None of the testing methods available to the general public can reliably detect synthetic cannabinoids. FTIR is unlikely to be able to detect Fentanyl either. It's also unlikely NMR could. For this, we need GC-MS.
I think 7 deaths is enough to warrant demanding this be addressed - people need to know what this is, and a means of submitting samples for identification.
The thing that bothers me is that it sounds like maybe the people dying are not from groups that get prioritised highly, and all the warnings we put out may not reach those people effectively.
Meanwhile, possibly not relevant to this but still worth putting out there: Dancesafe now has Fentanyl testing strips available. They recommend that for plant matter, the material is soaked in water and then the water tested.
Oh ffs when are the people with access to the technology to identify this stuff properly going to stop faffing about wringing their hands about ‘sending the wrong message’ and start testing, identifying and telling people what is out there?
Customs, police, ESR, I’m looking at you. You all have the technology to do this, and the power to say “Actually saving lives is more important that moralising about what we do and don’t condone."
Get on with it. We need an early warning system and we need it now.
To fully make sense of the “2/3 decided not to” statistic, we’d really need more detail on what the alternatives were.
You are quite right. KnowYourStuffNZ did ask people to expand on their reasons for choosing to take a substance that turned out not to be as presumed, however the responses were subjective and not really useful for making claims from a research perspective.
Anecdotally and by observation only (ie not backed by data), they generally fell into two broad categories - "Had used before with no problems" and "Was identified as another desirable substance" (ie cocaine that turned out to be speed). Even these people often said that they would approach with much more caution than they would have had they not gone through the checking process.
We can judge these reasons as much as we like, but the outstanding thing for me is how few people fell into the 'don't know, don't care, will gob anything for kicks' category that seems to be the stereotypical one applied to drug users.
The frustrating thing about that UK scare is the way that all the media outlets ran with the police line that it was 'a particularly potent form of MDMA' - they did this without it having been tested and it was pure speculation. Then after testing when it turned out to be synthetic cannabinoids, they called it Spice -which means about as much as bath salts in the world of harm reduction. They are umbrella terms used colloquially to describe families of drugs and give *zero* useful information about what the substance actually is.
Additionally, KnowYourStuffNZ tested a lot of pink crystals this year, and found 39 different psychoactive substances. There is simply no way to tell what is in a substance by looking at it. Yet another argument for implementation of drug checking nationwide.
Thank you Russell for being the lone voice for so long on this issue. It was because of you that we got any traction at all, and 3 years on your reporting is still the best. :)
I'd just like to point out re: the young guy who died in Waikanae - if Alpha-PVP does turn out to be what caused his death (which is still not confirmed), it is the only one of the common cathinones that doesn't react with either Marquis or Mandelin reagents. It will react with the Folin reagent, giving a pinky-peachy colour.
So essentially, if something is offered as 'bath salts' and it doesn't react with M&M, it's likely APVP you're dealing with.
Of course, if we had public access to GCMS testing and results...
In 2009, BERL put the value of one year of life at $106,600 when calculating the cost to the country of premature death due to alcohol and other drug use: http://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector/drivers-of-crime/documents/BERL_-July_2009-_Costs_of_Harmful_Alcohol_and_Other_Drug_Use-1.pdf
I like the idea of STEAM, in fact have long been frustrated at the arbitrary division that's placed between art/design and technology/engineering. The development of a concept into a real object involves many of the same skills whether the item created is a tech gadget or an item of clothing, a building or a large scale interactive artwork. Yet we constantly make value judgments regarding the end product, dismissing young women's interests as 'arts and crafts' instead of encouraging them to understand what they are doing in engineering and development terms. Thank you for doing something to address this.
The level of misinformation around legal highs and drugs in general in this country is astounding. The tenacity with which the misinformed general public clings onto its perspective in the face of facts is even more so. It's almost as if people enjoy a good drama more than the less outrage-inducing reality.
I am interested in countering this tendency, but struggling to know where to start.
I'm guessing 'synthetic heroin' might be a mislabelling of opiods such as codeine, which are also legally available through prescription, often redirected from their intended use *cough* and one of the fastest growing groups of drugs of misuse in the world. It isn't hard to see how a kid caught doing that might say 'legal highs' to avoid getting in even worse trouble, and an uninformed parent could jump on the bandwagon.
How it got in the news without someone realising though.. says something about the media really.
Hahaha snap. I’ve been watching this moral panic develop since 2010. It follows the same pattern that LSD and ecstasy, and before that cannabis, did. Post I made this morning about it: