DanceSafe’s ‘coke challenge’ is nothing to sniff at

Who: U.S. non-profit DanceSafe (a reseller of fentanyl test strips), The Garden, Grayson Matthews (sound), Artjail (production).

What: “Take the coke challenge,” an awareness campaign about the dangers of ingesting cocaine cut with fentanyl.

When & Where: The initiative is timed to coincide with International Overdose Awareness Day on Aug. 31. It is being supported by paid social media in Canada and the U.S.

Why: Because fatalities stemming from fentanyl-laced cocaine have been rising steadily, to an estimated 5,000 per year in Canada and the U.S. Casual and recreational cocaine users are at the greatest risk of overdose because they have little to no tolerance for opioids.

How: The video mimics the cola taste tests of old, with passersby invited to see if they can “taste the difference” before being presented with two identical bags of power: one pure cocaine, and the other cocaine laced with fentanyl.

The two baggies look identical, and participants are told that they can’t taste or smell the difference because fentanyl is both tasteless and odourless. The host then presents participants with fentanyl test strips that use immunoassay technology (which is also used in pregnancy tests) to test for fentanyl and can provide accurate results within two minutes.

What is DanceSafe: Describing itself as a company “promoting health and safety within the electronic music community,” DanceSafe is the world’s largest distributor of fentanyl test strips—distributing approximately 20,000 per month to consumers at music events in Canada and the U.S., and through its website

And we quote: “We know that the days of ‘just say no’ are long behind us, and that the war on drugs was lost. We want to help educate people on harm reduction strategies that can actually make an impact, and shift the public conversation towards practical, evidence-based solutions to the opioid crisis.”—Shane Oglivie, founder of The Garden.


Chris Powell