11Alive investigates drug use at TomorrowWorld

10:44 PM, Oct 1, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- The day after TomorrowWorld ended, our Center for Investigative Action went back looking for answers to questions about drug use.  It's important, because 11Alive has learned that the festival will return next year. 

"Organizers are no longer here,"a security worker said.

However, later in the evening, we received a call from the project director, Shawn Kent, who answered all of our questions.

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"We had taken a lot of precautions," Kent said, "there were no drug related medical issues."

He said 140,000 people attended the event.

We wanted to know what festival organizers had done to control the designer drug Molly, which has been associated with the dance music scene.  

Why? Because of what we observed in our undercover investigation.

The Drug Enforcement Agency put out a warning about illegal drugs there at the electronic dance music festival in south Fulton County, TomorrowWorld.  

11Alive investigative journalists Ross McLaughlin and Shawn Hoder went to the event, bought two tickets, and took a small camera along. They captured activity right out in the open.

DEA agents say Molly is a purer form of the designer drug ecstasy or MDMA.  The problem is people overdose and many times the drug is cut with other dangerous substances.

Shawn Hoder asked one attendee, "Do you find that it's easy to get at a place like here?"

"Uh, very easy to get at a place like this. People walking around like hey I got Molly, I got Molly," he says on the undercover tape.

While no one would openly admit using, 11Alive watched as people pulled baggies out of cigarette boxes and took substances out that weren't cigarettes.

"There were a couple of drug arrests that's true and there were a couple things of Molly," said Tom Reed, Mayor of nearby Chattahoochee Hills.

Fulton County Police confirmed five total arrests. Three for simple assault and two for narcotics - one for possession of MDMA or Molly and one for the sale of Molly.

Kent says TomorrowWorld has successfully run 9 dance festivals and limiting the age to 21 made a big difference. He said drug sniffing dogs helped to cut down on illicit drug use and he was pleased there were only two narcotic arrests.

"We had 1200 individuals working the site and some of them are trained spotters to identify problems," he said.

However, there appeared to be lot of interest in the drug.

In fact, someone showed us their drug testing kit make sure what they were getting was pure Molly and not adulterated.

"This is a chemical test...an indicator," said an unidentified man who showed us his kit.

"If this was Molly what color would it turn?" asked Ross McLaughlin.

"Dark black or purple-ish", he said,"The kids here, they don't know and a lot of this stuff is Methylone."

He said he was also concerned about Molly being cut with dangerous substances.

The signs at TomorrowWorld said 'no drugs', bag searches were done and there was supposed to be an amnesty bin at the entrance to drop off contraband, without consequences.

"Where are the amnesty bins?" McLaughlin asked of a Dance Safe volunteer.

"Oh, uh, yeah that's a great...yeah we were supposed to have them at the entrance,"she said.

The volunteer group was handing out all kinds of literature about illicit drugs and the precautions to take.

Kent says there were two amnesty bins at each entrance. However, we didn't see any and neither did some of the festival goers who we talked to.

Yet in spite of the signs of Molly use, Mayor Tom Reed was quite impressed by the way the festival was organized and the few problems that were reported.

"I think they did a fantastic job with the bag searches on the way in. There was more pot smoke at Music Midtown here just a weekend ago," he said.

TomorrowWorld organizers have a signed a 10 year contract with the private landowner and they plan to return next year. 


See more stories from the 11Alive investigative team. 


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