Drug testing uncovers more laced pills at music festival

Drug-testing group KnowYourStuff has issued a warning about pills found at festivals over the New Year containing the super-potent substance known as 'bath salts'.

It comes as Police Minister Stuart Nash says he'd like drug testing made available at all major New Zealand festivals to minimise harm.

"We are now finding n-ethylpentylone mixed in with MDMA in pills," Know Your Stuff director Wendy Allison told Newshub.

Also known as bath salts, the drug has been associated with deaths overseas and hospitalisations in New Zealand, including 13 in Christchurch early last year.

KnowYourStuff says the pills they've tested are pale blue and round, with a crown emblem stamped on one side.

They're also finding pills that contain high doses of MDMA.

A pale blue and round pill, with a crown emblem stamped on one side.
KnowYourStuff says the pills they've tested are pale blue and round, with a crown emblem stamped on one side. Photo credit: KnowYourStuff / Supplied

"This year the main one we've found of concern is a pink pill shaped like a Canadian maple leaf and we estimate that to contain up to three doses of MDMA," Ms Allison said.

KnowYourStuff has been testing at some festivals for five years but because of current restrictions under the Misuse of Drugs Act, they can't advertise where they will be.

But that could soon change. Police Minister Stuart Nash told Newshub he would like on-site drug testing rolled out at all major New Zealand festivals. 

"Obviously we don't want drug use at festivals but if there is going to be drug use at festivals - and let's face facts, we're in the 21st century - we want people to be safe."

A variety of drugs were confiscated this New Year's Eve at Rhythm and Vines, including MDMA.

At Sydney's Field Day festival on New Year's Day, more than 190 people were charged for drug offences. Six of those were for supplying drugs.

In Victoria, the fifth festival death in three months has been confirmed.

Mr Nash said he'd like to see changes in place here by next summer.

"The Minister of Health and I are looking at this, something will go to Cabinet this year," he said.

"I would like to think that we can have something rolled out next summer across all our major festivals."

Ms Allison is hopeful change is on its way.

"We have had consistent data over five years now that says when people find out that their substances are not what they believe them to be, the majority of them will then choose not to take these substances," she said.

National police spokesperson Chris Bishop says his party is cautiously supportive in principal to drug checking at festivals.