A free drug checking service is calling on the Government to fund the work it does as it struggles to keep up with demand.
Know Your Stuff has offered a free nationwide testing service at music festivals and events for the past seven years.
The volunteer-based organisation gets no Government funding and runs completely off donations.
Volunteers had been operating in a legal grey area, with festival hosts technically liable for prosecution if they had drug checking at their events.
But in December last year, the Government passed the Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Act 2020 under urgency, allowing drug testing organisations to operate at festivals.
The bill was temporary, rushed through ahead of the busy summer period, and expires this December.
A new law, the Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Bill (No 2), recently passed its first reading in the house will make the law permanent.
Know Your Stuff was hoping for funding in the 2021 Budget to pay for the service but did not receive any.
Managing Director Wendy Allison said they are not giving up hope.
"When the Health Minister says this is a public health issue and we want to see it available all around the country, all the time, not just at festivals he's not stupid, he's got to know we can't pay for that."
She said they can continue to operate at the level they are but that's not even scratching the surface of the demand and the Government knows that.
At a recent drug testing event in Wellington Know Your Stuff found nine grams of Eutylone.
The substance was handed in by people who thought they had bought MDMA.
Know Your Stuff said that amount of the dangerous drug could have caused 45–63 hospitalisations.
Health Minister Andrew Little said his focus is to get the legislation currently going through the house in place, but what follows from that is some time away.
Green Party Drug Reform spokeswoman Chlöe Swarbrick said it's ludicrous to expect a public service that's saving lives and is stopping people from winding up in emergency rooms to run on a voluntary basis.
"We are seeing a real lack of substantial funding for our drug checking services that to me seems to really contradict the argument that's being made by Government, that this is a public good, because we are not treating or funding it like one."
Swarbrick likened funding the service to the national needle exchange in the 1980s to combat HIV and Aids among intravenous drug users.
She said in response to the 30 to 40 odd years of that service being rolled out and receiving Government funding we have the lowest rates of intravenous drug users in the OECD.
In terms of how much funding they should get depends on the type of model developed for the service she said.
"If we were to choose static sites were available, we would require a physical space that will be rented or purchased.
"If we are to do pop-ups like Know Your Stuff presently does, there needs to be some element of permit within different festivals so there's a number of different collaborations you could potentially foresee happening."
Swarbrick said as a cost-benefit analysis it makes sense to implement Government funding.
Submissions for the Drug and Substance Checking Legislation Bill close on June 24.