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Harm Reduction Through Testing Your Psychedelics with Mitchell Gomez

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On this episode of the Plant Medicine Podcast, Mitchell Gomez of DanceSafe discusses how to reduce harm by chemically testing substances prior to consumption. Mitchell is a graduate of New College of Florida and holds a masters from University of Colorado Denver. He joined the DanceSafe team in 2014 and has been serving as the executive director since 2017. In addition to his work at DanceSafe, Mitchell also acts as a harm reduction consultant for MAPS. In this conversation, Mitchell shares the origin story of DanceSafe and describes the important work they do. He mentions that testing drugs is illegal in many states, but following a precedent set by needle exchanges, the justice system seems to turn a blind eye to DanceSafe’s activity. Transitioning to the present day, Mitchell discusses the current state of the drug market, sharing information on adulterants and false marketing for a variety of substances from ketamine and LSD to cocaine and MDMA. Prohibition is at the root of these issues, he claims, as this is what encourages things such as selling fentanyl while claiming it is another opioid, as fentanyl is more potent and thus easier to smuggle in smaller quantities. Another government-related issue Mitchell mentions is the data the state gathers on drug-induced medical incidents. This data groups a variety of substances together, making it difficult to determine the actual cause of the medical emergency. Turning to the importance of chemically testing drugs, Mitchell stresses the benefits of knowing what you are consuming. While a single test with the right reagent can tell a lot about a substance, Mitchell recommends using a wide variety of tests as many drugs are often adulterated even if they do contain the substance they were sold as. Knowing if a drug is cut with another substance and what this substance could be helps people make more informed decisions about what they put in their bodies. Especially in the era of the opioid epidemic, this kind of information can be legitimately lifesaving. In this episode: The origin of DanceSafe and the services they provide How to use fentanyl test strips Common drugs currently being falsely marketed as MDMA New opioids which are laid on blotters like LSD Why using multiple reagents to test substances is a smart idea Chemically testing mushrooms vs learning mycology to identify species Quotes: “One of the things we know is that the speed at which new drugs are entering the market is accelerating.” [15:08] “Fentanyl, for a non-opioid user, a milligram might be enough to kill you. One milligram. If you’re alone, if there’s nobody there to call 911, that might be enough to impact a non-opioid user’s breathing.” [18:44] “Nobody has ever been arrested for just having a test kit. That’s never happened. If they find a test kit as part of a larger drug investigation, they will include a paraphernalia charge for that test kit as a means of coercing plea deals.” [21:28] “These are problems caused by prohibition. We could have fair trade, organic cocaine in twenty-five days if we just ended the drug war.” [33:00] Links: DanceSafe’s Website DanceSafe on Instagram Psychedelic Medicine Association Porangui