National’s youth wing is supporting legal pill-testing in New Zealand, going against the view of the National Party.
The Young Nats' support comes as the Government said it wanted to push through new laws around drug testing at festivals, with long-term changes in the works for next year.
In a statement on Twitter, Young National said it didn’t condone drug use.
“But if a young person makes the mistake of choosing to take an illicit drug, it should not be their death sentence.”
It said it wanted to take a harm-reduction approach to pills.
“Pill-testing creates a contact point for hard-to-reach recreational drug users, allowing service providers to educate on the risks of taking drugs and establishes opportunities to follow-up and provide further health-based interventions.”
National’s justice spokesman Simon Bridges earlier today said the National Party would oppose the Government’s bill because it would encourage illegal drug use.
“It gives them [young people] a false sense of security. This law may result in more illicit drug use and more harm,” Bridges tweeted.
But Health Minister Andrew Little said the Government’s decision wasn’t about condoning the use of drugs by young New Zealanders.
“We would prefer they didn’t [use drugs]. But, the evidence is that when allowed to operate, drug checking services can significantly reduce drug harm,” Little said.
He said the changes to be made would protect pill testing services, such as Know Your Stuff, "against prosecution for short-term possession of illegal drugs while they test them".
Currently, those types of organisations have been operating illegally.
"This gives welcome reassurance to those operating the services and festival organisers who host them that they will not be criminalised for their efforts to keep young New Zealanders safe this summer," Little said.
"I make no apology for prioritising young New Zealanders’ safety this summer with this law change."