The summer festival is well underway in Norway – so much so that police are unable to keep up with increased levels of drug taking at the various festivals held around the country, with eighty arrests being made last week alone.
The arrests mainly relate to illegal use of cannabis, according to Chief Officer Frank Gran of Tønsberg Police.
“There are so many people at the festivals that police are unable to keep an eye on everything,” Gran told NRK.
“The nightclubbing scene has a higher prevalence of cocaine and the like. But we are also sadly seeing a lot of GHB, which is very worrying,” Gran continued.
Two festivals in Sweden came in for heavy criticism last week after five rapes and a number of sexual assaults were reported.
Two drugs seizures were carried out by police last week during the Midnattsrocken (Midnight Rock) festival in Lakselv, Finnmark, and at the Stavern Festival 29 people were charged with possession of drugs.
The week before last saw 55 people caught in possession of drugs such as MDMA, cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines at the Midnight Sun Festival in Værøy, reports NRK.
“There is no doubt that there is a significant amount of drug use at some of these festivals,” Willy Pedersen, recreative drug researcher and professor of Sociology at the University of Oslo, told NRK.
Pedersen advised parents to talk with young people about the risks of drugs before they attend festivals so that they are well-informed regarding the choices they are likely to face.
“There is quite a big difference between festivals, but generally we can say that [festival goers] are a particularly at-risk part of the public, both in terms of excessive alcohol use and use of illegal drugs,” said Pedersen to NRK.
Meanwhile, a better idea of the amount of people taking drugs at Norwegian festivals might soon emerge.
Next week, researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Folkehelseinstituttet) will attend the Slottsfjell festival, where they will take saliva samples to gain an insight into how many of the 12,000 people at the festival have taken drugs during the last 48 hours.
Slottsfjell is one of six festivals to be included in the research, which aims to provide reliable figures on drug use at Norwegian festivals.
Linn Gjersing, leader of the Folkehelseinstituttet project, told NRK that drug use amongst Norwegian festival guests had not previously been measured in detail.
But festival goers had responded well to requests to take part in the study.
“People thought it was exciting. We thought the saliva tests might seem scary, but people thought it was fun and interesting. There was a good atmosphere,” Gjersing told NRK.
The results of the study are expected next year, reports NRK.