'This is bold': Free drug testing for Otago University students at Orientation week

Students intending to use drugs during The University of Otago's Orientation week can now have their substances tested.

The Otago University Students Association (OUSA), KnowYourStuffNZ and New Zealand Drug Foundation announced on Tuesday that the drug checking trial will be conducted over four days as part of OUSA's 2019 Orientation week.

"First and foremost, OUSA in no way condones drug use of any kind, but in the day and age we live in, we are cognizant of the need for harm prevention," OUSA Chief Executive Debbie Downs says. 

"This is a bold and pre-emptive move on the part of OUSA."

The University has never had any issues with students and drug use and the move is pro-active, Ms Downs says.  

The aim of the free-of-charge trial is to make students aware of what they might be ingesting and to prevent them from any harm.

Results will be given back to the students. Advice and counselling will be provided to students who want to know more about the specific substances found in the drugs. 

Data collected from the previous KnowYourStuff testing showed people would rather discard their drugs than use them after they have been informed of what's actually in them. 

"It is an effective and economical way to reduce harm by providing accurate information and education to potential users of illicit drugs," Wendy Allison of KnowYourStuff says.

The tests do not guarantee 100 percent safety, and people are advised the only way to be completely safe is to not take drugs at all, OUSA says.