KnowYourStuffNZ drug checking results for 2018/2019 festival season

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Testing by KnowYourStuffNZ at music festivals this summer reveals that more people than ever before are willing not to take dangerous drugs. When people discovered that their drugs were not what they were expected, 62% of them were willing not to take them.

In partnership with NZ Drug Foundation, KnowYourStuffNZ used FTIR spectroscopy and reagents at thirteen festivals to test 805 samples of illicit drugs brought in voluntarily by users, almost doubling the number of tests we did last year. 

Of those samples, 87% tested as containing the substances that were expected.

Our results showed a continuing trend towards more MDMA, with both more samples being brought to us for testing and more of those samples actually testing as containing MDMA. This summer, 90% of samples brought to us as MDMA actually contained MDMA. We also saw over thirty brightly coloured high-dose pills with a variety of shapes and logos, a risk that KnowYourStuffNZ warned about in March.

Unlike previous years when we saw a range of substitutions, this summer when samples believed to be MDMA were not, they were likely to be n-ethylpentylone. Last summer, we voted it 2018’s crap drug and this summer we saw it at many events. We also saw several samples of caffeine being sold as MDMA.

Just like every summer, we discovered new drugs. Of particular concern was eutylone, a new cathinone that has been responsible for several hospitalisation. We put out a warning in April after seeing it at events from the upper North Island to lower South Island.

For the first time this year, we surveyed our clients to find out more about what kinds of people use our service. The people we reach are young, but not as young as you might assume. Half were under 25, half over 25, and one in 20 were 45 or older. Most people have had no prior experience with drug testing or harm reduction services, showing that KnowYourStuffNZ reaches people that no other services reach. Most worryingly, three-quarters have experienced taking drugs that were not what they were supposed to be, with effects ranging from unpleasant to needing medical help.

Our survey showed that most people taking drugs understand the risks and will take drugs anyway. Our work is also showing that most people will make safer choices if they have access to good information that allows them to make those choices. Drug testing provides that information.

Full results for the 2108/2019 summer can be found here.

KnowYourStuffNZ is a not-for-profit social enterprise funded entirely by donations from the community. If you value our work, please donate.

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