“Despite decades of a hard-line approach, including harsh penalties, Governments worldwide have failed to stop recreational drugs being taken at festivals”, Green Party sensible drug law reform spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said today.
“This has resulted in unnecessary tragedy, with unknown users ingesting unknown substances, at times costing emergency health sector resources, at worst costing lives.
“This past week, University of Otago Student’s Association took a proposal to their Vice-Chancellor to partner with Know Your Stuff, a local safe drug testing initiative, to minimise harm and improve safety during the Re-Orientation period. It was rejected on the grounds that it’s illegal.
“Technically, safe drug testing exists in a legal grey area because of section 12 of the archaic Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
“Know Your Stuff has been operating in that grey area by providing festival testing for the last three years. They’ve been performing what is essentially a public service by improving safety, and collecting incredibly valuable data showing people are far less inclined to take substances when they turn out to not be what they thought.
“When a dangerous or deadly chemical comes up, Know Your Stuff is currently unable to notify the public because of s 12 of the Act. They’re also unable to effectively let festival-goers know they are on site.
“The Greens are proud that Government Ministers, and our Prime Minister, are speaking of treating drugs as a health issue – that’s a commitment contained in the Green/Labour Confidence and Supply Agreement.
“Walking that talk looks like legalising safe drug testing. We have every opportunity to do this ahead of the summer festival season, before the House rises for the year.
“It is common sense, it is evidence based, and it can save lives.”