facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

"Bunk Police" Test Festival Drugs for Purity

A volunteer group that tests drugs for purity at music festivals tells The Fix about its mission to reduce harm.


The "Bunk Police" badge. Photo via

By Bryan Le


| Share

If the terms “drug-testing" or "police" strike terror into your heart, you can relax. It's your dodgy drugs—not you—that the Bunk Police are cracking down on. They're a group of volunteers who attend music festivals armed with substance testing kits, and check the purity of the illicit substances being passed around. Checking drugs to ensure purity and then moving on may be a controversial way to protect festival-goers—but the Bunk Police claim their intentions are to reduce harm, rather than condone drug use. “We do not feel that we are encouraging substance use by distributing test kits,” an anonymous member of the group tells The Fix. “We provide a service along the same lines as Planned Parenthood does in distributing condoms: reducing the harms of risky behavior.”

From Woodstock to the Electric Daisy Carnival, music festivals have long been druggy affairs—often stirring public outcry. Just recently, Rihanna was photographed at Coachella Festival messing with an unidentified drug, and the 420 Festival is one that's been accused of dangerously encouraging a mix of marijuana and "rave" drugs like MDMA. But many of the drugs circulating at music festivals can be "bunk": fake or untested compounds, or cut with chemicals with potentially lethal side-effects. According to the Bunk Police website, "MDMA" is sometimes actually "bath salts" in disguise—and just about anything dropped on a tab can be sold as LSD (although, reportedly, most LSD "tabs" are actually just plain pieces of paper). 

Despite their flashy branding, and the warm welcome they receive at many druggy venues, the Bunk Police insist they're not "professional partiers" and say their mission is not about making drugs seem cool. Instead, they claim to deter drug use by revealing just how contaminated illicit drugs are: amazingly, over half of their tested samples are research chemicals, not recreational drugs. “Our mission consists entirely of raising awareness and increasing safety,” they tell us. “We have no intention of making substance use 'fun,' however we must skirt this edge in order to appeal to our audience. Preaching safety alone to many individuals in this circle will only yield eye-rolls and scoffs rather than attention and action.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Big Brother, Where Art Thou?

I barely made it out of my troubled adolescence and I had resources; how can I help an underprivileged teen with everything stacked against him?

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious San Diego rehab has a program for you—if you can tear yourself away from “the most amazing massages ever."

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv