Drug testing company welcomes NZ First's rethink

A drug testing company is ecstatic New Zealand First might change its stance on festival pill testing.

Party members are rethinking their position after a clash with its youth wing on Sunday.

"This is not an endorsement of drug use, but this is a no-brainer," Young NZ First chair William Woodward told his elders at the party's annual conference. "This is about truly protecting young people from preventable harm."

Jez Weston from Know Your Stuff says it is time those who oppose testing at public events reconsider their views.

"People recognise that this is something that makes a difference, helps keep people safe - and that seems like you know, a good thing."

He says the drugs tested are not given back to partygoers. Because of the law as it stands, their staff don't even handle the drugs.

"Our clients have to do all of the sample preparation and handling themselves," its site reads. "We simply test what they have put in front of us, interpret the results, and provide harm reduction information.  All samples are destroyed after testing."

Know Your Stuff says this limits what they can do. Police Minister Stuart Nash wants to change the law so drug testing at festivals and the like is completely legal, but has run into opposition from Labour's coalition partner NZ First. 

Weston says it is about time people changed their mindset.

"If we can reduce those risks, then we should. And if we can talk with people about what the risks are, then they can make decisions in a more-informed kind of way."

Winston Peters.
Winston Peters. Photo credit: The AM Show

Despite the split between NZ First's youth and parliamentary wings, Weston says it is not a generational decision.

"It's more about the simple question - do we want to keep people safe?"

He says the Government needs to make a decision before festival season kicks in.

National opposes drug testing, saying it would be a "really strong likelihood of normalising the drugs and sending a mixed message".

A TVNZ poll last week found 75 percent of Kiwis are in favour of drug testing at festivals.