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Festival testing: A survey of suspected drugs seized from New Zealand music festivals, December 2018 to March 2019.

Abstract

Music festivals and other recreational events are common settings for illicit drug use with the intention of socialising, relaxing and creating a memorable experience. The use of stimulants is commonly reported at music festivals, with a general preference for MDMA, cocaine, cathinones and LSD. The results from this survey of drugs seized at New Zealand music festivals show a similar trend, with MDMA accounting for two-thirds of the 305 samples seized. The second most popular drug in this survey was cannabis plant material, which is not generally noted as being a common festival drug but reflect New Zealand drug culture. On-site drug testing services can provide valuable information and education to potential drug users. In this study, a handheld Raman spectrometer was able to correctly identify at least one of the components in 54% of the samples analysed, meaning a large proportion of samples tested were unable to be identified using this device. A collaborative testing approach between on-site testing services and laboratory-based scientists is recommended in order to improve testing accuracy and provide additional information that might assist in harm reduction from drug use at music festivals.

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