An $8.50 drug testing strip could save your life now that one of the world’s most deadly drugs has turned up in New Zealand’s illicit market.
Drug checking organisation, Know Your Stuff, is urging users of illegal drugs to test them after it discovered opioid fentanyl at a festival.
A drug user had Know Your Stuff test it thinking it was heroin.
Director of Know Your Stuff Wendy Allison says outside of hospitals, where fentanyl is used as an anaesthetic, it becomes dangerous because the dose is not known.
“When it becomes available on the illicit market and especially when it is misrepresented as something else, then all bets are off because we don’t know the dosage.”
“It’s got a very, very low toxic dose, essentially three milligrams is enough to kill your average person,” says Ms Allison.
Fentanyl is not picked up by regular drug testing kits, it’s better to use is fentanyl strips, available from the Hemp Store.
“They’re $8.50 each but if it’s to save your life its $8.50 well spent I think,” says Ms Allison,
“They are very, very sensitive and they can pick up a number of different types of fentanyl.”
So far fentanyl has only been found in heroin, so Know Your Stuff’s message is for those who use opioid drugs is to test them before taking them.
Police officer, Detective Sergeant Jason Dombroski, who has 23 years’ experience policing, says his personal opinion is organisations like Know Your Stuff, by their nature supports drug use in New Zealand.
“Drug use is one of our main drivers of crime and effects all sectors of New Zealand Society, it tears lives and families apart and has major impacts on the Health Sector and Social Services.”
He says New Zealand’s drug market trends follow other countries, who have already seen an increase in fentanyl.
“There is no doubt the availability of this drug will increase.”
A spokesperson for the police says even if drugs are what you expect, consuming drugs can have serious negative consequences for people.
“The easiest way to prevent yourself from harm associated with drug use is to not take them in the first place.”
Know Your Stuff say they work within the current law, which is governed by the Misuse of Drugs Act, however say on their website they operate in a legal grey area.
“What we would like is for section 12 to be updated to include an exemption from criminalising event organisers and other proprietors of venues from the clause that makes them criminal for supposedly permitting drug use on their premise,” says Ms Allison
Allowing drug checking organisations onto the premise, means acknowledge and permit drug use on the premise, which is illegal under section 12.
“I don’t believe this is a ‘grey’ area at all,” says Mr Dombroski,
“If a promotor uses KnowYourStuffNZ, services and people at the event use their services then the Promotor knows people are taking drugs at the event.”
Minister of Health David Clark said in a statement there are no current proposals to change the law.
“There are no current proposals for legislative change that would affect the legal status of testing recreational drugs.”
However, he says he believed drug addiction is a health issue, rather than a criminal one.