Drug dangers at summer festivals - WNEM TV 5

I-Team report

Drug dangers at summer festivals

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A non-stop party lasting hours, even days could be a fight against a potentially lethal game of Russian roulette.

A young woman is shining a light on her own darkest days to keep others alive.

"If you can spend a couple hundred bucks on drugs for a weekend, you can certainly buy a testing kit," the 22-year-old Bay City woman said. She didn't want to reveal her identity.

Every year dozens of synthetic drugs are created by drug dealers. It's an experiment that allows dealers to make money without breaking the law by slightly altering illegal drugs. That experiment lands in the hands of hundreds, if not thousands, of young adults looking for a good time at music festivals.

Music is not the only thing echoing through the crowd. Often times a deadly cocktail is brewing.

"There was a person selling heroin and pretending it was ketamine, which is an animal tranquilizer. But it's also a dissociative and has a psychedelic effect," the Bay City woman said. "You think it's something else and you end up taking more than your body can handle and then you end up in the med tent or in the hospital."

The designer drugs have found a common breeding ground at musical festivals.

"We're seeing in excess of 50 percent of tested substances fail our tests and for something completely different," said Adam Auctor, owner of the Bunk Police.

The Bunk Police is a Colorado organization that manufactures inexpensive test kits to combat the hundreds of designer drugs created in the last five years in the United States.

Auctor sells the kits online and at music festivals.

"Can test their substance before they purchase it to make sure it's not something and actually what they tend to take," Auctor said.

Each $20 kit can be used dozens of times. You mix one drop of liquid with the substance in question and after a few seconds you match the color with the corresponding color wheel under the lid to determine if the drug is what the seller is claiming.

Sometimes the test kits are confiscated at the gate and not allowed into music festivals.

Auctor said he's saved thousands of lives with his test kits, but admits he has never once been invited to an event and his application to vend at the events always gets denied once he tells them what he's selling.

"We've only been accepted at one and that was after a massive overdose incident a week or two beforehand when over 100 people went to the hospital," Auctor said.

That event was at the Gorge in Washington in 2013. One man died and dozens were hospitalized after taking Molly, short for molecule. It's a drug promoted as ecstasy or a purer form of MDMA. It's often mixed with heroin, cocaine and even bath salts.

The Bunk Police were only welcome to vend the year after the incident. A tragedy Auctor said may have been prevented if he was able to sell his kits the year it happened.

The Bay City woman packs her bags with the test kits before she heads to the music festivals.

"Be smart about who you are buying things from. Ask if they are willing to test in front of you, if not, don't buy from that person," she said.

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