We typically hear about how music festivals should be proactive in dealing with the drug overdoses and drug-related deaths at their events. Although not every attendee can be monitored at these events, there are plenty of options to prevent unnecessary casualties. From publicizing strict regulations against bringing controlled substances into the venues to enforcing those rules with security staff or the police, it would appear that in this day and age their best efforts can still be helped with alternative options.
However, one such option was shut down at Bonnaroo this past weekend. According to a post on the Bonnaroo sub Reddit, Adam Auctor issued a long statement about his business that sells Substance Test Kits and how the prominent music festival stopped his organization and treated him and his team like criminals.
Adam Auctor is the CEO of Bunk Police which has developed Substance Test Kits designed to test for different drugs and different chemicals and compounds within the tested samples. From spotting what’s in MDMA, LSD, Cocaine, DMT, Ketamine, and more, the test kits can be used to keep people who willingly want to take drugs to pursue that option in a cautious matter even if what they’re consuming is contraband. In other words, even if the drugs that some festival attendee has is illegal, at least they can test his or her drugs before ingesting it and harming themselves or worse.
After having his tent shut down from participating as a vendor at Bonnaroo and having 500 of his 2,000 substance test kits confiscated, Adam Auctor has made it loud and clear that although 2016 will not see the Bunk Police at Bonnaroo, they will return with a new plan in order to spread their message, ensuring that the people are informed and safe when it comes to controlled substances.
Here is the full post:
Hey r/Bonnaroo , I thought I would give you an update and let you in on our experience at the event this year.
In years past (this is our fifth Bonnaroo) we’ve been allowed to operate for the most part. Last year, the Mounted Patrol came by a few times over the weekend and eventually shut us down on Sunday morning. It seemed as if the higher-ups at the event were, more or less, allowing us to conduct our work but then shut us down for liability reasons (undoubtedly related to the R.A.V.E. Act ) at the last possible moment. I’d like to thank those involved with that decision for allowing us to help make Bonnaroo just a little safer in 2014.
2015 was a completely different story. As some of you may know – the event is now owned by Live Nation and this resulted in significantly stricter security throughout.
Before I get to the official reaction, let me tell you a little bit about a few local police officers and their reaction to us at the event. We were stopped by the police twice (while on foot) and were given the opportunity to explain ourselves. After elaborating on the harm reduction initiative, the issues with adulterated substances, etc. They kindly let us continue. Thanks for getting it, rogue officers.
Now on to the official reaction: We set up our tent, as usual, and within an hour our two – four individuals from the Mounted Patrol came by and treated us very differently. They detaining us like criminals and forced most of us to sit encircled by their horses. Shortly thereafter, an ATV with two representatives from the Bonnaroo security force showed up to assess the situation. We were made to bring everything out of our tent and our possessions were thoroughly searched. One of our “agents” walked up during this event and was also involved in the search. Unfortunately, so were two patrons that were completely unrelated to our operation – they were not even in the tent – they just happened to be walking by at the time. After nearly half an hour of extremely polite interaction, an explanation of our intentions, and pleading on our part – we were given two options 1) All of our wristbands would be cut and we would all be thrown out of the event (including the un-involved patrons.) They stated that if we chose this option, our supplies would be returned to us outside of the event as soon as we were removed. 2) Our supplies would be confiscated, but returned to us at the end of the event. We would be allowed to stay at Bonnaroo under the agreement that we would no longer operate or advertise in any way. We chose the second option.
They gave two main reasons for shutting us down: That we were “stealing from vendors who had paid to be there” and that “if someone uses our kit (to make sure their substances are safe?) and overdoses, Bonnaroo would be liable.”
It should be noted that Bonnaroo has never answered a single one of our dozens of emails requesting a vending permit or permission to operate.
At the conclusion of the event (where we still continued to operate tent-to-tent as they had only confiscated 500 of our 2,000 kits) I personally went to collect our supplies. As it turns out, Bonnaroo had not kept their word. In fact, they had given everything to the Sheriff’s Department. I was told that, in order to pick them up, I would have to personally go to the police station and show identification. This was not an option as it sounded like a great way to get arrested for illegal vending – among other unknowns – as the new Coffee County D.A. has made it a point to use the law in its full extent to charge Bonnaroo patrons . I decided not to chance it, fearing that I could possibly be made into an “example” somehow and forfeited nearly 500 kits ( or5,000 individual tests) that could have been distributed and used at another event, along with radios, flyers, stickers, and a few (legal) personal items – a huge loss.
At around the same time, another one of our “agents” was stopped by a “safety team” from Bonnaroo. They were very interested in what he was doing, but not in anything beyond the cash he had on him at the time. They confiscated the remainder of his kits along with all of the cash he had on his person – including everything from his wallet. The kits were actually returned to him on Sunday by the Wormtown Trading Company booth (for some reason) but the cash came up missing. It seems that these “safety officers” had failed to log it and had kept the cash for themselves.
I imagine the first question you’ll have on the subject is about the legality of our kits in Tennessee (one of the most conservative states as far as this issue goes.) Here’s the important excerpt:
“Paraphernalia = Testing equipment used, intended for use, or designed for use in identifying, or in analyzing the strength, effectiveness or purity of controlled substances.”
Our kits are not quantitative – they are considered qualitative in their current form. This puts us on the right side of this law to some extent. Beyond this distinction – our kits all have a disclaimer that states: “FOR USE IN IDENTIFYING UNKNOWN SUBSTANCES ONLY. NOT INTENDED TO FACILITATE THE USE, POSSESSION, OR DISTRIBUTION OF ANY CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE.”
Without possessing an illegal substance, it’s nearly impossible to be charged with paraphernalia. To date, even in states that have much more restrictive paraphernalia laws, we have only had a handful of cases brought to our attention where someone was charged with paraphernalia without actually possessing a controlled substance. These cases were all eventually dropped.
We did have one instance last year where a very confused officer charged an individual with possession of every substance on our reaction chart – mistakenly thinking it was a mixture of these substances. This case, of course, was dropped as well. It should also be noted that we have sold our test kits on Amazon.com , shipping nationwide, for nearly two years without issue. The kits used by the Justice Department, D.E.A., and Police are also sold freely on Amazon and Ebay.
In conclusion – we will not be returning to Bonnaroo in 2016 and operating as we normally do – but we’ll definitely be back with a different plan. Although this was a huge loss for us, we believe that Bonnaroo needs our help. So many young and uninformed individuals attend for the sole purpose of using substances, many of them with next to zero information on the subject. It’s also the worst event in the U.S. when it comes to adulteration. If you plan to attend in 2016, please order a test kit from us or another provider before you go. We’ll be much harder to find.
Image source: festivalsnobs.com