Quarter of 'MDMA' pills tested turn out to be something else

  • 06/01/2018

More festival-goers are choosing to test their drugs as unknown substitutes for the relatively-safe party drug MDMA continue to pop up on the market.

Harm reduction organisation Know Your Stuff has been testing drugs at festivals across the country, and say they have been seeing gradually more people take up their service.

"We are gradually having more and more people bring samples to us as they become aware of our existence, and we are also having the effect of people choosing not to take things that have turned out not to be what they think they are," Know Your Stuff director Wendy Allison says.

"People will make a sensible choice if you give them the option."

During last year's festival rounds, Ms Allison said that 75 percent of the 300 pills tested were actually MDMA - which is considered to be low-risk by much of the scientific community.

According to the New Zealand Drug Foundation, only three people have ever died of an MDMA overdose.

However, a number of high-strength pills have been entering the market which raises the risk of serotonin-syndrome - where the body can no longer regulate temperature and the person overheats, Ms Allison says.

Drug Foundation policy and information officer Samuel Andrews says the Know Your Stuff reduction service is more important than ever given the rise of increasingly unpredictable and unknown synthetic psychoactive substances.

Drug-testing kits are available at The Hemp Store and Cosmic stores.

A sales assistant at Cosmic on Karangahape Rd (K Road) in Auckland said he had only been at the store for one year so couldn't compare, but said there had been "heaps of sales of test kits".

Jonathan Renney from The Hemp Store said they had been "busier than usual", but was unsure whether that was people taking more drugs or wanting to be safer.