Summer means warmer temperatures, and warmer temperatures mean the start of music festival season. For emergency departments and law enforcement, music festivals mean one thing: increased rates of death and injury from drug overdose. Music festivals and drug use often seem to go hand in hand. From heroin to bath salts, the drugs sold at festivals are often more concentrated. That means stronger-than-usual doses, which is troublesome. But the biggest problem is that the drugs people buy aren’t always the drugs they think they’re buying. One recent documentary called “What’s in my Baggie” reports that 100% of MDMA samples they tested at a festival turned out to be bath salts — an extremely dangerous drug responsible for countless overdoses and addiction problems. Another example found heroin samples cut with the powerful drug fentanyl, which can be so deadly that even a long-time heroin user can overdose. What’s the best way to protect concertgoers from ingesting drugs they don’t want? Drug testing — but festivals are refusing to allow entry to organizations such as Dance Safe and The Bunk Police.
Dance Safe and The Bunk Police are harm-reduction organizations that sell kits that test drugs for purity. They also promote what they describe as a “pragmatic” approach to drug use in America. The attitude is, prohibition doesn’t work, and neither does fear-based education. What saves lives is awareness and practical harm-reduction measures that stop an overdose or bad reaction before it starts. In this case, their drug testing methods involve checking drugs you’ve purchased to see if the drug the pusher sold you matches what he said. Last year, Dance Safe and The Bunk Police visited festivals throughout the country, from Bonnaroo in Tennessee to Lightning in a Bottle in southern California. Festival organizers often refuse to let the organizations sell test kits to guests because of the Rave Act. The Rave Act is supposed to protect concertgoers from overdose. Unfortunately, because many festival planners believe allowing drug testing signals their implicit approval to take drugs, they refuse to allow the testing kits at all — leaving thousands of potential victims in their wake.
You Can Still Protect Yourself
Abstinence is always the best choice. After all, if you don’t take drugs, you won’t have to worry about an adverse reaction. If you prefer a practical approach — or you’re concerned about a loved one who uses drugs and isn’t likely to stop to test them — buy a testing kit in advance. Kits come in single and multiple formulas, but multiple formulas are better. With these kits, you can test for synthetic cathinones, opiates, DXM, and corrosives. Keep in mind that illicit drug manufacturers constantly make up new psychotropic formulas that skirt the law, so if you test a drug and no reaction occurs, it could be table salt — or it could be something more deadly. Test kits come with complete instructions and lab results information that will tell the user what substances were actually purchased. Following the exact instructions is important, and don’t mix up the caps in your multiples kit. Mixing the formulas can render them useless. Dance Safe recommends performing testing in a well-lit area while wearing latex gloves. If not used safely, the chemicals can damage skin.