Drug harm down at summer events





Front Page

Music festivals across the country have gone ahead without the same levels of drug harm observed last year, say police. So far, the number of drug-harm events is down on last year and there has been a welcome decline in the detection of dangerous synthetic cathinones, such as eutylone, which saw some Kiwis hospitalised during 2021. National Drug Intelligence Bureau manager Detective Inspector Blair Macdonald is delighted at how this summer’s festival season has taken shape. The reduction in harm can in part be attributed to the collaboration of a new network of groups working closely together to monitor festivals, looking for patterns of harm and the emergence of any new dangerous substances, he says. This group includes drug checkers, Knowyourstuffnz, St John NZ, the Drug Foundation, ESR and drug early-warning system High Alert, which works closely with partner organisations and meets daily to discuss any concerning trends. Macdonald says the sharing of information in real time enables a team of analysts “to understand the harm environment”. The Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Act passed in November enables people to have their drugs checked before they choose to use them, Macdonald says. This has also contributed to the reduction in drug harm across the community. Anyone who has a negative experience with a substance can report it anonymously to High Alert at highalert.org.nz or on both Facebook and Instagram.