Series Post 2: Where are all the cops?

Without drug use, festivals of this nature would take on a whole different meaning. Drugs like LSD, mushrooms and ecstasy are known to spark creativity. They bring intense colors and beautiful art to life. Not only that, they also encourage musical genius through elaborate sound combinations, and extreme alternate modes of dress or costumes like you wouldn’t believe. Even though I have been to many festivals, I still continue to be shocked and amazed by what some people come up with. It’s one of the few places that remain where adults are allowed to use and explore their imaginations without anyone second guessing them. It truly is a beautiful thing.
Essentially drugs are an integral part of festival life, yet they remain illegal and highly punishable under law. If this is the case, than how are they so openly distributed and used at festivals? What I’m really wondering is, where are all the cops?
If one were to read the fine print prior to entering a festival, you would likely find a statement claiming that selling or using drugs is strictly prohibited and if you are found doing so you will be kicked out. This is more for the benefit of the police than an actual rule.
There was one festival in particular that I went to where they checked your bag every time you entered the main stage area, what they were looking for was glass or alcohol. They didn’t care if you brought in drugs, and if you had them in your bag they would simply pass over them and pretend it wasn’t there. Granted these weren’t cops doing the checking, they were simply volunteers. In fact, at most festivals there is no police presence within festival walls. You will likely see volunteers or security if necessary, although the only security I ever saw came wearing full kilts. You would think that with the amount of people at these events and with the activities that go on, there would have to be police present but this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Most festivals are done on private property, and in doing so, it seems that many laws are surpassed. As long as festival attendees keep the peace and do not give the police probable cause to enter the premises, than they can do nothing but remain on the outside looking in.
Not all festivals are done on private property, some are done in public spaces and county owned spaces like fairgrounds and parks. It is at these spaces that the first amendment is put to use. Under the first amendment is the right to peaceful assembly. Not only does this include the right to assemble for petitioning purposes but also for purposes like festivals and other events.
At festivals done on public spaces you will see cops roaming around, but I’ve yet to see them apprehending or questioning anyone and this is because they are upholding the first amendment. As long as things are kept peaceful and no one is seen doing anything obviously wrong than the police stay out of it. It is from my experience that festival attendees keep their drug use more under wraps at events on public property. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. According to an online article, police in the United Kingdom are trampling people’s rights to peaceful assembly and causing trouble where none existed, they have gone so far as to bust people with microscopic particles of hash. British citizens, who are known for assembly of all kinds, are demanding bold reforms in order to prevent disruption at further festivals.
Festivals help us maintain playfulness, harbor originality, free our soul and let us love profoundly. Without them, many of us would be lost and should the cops step in and alter such an integral part of festival life, I believe people would be equally as distraught. Drugs, although illegal, are still an important part of festivals. We have demonstrated how their use remains possible, and should this be altered I believe it would completely change the whole scene.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Megan
    Dec 01, 2010 @ 06:44:52

    I enjoyed the frankness and sincerity in your post. It’s very true, as a festival goer myself, I’ve seen that drugs essentially are part of the festival itself. I attended Hardly Strictly Bluegrass this past October and everyone either had drugs or alcohol, and I mean everyone. The musicians performing on stage were encouraging it, the people in charge of the event actually stated it was ok to smoke marijuana. So there is no doubt that it is actually part of the festival itself, almost to be expected. If illegal drugs are guaranteed to be at these public festivals, and law enforcement isn’t acting upon this, seems to me like usage is becoming legal. It’s funny how much we are taught about drugs and awareness, and still they are a solid staple among society.


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