**The Current does not condone illegal drug use.
From the time Jerry Garcia’s guitar riffs echoed over Woodstock, to the unforgiving bass drops from Skrillex’s amplifiers moving the crowd at Bonnaroo, people have loved going to music and arts festivals. Why not? It’s camping, art, music and for the more reckless, drugs. Ever since the inception of the underground culture of music festivals in the sixties, drug use has been part of the experience.
With drugs also comes the danger of overdosing, fillers used to cut the drugs and people selling other harmful chemicals under false pretenses. However, since the summer of 2011, an initiative of festival goers who call themselves the “bunk police” have been attending different festivals on the circuit and will test your drugs for free.
“I saw the bunk police for the first time this past year at Wakarusa. Seeing them around was a pleasant surprise, they made their mission statement clear up front and approached our campsite to hand out their flyer,” said Junior Kyler Thomann who has been attending festivals since his freshman year of college. “I didn’t use their services, it definitely helped create a safer environment and culture of helping each other out,” said Thomann.
Although no illegal drug is FDA approved, the bunk police aim to pass the knowledge of what festivalgoers are putting into their body. The bunk police street team walks around the campsites at festivals handing out flyers and using their test kits to test a drug sample. The bunk police flyers provide information on drugs in general from the effects of the drug to how illegal it is.
They use a color coded system, which is printed on their flyers to figure out what kind of chemicals are present in the paper or powder.
The color the test kit turns depends on what chemicals are in the drugs. MDMA turns from dark blue to black, while research chemicals or analogs like DOB, a psychedelic research chemical, turn yellow to green.
The test kits also help illuminate how much filler is used to cut the drug. A popular drug with college kids these days has the street name “molly” and is supposedly pure MDMA. It comes in crystalline form. Naturally, since this drug is illegal, many have attempted to make substitutes for it, which are known as bath salts. At first legal, these chemicals seem even more controversial because of the adverse side effects of using them.
Using a test kit, a festival goer can observe how dark the colors of the test kit turn to ensure there are no unwanted chemicals.
This is a handy tool for festival goers who decide to risk the chance of ingesting recreational drugs.
The festival community gives a lot of support to the bunk police’s street team. “I think the bunk police are awesome,” said Senior Meredith Larmie. “Rather than sticking some random powder up your nose, you can see the drug you’re truly getting, which is a lot safer than putting god knows into your system.”
Tester kits and other supplies are available for sale on bunkpolice.org and chances are you will likely see their street team at the next festival you attend.
Their basic test kits start at $20. Also, flyers are available for anyone to print off, as well as information about joining their street team.
Taking illegal drugs is not a safe thing to do, but it is a present part of music festival culture, and at least that culture is attempting to make it as safe as possible.