604 Now

BC Music Festival Launches Crowdfunding Campaign For Drug-Checking Machine

Drug Deaths In BC

Festival season is in full swing across the province, and so is the scare of drug overdoses, especially since fentanyl and related drugs reached the west coast recently.

Organizers of the Shambhala electronic music festival, which kicks off this Wednesday in a 500-acre cattle ranch in the West Kootenay mountains, are hoping to aid festival goers by testing their recreational drugs and determining what substances are inside.

In past years, the festival has a tent that provides chemical agents that change colours when tested to determine what’s in a drug. They do not work for fentanyl however.

The move is rather interesting and extremely helpful given most festival organizers turn a blind eye to drug usage during events.

While educating festival goers and issuing over 4,000 pamphlets with warnings, Shambhala organizers want to take things to the next level and use a miniature mobile mass spectrometer.

The drug-testing machine can be used to detect ingredients within substances, including fentanyl, and ultimately save lives as most drug users have no real way to know if they’re drug are laced.

Organizers tried to secure government funding for the machine, which comes with a price tag in the $250,000 range. They came up unsuccessful.

In a statement last week, Premier Christy Clark revealed that the province has launched a task force to scale up the response and improve drug checking – something that likely won’t be ready in time for this summer.

The threat of fentanyl laced drugs is a major concern in British Columbia at the moment. The drug is reportedly up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and has already claimed hundreds of deaths in the province this year, with many of them in metro Vancouver.

Shambhala organizers have now launched a crowdfunding campaign in hopes of purchasing the machine for next summer.

Log in or create an account to save content

Become a local insider