News October 2, 2018

Has New Zealand had a change of heart on pill testing at festivals?

Has New Zealand had a change of heart on pill testing at festivals?

After a strong stance against pill testing at music festivals, the New Zealand government might have softened up in time for this summer’s events.

Health minister David Clark revealed to the weekend’s Herald on Sunday, “This government is dealing with drug use as a health and harm reduction issue.

“In light of this, I’ve had initial discussions with the Justice minister about drug checking services.

“Through him, I’ve asked for advice on the legislative and criminal justice issues around such services.”

As the law stands in New Zealand, any venue or person allowing the use of drugs on their property is liable for criminal prosecution.

However, for the last three years, a group called Know Your Stuff NZ has been secretly holding tests at festivals.

It made it widely public that it found that one in five recreational drugs contained unexpected and sometimes dangerous substances.

Wendy Allison, its director, said the group worked in a “legal grey area” but police had turned a discretionary eye to its activities.

Drugs in NZ had a reputation for not being of top quality, she added.

The next step in NZ is for the Justice minister to respond to Clark.

In Australia, drug testing advocates are still working out how to get around the National Capital Authority’s ban on trials at Canberra’s Spilt Milk, which is held on Commonwealth land.

Therefore the ACT government can’t allow the tests to happen unlike ones at Groovin The Moo which was on University of Canberra land.

An option is for the tests to be made available to patrons by holding them just out of the site.

Matt Noffs of Harm Reduction Australia revealed that no sites have been determined yet.

“But discussions are moving in the right direction. Both the consortium and ACT Health want this resolved.”

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury has also suggested that tests be extended from festivals to weekends in the Civic entertainment precinct.

It worked effectively in European cities, he said.

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