Push to legalise recreational drug testing as deadly Fentanyl detected in NZ's drug market

Source: 1News

Many health professionals are pushing for a law change so people can test what drugs they're taking, as Fentanyl is detected in New Zealand's drug market for the first time.

Some recreational drugs are now being laced with the deadly painkiller Fentanyl and it was first detected at a music festival gig in February.

The owner of the white powder thought it was heroin. And while they're both opioids, Fentanyl is up to 100 times more powerful.

The drug has killed tens of thousands of people around the world, including rock star Prince.

There's still no evidence of how Fentanyl is getting into the recreational drug market, and that's why many health professionals are pushing for a change in the law on testing.

"Drugs will come and go. So as one drug say gets stronger and tighter controls about it there's a risk then that another drug will become more available to the market," said Kathryn Leafe of the Needle Exchange Programme.

Health Minister David Clark has launched an independent inquiry into drug addiction, but is reluctant to let recreational drug testing be legal.

"As the law stands there is no wriggle room. Anyone can work out that as soon as you make one aspect of it legal that has implications right down the system," he said.

The classification of Fentanyl will be part of that review, potentially elevating it in line with ecstasy and opium.

Wendy Allison, director of Know Your Stuff which tests drugs at festivals, says the danger associated with Fentanyl is that when people take it thinking they're taking something else, "it is very, very easy to get the dosage wrong and overdose and die".

Customs says there has been a small spike in Fentanyl at the border.

And the Health Quality and Safety Commission has found that for every 1000 people, two are getting Fentanyl from a doctor. It's used for chronic pain and cancer treatment.

"The numbers are increasing and that is a potentially a concern. And we asked that some of the DHBs actually look at their data to see if their increased useage is justified," said William Allan of the Health Quality and Safety Commission.