This poster caught my eye, as we walked down a street in one of Vienna’s younger, hipper districts, which had only really flourished from funky to cool in the last five years or so. I couldn’t figure our what it was about, so I asked my hosts, Sigrid and Astrid (Austrian women really do have great names). Turns out the place offers a free service where you can bring your drugs to have them checked out and tested. Tested for what, you ask? Well, to see if they are what you think are of course. Yup, if you’re not sure about that ecstasy your cousin hooked you up with last week in Amsterdam, you can bring it in for free analysis, in the hopes that people knowing what they’re taking will prevent overdoses, or worse.
Red results mean you’ve got rat poison in your cocaine. Yellow means it’s OK, but you didn’t get the good stuff. And white means you’re all clear.
Controversial? In our county, sure. It’s right up there with needle exchange programs for a topic that people are bound to feel strongly about. But Europe has always been more open about the fact that people will take drugs whether they’re legal or not, and about endorsing an approach that tries to keep more people safe, however possible. I’m not saying this is the best way to go, but topics like this remind me a little of that saying “If you can’t change your mind, are you sure you still have one?” By the way, how’s our war on drugs going? I haven’t been paying attention, what with all the other wars we’re fighting.