Permanent drug-checking law passed and new providers appointed
Drug-checking services will continue to operate legally at festivals, pop-up clinics, university orientation weeks and other places this summer and beyond, thanks to a law passed today, Health Minister Andrew Little says.
The 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.
“This legislation is about keeping people safe,” Andrew Little said.
“The drug-checking services we have had running have detected and intercepted potentially deadly substances circulating in the community.
“Last summer, 40 per cent 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,” Andrew Little 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 Government is also contributing $800,000 towards the cost of the service.
The Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Bill (No 2) is expected to come into effect on December 7.