No amnesty on drug possession at Electric Picnic, despite testing facilities in place 1 year ago

No amnesty on drug possession at Electric Picnic, despite testing facilities in place

Gardaí have warned festival goers that the law still applies.

Electric Picnic returns to Stradbally this weekend following a long, pandemic-related hiatus.


Eagerly-awaited to say the least, this year's bash boasts the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Megan Thee Stallion, Tame Impala and Dermot Kennedy amongst the headliners.

It's a mammoth experience, is the Picnic, so there's plenty to see and do across the entire weekend. One notable new addition, however, comes from... *checks notes* ...the Health Service Executive of Ireland.

Announced recently, the HSE is teaming up with the festival in order to carry out real-time, anonymous testing of illegal drugs at the event. The plan is to provide up-to-date information regarding the safety and strength of drugs that may be in circulation.

The drugs in question can be dropped off at "surrender bins". They will not be returned for use. Despite the measure, Gardaí are keen to remind the public that possessing illegal drugs is, well, illegal. As such, no amnesty will be provided to revellers found to be in possession of such substances.


Speaking to the Irish Examiner on Monday (29 August), Detective Superintendent Sé McCormack of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau moved to clarify any confusion that may have been doing the rounds and remind the public that the law is still very much the law.

"The law hasn’t changed,” McCormack said. “There is no change in legislation to facilitate the possession of illegal or controlled drugs.

"Some agencies have been using the word ‘amnesty’," he continued. "There is no amnesty bin. They are surrender bins."

Superintendent McCormack added that Gardaí won't be lying in wait and monitoring people who approach the surrender bins, but warned that anyone caught with illegal drugs on their person could face criminal charges.


"There is no part of the ground that says it's okay to hold illegal drugs. If you have illegal drugs in your possession and you're stopped and searched, and you're found in possession, then consideration has to be given to prosecution."

A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána told JOE:

"An Garda Síochána does not routinely patrol any HSE designated medical facility. An Garda Síochána only assist in such environments on request by HSE staff, confidentiality between a private citizen and medical staff is not compromised.

"For clarity, there are no changes in controlled drugs legislation, possession of controlled drugs remains a criminal offence under the Misuse of Drugs Acts and this pilot programme does not grant amnesty from arrest or prosecution for those found in possession of controlled drugs at any event."