Synthetic Drug Use At Ultra Music Festival Raises Concern

As Miami gears up to host the 16th annual Ultra Music Festival, there are many concerns about the value of having an electronic dance music (EDM) gathering of more than 160,000 people in the community. Like most EDM festivals, Ultra is a place where countless young people use a host of illicit drugs for multiple days, which history shows can lead to tragedy.

In fact, a federally funded study found that if you ask 100 festival participants to submit to a drug screen in exchange for a $20 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card, it’s possible that 80 percent would test positive for drugs, The Miami Herald reports. The goal of the research was not to figure how many people were getting high, but rather to determine “some of the newly emerging and potentially dangerous new drugs popular in the [electronic dance music] community.”

Last year, the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education attempted to document drug use at Ultra; of the 145 voluntary participants, when asked of drug use in the past week, 72 percent reported using a number of drugs, including:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Ecstasy
  • Molly (pure MDMA)

More than a 100 people agreed to give blood/urine samples, which showed that 58 percent and 80 percent, respectively, had engaged in designer drug use, according to the article. With respect to the dangers of designer drugs, it is concerning when 80 percent tests positive for Molly and Alpha-PVP (a synthetic bath salt known as gravel).

“We found the participants at the event were very open with us about their knowledge of the drug scene and drug use,” said Barry Logan, the Pennsylvania-based center’s executive director. “We found a lot of the time what they thought they were taking was not what they were taking.”

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado was presented with the findings who has been in favor of no longer permitting Ultra in the City of Miami, the article reports.

“It proved my point that the festival should not be in downtown Miami or in the city of Miami,” said Regalado. “The numbers are very concerning.”

Many people have an opinion about every aspect of the Ultra Music Festival. This week the student newspaper of the University of Miami published their opinion. You can read it here.

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