EDIT: After news of this legislation hit the masses, Amsterdam city council member Jan Paternotte came forward to point out that the five pill policy is nothing new, and has “been the policy for a couple years now.” We Got This Covered apologizes to anyone who bought a last-minute ticket to ADE due to the misinformation.
For as long as anybody involved can remember, dance music has had a tenuous and cyclical relationship with lawmakers. It goes something like this: Electronic music gets popular, more people go to shows, tragedy strikes, lawmakers crack down and drive it back underground for a while. However, the Netherlands’ capital, Amsterdam, has taken the opposite approach with famously lax drug laws – and at Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) in particular, they’ve all but declared MDMA a mild headache medicine.
Over the course of ADE – which started yesterday, October 14, and extends through the 18th – nobody can be detained by law enforcement officials for possession of up to five pills of ecstasy. The decision came about after last year’s festivities saw drug-related deaths of three attendees, and the festival has also invested in the presence of a handful of harm reduction and drug education agencies.
Seeing as how any given pill sold on the street as ecstasy can contain a wildly varying amount of MDMA, the law makes for a somewhat arbitrary ruling. This slight inconsistency was especially highlighted when word got out that pills pressed with the iconic ADE logo would themselves have a particularly questionable MDMA content, instead including harmful research chemicals as constituents.
Nonetheless, considering the knee-jerk response of SoCal lawmakers when two individuals passed away at HARD Summer a couple months ago, the measures taken by Dutch authorities make for a telling statement on how society has digested some of dance music culture’s more unfortunate attributes on either side of the pond. Perhaps as legislatures such as these provide further empirical data that the way we’ve carried out the war on drugs is failing, lawmakers the world over will think outside the box to find ways to minimize these unfortunate tragedies.