Deadly drug reaches NZ, spurs calls for legal recreational testing

The threat of the deadly drug Fentanyl is adding urgency to calls to let recreational users test their drugs legally.

With the summer music festival season looming, health experts warn people will die if they don't know exactly what they're taking.

Fentanyl is an opioid pain medication that is finding its way into recreational drugs.

In Melbourne alone, it has been linked to at least 10 deaths, often laced in heroin, and that has one New Zealand drug user scared.

"Too many people are dying because their drugs are not as advertised. It's a risk you take when buying illegal substances, but death should never be a consequence," the user told 1 NEWS, her comments voiced by an actor.

Wendy Allison of the community organisation Know Your Stuff offers to test people's recreational drugs so they know exactly what they're taking and are kept safe.

"Fentanyl is an emerging issue. I have reason to believe it's in New Zealand already," Ms Allison said.

She plans to be at music festivals over the summer but plans to keep a low profile.

There is a danger with such approaches that they encourage or are seen to encourage drug use. - Health Minister David Clark

"It's illegal to knowingly permit a venue to be used for offences against the Misuse of Drugs Act and it is illegal to be in possession of illicit substances. But we do neither of those things," she said.

Last summer, 70 per cent of the drugs Ms Allison tested were what they said they were. Ten per cent contained at least one other substance, while 20 per cent of the drugs were something completely different.

New Zealand Drug Foundation chief executive Ross Bell says it's time the law was clarified so Ms Allison and her team can do the testing without facing charges.

"We want to protect people from getting hurt or from dying. So the services sort of stand by themselves. In my mind this is a no brainer. We just need that legal protection," he said. 

The new Health Minister, David Clark, wants more information.

"There is a danger with such approaches that they encourage or are seen to encourage drug use. And the law as it stands must be respected," he said. 

New Zealand Police have not seized any Fentanyl, but Customs has seen a small increase at the border and that's a worrying sign for drug users and politicians alike. 

Health experts warn that people will die if they don't know exactly what they're taking. Source: 1 NEWS



'I call them the devil's tears' – meet the grandmother who's opened her own meth-help centre

Mother, grandmother, recovering alcoholic, anti-meth campaigner - Rachel Buck wears a lot of hats.

Her personal struggle with meth has been a battle that has consumed her life, and even caught her own whanau in the epidemic.

"I call them the devil's tears, there's never been a drug like it, there's never been a drug like methamphetamine," Rachel told Seven Sharp. 

"What saddens me with methamphetamine is the destruction in people's families."

But Rachel has joined with friends Rina Cornelious and Colonel, to open a drop in centre in Palmerston North.

"We offer a non-judgmental place to come and speak, share your story ask for hints or tips ask for advice," anti-meth campaigner Trina says.

For Rachel it's about paying it forward.

She was inspired by Porirua anti-meth campaigners Liz and Dennis Makalio who helped her through a dark time in her life with their P Pull walk-in clinic.

"The world can be a nasty place. So that's why I joined NZ P Pull, to get that support, and it really schooled me up on how to control my behaviour in terms of getting boundaries and practice what you preach," Rachel says.

Rachel Buck has had personal struggles, and seen her whanau caught up in the meth epidemic. Source: Seven Sharp

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Kiwis 'going crazy with online shopping' this Christmas

New Zealand Post will deliver a record-breaking 42 million packages and letters in December, an increase of 20 per cent from last year. 

Chief operating officer Mark Stewart says Kiwis are "going crazy with online shopping".

This year New Zealanders have spent $4 billion on online purchases and it is on the rise, according to Retail New Zealand. 

New Zealand Post has hired an extra 600 staff, 200 more vans and trucks and an extra aeroplane to cope with demand. 

The last day for sending packages in New Zealand is next Wednesday and the cut off for Australia is tomorrow. 

From now on it's a gamble to see if any other overseas parcels will make it on time for Christmas. 

NZ Post has hired an extra 600 staff, got 200 more vans and an extra plane to cope with the demand. Source: 1 NEWS