New Zealand is the first country to permanently legalize pill testing at events such as concerts
New Zealand permanently legalized pill testing at events such as concerts and music festivals a year after they were tentatively introduced.
Pill testing services are not available in any Australian jurisdiction but were tested twice in the ACT in 2018 and 2019.
New Zealand law was passed by 87 votes to 33, with only National – the main opposition party – voting against the law.
After a year of testing, New Zealand passed the Permanent Pills Testing Act (pictured)
Health Secretary Andrew Little said evidence had shown pill testing helped keep people safe by identifying potentially dangerous substances before they were ingested.
“Research from Victoria University, commissioned by the Department of Health, showed that 68 percent of festival goers who underwent drug controls said they had changed their behavior when they saw the results,” Little said.
Three organizations – the Drug Foundation, Needle Exchange, and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research – have been approved to run the tests at events across the country.
The government announced in October that it would allocate $ 800,000 to training drug control officers and providing information on drug harm.
Although it did not have the votes to stop the law, it met strong opposition from the National Party.
National justice spokesman Simon Bridges said Victoria University’s research was not reliable and that Australian and UK studies had found increased use of tests.
“The only message that really prevents deaths is that no pill is safe. There is no such thing as safe ecstasy or a safe dose of some of the other drugs that can potentially be tested over time. That’s exactly what the coroner said recently, ”he said.
What is a pill test?
Pill testing is a harm reduction strategy that allows a person who is already in possession of a drug to test it in a facility or booth to find out what is actually in it.
Testing services are set up in places with frequent drug use, such as music festivals, clubs, or dance parties.
They can also be set up in community health centers or treatment services.
Source: Alcohol and Drug Foundation
Mr Bridges said drugs are not only a health problem but also a criminal justice problem.
“Andrew Little especially, when he first came to this house he said it was only for festivals. It then grew and there were pill tests everywhere that we legalize, ”he said.
“It then turned out that not only are we testing the pills, but taxpayers everywhere are going to pay for them.”
However, Drug Foundation executive director Sarah Helm said the law marked the most significant advance in the field since the introduction of needle exchange in the late 1980s.
“Many of our communities that are most at risk of an overdose would benefit tremendously from this health service, such as people who use injected drugs and people who are homeless. This health service shouldn’t be just for festival goers, ”she said Radio New Zealand.
“We want drug controls to become more widespread through needle exchanges and social services as soon as possible – next year.”
Mr Little said the law is about keeping people safe.
“The drug control services we operate have detected and intercepted potentially lethal substances circulating in the community.
“Last summer, it was found that 40 percent of the MDMA (ecstasy) tested was eutylon, a potentially dangerous synthetic cathinone also known as bath salts that has been linked to death and hospitalization.”
Pill testing at music and festival events was legalized in New Zealand after a year of testing
The ACT is the only Australian state or territory that has tested pill testing. Both times it was at the Canberra Groovin the Moo Festival.
At the last trial in April 2019, it is said to have saved the lives of seven young people.
After their MDMA capsules were tested, it was found that they were contaminated with a deadly toxin that has claimed the lives of other young people.
After being told what the pills actually contained, they left the medication in an amnesty container and went to the event with no chemicals.
The pill testing facilities during a media visit prior to the Groovin the Moo 2019 festival on April 27, 2019 in Canberra. Festival goers were able to have their illegal drugs screened for dangerous substances after the ACT government agreed to a trial outside the gates of the festival
The area is Health department, however, warns on its website that “No pill testing services operate solely on a harm reduction basis.
“Illegal drugs, including MDMA, are inherently unsafe and tests cannot confirm that you will not experience side effects from taking them.”
The new law is due to come into force in New Zealand on December 7th.