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March 4, 2019 | by  | in News |
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E-Week: Pill Testing at Otago University

The Otago University Students’ Association launched a controversial first-time drug testing initiative during their recent O-Week.

The testing service was run by the New Zealand Drug Foundation and KnowYourStuffNZ, a professional and free-of-charge harm reduction service.

Pill testing examines the clients’ recreational drugs for dangerous or unknown substances which could be harmful if consumed.

The Labour-led government supports raising awareness around student drug consumption—a trend criticised by National as supporting drug culture.

However, the NZ Drug Foundation also believes the initiative is a step in the right direction towards reducing recreational drug use.

Some students are on board too; one Otago University student said that “with testing usage actually goes down. It’s not until they get tested and see all the other things they’ve been cut with that they realise the dangers.”

The drug testing was performed behind the OUSA Clubs and Societies Building and is not endorsed by Otago University.

OUSA does not condone drug use. However, OUSA Chief Executive Officer Debbie Downs said they “proved that it is possible to run drug checking in a publically accessible space with no incidents.”

VUWSA’s position on drug testing is open. “VUWSA supports any health and education-based approaches to alcohol or drug use,” a spokesperson said.

Mauri Ora told Salient that “the safest option is always not to take the substance at all… The University is working with VUWSA to look at how they want to progress harm reduction in the future”.   

VUWSA will “definitely consider” testing for future events.


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