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This McGill Group Gives Students Free Tools To Check What's Really In Their Drugs

Making Drugs More Accurate provides students with free drug checking kits.

This McGill Group Gives Students Free Tools To Check What's Really In Their Drugs

"Making Drugs More Accurate" is a new group at McGill University that aims to ensure that if students are to going use drugs, they do so in a safe manner where they know exactly what they're putting in their bodies.

So, this group acts as a free harm reduction and drug checking service that provides students with drug checking kits and an explanation on how to use them so that they can go home and find out what's really in their drugs.

MTL Blog spoke with the founder of Making Drugs More Accurate, who goes by the alias name of Henry Smith Williams, about how the group came to fruition, the importance of safe drug use, how one can go about getting a drug checking kit, and more. You can read our interview with them below.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Why is this initiative is important?

Despite the best efforts of governments around the world, people still take a decent quantity of drugs most weekends. So, as a consequence of this, there's a profit margin to contaminate the drugs for cheaper substitutes. This has a consequence on the users in that they get harmed by the things that they purchased but they don't realize they're taking.

As the world is opening up, people are thinking about how they want to enhance their nights out — people are taking drugs again. So, we're here to fill the gap.

Is there a specific place where students can go to have their drugs checked?

We're still working on getting an office space. Currently, we're just operating as and when people get in touch with us through our social media or by texting us, then we'll go meet them.

We're always changing our location because there are some people who are rather zealous in their anti-drug stance — so we keep hidden in case they try to intercept it.

Are there any risks of being identified?

What we're doing is we're not just making this a drug checking service. People don't only come to us to check their drugs, we hand out condoms, other contraceptive materials, even advice if you just want to talk to someone.

It's also important to remember that we aren't suggesting you bring your drugs to us to check. What we're suggesting is that you come to us requesting something that you may or may not have in your possession and then we can give you the reagents that you go home and do yourself. We're allowed to check them in your presence but we can never touch them because that turns into the realm of drug possession.

This involves a small plastic vile filled with a reagent that'll change colour based on whatever the drug is. We give people instructions on how to use the kits and we keep it as straightforward as possible so that it's user-friendly.

Do you feel supported by McGill University for this initiative?

This McGill Group Is Giving Students The Resources To Check The Accuracy Of Their

Not supported in any way, shape or form, nor do we expect to be. If anything, we feel as though they'd probably crack down on us should they directly acknowledge the group because it's admitting that drug use occurs on campus, which is out of their realm of acknowledgement.

It would be better if they did this themselves and they funded it themselves, but I wouldn't expect them to do it.

How have the first few weeks of Making Drugs More Accurate gone?

We've got the capacity to meet a lot more demand than we're currently getting. In the first few weeks, we've handed out a couple of tests.

We're trying to hammer home the importance of giving us back the results based on what you expected the drug to be versus what is indicated that it is. We want to use this data to go national. We're trying to get this going all over the country.

Can the kits check any form of drug?

As long it can fit in the vile. It can be pills, powders, a tab of LSD, mushrooms... But right now, the reagents for benzodiazepines, like Xanax, are really difficult to acquire, so we haven't gotten those yet.

We would like to expand our ability to different adulterants in cocaine as well. Right now we can only test for a few adulterants but there are way more out there and the kits for that are really expensive.

Do you have tips for people regarding safe drug use?

Go to Literally any question you could ever have will be on there. There's an entire section on harm reduction, which covers nearly every drug under the sun.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance use, refer to these resources across Quebec. If you need immediate assistance, please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital.

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