A fundraising campaign by the non-profit ANKORS organization has reached its goal to purchase a drug-testing Spectrometer device, which will debut at Shambhala Music Festival this month.

For the past two years the non-profit ANKORS organization, based in Nelson, British Columbia, has been fundraising $42,000 to purchase an advanced drug checking device. The FTIR (Fourier-Transform Infrared)  Spectrometer tests street-acquired samples for opioids, stimulants and other drugs like MDMA without requiring the destruction of the sample. It can detect multiple substances at once with more accuracy than other systems.

The FTIR purchased by ANKORS only requires a tiny sample of the drug to analyze for adulterants, the substances added by dealers and illegal drug makers to increase a drug’s quantity, reduce manufacturing costs and alter its potency.

Unable to secure government funding for the drug-testing machine, ANKORS launched an online crowdfunding campaign and set up a ticket purchase donation option with Shambhala. Those efforts raised $32,000 and today Shambhala Music Festival confirmed it would donate the remaining $10,000. The FTIR Spectrometer is set to be delivered in time for this year’s festival, which starts August 7, and attendees will be able to anonymously test their drugs at the ANKORS tent for free.

“This is a fantastic showing of community support for drug checking,” said Chloe Sage, ANKORS Drug Checking Coordinator. “Testing what you put in your body before you ingest can help prevent overdose.” Aside from testing, the organization also offers safe disposal of drugs.

There will be more than the one spectrometer the organization now owns on site at Shambhala because other FTIR devices have been loaned out from various organizations including the BC Centre for Substance Use. This is the 16th year the organization has been volunteering at the festival.

When not at Shambhala, the drug checking FTIR spectrometer will be based at the ANKOR’s office and drop-in clinic at 101 Baker Street in Nelson. ANKORS stands for the AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society and was established in 1992. It now provides a multitude of services from harm reduction and support to advocacy and education.

To read more about Shambhala’s ground-breaking drug-testing program and its volunteers, read our story “Meet One Of Shambhala’s Drug-Safety Heroes.