More free drug checking at NZ festivals By NZ Drug Foundation

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About More free drug checking at NZ festivals

Project 2017-06-28 12:23:27 +1200

If you believe in a "support, don't punish" approach to drug use in New Zealand, make it happen by pledging now. We need your help.


We know what Alphie the drug checking machine did last summer.
He attended 8 music festivals braving the sun, mud and rain.
He risked being arrested for helping people because of obselete drug laws.
But he did it anyway to make people safer, and maybe saved someone’s life.
Alphie is an FT-IR spectrometer and he needs a companion to expand the work.
Your pledge is needed.

Help us take the next step

KnowYourStuffNZ, with help from the NZ Drug Foundation, offered a trial free drug checking service at 8 festivals last summer. Festival goers, often young people, who had recreational drugs could get them tested before they took them. This allowed them to recieve additional information about their drugs which they used to make more informed decisions. Since nearly a third of the samples we tested were not what people thought, we believe free drug checking is essential to reduce harm. If you agree, thank you so much for making a pledge today!

We need $55,000 in pledges to do this. The biggest single cost we face is the purchase of an additional FT-IR spectrometer (Alphie’s to-be friend), so that we offer more services to more people at events around the country. This cutting-edge technology is not cheap, at $51,000 for the machine plus access to a specialised database which it needs to work.

This service is currently entirely self-funded. The NZ Drug Foundation purchased Alphie (our existing spectrometer) but with only one kit we are limited in how many places we can be, especially over the busy New Year’s period. Another spectrometer will double our capability.

Last summer the on-going costs averaged $35 per test provided.

Other crucial aspects of the kit are: the reagents, a laptop, large tent, table, lights, utensils, chairs, solar panels and battery, tent shade and waterproofing. This brings our target to $55,000.

Our investment to date

  • NZ Drug Foundation: $51,000 (for first machine)
  • KnowYourStuffNZ volunteers: $10,000 (for reagents, kit supplies and out of pocket expenses)
  • + Your pledges: TARGET - $55,000 (for a second machine, reagents and kit supplies - PLEASE PLEDGE NOW
  • TOTAL - $116,000 

What is free drug checking?

Free drug checking is harm reduction. As opposed to punishing people, harm reduction is an approach that recognises people will always use illicit drugs regardless of the law. It aims to reduce harms from this use. A free drug checking service reduces harm by providing people with more information about what is in their drugs and while they're there, getting extra info about how to be safer when they use them.

How we do it at festivals

People visit our tent, slightly away from the music and comotion. A very small amount of their drug is split into two (a match head of powder, or a sliver of a tab) and tested by trained volunteers. One sample is analysed using reagents, which are chemicals that react with the substance and change colour. This usually indicates what the drug is, but it doesn’t detect adulterants or the presence of other harmful substances.

The other sample is analysed with the spectrometer which takes just a few moments to confirm the main substance and identifies any unwanted adulterants. While waiting, people usually talk to us about the drug, any risks, and how to be safer.

Why your pledge is so important  

The legal status of illicit drugs means this kind of harm reduction is not funded by Government or other sources. Yet, drug checking is essential because the illegality of drugs creates an illicit market where people can be sold substances  that are more toxic, harmful or dangerous than expected. There are no quality control measures, information labels, or consumer product guarantees when it comes to illicit drugs.

KnowYourStuffNZ tested over 300 substances during the 2016/2017 festival season. 20% of the samples we tested contained none of the drug people thought they’d bought, and another 11% contained additional ingredients. If the substance was not ‘as advertised’ it was most commonly a cathinone, also called "bathsalts” - these are a highly unpredictable, potentially toxic group of chemicals. In total, we detected 39 different psychoactive substances when most people thought they had only LSD or MDMA.

Over 50% of people decided against taking a substance when it was not what they thought it was.

Put simply, drug use is safer when people are given the chance to make informed decisions. People want to have a good time. This does not involve an overdose or unwanted trip.

 

Help us shoot for the moon!

Stretch goals

total amount pledged

Aspects additional to the extra kit that would be funded

Target + $2,000

$57,000

Our volunteers will be supported for some of their out of pocket expenses during the next festival season.

Target + $11,000 

$68,000

We will be able to recruit and utilise more volunteers by offering a specialised one off training for new volunteers.

Target + $32,000 

$100,000

We would buy a whole additional kits (we can probably get a sweet deal if we buy two machines in one go) AND the on-going costs of the next festival season! 

Who you're supporting

KnowYourStuffNZ is a volunteer community based group that began providing drug checking within the festival community when we became aware of the emerging issue of adulteration in the illicit market and realised that sooner or later someone would die if nothing was done.

The NZ Drug Foundation is an NGO driven by the vision of an Aotearoa free from Drug Harm. We focus on providing information services, policy advice and advocate for health focussed drug law. We will be collecting the funds on behalf of KnowYourStuffNZ. 

If we make it, you're reducing harm from dodgy drugs, possibly saving a life. But your pledge also shows you support laws based on a "support, don't punish" approach to drugs in Aotearoa New Zealand!

Thank you for you support.

Comments

The People Behind More free drug checking at NZ festivals

Drug foundation cmyk high res NZ Drug Foundation Project admin

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    2017-07-27 14:16:21 +1200

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    2017-07-24 12:06:06 +1200

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    Nat Torkington
    2017-07-14 11:23:01 +1200

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    “This is a great service and you're good people for making it happen.”

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    2017-07-13 13:32:37 +1200

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    2017-07-12 09:53:33 +1200

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    2017-07-04 20:45:41 +1200

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    2017-07-04 10:07:49 +1200

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    Jais Joseph
    2017-07-03 12:49:53 +1200

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    “All the best”

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    2017-07-03 11:51:19 +1200

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    2017-07-03 09:03:00 +1200

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    Chris Barnett
    2017-07-02 21:02:50 +1200

    Chris Barnett has pledged on 2 campaigns

    “Safety first.....”

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    Ewen McNeill
    2017-07-02 17:08:05 +1200

    Ewen McNeill has pledged on 2 campaigns

    “Thanks for helping people make informed decisions.”

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    2017-07-02 14:01:37 +1200

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    2017-07-02 11:29:42 +1200

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    “I want Alphie to have a gay lover”

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    Dana Defelici
    2017-07-02 10:10:32 +1200

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    “Keep up the good work <3”

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    2017-07-02 09:11:58 +1200

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    This project was unsuccessful and finished on 31/07/2017 at 5:00 PM.

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