Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: About that Rhythm and Vines "dangerous drugs" alert

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  • Paul Campbell,

    As someone with a son at a summer music festival I did feel the urge to text him an equivalent of the rather famous Woodstock message :

    (did they announce "stay away from the purple X" over the PA at R&V?)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2604 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Mark Latham was never PM, only opposition leader.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 759 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

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    Here's Know Your Stuff with a model drug warning – and a significant one. A pill with a high level of n-ethylpentylone is a dangerous one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Know Your Stuff have also responded to my request for comment, saying that some harm reduction is better than none, but:

    the people doing it need to have experience in forensic testing with a harm reduction focus. The alert that was issued contained no information that would help people identify the substance and thus relies on an assumption that people would discard their drugs on the off-chance. This is highly unlikely given that NZers are accustomed to some risk associated with not knowing what's in their pills.

    Additionally there is no information in the alert about symptoms that would help people to know if they are in danger.

    We seek a consistent approach to alerting about dangerous drugs, and use the model published by Public Health UK (Appendix 7) for best practice in alerting about drugs.

    We're willing to work with RNV and their people to help achieve this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Mark Latham was never PM, only opposition leader.

    Oops - yes, thanks. It's hard to keep track!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    "It was also unclear who had actually issued the warning in the first place. The DHB? Festival organisers? The police? The One News report offers a bit more context there. It appears that Gisborne police had borrowed a spectrometer from Customs to analyse contraband drugs seized by festival security. Some pills were just sugar."

    Caveat emptor. Fraudulent products abound when there's no regulation of manufacturing. But the lack of info around the warning is indeed a serious concern. Just the media folk involved being lazy or incompetent instead of informing the public? Perhaps.

    Do police have a code of conduct clause that applies to the delivery of public health and safety warnings? If so, correct professional procedure would supply the source of the warning to the media. If not, Nash ought to point out to the commissioner that he needs to incorporate a suitable clause in the code.

    Someone ought to pursue this one until a satisfactory outcome is achieved. Mickey Mouse public health and safety warnings are not just a bad look for the govt and police. They make Aotearoa look third-world.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • tatjna, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Hi, I am the Director of KnowYourStuffNZ. We are actively working with authorities and event organisers to develop consistent best practice for harm reduction at events. This includes developing an appropriate format for issuing alerts about dangerous substances. There are already successful models being used overseas and it will be fairly simple for NZ to adapt one of those for our use, however historically there has been little will to do this work. We have welcomed the indications that the attitudes may be changing.

    All of our work would be assisted by the government following up its interest in a health-focused approach to drugs with some action on reviewing the MoDA to remove the barriers to harm reduction that currently exist.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2010 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Excellent, Wendy. https://knowyourstuff.nz/about/
    So good to know that you folks have organised to do this. My relevant experience is with psychedelic drugs long ago, but even in the early seventies products laced with dangerous additives were on the market. That's due to prohibition preventing quality control in manufacturing from being imposed by the govt.

    I presume you are advising Chloe in respect of any govt lack of initiative apparent. Lobbying the right people is part of how democracy is meant to work, and the coalition parties seem distinct from the Greens in not having drug reform advocates as far as I can tell.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • tatjna, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    *thumbs up*

    Yes, we communicate with Chloe and other politicians fairly regularly. We appear to have cross-party support from individual MPs but are keen to see that develop into cohesive action.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2010 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    They (intentionally?) left "illegal" out of that. "I drank a lot of alcohol yesterday and now I have a headache and am extremely photosensitive" qualifies. Curse those people putting ethanol in paint thinners!

    "I took a paracetamol and my headache went away... I fear the tablet may have contained paracetamol!"

    I'm sorry, my inner pedant keeps getting out and poking fun at inappropriate things.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1177 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's hard to keep track!

    I believe the current title is "Prime Minister at time of writing", or at least that's the way the media refer to it.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1177 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    There's an interesting Reddit thread here, with contributions from someone who seems to have been working security at R&V.

    It’s pretty clear that the first line in “intox assessment” and drug searches is event security, rather than police. He talks about busting a carload of young men on entry to the event, finding weed, a supply quantity of MDMA, scales and bags. They seem to have been almost stupid enough to deserve it. Less so these two girls, especially given that the default action seems to be confiscation:

    Police were not checking cars neither were sniffer dogs involved.
    Security staff on site were conducting vehicle, bag, and person searches on entry to the event. I mostly found booze, a couple of weapons, and MDMA and weed. Last night I was doing intox assessment at the main gate, and two girls stopped in front of me organising their bags. One of them said “do you have the fucking chewing gum?” So I searched the bags, found a small bag of MDMA, and passed them off to the Police who were standing nearby. My workmate found a bag of crack in the grass in the queue setup outside the bar he was working on.

    But he does say this:

    You’re right, we’ll never stop it so we take a safe approach to make sure they’re ok. Especially after the fiasco with the pink Porsche’s last year.
    Managing the queues, 80% of the people buying drinks were on MDMA.

    I fully support testing on site to make things safer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    More from Stuart Nash, this time on Stuff:

    Independent testing tents that let you know what's in recreational drugs could become a regular feature at New Zealand festivals, Police Minister Stuart Nash says.

    "I think they're a fantastic idea and should be installed at all our festivals," he said. "But I need to see how it works and better understand the implications of it first."

    The idea behind recreational drug testing is not to stop drug use but reduce harm, by letting consumers of illicit pills know if the drugs they are taking have been mixed with other dangerous chemicals.

    "The war on drugs hasn't worked in the past 20 years, so it's time to change to a more compassionate and restorative approach," Nash said.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • JC Carter,

    How to slow down consumption of drugs at an event?


    Release vague news and never provide any clear context.

    Space • Since Sep 2014 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Hugh Wilson,

    Australian politics suffers from a disproportionate numbers of loony idiots, and while most come from the right the occassional one - such as Latham - comes from the left. He's been a total fringe character for years, reknown for saying increasinly dumb things in a futile effort for relevancy & some media attention.

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 164 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Hugh Wilson,

    Australian politics suffers from a disproportionate numbers of loony idiots, and while most come from the right the occassional one - such as Latham - comes from the left. He's been a total fringe character for years, reknown for saying increasinly dumb things in a futile effort for relevancy & some media attention.

    I'm only surprised it took him this long to throw in his lot with Pauline Hanson. Maybe he gave up on pulling the ALP even further Right?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7876 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    The lumpen proletariat weigh in, in the comments at Stuff… sigh

    It's some bleak shit. The howling lack of empathy in the "if you take drugs you deserve what you get" crowd.

    But it's also indicative of the level of ignorance abroad. People literally don't know what they're talking about.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

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    Meanwhile, speaking of hateful ignorance, here's the expected fact-free take from Bob McCoskrie.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

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    And this is just straight-up fucking bullshit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • tatjna, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's actually pretty telling that they had to go as far as McCroskie to get an opposing viewpoint IMO.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2010 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to tatjna,

    It’s actually pretty telling that they had to go as far as McCroskie to get an opposing viewpoint IMO.

    And oddly comforting that in this country it's really only fringe-dwellers like him trotting out this stuff.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    It does suggest there's no reality-based opposition, and even the saner right wing pundits have decided that this isn't one that makes them look good. I think the discussion has largely turning into a "allow pill testing vs let them die" argument (per Stuff comments).

    "having drug-free festivals is not a hardline approach"... no, it's a religious approach. If only they took the same approach to other political questions. "God will appoint our candidates directly so we do not need to participate in the election" maybe.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1177 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Moz,

    "having drug-free festivals is not a hardline approach"... no, it's a religious approach.

    Ironically, even Parachute was never drug-free :-)

    But yeah, that Stuff comments thread is something. People demanding that festivals crack down on drugs. Dude, in New South Wales police put on drug dog teams outside the gates, inside the gates and at nearby transit stations, and they're nowhere near drug-free – but people just die more often.

    I'm so glad our politics is different here. In government, individual National MPs weren't really hostile towards drug-checking (Know Your Stuff used to have an onsite placard that quoted Bill English: "A good idea I suppose") even if they weren't going to do anything about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • tatjna,

    Also, just to set the record straight, Anna Wood died from hyponatremia because she’d been spun bullshit stories about drugs by people like Drug Free Australia, and thought drinking gallons of water would keep her safe.

    If she’d been able to talk with an organisation like KnowYourStuffNZ beforehand, we could have set her straight on that.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2010 • 22 posts Report Reply

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