International symposium on drug checking

The EMCDDA, in collaboration with SICAD, COPOLAD and the Trans European Drug Information (TEDI) network are organising an international symposium on drug checking on the afternoon of the 22 October 2019 in Lisbon immediately prior to the Lisbon Addictions conference.

Recent changes in Europe’s cocaine and synthetic drugs markets pose a challenge for traditional drug monitoring. Understanding the drivers, dynamics and implications for policy and responses requires novel methods to complement standard monitoring tools. Data from drug checking services can provide valuable information on drug market dynamics at user level. However, drug checking as an intervention in recreational settings remains a topic of much debate in the media, among policy makers and researchers worldwide.

The aims of this symposium are:

  • Explore drug markets dynamics with an international comparison of cocaine and MDMA trends, purity and adulteration in producing and consuming countries through European, Colombian and Australian drug checking test results.
  • Discuss the challenges and opportunities of drug checking within national drug policies.

The symposium will include a series of expert talks followed by an interactive discussion. The event is sold out.

The symposium will start at 14.00 on the 22 October in the Congress Center Lisboa.

14.00 Welcome and introduction

Alessandro Pirona, EMCDDA; João Matias, EMCDDA

An introduction to drug checking (what is it, what is it not) — Speaker: Guy Jones, TEDI

14.15 Exploring drug markets dynamics with data from drug checking services: An international comparison of MDMA and Cocaine trends, purity and adulteration

The objective of this session is to compare purity and adulteration data of MDMA and cocaine at user level from drug checking results in different parts of the globe. Data on purity and adulteration for these two substances will be presented by drug checking services from Colombia, Europe and Australia. We will explore how purity and adulteration of MDMA and cocaine at user level develop from source countries to consumer countries and the characteristics of adulterants used for these two substances across the globe.

Chairs: Andrew Cunningham (EMCDDA) and Teresa Salvador (COPOLAD)

Speakers: Laura Smit-Rigter, DIMS (Netherlands); Mireia Ventura, Energy Control (Spain); Zara Snapp, Échele Cabeza (Colombia); Penelope Hill, Pill Testing in Australia (Australia)

15.30 Coffee break

16.00 Session 2: The role of drug checking within national drug policies: Opportunities and challenges

The objective of this session is to have short presentations followed by debates on some of the most frequently raised questions around drug checking as an intervention.

Chair: João Goulão, SICAD (Portugal)

Discussant: Harry Sumnall, LJMU (United Kingdom)

Speakers: Daan van der Gouwe, DIMS (Netherlands); Helena Valente, Kosmicare (Portugal); João Goulão, SICAD (Portugal); Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA

17.30 Closing