OUSA offers drugs check for students

Drug checking will once again be available to students who wish to test the substance they intend to take during Orientation Week in Dunedin.

Otago University Students’ Association chief executive Debbie Downs said the OUSA, together with NZ Drug Foundation and KnowYourStuffNZ, made the decision to run the drug-checking service, aimed at reducing the harm of drug-taking, following last year’s O Week pilot scheme being a success.

The OUSA was the first in the country to offer the service publicly and believed it would help to keep students safe.

‘‘They are educated on what the substances are in their pills and given advice on what can happen if they take it.’’

Mrs Downs said the information could also help first responders, including St John.

‘‘If there is a substance commonly going around, [NZ Drug Foundation and KnowYourStuffNZ] then make that information publicly available ... that goes out on social media so that if somebody else has a pill that looks the same, they can compare it and say, actually, maybe I need to get this tested or maybe I should not take this.’’

The OUSA would rather be involved in harm reduction, which she believed was more effective, than telling people not to take drugs.

‘‘People have been saying that for a very long time ... and it kind of has not stopped anyone.’’

University student associations across New Zealand also were starting to provide the service, including Lincoln University.

That was a goal for the OUSA but a lack of resources for drug testing, due to a lack of funding, could limit accessibility to the service.

The OUSA did not need permission from the university to run drug checking, which sat in a legal grey area, because it had its own property and buildings.

The drug-checking tent would be open in Albany St again today and tomorrow, from 2pm to 6pm.

The service was open to both students and the public.

molly.houseman@odt.co.nz

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