A mobile lab in front of Osheaga

Inside Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier travels mostly on the run, his office in his backpack, on the lookout for fascinating subjects and people.

A mobile lab in front of Osheaga

Inside Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier travels mostly on the run, his office in his backpack, on the lookout for fascinating subjects and people. He speaks to everyone and is interested in all walks of life in this urban chronicle.

Of course, drugs are not permitted on the Osheaga site. Nevertheless, as in any great music festival, it is omnipresent. Instead of burying their heads in the sand, a new mobile lab offers to test drugs to avoid sad surprises.

Equipped with a spectrometer capable of identifying undesirable substances, it allows festival-goers to check the "content" of their drug.

The goal: to reduce overdoses at the Osheaga festival site this year.

I went to visit the vehicle of the Psychosocial Research and Intervention Group (GRIP Montreal), a Ford Transit, for the moment the only mobile drug analysis laboratory in Canada, I am told.

an exemption

This is being offered for the first time this year because Health Canada granted the organization a legal exemption.

“Before that, just holding and handling the drug, then giving it back to people, could have been considered criminal,” explains Roxanne Hallal, who coordinates the activities of the laboratory truck.

It only takes a few minutes to submit the drug to an “identity test”.

“The result gives a kind of fingerprint of the substance and with a search you can see if it coincides with the pure forms of the substances or if there are contaminants. »

The spectrometer does not alter the samples.

“The equivalent of the content of a sunflower seed is enough for the machine, then we give this quantity to the user, who therefore loses nothing,” Ms. Hallal explains to me.

At a festival like Osheaga, the drugs of choice are those that stimulate, such as cocaine and ecstasy.

Most overdoses occur when the consumer does not buy what he believes. "Sometimes he thinks it's MDMA (ecstasy), but it's MDA, a much stronger cousin...and then he's taken aback. »

As the Alaclair Ensemble song says, "You thought that was what it was, but that's not what it was..."

Many festival-goers, for fear of having their drug seized, consume it all of a sudden just before entering the site... and it's once there, during the shows, that it can start go wrong.

As in past years, the GRIP has about twenty workers on site to deal with cases that degenerate. Three or four workers take care of the analysis service not far from the door.

safe from security

“So that our users are not seen by site security who will then search the bags, we will be between the Jean-Drapeau metro station and one of the festival entrances,” explains Magali Boudon, director of GRIP Montreal. .

Because not far from there, diggers make sure to catch all the illegal substances they can at the entrance to the festival.

So, while an independent body verifies the quality of the drug, Osheaga employees strive to prohibit it...

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