2019-2020: Cathinones and high-dose MDMA still prevalent

Drug checking results from the 2019-2020 festival season have now been analysed. This summer, KnowYourStuffNZ volunteers tested 1,368 samples of illicit substances brought voluntarily for testing at 22 events. This is a substantial increase from last summer.

Overall, almost 1 in 10 samples were not what the owner thought they were. When a substance was found to be not what the owner thought it was 52% of people said that they would not take the substance.

Image, Chart of intentions to take when substances were as presumed, and when substances was not as presumed
Intentions stated after testing. CC BY-NC-ND

2% of the substances thought to be MDMA were found to contain the cathinones n-ethylpentylone or eutylone. N-ethylpentylone has been associated with deaths overseas and mass hospitalisation in New Zealand. Eutylone has been found throughout New Zealand in the last 18 months, and is a fairly new substance with unknown risks. Testing also revealed that 1 in 20 MDMA pills tested contained two or more doses of MDMA.

Responses to a client survey showed that 80% of respondents have had past experiences with drugs that were not what they were thought to be, describing unpleasant and frightening experiences. Our analysis has consistently shown that people are much less likely to take a substance when testing shows it is not what they thought it was, and 85% of surveyed clients said that after using the service they are more likely to get drugs tested before taking them.

The survey also showed significant support for expansion of the service, with requests for it to be available both at all major festivals and at regular clinics throughout the year in NZ cities. These statements align with those of Police Minister Stuart Nash, who has been a vocal supporter of our work.

To view the results in full, please visit the 2019-2020 Testing Report page and the 2019-2020 Survey Report page.

Huge thanks to Andrea Knox, Katie Double and Rhiannon Davies, who prepared these reports, and also to Ali Maguire for quality assurance.

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

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