VICE Goes Undercover at Music Festivals to Explore the Use of Drug-Testing Kits

With the rise in drug related deaths at music festivals, allowing pill testing kits could help save lives
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With the rise in drug related deaths at music festivals, allowing pill testing kits could help save lives
Scooping some "ketamine" out of the bag with a 50 (photo via VICE)

Scooping some "ketamine" out of the bag with a 50 (photo by VICE)

A big round of applause for VICE and their bold effort to sticking it to the Aussie government. 

VICE's Dan Roxanne attended a music event in Australia in search of volunteers who would allow him to test their drugs to see if people are getting what they think they're buying. After some effort put forth finding a willing participant, it became revealing, however not surprising, that most of the substances purchased by attendees were not what they thought it was. 

As Tone Deaf reports, a gentleman by the name of Edward, purchased $200 worth of Ketamine for the event, only to find out, thanks to Roxanne, that it was in fact Ritalin. A few others discovered that their ecstasy was amphetamines or speed. A young chap named Gus, was much alarmed to see that his pills turned the test solution orange with a black tinge, which wasn't even a color on the chart provided. 

"I emailed the photos to EZ Test who confirmed the orange indicated amphetamine, but the black was anyone's bet. Black, according to the color chart, is DXM or Dextromethorphan. This is a chemical that suppresses the body's urge to cough, which is why it's found in cough syrup. In high doses, it can have a dissociative effect similar to ketamine, and in very high doses it can shut down your respiratory system."

EEEK! Not all the volunteers received bad news, a guy by the name of Matt, was happy to hear that his supply was all pure MDMA. 

NSW Deputy Premier Troy Grant sneered at the concept of introducing pill testing at Australian music festivals, despite their number of recent fatalities and failed harm reduction methods. Why? Because most politicians and government officials stand by the argument that pill testing on-site will encourage drug usage. 

"We're not going to set up a regime test for something that's illegal to see if it's safe to ingest or not. We're not going to condone illegal drug-taking, full stop."

However, if Vice and Roxanne's little experiment proved anything, it is that those who find out that their stuff is bunk will be much less likely to take it. Which could inevitably lead to fewer fatalities and safer patrons. 

"Gus, who had donated the sample, didn't seem surprised. 'The guy I bought it from is a douchebag and shady as hell' he said. 'I was going to take it without any thought, but now this has got me a little scared."

Greg Moskovitch of ToneDeaf made a point regarding drug-related fatalities. It was not so much that people have been overdosing as much as it has been revealed that people are taking substances that aren't pure. With the number of drug-related deaths accumulated between the US, Australia and the UK, you would think politicians and government officials would understand the necessity of providing people with the tools and proper information needed to make better decisions. Test kits aren't complicated or expensive for either festival producers or attendees. They're simple, easy and effective.

When you take away the novelty and mystery of substances and replace it with information and disclosure, the user will be less likely to make harmful decisions and more likely to share the knowledge with their peers. 

Check out EZ Test Kits, TestKit Plus and for more extensive testing, Dancesafe. Also, PillReports has loads of information that can be used to make better decisions.