Shambhala Seeks to Minimize Drug Deaths Through Crowd Funding
According to a local Vancouver publication, Shambhala Music Festival is seeking to invest in a high tech drug testing machine that could detect the deadly opioid fentanyl.
In the past, Shambhala has worked to reduce harm by testing festival goers drugs for unintended substances. However, due to the current opioid crisis in Canada the festival is seeking greater technology.
Without government funding, the festival is seeking to crowdfund $250,000 for the advanced mobile mass spectrometer machine in time for it's annual event this month.
According to the festival's harm reduction coordinator Chloe Sage, time is of the essence:
"We have to move very quickly if we're going to stop any more deaths from happening."
Some resistance arrises among community and government leaders because of the high expense of the machines. Additionally, while the machines may prove to screen for some forms of fentanyl it certainly isn't perfect. Synthetic chemicals like W-18, a very deadly form of fentanyl – which is already much more potent than its opioid cousins heroin and morphine – cannot be detected by the machine.
There is also concern that even if machines were in place they may not be able to be used from a legal perspective.
Dr. Sam Gautman, the festival's medical director cautioned that medical technicians would not legally be able to screen illicit substances if patrons were unable to sign a liability waiver due to intoxication.
However, Mark Tyndall, the medical director for British Columbia's Center for Disease Control remains optimistic about advancing technology:
"With all the attention on opioids and drug overdoses, a lot of companies are revving this up. So I'm optimistic that the technology will rapidly improve."
Shambhala Music Festival will take place this weekend in Salmo, BC from August 5-8th.