No time to be 'high and mighty' about drug-testing at festivals - Stuart Nash

Drug-testing at festivals is an admission young people are taking them, but needs to be done, according to Police Minister Stuart Nash.

He told RadioLIVE on Thursday any decision about allowing festivals to test illicit substances to ensure they are safe would have to go to Cabinet, but he's a fan of the idea.

"We can be all high and mighty and moral about this, and we'll still have young people ending up in hospital, still taking drugs."

Drugs confiscated at the Rhythm and Vines music festival in Gisborne were revealed to have contained pesticides, paint and antibiotics.

Mr Nash said he was willing to admit people were buying drugs at festivals.

"It is an admission that young people are buying these drugs off dealers and suppliers that we haven't caught... and they are taking these drugs at these festivals," he said.

"Let's not bury our head in the sand and say it isn't."

But allowing testing does not mean he's not going to go after people dealing or supplying drugs.

"If you're dealing or supplying, we're going to put the full force of the law against you, and in fact part of the 1800 new police that we're rolling out over three years, there is a significant increase in resource against organised crime and gangs that are pushing these drugs into our community."

He said police won't be able to stop every dealer or drug coming into New Zealand, and young people need to know what they're taking is safe.

"If we could stop every single dealer and supplier from selling drugs to our young people or pushing them into our communities we would. We're saying we're never going to stop this, we are never going to stop every single dealer or supplier coming into this country - no country ever has."

Mr Nash said New Zealand would have an opportunity to vote on changing laws around one drug soon, with an upcoming referendum on cannabis.

"There is a referendum before the next election or it might be during the next election, we haven't quite determined the timing on that, which will either be around decriminalisation or legalisation, we haven't quite determined the question on that."

The Government announced in December the referendum will be taking place at the same time as the 2020 general election.