11 Jun 2021

Funding issues bite for drug checking agency after law change

From Morning Report, 8:27 am on 11 June 2021

Drug checking has gone mainstream, but those running the service say there isn't enough money going around to meet the government's expectations of how widespread it should be.

MDMA, also known as ecstasy or pingers, is the second most popular illegal drug in New Zealand.

Police wastewater testing shows consumption has been growing consistently. More than a third of all drugs detected in the first quarter of 2020 were identified as the drug.

The unregulated nature of the substance often leads users to use what they think is MDMA without knowing what they're actually consuming.

The government changed the law over summer to allow drug checking services to operate legally, testing what is in the substances to make sure it is what the user intends it is.

A further law change to make the service legal permanently is on the way, but those involved with the services say they're going to need more money if the government wants it to go nationwide.

Finlay Dunseath reports.