The effectiveness of drug checking programmes at music festivals will be examined in a new research project, the first of its kind.
A criminology team from Victoria University of Wellington will study the impact of drug testing at festivals as a harm-reduction effort.
The study will cost $59,000 and the Ministry of Health will foot the bill.
Health Minister Dr David Clark said despite it being illegal, recreational drug use was common at music festivals.
"There's no way to make illegal drug use completely safe – all drugs come with risk. But we can and must reduce harm wherever possible."
"This research will tell us whether drug checking programmes, such as the work of Know Your Stuff, are making a difference and helping keep people safer," he said.
Three people who had taken drugs were rushed to Auckland Hospital from a dance concert in October this year.
Another person was hospitalised in a moderate condition after taking drugs at the Listen In event at Mt Smart, attended by 20,000 partygoers.
One attendee told The Herald of the "drug fuelled insanity" she saw, as eventgoers scrambled the 25m-high marquee at the concert, climbed up scaffolding, and
ran across the roof of the tent.
"It was actually quite insane. Towards the end of the night you could really see the impact of whatever they had taken.
"You could definitely see there was quite a big drug presence there, just by all the bags that were lying on the ground, the amount of girls that did not look drunk, they looked high, or on something."
Violence was also an issue at the event, with numerous fights breaking out.
At the time, Auckland Stadiums director James Parkinson, who oversees Mt Smart Stadium, told the Herald he considered inviting Know Your Stuff - the same non-government drug testing team involved in the just-announced research - to the event.
"However, these drugs are illegal substances and are prohibited items in our venues. The concept of testing and returning illegal substances to patrons places us, as a venue operator, in a very difficult legal position," he said.
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Police Minister Stuart Nash said he wanted to balance a health-based approach to the personal possession of drugs with a need to maintain criminal enforcement, especially in disrupting the supply of illicit drugs.
"Police support measures that will reduce drug-related harm in our communities. This does not mean police will turn a blind eye to illicit drug activities," he said.
Drug checking activities operate in a "complex area" with a fine line between legal and illegal behaviours, he said.
Changes in August this year meant that police do not need to prosecute those involved in drug checking activates, meaning police could continue to exercise discretion in this area.
However, those dealing and supplying illicit drugs could still face the risk of prosecution, Nash said.
The study will combine assessments - both quantitative and qualitative - of drug testing organisation Know Your Stuff.
"It is designed to provide a base of evidence before Ministers consider any potential next steps," Nash said.
Clark said the research was "entirely consistent" with the Government's approach to drug harm reduction.
He said the Government was cracking down on the suppliers and manufacturers of illegal drugs, to get harmful drugs off our streets and were strengthening addiction treatment services as part of a record investment to take mental health and addiction seriously.