NZ is currently introducing world-first legislation that will permanently legalise and regulate drug checking - an essential harm reduction service that has been proven to save lives.
The Drug Foundation is throwing its support behind this move, with the hope that it will allow drug checking to reach every New Zealander who needs it, including the most vulnerable.
Drug Foundation staff recently made a submission to parliament which strongly supported the Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Bill. At the same time, we called for a number of changes including a 'public interest' amendment to our drug laws which would make it easier to introduce new harm-reduction initiatives in the future. Drug Foundation Executive Director Sarah Helm says while they applaud the legislation for drug-checking, we shouldn’t have to wait for a lengthy legislative process every time a life-saving harm reduction initiative is proposed.
KnowYourStuffNZ has been running drug-checking for a number of years, with the Drug Foundation working alongside KnowYourStuffNZ since 2016. Research and experience clearly shows that people take fewer risks as a result of drug checking. Additionally, festival organisers say it makes their events safer. When told a drug is not what they thought, people will very often either decide not to take it, or take less of it. In many cases it’s the first proper conversation clients have ever had about their drug use.
The Drug Foundation would like to see drug checking expanded beyond festivals, to ensure nobody misses out. “More funding and proactive provision of drug checking is needed to ensure that people who are most at-risk are able to access this vital service," says Helm. “We want to see drug checking made available at Needle Exchanges, in community centres and in many other places.”
“Funding must be made available to buy more spectrometers, improve access and ensure harm reduction advice can be provided wherever drug checking takes place.”
Our submission requested these additional regulations:
Proposed changes to the Bill
21 April 2023
Our findings from our first full year as a licensed drug checking provider.
22 March 2023
18 January 2023
Drug checking services at Rhythm and Vines found potent psychedelic and stimulant, 25B-NBOH, sold as tabs of LSD.
25 March 2022
Policy & advocacy manager Kali Mercier takes a look at new drug prosecution stats to see who is being impacted - and is it working?
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