O Week drug testing likely

Drug testing is likely at next month’s University of Otago Orientation Week events.

The Otago University Students Association (OUSA) confirmed it was in discussions with drug testing organisation Know Your Stuff to have testing available again at this year’s events, which run from February 22-28.

It comes in the wake of a law change to legalise the checking of drugs at festivals over the summer while longer-term regulations were being developed.

Previously, volunteers setting up stalls at events to check for high-risk substances operated in a legal grey area.

In December, Minister of Health Andrew Little said the change was not about condoning the use of drugs by young New Zealanders.

"We would prefer they didn't. But the evidence is that when allowed to operate, drug-checking services can significantly reduce drug harm."

There has also been concern over the summer about bath salts being sold as MDMA.

OUSA chief executive Debbie Downs said drug checking was in line with the association’s harm prevention strategy.

Drug testing was also available at both the 2019 and 2020 Orientation events.

Last year, 25 samples were tested over three days and 12% of those turned out not to be the drug the person believed it was.

Twenty of the samples were MDMA, one sample was ketamine, and two were LSD.

This year’s Orientation events will be held at the Union Hall and Starters Bar, in a departure from recent years, when they have been hosted at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

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