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Providing health info to Toronto party people since 1995!

TRIP! provides safer sex and drug information and supplies to party people in Toronto's electronic music communities. We neither condone nor condemn the use of any drug, and provide factual information to help partiers make informed decisions that directly affect their long-term health. TRIP! is a grassroots initiative that sprouted in the summer of 1995 and has since nurtured healthy and wise choices among those in our communities. Donate today by clicking on the button below!

Book us for your next event!Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

Did a line?  Don't think you're fine?  Need to enquire?  Just text the TRIP!wire (647) 822-6435

Email info@tripproject.ca to buy a testing kit!

Flakka: the new bath salts?

flakka           NOT          flocka

                          Flakka                                                                             Flocka

   

Stories of people running around naked on drugs always seems to excite the media. In 2011, it was "bath salts". In 2015, it’s Flakka. To answer the question, “Is Flakka the new bath salts?” it is important to first understand what “bath salts” really are. “Bath salts” were products sold in convenience stores and head shops falsely labeled as soothing bath products, but were in fact synthetic stimulant research chemicals (or NPS's, novel psychoactive substances). Typically these research chems were MDPV, Methylone, mephedrone and/or flakka (αlpha-PVP) or just a mix of other synthetic cathinones. These drugs were taken for their reported similarity to Cocaine and amphetamines.

"Bath salts" rose to the height of its fame when it was falsely reported in Florida that a man had taken some and turned into a blood-thirsty zombie, stripping naked and gnawing on a man’s face. Contrary to popular belief, investigators found no connection to bath salts in this incident but the Canadian government didn’t let facts get in the way of the War on Drugs. MDPV was made illegal in 2012.

But what about Flakka? Flakka is the street name for the synthetic stimulant actually known as αlpha-PVP (alpha-Pyrrolidinopentiophenone). Like "bath salts", αlpha-PVP is a synthetic cathinone. The mechanism of αlpha-PVP effects are unknown but likely similar to MDPV, and reportedly produces similar euphoric and awareness increasing effects.

Though the media has hyped αlpha-PVP as a “new” drug it’s been around since the 60s. As cheaper alternatives to classic stimulants (like MDPV, mephedrone and the like) have been made illegal, substances that were synthesized ages ago are being pulled out of the vault. The MDPV legislation does place α-pvp in schedule I, but there's still less risk to producers (who are for the most part in China).

αlpha-PVP doesn’t show up on standard reagent tests, so be wary even if you get a result you were hoping for. Early reports have suggested that the standard dose of bath salts (120mg) is way too much when dropping Flakka - that might explain the people running around naked! If you're going to use it, start with as little as 5mg. (You can always do more, but can't do less.) Any chemical active at low doses such as this should only be measured out on a very accurate and high quality scale. Eyeballing doses is extremely difficult and reckless even if you know the total amount of powder you have.

α-pvp can be found in freebase and hydrochloride form. Those who choose to vaporize/smoke their α-pvp prefer the freebase form because it can be vaporized much more efficiently. Those who snort it will prefer the salt form because it is less harmful to the nasal membrane, and less painful. Vaporizing this chemical tends to be even more habit-forming than snorting it.

Early research has shown that there’s a feeling of needing to redose, which can lead to overdoing it, so monitor your usage carefully. When taking any stimulants, it’s important to take breaks from dancing/try to sleep, try to eat something light (like rice, some fruit or soup) and stay hydrated by sipping water!      

Got some more info on Flakka or harm reduction tips?
Send them our way at info@tripproject.ca


2015 Toronto Youth Drug Survey is out!

 Welcome to the TRIP! Project / SaferNightlife.info / ACT Community Survey! 

 people speech bubble

This is a survey for youth who have used drugs - including alcohol,in the past year (Spring 2014-Spring 2015).

This survey helps us gather data on trends in the community so that we can serve you better. It will take around 20 minutes to complete, and we will be quizzing you on your sex and drug habits!!  Don't be afraid to spill your guts as all data will be kept confidential.  

5eyes 

Some may find the nature of the questions sensitive - all survey results are anonymous and attendant to the emerging diversity of populations within the party scene. 

This survey is conducted annually and is a shortened version of last year's. Please complete this survey online and circulate it as widely as possible! The survey will be live until July 2015. 

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TYDS2015  

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TYDS2015 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TYDS2015

 

 



  

5 Myths About Molly

 

When the Trip! Project goes on outreach at any EDM festival, all ages party or underground events, the number one question we get asked is “What is molly?” There’s been a lot of confusion around molly in particular in the party scene lately. Misinformation about what molly is, what it does, and how you can tell is everywhere. Some of these myths may seem like common sense but these are all based on actual conversations with party people on outreach. You can always find out more info about molly on Trip! or Erowid!  

  1. Myth: Molly is MDMA

Molly can mean MDMA - but a lot of times it isn’t. There are a few reasons behind this.

Pure MDMA isn’t an ideal party drug for a lot of people. You feel very cuddly, very chatty, but actually not super energized or hyped up. It’s often described as more of a chill time. This isn’t what a lot of partiers want for their cray exciting night out! This leads to molly being anywhere from a mix of MDMA and amphetamines to just plain old speed sold as molly.

Picture: life is like a cap of molly

 

Another reason why folks aren’t selling Molly that’s MDMA as much anymore is because the risks of selling MDMA have skyrocketed thanks to new drug prohibition legislation. In 2012, the Safe Streets and Communities Act was passed, which took MDMA from being a Schedule III drug to a Schedule I drug. The Act also added in mandatory minimums. So now anyone caught dealing MDMA gets automatic jail time. Selling MDMA is now as risky as selling heroin. So dealers are much more likely to sell a substance that is lower risk for them, like methylone. Molly is also a super popular, mainstream slang name right now. It’s easy for dealers to get rid of whatever they’re selling by just calling it molly.

You can test your molly to see what’s actually in it using a reagent test kit like the ones from Trip! (email us at info@tripproject.ca), TestKitsPlus or DanceSafe.

 

2. Myth: Molly is a new drug

Nope! Molly has been around for a really long time. MDMA was first synthesized in the 1910s and first ingested by humans in the 1970s. There have been so many studies on MDMA’s effects as far as therapeutic treatments, harm reduction tips and trip reports. If we agree that most molly is MDMA mixed with stimulants, then people have been partying with molly (aka what used to be known as ecstasy) at parties since at least the 1980s!    

 

3. Myth: You can trust that dude who says "this molly is the purest stuff in the city"

First time users and partiers new to the scene beware! If someone is selling at a party, they will always tell you that their stuff is bomb - they want you to buy it and you’re not likely to be able to find them in the crowd later in the night when you’re not feeling so happy about your high (or lack thereof)! Pure molly would be pure MDMA, but without using a MDMA purity test, (the purity test is not an identification test though, and is only useful after you've used another reagent test to confirm the presence of MDMA. The purity test also requires an acurate 20mg sample size for testing, so use a good scale!) there is no way a dealer can give you good idea of the purity of their Molly. Be cautious of any dealer who says their stuff is 97.65% pure or some other whacky specific number. Ask them how they know, where they buy their kits and follow up with your own purity tests! Try to build a good relationship with your dealer and buy before the party so that you have time to make sure you got exactly what you paid for by using a test kit (or worst case can test out a bit of it beforehand). Even if someone takes 100% pure MDMA, you’re still taking a drug and there are still risks. If it wasn’t cleaned properly when it was being produced then coming up and coming down can feel super rough. Start with a small dose to get a good idea of what the Molly you have feels like. There’s also nothing wrong with doing M that is just a bunch of speed if that’s what you like! Figuring out what you’re taking before you drop can help you make better decisions about whether or not to take it.  

 

4. Myth: If you pop a Molly, you’ll die

MDMA, like any other drug has risks. Some folks straight up can’t metabolize MDMA in their liver. This means that for some people, even taking one dose of the purest molly might take lead to life-threatening consequences. The only way to know for sure is to get tested by a doctor to ensure that you aren’t deficient in the liver enzyme CYP2D6 (pronounced “sip-two-dee-six”). About 6-10% of the population is. However, if you know that you respond more strongly than other people to painkillers like Vicodin or other opioids, it’s a sign that you might be. Either way, if you have never taken MDMA before, and you are determined to take it, you should test yourself by taking a quarter dose first (approximately 20-25mg). If you feel anything at all at this dose, you are quite likely a poor metabolizer, and you should be very careful and always take a significantly lower dose than other people. The main deaths that have happened to people on MDMA who don’t have this enzyme deficiency have been a result of overheating, dehydration or exhaustion. That’s why it’s so important to drink water (a bottle every hour is a good amount) and take breaks from dancing to chill out.

However, sometimes the drugs being sold as Molly can have much higher risks, especially if mixed with alcohol or other drugs. Try to leave the mixing to the DJ and check in often with your friends about how you’re feeling. If you are mixing substances, it helps to have tried each substance by itself before combining them to try to minimize your chances of unexpected results.

 

5. Myth: Caps of Molly are safer than pressed pills

This myth has gone back and forth since forever. When pressies were going around the city, the myth was that caps were full of crap! The truth is that any cap or pill could have other drugs mixed in (sometimes called adulterants). Taking any drug recreationally is taking a risk. A similar myth about tan or brown powdered Molly being purer than white powdered molly has also been going around - and so has the reverse - the colour of the powder in your cap is not a good indication of what’s actually in it. MDMA looks different at different stages of processing/cleaning. Whether your caps are filled with white crystals to dark brown rocks or anything in between, you’ll get the most information about what you got by using a testing kit.

What some other myths you’ve heard about Molly? Let us know in the comments!

Test before you ingest!

 

Get test kits by emailing info@tripproject.ca or from TestKitsPlus or DanceSafe.

Living Proof

  
 
When I was 11 years old, I was molested by my 76 year old neighbour.
 
I remember almost everything about that day. The blue pants I was wearing, the weather, the sound of a basketball bouncing outside. He said, “if you don't tell anyone, I promise never to do it again”. In a way, I think it changed my life forever. By any means, the next few years to come were hellish. Everyday as my school bus would turn the corner on to my street, I would pray, I hope, I would fumble, just asking God for my molester not to be watering his lawn as we pulled up. It felt like Russian roulette. You just never knew. All I wanted was to avoid him, but our houses were attached, and that was practically impossible.
 
He even came to our house for dinner. I would hide in my little brothers room. I didn't eat. I just wanted to disappear. But when you're that young, there is simply nowhere to go. So you just fold inwards, looking for something greater than yourself. Finally, when I was 17, I told my parents. It came after an incident where my molester had actually successfully kicked me out of my own house after reporting on a house party that I had thrown while my parents were away. My parents did nothing. When I told them that we should report him to the police, they said there was nothing the police could do.

Nothing the police can do. That's something that repeated itself in my mind frequently. The idea that someone could do something terrible to you, but that there was nothing anyone, not even the people charged with protecting you, could do. For years, I believed it. It's exactly for that reason that I believe that the woman who were assaulted by Jian Ghomeshi chose not to come forward sooner, because maybe they legitimately believed that there was nothing that anyone could do.

When the story out of Jian Ghomesh first came out, I had no idea who he was. Although I'm Canadian, I've spent my adult life in New York. In the beginning, I thought the story would be one quick to fade. But as articles kept filling my newsfeed, I started paying more attention. And so I came to the realization of how collectively important it was to have this story surface. To just get people talking about this stuff. Given the statistics of sexual assault, it is absolutely certain that another 11 year old child who has been the victim of sexual misconduct is watching the news, who has not told anyone yet, and who is slowly coming to realize that he or she is not alone. I want these children to know, unlike I knew when I was 11 year olds, that there is something that the police can do. I want them to know that not telling anyone is not the only to make sure that this will never happen to them again.

Jian Ghomeshi's recent arrest is living proof of that.
 
- Written by SC, past Trip! Project outreach worker 

Drug Induced Seizures

brain 

 

At a festival recently, I heard a story from a festival attendee discussing how someone in front of them started convulsing. They were shocked and immediately put their hand in the seizing person’s mouth. In their mind, they had seen a few episodes of House and figured that they were helping stop the seizing person from choking on their tongue.


The commonly held belief that someone having a seizure can choke on their tongue is absolutely a myth. The person sticking their hand in the mouth of a stranger obviously had good intentions – but they were putting both themselves and the person who was having the seizure at risk of injury and transmission of blood borne illnesses. This post will cover how you should help a person who is having a drug induced seizure and keep them (and you!) safe.


What causes a seizure?


Seizures can be triggered by epilepsy, but this post is specifically about drug induced seizures. Seizures are a common side effect after physically withdrawing from long term (or heavy binging) alcohol, ghb, benzo or barbiturate use. Seizures can also occur from most recreational drugs including: alcohol, ghb, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamine, antidepressants, and prescription medications (even certain anti-allergy drugs and antibiotics are known to trigger seizures). They are more likely to happen when a person mixes multiple substances together, or after someone hasn’t slept in a few days and has been up partying. It’s also common for someone to have a seizure while overdosing.


FUN FACT: we all have our own personal “seizure threshold” meaning given the right conditions, it could happen to literally anyone. Along with drugs there are a few other things that can lower someones seizure threshold some of those are: not eating properly, overheating, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, an infection, flashing lights, a head injury and low blood sugar.


Here are a few things you can do to help lower your risk of having a seizure:

  • Make sure you eat a full meal before you start.

  • Stay hydrated throughout the night; alternate water with sports drinks to replenish your body's electrolytes and sugar.

  • Take rests from dancing to cool off and prevent exhaustion.

  • know your body's limit when it comes to drugs... don't over do it.


Seizures are triggered by altered electrical activity in the brain caused by complex chemical changes in nerve cells. Brain cells can become too excited or just stop communicating with other cells. Usually there is a balance of brain cells that excite and stop messages – when this balance gets out of whack and there is too much or too little activity, this chemical change can cause a surge of electrical activity, triggering a seizure.  


What is a seizure?


Seizures can look really scary or be so subtle they can be hard to identify. Often when folks think of seizures they imagine a very specific kind called a grand mal seizure. Although that kind of seizure is marked by sudden loss of consciousness and violent convulsions, there are more than twenty different types of seizures! Someone having a petit mal seizure might remain conscious and just have intense twitching or be very inattentive or zoned out for a few minutes.


What to do when someone is having a seizure

  • Stay calm. You can’t help them if you’re wigged out.

  • If you’re at a party, you can designate someone near you to go get help.

  • Move everything out of the person’s way. Are they by a table with glasses on them? Are there glass pipes lying around? Chairs? Move away everything the person might come into contact with and clear a space.

  • Encourage people to stand back and give the person lots of room. Make sure that you are not in the way of being kicked or injured by the seizing person.

  • Put something under the person’s head so that it’s not hitting the ground. You could use a coat, your sweater, your folded fluffies, whatever you have.

  • If you can, time the length of the seizure. This is helpful information for the paramedics to have.

  • Put the person in the recovery position after the seizure has stopped and wait for help to arrive.

  • Stay there and wait it out. Don’t leave the person and check in with them after.

  • Don’t hold their head or limbs this can lead to injuries to either you or them.


Remember: it’s a myth that someone can choke on their own tongue. Don’t ever try to put anything in a seizing person’s mouth (like a wallet or water and definitely not your hands!). Anything you put in their mouths can be a choking hazard.  


When to call an ambulance

  • If the person is seizing and overdosing

  • If the person has two or more seizures without regaining consciousness between them

  • If the person takes longer than 15 minutes to regain consciousness

  • If it’s the person’s first seizure


Following up with a doctor is always a good idea, just to rule out things other than substance use, like tumours or viruses.


Some folks can be prone to having drug induced seizures and know the specific substances that could set them off. Be sure to tell your friends if you have a history of seizures before you start partying and what they can do if it happens. In many cases, a properly handled seizure is not life threatening and just another risk to be aware of when you’re partying hard.


Testing Kits - Drug Checking

Testing kits can help you identify what a substance is so you can decide how or if you want to take it. When getting drugs from someone or the internet you can't be 100% sure what it really is, even if it's from a friend. You can use a testing kit to get more info!

You can buy testing kits from us by emailing info@tripproject.ca to set up a time to pick up your kit in person from Central Toronto Community Health Centres or you can order them directly online here

testkitplus 

Just say KNOW!  

Increasing the Purity of Street Drugs

If you do synthetic street drugs that are sold as powder, crystals, or pills, the following techniques for "cleaning" drugs may be of interest to you.

One of the simpler methods of purifying your drugs is called an alcohol wash. The premise is that some impurities/cuts will not dissolve as much in alcohol as the actual drug. This works especially well with coke, since it is very soluble in alcohol. It will remove some but not all of the levamisole/tetramisole in coke.

Supplies: Drugs to clean, 2 clean glass or ceramic containers, lab or coffee filters, something to measure small quantities of liquid with (usually you can get a free 10ml oral syringe from any major pharmacy chain by asking for one), internet access, and the purest alcohol you can get. if you can have somebody bring it in from out of province or the U.S, pure ethanol over 90% is best. Sold as Alcool Global 94% in Quebec, Everclear/Spirytus 95/96% in the U.S. Next best is 99% isopropyl alcohol from a pharmacy, make sure it's 99%, not normal rubbing alcohol. After that, some LCBOs sell a 75.5% proof Spirytus, don't get Bacardi 151 unless you want your drugs to have non-alcoholic rum residue in them. In a pinch, normal vodka will work but not nearly as well as those above, and you'll lose a lot more of whatever you're cleaning to the process.

How much alcohol you'll use will depend on what you're cleaning, and how soluble it is in the solvent you've got. For example, cocaine HCl (which is what you'll have if you bought coke that isn't rocked up into crack) is soluble in water at 1.8 grams per millilitre of distilled water, that means every millilitre of water can dissolve 1.8 grams of coke. In pure ethanol (drinking alcohol) it takes 3.2ml to dissolve a gram. That means, in 94% alcohol, you'll need about 2.8ml per gram, just call it 3ml since you'll lose a bit to evaporation and the sides of your container. If you have a toaster oven, set it for about 150F, cover the top of your container with a glass plate, and wait for it to come up to temperature. The plate will have to sit flush with the container so the alcohol doesn't escape. Heating the alcohol is optional, but will improve your results. If you do heat it, make sure you pick up the container with oven mits or a folded towel, because it will be hot. While hot, dissolve your coke in the alcohol and stir to help it dissolve. You can then let it cool to room temperature and pour it through your filter into the other container. Before pouring, wet the filter paper with a bit of alcohol that doesn't have coke in it. Anything less soluble than coke will now be left in the filter, and your cleaner coke will be in the alcohol. Pour the alcohol onto a flat plate and let it sit until it evaporates, which will leave behind your coke. You can use light heat to help it evaporate faster, but make sure it's under 175F and absolutely no open flames. Once it's almost dry, chop it up finely and let it sit for another 48 hours to get all of the alcohol out, especially if you used alcohol not meant for drinking. It may look like a weird white paste before it's completely dry, don't be alarmed if that happens.

To wash other drugs with alcohol, just look up how soluble they are in the solvent you're using (liquid that you'll be dissolving your drugs in) and adjust the figures accordingly. If the solubility is lower than 30ml per gram it's probably not worth doing.

Another method of cleaning your drugs is called an acetone wash. This will improve the purity of most drugs if done correctly, but will not get rid of most cuts that are drugs themselves. If your mdma has speed, PMA, lidocaine, etc. in it that will still be in it at the end. This is best for getting rid of things that whomever manufactured your drugs left behind due to greed, laziness, or incompetence. It will also get rid of caffeine. If you have mdma that's dark brown and smells strongly, it will be white and mostly odourless when you're done. Warning: Acetone is very flammable, unhealthy to breathe in, and it dissolves paint, varnish, plastic and styrofoam among other things. Keep away from open flames, keep a window open, and only use clean glass, ceramic, or metal containers. This does not work for any drugs that are in freebase form, like crack or DMT.

Supplies: Acetone (available at most hardware stores. Make sure the container just says it has acetone in it, don't just get any bottle from the paint thinners sections). To test if your acetone is clean, pour a little bit onto a clean glass/ceramic/metal surface and see if it leaves residue behind when it evaporates. If it doesn't, you're good. Epsom salts (should be available at most pharmacies, make sure they're unscented and not sea salt/ something else). An oven or toaster oven, coffee filters, clean glass/ceramic containers, and a mortar and pestle.

First you're going to want to "dry" your acetone. Dry acetone means it has no water in it, water is bad because even a little bit will cause you to lose some of your drugs. To do this, crush up epsom salts in your mortar and pestle and put them in the oven on high for 3-4 hours. This will take all the water out of the epsom salts, and they will now absorb water from the atmosphere, or your acetone. Put the equivalent of roughly 1/5 of your container of acetone in dried epsom salts into the acetone container. Give it a good shaking for about a minute, and let it sit for a day. You now have dry acetone. Don't shake the container before using and pour slowly from the top layer so you don't pour out epsom salts with it. Pour it through a coffee filter to make sure you don't get any epsom salt in your drugs. If you have a glass eyedropper and patience, it's better to just use that to siphon acetone off the top and leave all the epsom salt at the bottom. Crush your drugs finely, and depending on how much you're washing put them in an acetone friendly container of appropriate size. Probably a shot glass. Then pour your filtered, dry acetone on top, enough to cover your drugs plus a little room at the top. The acetone will absorb impurities and some cuts, but not your drugs. Stir it around a bit with an acetone friendly utensil, (glass or metal) and let it sit for maybe 10 minutes. Then take a clean container with a new coffee filter on it, and wet the coffee filter with a bit of acetone. You can then pour in the contents of your shot glass. Save the coffee filter and scrape any residue from the shot glass. Let the acetone evaporate off and you can then retrieve your drugs from the coffee filter. If you're curious, you can also let all the acetone from the other container evaporate which will leave behind all the impurities that were removed, otherwise just dispose of it or keep it in a closed container to reuse later.

If you apply both of these techniques to your drugs they will become even cleaner. Keep in mind these techniques only work if what you bought as MDMA/coke/whatever actually contains MDMA/coke/whatever. If you wash a mystery E pill you'll still have mystery powder at the end, albeit cleaner mystery powder.

Links to resources on this topic: http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=29652 http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27089 http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38798 https://www.dmt-nexus.me/forum/default.aspx?g=posts&t=46821

Harm Reduction Takes A Step Back as EDM Events are Banned at The Ex

 

Ex 

On Friday April 11th, Toronto City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti introduced a motion to prevent agreements with Electronic Dance Music promoters who wish to rent the city’s publicly owned buildings on The Exhibition grounds.


The motion passed with a vote of 4-3. Mammoliti was thrilled, “We’re talking 5600 kids, many of them taking ecstasy on government lands owned by the taxpayers, I just think it’s wrong to be sending that message,” he said. “I don’t see the logic in that, if the private industry wants to have the venues in a private location then so be it.”


However, death from club drugs are rare. According to the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario between 2002 and 2010 only 17 deaths in Toronto were related to MDMA and ecstasy use. 10 of the people who died were over the age of 40. Meaning less than 1 youth a year died from ecstasy or MDMA use.


Furthermore, this motion goes directly against a long standing “Establishment of Late Night Entertainment Event Protocol (including Raves) and Co-ordinated Response to Inquest Recommendations into the Death of Allen Ho.” The protocol was adopted in August of 2000 and specifically recommends Exhibition Place a s a safe place to hold dance parties.


The Exhibition also created a protocol to ensure safety at dance related events held on the grounds. A number of harm reduction techniques must be used by event organizers including: paid duty police officers, private security, turnstiles and ambulance services on site at all times.


However noble, Councillor Mammoliti’s desire to protect children from the evils of raving may seem misguided.


Toronto’s rave community is notably upset by this decision and has started an online petition urging for it’s reversal.


Many community members feel that the motion was made due to the political sway of Muzik Nightclub owner Zlatko Starkovski. On January 14th, Mr. Starkovski wrote a letter to the chairman of the Exhibition and Councillor Mark Grimes, which stated:


In recent months the Exhibition Place has seen several competing events in both the Better Living Centre and the Direct Energy Centre. While we recognize the competitive nature of our business, this has caused Muzik problems in booking the talent for own shows on other nights. Muzik and the Exhibition Place are a destination venue. Our patrons come here one night a week specifically for our club, many from outside Toronto. If there is similar content and acts being hired on another or the same night, at the same location, we have will not be able to continue our successful programing.


Additionally, Exhibition Place staff have met with Mr. Starkovski and suggested he

consider the possibility of promoting a major EDM concert similar to the ones held on the

grounds in September and December 2013.


Muzik is not affected by this ban and stands to gain significantly from the decision. It has become increasingly obvious that harm reduction and safety was not the primary motivator in the decision to ban EDM events from The Exhibition.


When questioned about the possible negative effects of this decision, such as forcing the all ages scene underground, Mr Starkovski stated, “there is no underground scene, [this] means 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 year old children will be at home safe.” He is also quoted as saying, “My biggest concern is that [electronic dance music concerts] are mixing 12-year-old girls with 50-year-old men.”


If you would like to see EDM events continue to be held at the Exhibition, which are safe and suitable for all ages, there are a number of ways you can help.


  • sign and share the petition

  • call and email your councillor

  • have your parents call and email your councillor

  • call and email the mayor

  • tweet about this using the hashtag #boycottmuzik

  • give muzik a 1 star review on facebook, google and yelp

 
By a Trip! Project volunteer

Photo from Facebook 

Protecting Young People (Who Use Drugs)

by Lisa Campbell 

Protecting Young People (Who Use Drugs)

 

Canada at #CND2014: Statement has not one word on human rights, death penalty for drug offences, harm reduction, #HIV #HCV#missingtheboat

— CDN HIVAIDS LGL NTWK (@AIDSLAW) March 14, 2014 

On the final day of the CND High Level Segment, right before the Canadian Delegation presented their statement, I received a message informing me that my friend Junior had died of a drug overdose. Choking back tears, I had to force myself to focus on the task at hand in the name of advocating for sensible drug policy. In honour of Junior, I would like to dedicate this post to him, as I continue to believe that we must push for life saving services for young people who use drugs.  During the CND, we have strived to be diplomatic in our calls for drug policy reform.  Achieving this diplomacy is difficult when the lives of young people who use drugs are at continued risk because of ineffective drug policies.  Unfortunately, the Canadian Delegation neglected to mention human rights, the death penalty for drug offences, harm reduction or reducing blood borne infections in their statement.

That being said, Canada did mention that a multistakeholder approach is essential, including engaging civil society in ongoing dialogue leading up to UNGASS 2016.  Today, the Canadian NGO Delegation had the opportunity to meet with the Canadian Delegation to discuss some of our concerns at the CND.  In preparation for the event, both the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition created a briefing document titled, ”Promoting Smart Policy on Drugs: Brief to the Canadian delegation to the UN,” which was sent to the Canadian Delegation in advance of the meeting.  Although we were unable to address all of the points in the briefing during the meeting, many of questions we were able to ask were not responded to by the Canadian Delegation as a result of  the Harper Government’s  National Anti-Drug Strategy, which limits government officials from acknowledging harm reduction as an evidence-based strategy for improving public health outcomes.

It is strange to see this phenomenon in action, but it’s not the first time I’ve witnessed official government representatives shying away from the topic for fear of reprisal.  While we were able to discuss other issues, the lack of harm reduction funding for programs targeted at youth has a real tangible cost.  It may seem like we are being nit picky about rhetoric, but not acknowledging harm reduction in federal policy (let alone on an international scale) means that young people who use drugs are left without services due to age restrictions and abstinence-based programs.  Talking about young people and drug use only from the perspective of prevention and enforcement means that treatment and harm reduction are sidelined and do not receive sufficient funds to meet demand.  In this blog post, CSSDP will be going through the briefing document point by point to outline the concerns for young people who use drugs, and also to summarize the information discussed during our meeting with the Canadian Delegation.

1. Encourage all countries to adopt a comprehensive public health approach to substance use
While this was not on the forefront of our meeting, it is essential that young people who use drugs are not further criminalized for their use. Some of the students we work with have been caught up in the justice system, often facing jail time or probation when they should be focused on their education.  One of our most active students found out that his sentence is coming up (facing 5+ years potentially) right when he passed his LSAT.  With mandatory minimum sentences, young people are more at risk for increased sentences if caught  in an area where other underage youth are frequenting.  Just because a young person uses drugs does not mean that they are a criminal, and we therefore believe that drug use should be seen as a public health issue rather than a criminal one.

2. Supporting countries’ flexibility to experiment with alternative, health-oriented approaches to drug policy
Although many countries find ways to be flexible with the conventions in order to provide health services like needle exchange, harm reduction interventions for non-injection drug users are lacking.  While we still need services for young people who inject drugs, programs like drug checking have not been scaled up to be accessible to all young people globally. Drug testing kits for adulterants are often seen as “drug paraphernalia” and testing drugs for your friends or in a public health service can be seen as trafficking. While cannabis is being legalized in some states, rhetoric around “adult use” excludes young people, pushing them into the drug courts where sentencing can be just as punitive if they are suffering from addiction and are unable to maintain sobriety.

3. Respect, Protect and Promote Human Rights
Young people who use drugs have the right to access harm reduction services.  Oftentimes this provision of health services can be moralized by governments, as the main arguments for drug prohibition is to “protect” children and youth, which often results in their punishment as opposed to support. While we did not discuss the exclusion of human rights from the Canadian statement during the meeting, we did touch on the issue of the death penalty being excluded from the High Level Segment Joint Ministerial Statement (JMS).  Shortly after the approval of the JMS, several states came together to clarify that they were strongly opposed to the exclusion of condemning the death penalty from the JMS, but unfortunately Canada was not one of them.  The Canadian delegation was very frank in addressing our concerns, stating that they had no qualms with opposing the death penalty, but that the Minister of Foreign Affairs office did not have time to approve signing onto the EU led statement calling on the death penalty to be abolished for drug-related crimes.

3. Ensure Full Access to Essential Medicines
This was the one point on which the Canadian government was all ears and very open to technical expertise from the NGOs present in our meeting.  We were lucky to have Jason Nickerson from the Bruyère Research Institute present to speak to the Draft Resolution put forward by Thailand on Ketamine. As the predominant anaesthetic in many developing countries, Jason was concerned that Ketamine has gone “out of favour” in the international stage due to its increasing abuse in developed countries. The concern is that as drugs become scheduled and controlled in low-income countries, they become inaccessible. Canada should take a leading role in creating inclusion around access to essential medicines.

While it is important that we protect global access to Ketamine as an anaesthetic, it is also worth noting that this drug has a growing recreational use amongst youth in North America, Europe and Asia.  Due to a rise in awareness by bodies such as the UNODC, there has been a reduction in supply, forcing the prices of this cheap generic medicine to skyrocket and increasing adulterants, including New Psychoactive Substances such as Methoxetamine, which can have a higher potential for overdose.  In the Canadian context, as prices increase, young people who use drugs sometimes resort to changing their route of administration to injection, increasing their risk of blood-borne infections.  We need to stress to member states that supply reduction does not necessarily lead to better health outcomes for marginalized youth, and that we need proper addiction services for synthetic drugs like Ketamine.

4. Promote the full engagement of civil society in drug policy discussion

According to Robert Ianiro, “involvement of civil society is critical.” The Canadian delegation stressed that it was Canada that had helped to draft the initial language of the Resolution on the inclusion of civil society. Rita Notarandrea, Deputy CEO of the Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse (CCSA), is the  civil society representative on the Canadian delegation, and is a co-lead on many of the resolutions.  CCSA has a long history of youth engagement in creating federally funded youth prevention programs, yet the youth that they chose to engage are not necessarily young people who use drugs or marginalized youth.  In our meeting, we stressed that the inclusion of key affected populations is essential when discussing drug policy reform, such as young people who use drugs and street involved youth.  While scientific data is important, young people who use drugs have on the ground knowledge of trends, including the effects of drug policy.  Through the meeting, we learned that the CCSA sent out a questionnaire and presented summarized feedback from NGOs, but many of the NGOs present at our meeting did not receive it.  We need civil society engagement beyond online surveys, and one that reaches out to populations affected by drug policy and meaningfully engages them in a consultation process leading up to UNGASS 2016.

5. Concerns about the language of a “drug-free world”
Statements around aiming for a “drug-free world” are not based in reality, as it is increasingly recognized that the war on drugs is a catastrophic failure.  There is a great deal of evidence that indicates that rates of drug use are largely independent of drug control policies.  It is time for member states to redefine the measures of success for drug policies.  If the goal was shifted from eliminating all drugs to reducing drug related harms, we could focus on minimizing the negative impacts of drugs as opposed to criminalizing young people who use drugs.  This “drug-free world” rhetoric leads to policies like mandatory minimum sentences which disproportionally impact youth. Party drugs popular with young people, including Amphetamine-Type Substances, Ketamine and New Psychoactive Substances, are increasingly placed under Schedule 1.  Young people are curious about drugs, and we need to provide them with factual information on the harms so that they can make their own decisions and take control of their health.  If the focus is only on prevention, valuable harm reduction supplies are inaccessible.

6. Role of the World Health Organization
While Canada is officially opposed to the language of harm reduction, there is still a vague reference to these evidence-based public health interventions in the JMS. This arises by referring to the WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS Technical Guide, which states that such interventions have, “remarkably reduced the number of HIV infections, with some countries approaching the elimination of injecting drug use-related transmission of HIV.”  The NGOs present were interested in Canada’s specific concerns about the wording of harm reduction.  The Canadian Delegation enforced the government’s commitment to the NAS, and believed that prevention, treatment, control of production and enforcement are the tools they can use to curb harms.  That being said, they presented no issues to the technical guides, but were unable to address our questions as to why harm reduction itself was problematic.

On top of this important meeting with the Canadian Delegation, the CSSDP National Chair Nazlee guest blogged for the CND Blog hosted by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) for the first time today. She covered the Committee of the Whole in the morning (which covered resolutions E/CN.7/2014/L.2 andE/CN.7/2014/L.8), and a side event titled, “COPOLAD: Evidence-Based Tools and Resources Available for CELAC and EU Countries” in the afternoon. All of her posts are now available on the CND blog and have been linked for the convenience of our readers here. As is the tone of the CND Blog, Nazlee’s posts reported on exactly what was said in these sessions without adding personal reflection. 

Written by Lisa Campbell, we snagged this post from the CSSDP.org blog

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