Government considering law change allowing drug testing at festivals

The Government is considering a law change to make drug testing at festivals legal and help stop festival-goers ending up in hospital.

Thirteen people were hospitalised in Christchurch earlier this year after taking dangerous fake ecstasy pills, while two people died at a Sydney music festival last month from a drug overdose.

It has prompted greater scrutiny of drug testing at festivals and the Drug Foundation's spokesperson Samuel Andrews says legalising the testing could be the difference between life and death.

"At the moment people can only be reckless with their drug use. They have no access to reliable information," said Mr Andrews. "It would be really awesome to have that legal support to be able to do this more widespread at more festivals and help people make more informed decisions around their drugs".

It is a criminal offence to allow a venue to be used for drug consumption, so any event providing drug testing may be liable for prosecution because it could be argued they knew people were taking drugs.

But the Drug Foundation does do some testing at small events and is worried by the fact 20 percent of substances they test are not what the concert-goers think they are.

"If we don't have drug testing then we're going to see more of this and we have these new unpredictable substances," said Mr Andrews.

Health Minister David Clark said the Government is dealing with drug use as a health and harm reduction issue and has spoken with Justice Minister Andrew Little about "drug checking" services.

He is also getting advice on whether the laws could be changed and what the impact of any changes would be.