Funding to test drugs at festivals a lifesaver

New funding for drug-checking services at festivals is a Green Party win that will save lives. However the Government needs to go further, faster and expand these lifesaving services.

“The funding announced today for drug-checking services at festivals will save lives,” Green Party Drug Reform spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said today.

“However, it's just a start. Drug checking services should be available to whoever needs them wherever they’re needed, not subject to annual Government funding decisions. There must be funding for community-level drug checking, like we’ve had since the 1980s when we first introduced needle exchange services.

“It’s ludicrous to pretend drug consumption only happens at music festivals and not also bars, clubs and weekend parties. Those on the front line are the first to admit gatekeeping their services to only ticketed, expensive events limits harm reduction. Everyone who needs these services should have access.

“Governments have spent nearly 50 years hammering criminal prohibition just to watch harm rise as substances and their users, are pushed further underground. Coronial Reports out of New South Wales tell us young peoples’ lives in Australia could have been saved with these services. Two NZ Government-commissioned reports from last term asked our Government to just get on with overhauling drug law entirely. The Greens support action that recognises that reality and legislates on a real evidence base,” Chlöe Swarbrick says.

The Green Party proposes $3 million annually to fund drug checking services both for festivals and for permanent sites. This would match the commitment to Needle Exchange Services - funded by Governments of all stripes for the last 40 years - which have been so wildly successful that Aotearoa New Zealand has among the lowest rates of HIV/AIDS among intravenous drug users.

“In 2019, I tabled a petition which was supported by over 6000 New Zealanders to legalise drug-checking services in time for that summer season. After the 2020 election, the Government finally introduced that legislation, which is now about to be made permanent. All of this builds on several years of thankless work from community organisers and volunteers, particularly those at Know Your Stuff, who literally risked jail time to build the local evidence base for these laws.

“We won’t give up until harm reduction is the default, instead of the exception, and the Misuse of Drugs Act is overhauled for law that actually achieves its stated aims, instead of sweeping problems under the rug.”

ENDS

Latest Drug Law Reform Announcements

Story

Govt must expand drug harm reduction initiatives nationwide

The Green Party is calling on the Government to roll out the successful drug harm reduction programme Te Ara Oranga nationwide, going further than ...
Read More

Story

Extend transitional medicinal cannabis standards to ease patients’ suffering

The Green Party is calling on the Minister of Health, Andrew Little to extend ‘transitional standards’ for medicinal cannabis to prevent thousands ...
Read More

Story

Chlöe Swarbrick puts Bill aimed at minimising alcohol harm in Members’ ballot

Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick has put the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill into the Members’ ballot.
Read More

Story

Service providers and communities call on Government to treat drugs as a health issue

The Green Party supports the open letter released today by a cross-sector coalition calling for the Government to treat all drug use as a health is...
Read More

Story

Legal drug checking this festival season will help protect our young people: Green Party

The Green Party are glad to see urgent law changes to ensure legal drug checking services by this summer festival season.
Read More

Story

Green Party responds to final election results from specials

Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today: “The final results are in and we’re incredibly excited to confirm our outstanding success this e...
Read More