duckworth said.
Outside of the university community, Brown SSDP works with Regulate Rhode Island, headed by former Brown SSDP President Jared Moffat, to legalize recreational marijuana. Brown SSDP performs weekly phone banks. Duckworth also recently spoke for Regulate RI at a State House press conference. “We actually do some shit,” she said.
She urged students to use the service: “For some reason this year we’re not getting as many texts, and it’s kind of worrying me!”
“Other schools do not have anything like this,” she explained. At the national SSDP conference this March, Duckworth and the rest of Brown SSDP were met with awe from members of other schools’ chapters, who have no analogous testing infrastructure.
“I didn’t realize this was so cool/groundbreaking,” she said, “and that’s why I want people to utilize it!”
For detailed information on the effects of various substances, Duckworth recommends the website Erowid.