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Drug checking in New Zealand: the 2020 and 2021 drug and substance checking legislation acts

Fiona Hutton (Institute of Criminology, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

Drugs, Habits and Social Policy

ISSN: 2752-6739

Article publication date: 11 October 2022

Issue publication date: 7 December 2022




This paper aims to explore the context and implications of the New Zealand Drug and Substance Drug Checking Acts 2020 and 2021.


This discussion provides a description of legislative changes about drug checking in the New Zealand context, alongside a critical analysis of the interlinked factors surrounding these important pieces of legislation.


The legalisation of drug checking is an important harm reduction development in the New Zealand context, although overregulation of licensing requirements should be avoided, as well as overly punitive responses to peer service providers who may have criminal convictions. The new regulations should also ensure that innovation around new technology or products tested is not stifled.


New Zealand is the only country to introduce permanent national legislation to legalise drug checking, and as such analysis of the legislation is of interest to the international community.



Many thanks to Wendy Allison from KYSNZ, Carl Greenwood from the NEP and Kali Mercier from the NZDF who answered questions about the history of drug checking in New Zealand and the 2020 and 2021 DSCAs.


Hutton, F. (2022), "Drug checking in New Zealand: the 2020 and 2021 drug and substance checking legislation acts", Drugs, Habits and Social Policy, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 200-206.



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