New Zealanders overwhelmingly want testing of drugs at festivals to be legalised, a new 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll shows – as the Police Minister eyes a compromise to allow the testing.
Of those polled, 75% believed festival-goers should be able to get their drugs tested legally, 19% were against and 6% either did not know or refused to answer.
The groups of people who were more likely than average to believe testing should be legal were Green and Labour Party supporters and women aged 18-54.
The groups more likely than average to be against legalised drug testing at festivals were men over 55 and National Party supporters.
It comes after the Police Minister's attempt to legalise testing before the summer season failed after he struggled to garner support from New Zealand First.
Stuart Nash is now looking at other options to have testing in place, possibly implementing scientific pill testing trials at festivals, following Britain where results were used to change the law.
"You'd have a memorandum of understanding (agreement) between police and health and festival goers and other agencies to say, 'this isn't a bad way forward'."
"Let's not bury our head in the sand, we need to keep them safe," Mr Nash said.
Festival owners are reluctant to openly back the drug testing while it is illegal, but some events have the testing on-site. Drug testers are particularly worried about high-dose MDMA pills this summer, which has already led to deaths overseas. Three party-goers were left in critical conditions after taking drugs at an Auckland event earlier this month.
Drug Foundation's Ross Bell said the results showed people were "putting politics aside".
Green Party's Chlöe Swarbrick said many politicians were "far behind the general public in terms of common sense".
However, NZ First leader Winston Peters' message to those who believe drug testing was common sense is:"You're being seriously misinformed by the media for a start if you think this is a simplistic matter, it's not."
"What happens when the pills are regarded as dangerous and unsafe?"
"Somebody comes along, has 60 pills tested, 40 are regarded as safe the other 20 are not, what happens now? Anyone who allows that pill to go down the market line, so to speak, and be sold off is now seriously part of the problem."
National's Paula Bennett said the Government should be investing in education on "how bad these drugs are, let's not get them after they've already decided they're taking them".
"Let's educate people as to the dangers of these drugs, let's really invest, younger and more effectively than what we're seeing now, instead of sending a mixed message which is that taking these drugs is ok."
"That's why National's not supporting the pill testing, we really believe that there is a really strong likelihood of normalising the drugs and sending a mixed message. The message should be consistently, 'don't take these drugs'."
Those polled were asked, 'There are calls to legalise the testing of illicit drugs at festivals so that people know what's in them, regardless of whether you think the use of illicit drugs is right or wrong, do you think festival-goers should be able to get their drugs legally tested?'
Between October 5 to 9, 1008 eligible voters were polled by landline (502) and mobile phone (506). The maximum sampling error is approximately ±3.1%-points at the 95% confidence level.