Drugs laced with pesticide at Rhythm and Vines prompts Police Minister to consider pill testing

Benedict Collins
Source: 1News

Testing drugs to see if they're safe might soon be possible at music festivals in New Zealand.

The interception of dangerous drugs laced with pesticide at the Rhythm and Vines festival in Gisborne ahead of New Year's Eve has prompted the Police Minister to consider new measures.

Summer music festivals are in full swing. But the party took a sombre turn at Rhythm and Vines when security intercepted a dangerous delivery.

"We actually did see some drugs, had them tested and found they had been cut with some pretty nasty substances," Rhythm and Vines organiser Kieran Spillane told 1 NEWS. 

Inspector Andrew Sloan, Eastern District Operations Manager, said the police have a tool from Customs "which allows us to have a look at the makeup of these items. And yes, some of them did contain pesticides, along with other materials".

Organisers immediately alerted people to the incident, using a new app. 

Police Minister Stuart Nash visited the festival yesterday for a briefing.

"What I did was I visited the Gisborne Police station and I had a look at the testing they were doing on some of the pills that had been confiscated. Some of them weren't even what people though they were buying. They thought they were buying MDMA, and one was full of sugar, another one was food colouring," Mr Nash said.

Festival-goers overseas are often able to get their drugs tested openly to check that they're safe and that they are what they're claimed to be.   

And the New Zealand Government would like to see pill testing become the norm here, too.  

"You know, you had 20,000 young Kiwis party and have a really good time here. I would like to see drug testing at festivals. I think it saves lives, it save hospitalisations. And it's actually the right thing to do. And it's dealing with the reality in which we find ourselves," Mr Nash said.

A death of a man at a New South Wales music festival last Saturday has prompted fresh calls for Australia to introduce pill testing.  

While punters packed up at the festival in Gisborne yesterday, organisers were just happy everyone was okay. 

"And when you come here and you feel the vibe, look it's fantastic. And we've been really lucky this year to  run a really good event," Mr Sloan said.

 Music festival organisers say they are now looking forward to Government action on pill testing.