Rhythm and Vines organisers stop bad drugs entering festival

  • 01/01/2019

Rhythm and Vines organisers have managed to stop a potentially dangerous drug laced with pesticides from entering the Gisborne music festival.

It became aware of the substance, which was claimed to be MDMA - also known as ecstasy - after rummaging through bags at the main entrance on Monday night.

"[Tests] indicated that the seized substance claimed to be MDMA and was in fact various non-psychoactive compounds, pesticides, antibiotics [and] other industrial reagents," festival organisers said in a statement. Police said traces of paint were also detected.

They notified festival goers, there to celebrate the new year, via its app.

"Rhythm and Vines prioritises customer safety highly and while we were aware of the risks around potential negative media coverage around the issue, we felt it was important to make our customers aware."

St John told Stuff some partygoers had reported bad reactions to substances they'd ingested, but none required hospital attention.

The Government is considering a law change that would make drug testing at festivals legal and help stop festival-goers ending up in hospital.

"At the moment people can only be reckless with their drug use. They have no access to reliable information," Drug Foundation spokesperson Samuel Andrews told Newshub in October. "It would be really awesome to have that legal support to be able to do this more widespread at more festivals and help people make more informed decisions around their drugs".

It is a criminal offence to allow a venue to be used for drug consumption, so any event providing drug testing may be liable for prosecution because it could be argued they knew people were taking drugs.

The Green Party wanted a law change in place for the summer festival season.

"It is common sense, it is evidence-based, it will reduce harm and it will save lives," drug spokesperson Chloe Swarbrick said in October. "That's what evidence all around the world has shown."