Music festivals are known to captivate the masses with bright lights and a unique array of music; unfortunately, festival grounds are also often populated with illegal substances, increasing the potential for overdose. Drug use has long been part of music festival culture, and despite attempts to regulate it, it’s incredibly difficult to stop drugs from coming in. Officials are finding that many dealers are lacing their drugs with fentanyl. Two milligrams of fentanyl is enough to be lethal. Organizations like the Bunk Police know the inevitability of drug use at festivals, so they created and administered drug testing kits to test if fentanyl was present; however, festivals like Bonnaroo are restricting such kits from entering festival grounds – labeling them as paraphernalia.
Warning The Public
Bonnaroo is hosting its 18th annual music festival in Tennessee with headliners like The Lumineers, Cardi B, Kasey Musgrave, and more. As participants are getting prepared for the four-day festival, there have been many advisories from local law enforcement regarding fentanyl and other active substances. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is cheap to produce and is 50 times more potent than heroin. Dealers are lacing counterfeit pain pills, cocaine and heroin with fentanyl to make them stronger, and in turn deadlier.
“More people are dying right now from fentanyl overdoses than they were at the peak of the AIDS crisis,” said Adam Auctor, founder, and CEO of Bunk Police, a Nebraska-based test kit company that creates drug screening kits. They have been a presence at major festivals and Bonnaroo in the past. However, in recent years, they have been getting kicked out of the festival grounds for distributing their life-saving kits.
Many festivals are giving proper etiquette when attending festivals, including hydration, sun protection, and knowing where the sober tents and medical tents are located. Festivals are taking active measures by supplying and training their staff with naloxone, a medication designed to reverse opioid overdoses rapidly. When it comes time to administer the naloxone, the risk of dying is higher. The Bunk Police are trying to take a proactive step by screening the drugs from potentially harmful substances that will result in an overdose.
Drug Testing Kits for Fentanyl at Festivals
The Bunk Police started their crusade in 2011 and joined other organizations like DanceSafe to provide drug checking services around the country. For the past couple of years, they have been handing out fentanyl testing strips, drug screening kits, and overdose awareness cards that show what the signs of an overdose are. Auctor says, “We’re trying to keep people from overdosing, we’re trying to keep people aware that there’s the potential for adulterated substances that could severely harm them or even kill them.” Unfortunately, they have been getting push-back from festival organizers around the country claiming that anything that “tests, analyze” substances are considered paraphernalia.
With authority restricting the Bunk Police from distributing at Bonnaroo, although fenatanyl at festivals is becoming a more urgent problem, Auctor plans on creating “a peaceful yet firm protest” claiming that it’s something that needs to happen. Auctor knows that other states are starting to alter their laws to allow for organizations, like the Bunk Police, to administer their testing kits; however, Tennessee has not done so yet.
“In every other instance, where we tried to make a stand at Bonnaroo, they’ve been able to privately remove us from the property. This time they would have to do so, so very publicly,” Auctor said. “If they need to arrest me, that’s what needs to happen. It’s time for us to make a stand.”