Many of you would have read about the drug detection dogs at the Big Day Out concert at Homebush Bay last weekend. According to the NSW Police website the dogs “were used in and around the festival venue to target anyone possessing illegal drugs, and during the course of the operation, police arrested and charged 124 people with a variety of offences.”

Those offences included supplying prohibited drugs (six people) as well as another 31 people charged with possession of illegal substances (powder and pills). There were an additional 45 people issued with official cannabis cautions. All in all, more than 150 people were subjected to searches for prohibited drugs.

With the Mardi Gras period just on the horizon it is vital that everyone be aware that the drug detection dogs are going to have a presence at some, if not all, our major events.

Details about the dogs and what they can do is limited, for obvious reasons. However, we do know that most of them are trained to detect cannabis. This was one of the things that caught many people out last year – they either had a joint with them or they had had a smoke just before going to an event. Be very clear about this – if you go to any event with cannabis on you, you, or others around you, have recently smoked it – there is every likelihood that the dogs will detect it. You will then be subject to a search and that is when they may find other substances on you.

There are dogs that detect amphetamines and ecstasy. This is much more difficult for the dog to do as they are only trained on one or two batches of seized material. As the recipe changes the smell may change also. However, be very clear about this, dogs have detected these drugs on partygoers.

As for other drugs, it is difficult to find out information from the police about new strategies. However, police are well aware that people believe it is safe to take drugs like GHB and K into events because the dogs can’t detect them. It is only a matter of time before dogs are trained to do this and it would not surprise me to find that these come onto the scene very quickly.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blasé.

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