MEDIA RELEASE: The Govt’s argument for drug testing is based on shoddy weak activist research

The Government have rushed to legalise drug testing at music festivals based on a report Drug Checking at NZ Festivals November 2020 by Fiona Hutton from Victoria University.

According to the NZ Herald’s report at the end of last year:

Little said the preliminary results of that research, by Victoria University Associate Professor Fiona Hutton, showed that a law change would likely see more use of drug-checking services by festival hosts. “The study found that most people who have their drugs checked change their behaviour, and come away with increased knowledge of how to keep themselves and their friends safe,” he said.

According to Radio NZ earlier this year

In a statement, Minister of Health Andrew Little said the solution would be time-limited while longer-term regulations were developed next year. “This is not about condoning young New Zealanders’ use of drugs. We would prefer they didn’t. But the evidence is that when allowed to operate, drug checking services can significantly reduce drug harm.” Little pointed to a preliminary findings out of a Victoria University study which found most people who have their drugs checked change their behaviour and learn more about how to keep safe.


PROBLEMS WITH THE REPORT
 

  • Only 66 people were interviewed of which almost half were volunteers of KnowYourStuff or concert promoters or first aid volunteers. Just 34 interviewees were ‘independent’ festival attendees
  • The online survey was targeted at Victoria University “O” week events and three festival sites (n=577) – and also on Facebook pages of JustSpeak, Drug Foundation and KnowYourStuff (n=233). An ideologically captive  audience. 105 of these respondents were people who don’t even attend music festivals (i.e. mates of these pro-drug groups). For example, the report says

Interviews
All 66 people who were interviewed (interview participants were recruited through the survey) thought drug checking was a good idea, that it reduced harm and supported a change in the law to give drug checking legal status.

How surprising!!

  • Even the report admits “The sample was a purposeful, focused, non-random sample”!!

RESULTS AREN’T THAT PROMISING 

  • The media have pushed the narrative “52%, of those using KYSNZ drug checking services noted that they would not take a substance if it was not as presumed, an encouraging finding” and “Of the survey participants that have used KYSNZ drug checking services (n=155), 68% reported that they had changed their behaviour after using the service
  • But the results paint a very different picture (page 68 – see graph below) (They have deliberately fudged the graph so its difficult to get exact percentages)
    • 48% (half) would take or might take the drug even if the drug was not as presumed
    • About 80% would take the drug even if the drug was partially consistent with presumed
    • Another 10-12% might take the drug even if the drug was partially consistent with presumed
    • More than 90% would definitely take the drug if confirmed as a pure illegal drug! (This is contrary to the claim that “68% changed their behaviour after using the service”)

 

 

To summarise, it’s weak shoddy activist research designed to push a narrative and pre-conceived conclusion. But ironically, the research findings don’t support their claims. It’s embarrassing for Victoria University.

Even we wouldn’t publish this type of rubbish to try and support our case.

But it suits the Government agenda, sadly.

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