Drug checking to be offered through BC’s summer festival season

published on July 30, 2018

In order to provide potentially life-saving information, drug checking is being made widely available this summer for festival-goers in British Columbia.

Drug checking is a free service that allows people to anonymously submit samples of street drugs to be analyzed for their chemical makeup. Using a Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometer and fentanyl test strips, a range of substances can be tested — including opioids, stimulants, and other psychoactive drugs such as MDMA. Results are provided in a matter of minutes.

The service will allow those using substances to make informed decisions and take necessary precautions to avoid harms that may include accidental overdose. Festival organizers will also be able to alert guests of unexpected and potentially dangerous contaminants in the drug supply.

“Our communities are responding proactively and taking responsibility for their health and safety,” says Jody Jollimore of Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC), who are co-hosting drug checking events before and during Vancouver Pride Festival. “This is an opportunity to educate and engage – not only about substance use so people can make informed decisions to reduce harm, but also to have a greater discussion about their health.”

A six-month pilot study led by the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) evaluated drug checking in two supervised consumption sites in Vancouver operated by Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). The study revealed that substances on the street may not contain what people expected – 90% of opioids and 6% of stimulants tested positive for fentanyl.

At Insite, clients who checked prior to consumption and got a positive fentanyl result were 10 times more likely to reduce their dose and clients‎ who reduced their dose were 25% less likely to overdose.

“Drugs today are not what people think they are and increasingly they are contaminated with fentanyl, the toxic substance responsible for the majority of fatal overdoses in BC,” says Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). “Drug checking provides people with information about the drugs they are planning to consume so they can take measures to stay safe: Dispose of contaminated drugs, take a lower dose, don’t use alone, get a naloxone kit and consider addiction treatment if that’s right for you.”

The BCCSU will also be evaluating the results and how people are using the service.

Drug checking will be available at:
  • Electric Love Music Festival
    • July 26-28
  • Vancouver Pride Festival
    • July 30, 1:30pm-3:30pm
    • August 3, 6:00pm-9:00pm
      • HIM on Davie Health Centre – Suite 416-1033 Davie St (buzzer 416)
  • Shambhala Music Festival
    • August 10-13


Additional Information:
More information about drug checking

Drug checking reveals more than half of all substances on the street not what expected

Drug checking reveals more than half of all substances on the street not what expected

Report: Drug Checking as a Harm Reduction Intervention

Jody Jollimore
Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC)
Phone: (778) 836-8077
Email: [email protected]

Tiffany Akins, Communications Leader
Vancouver Coastal Health
Phone: (604) 708-5281
Cell: (604) 874-9393
Email: [email protected]

Kevin Hollett, Communications Lead
BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU)
Phone: (778) 918-1537
Email: [email protected]