Music festival season: hey, do you smell weed?

The summer music festival season is off to a flying start - but could flying too 'high' bring it to an abrupt halt?

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The summer music festival season is off to a flying start, and don’t Aussie music fans know it! At the recent Stereosonic festival in Melbourne, 120 people were caught with drugs. In Sydney and Brisbane Stereosonic shows, another 221 and 103 respectively, were caught for possession or smuggling drugs into festivals. Police have upped the ante across the board this summer, so revellers can continue to expect a strong police presence at most events.

This article looks at the consequences of smuggling drugs into festivals, some answers to the question, ‘why do people take drugs at festivals?’ and what to do when drug taking swings from fun to scary during music festival season.

Smuggling drugs into festivals

Obviously all of the arrests made at Stereo were not just for weed possession, but cannabis is one of the most easily detected illicit drugs when it comes to sniffer dogs. So for anyone considering taking drugs such as weed into a festival, it’s worth remembering that even if you are taking in just a small amount there is still a strong chance you could be detected.

It’s also worth noting that it is possible for dogs to just detect the smell on your clothes – whether it’s because you were around friends who were smoking, or you had a joint last night, skimped on the washing and threw on the same pants. While obviously this won’t lead to any legal issues for you, it can make for an uncomfortable afternoon and a few missed gigs.

Why do people take drugs?

People take drugs at a festival for a number of reasons, some to feel closer to their group of friends, some to heighten their experience of the music, others do it out of habit, to escape, and in some cases due to longer term issues of addiction.

Whatever the reason for festival drug use, a particularly alarming issue emerging at festivals is the number of hospitalisations occurring as people consume large quantities of drugs before or during the event. Regardless of your views on the debate about the presence of sniffer dogs at festivals, it is really important to remember there are risks with taking any illicit drug, and taking really high doses, for whatever reason, just increases these risks. The results can mean a really unpleasant time for you and your friends and could lead to some pretty serious complications later on.

Rocking out, greening out and getting kicked out

When it comes to cannabis use, taking too much too quickly, or adding alcohol to the mix can bring on that familiar green-tinged look – that look that says, ‘I’m probably going to vomit a lot now and ruin the festival for the rest of you.’ ‘Greening out’ – or feeling faint, anxious, freaked out, nauseous and possibly vomiting – can mean you and your mates miss out on the festival because you spend the afternoon in the medical tent, or that security boots you out. When you consider how much it costs to go to the bigger festivals like Stereo, Listen Out or Falls, it could mean a wasted $250+ ticket for the sick person as well as for the people who stuck around to look after them.

While mates don’t ruin other mate’s festival by greening out, real mates also don’t abandon a friend who is down for the count because they made a bit of a mistake. While the best prep for this situation is just to leave the weed at home and enjoy the festival clear-eyed, if you do need information on how to help a friend who has greened out, we have a great factsheet and a quick YouTube video on the way.

Making the most of music festival season

Music festival season can make for some of the best memories of your younger years, especially in Australia, where the sun is high in the sky, the breeze is warm, the chips on a stick are awesome and the beat of the music is contagious. Take it from us, we’ve been to the best of them and we’ve loved every minute, but we have watched as the security guards, ambos and annoyed friends carted off mates who had taken a little something to heighten the experience. This year, think carefully of how you want your summer (and your mates’ summer) to play out, what kind of memories you want to make and then make smart decisions that will see you, arms in the air, surrounded by fluro and sweat for many more summers to come!

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