Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell has been dobbed in by his friends after he posted on Facebook trying to score some illegal drugs - but it turns out it's for scientific testing.

Bell posted this morning on Facebook: "I need to score some illicit substances. More than one type ... Not a big amount of each, just enough for some [forensic testing]."

Longtime director of the Foundation and well known drug policy commentator, Bell told the Herald this afternoon he only wants a small sample of the drugs for forensic testing of similar looking, potentially dangerous look-a-like substances.

Bell admitted seeking illegal drugs on Facebook had the potential to go pear-shaped, no matter his intention.

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"It's kind of a tongue in cheek post ... I'm sure there's something in the Misuse of Drugs Act that puts me on shaky ground," Bell said.

"If there is an enthusiastic copper that wants to harass me, then they know where to find me," he laughed.

"I don't think that will happen. We have talked to police and the Ministry of Health, and I think there is a shared understanding that punters need to know what's out there."

He said drug testing for safety, particularly at festivals, had become a large international discussion. Some say being able to legally test illicit drugs for their composition could help reduce overdoses and deaths, and allow people who had been sold a "bad dose" to dispose of it.

Organisers of festivals are stuck in the middle, as it's illegal to knowingly allow illicit drugs on the premises.

With the support of Police, some of the UK's biggest music festivals were planning to provide drug testing on site this summer.

Bell said on the unregulated black market, there were cheaper, lookalike drugs being sold as the real thing.

Some lookalikes had the potential to be fatal, he said.

"It's trying to prove the point that the white powder you got last Friday may be very different to the white powder you got this Friday," Bell said.

"We want to know what's out there. There are a range of quite new and dangerous substances on the black market. We don't know what those substances are until they've caused problems ... For us that's too far after the event.

"We think [there should be] what we would call an early warning system so we can get better information out to accident and emergency departments and police and ambulance services and people that use drugs themselves.

Police have been contacted for comment.