Ecstasy most popular drug at Gathering

Evening Post, 3 January 2001

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The Gathering may not condone drug use but a random survey has shown that illegal substances are common at the Golden Bay dance party.

Ninety-three out of 100 people surveyed by the Nelson Mail yesterday admitted taking some type of illegal drug. At least two people were also openly selling cannabis at the party, including one man wearing a hat with a sign saying "Cannabis 4 U".

Only three people surveyed got their drugs at the Gathering. The rest said they bought them before arriving.

Gathering organiser Murray Kingi said the event did not condone illegal drug use and openly discouraged it. He was surprised by the survey and said it misrepresented the 13,000 people at the 72-hour party, which ended today.

Among partygoers surveyed, however, the picture was different. Most preferred to experience the festival on drugs. The most popular drug among those questioned was Ecstasy, which 46 people admitted taking.

Ecstasy apparently makes people feel happier, less inhibited and more confident. It is often called the love drug because people are more affectionate on it. However, it has also led to deaths among partygoers in New Zealand and overseas.

Also popular was LSD or acid. Other drugs used were cannabis, speed, magic mushrooms and cactus extracts. Cannabis was common and readily available. One man said he'd sold 10 $40 bags of locally grown product in five minutes on New Year's Eve and $1600 worth yesterday.

Mr Kingi said that if any of the event's 150 security officers caught anyone selling or using drugs they would be harshly dealt with. As far as he knew no one had been caught. He said it was sad that so many people needed illegal drugs to enjoy the Gathering. "There are a lot of people who come to the Gathering and don't take drugs and still have a good time."

Mr Kingi said medical and counselling staff were on hand to care for anyone who had a bad drug trip, as apparently happened to at least three people.

Police were not a permanent presence at the event, although they did attend briefly on New Year's Eve. Mr Kingi said that apart from one troublesome reveller, the Gathering was almost trouble-free, the best of five parties so far. - NZPA


Caption: DOPE - What looks like cannabis at the Gathering. Picture: NELSON MAIL Supplied by New Zealand Press Association

Evening Post, 3 January 2001

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