Drug-checking services will continue to operate legally at festivals, pop-up clinics, university orientation weeks and other places this summer and beyond, Health Minister, Andrew Little has confirmed.
The testing services have been legal since last summer under temporary legislation that expires next month.
The Government’s Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Bill (No 2), which passed its third reading today, means services can now continue and be expanded as required, the Minister said.
“This legislation is about keeping people safe. The drug-checking services we have had running have detected and intercepted potentially deadly substances circulating in the community,” Mr Little said.
He said that last summer, 40% of the MDMA that was tested turned out to be eutylone, a potentially dangerous synthetic cathinone also known as bath salts and linked to deaths and hospitalisations.
“Evidence shows that when people are told substances are not what they think they are, they’ll often choose not to take them, potentially saving lives.”
“Research by Victoria University on behalf of the Ministry of Health showed that 68 per cent of festival-goers who used drug-checking services said they had changed their behaviour once they saw the results,” the Minister said.
The Government has also approved three new organisations to perform drug-checking services. The New Zealand Drug Foundation, the NZ Needle Exchange Programme and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) will work alongside existing provider KnowYourStuffNZ.
The Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Bill (No 2) is expected to come into effect on December 7.