To find upcoming drug checking clinics near you, see our drug checking calendar.
To find your drug checking results online, head to our results page.
Drug checking is a free, legal and confidential service that helps you find out what’s really in your drugs.
Drug checking staff and volunteers use a scientific machine called a spectrometer to do this, along with reagent tests – chemicals that change colour when they react with certain drugs.
You’ll then get your results, and drug checkers will have a chat with you about ways to stay safer – especially if your substance wasn’t what you thought it was.
Knowing what you’re really taking can help you make informed choices about if, how and where you take drugs.
If you can’t make it to a drug checking clinic and you have a substance you’re concerned about, we can help arrange other options. Email us for more info.
Drug checking FAQ
Why should you get your drugs checked?
In an illegal drug market, there’s always a risk that the drugs you buy are not what you think they are. Many drugs in New Zealand are mixed with other drugs or sold as something they aren’t. For example, some MDMA we check has turned out to be synthetic cathinones (bath salts) – a different group of drugs.
If you don’t know what you’re taking, you could end up taking too much, or having an unpleasant and unexpected experience. Worst case, you could get sick or die.
Drug checking also helps us understand what’s out there, and keep an eye on concerning substances.
What’s the difference between drug checking and drug testing?
Drug checking tests drugs to see what’s in them, so you can make your own informed decisions. Drug testing tests a person (through their urine, blood or hair) to see if they have a drug in their system and is often used in the workplace or through the court system.
At drug checking we do not judge you for your personal decisions and are only here to help you be safer.
Who does drug checking?
Currently Know Your Stuff, the New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme and the New Zealand Drug Foundation (that’s us!) provide drug checking for the public. ESR (a science lab) helps with further testing and support.
Everyone who does drug checking is trained to have friendly, non-judgemental conversations about drug use.
Many of us have our own experiences with drugs and know how alarming it can be when you get unexpected effects from a drug that turns out to be different from what it was sold as. We do regular training to keep informed about emerging drug trends.
That said, you might bring in drugs we've never encountered before. That's why it's a two-way exchange of information – we encourage you to share your own knowledge and experience.
Is drug checking legal?
Yes! New Zealand was the first country to make drug checking legal. That means that:
- Police can't use your presence at a drug checking clinic as evidence in drug prosecutions, or as a reason to search you
- Drug checkers can handle your drugs without getting in trouble
- Drug checkers can legally be in possession of a sample of drugs to send it for further testing
- Venues used for drug checking can’t get in trouble for having drugs on site
We haven't had issues with cops being in or near drug checking, including at festivals. The police recognise that if people are going to take drugs, drug checking helps them be safer when doing so.
Is there a cost for drug checking?
Nope. It’s completely free!
What drugs can be checked?
Any chemical substance can be checked, including MDMA, ketamine, cocaine, methamphetamine, pressed pills, LSD (e.g. as liquid or tabs) pharmaceuticals (like Ritalin), supplements and other drugs you use to enhance your performance or image, and mystery baggies found on the ground.
If you bring cannabis to a drug checking clinic, we can’t check it there and then, but we are able to find out levels of THC and CBD by working with another organisation. We’ll then post the results online for you to look up.
Can meth be tested at drug checking?
Yep! We can check any type of liquid or crystal, including meth.
How much of your drug will be used in drug checking?
About 10mg, which is roughly the size of a match head. For pills, we usually break the pill in half and/or crush up a small amount, because the drug might not be mixed evenly throughout the pill. For tabs, we need a tiny sliver – less than a quarter.
How long does drug checking take?
It takes us about 5 minutes to test a sample. This can take longer depending on if there are other samples we need to test first or if we need to run multiple tests. We recommend showing up at the beginning of the clinic to avoid waiting.
Is there a limit for how many drugs you can bring to drug checking?
There’s no limit. It will take longer for us to test multiple samples, but you can always drop them off and come back later when we have the results.
What if your dealer says they've checked the drugs they're selling?
We can’t guarantee that the person you got it from used drug checking. We don’t give out an official ‘seal of approval’ for drugs. And the small amount of it we test might not represent the rest of the batch.
The best thing you can do is to bring it into drug checking yourself and find out what you have.
What happens if my drug turns out to be something dangerous?
If your drugs turn out to be something different from what you expected, we’ll talk to you about what to expect and how to stay safer. We’ll give you the option of disposing of it safely, but you don’t have to do this.
We may ask you if we can send a small sample off for further testing and/or put out a public notification about it, but we can only do this with your consent.
Is drug checking anonymous?
Drug checking is completely anonymous: legally, we can't record any identifying info, not even your name. If we’re posting your results online, we assign you a random number code.
If drug checking staff recognise you from elsewhere, they won’t use your name.
What will you be asked at drug checking?
We collect some info on how people are planning to use drugs, as well as ways methods they use for staying safer. You do not have to answer any of these questions. We might ask:
- Have you taken this before?
- How was it? Did you have an unexpected or unpleasant experience?
- Now that you know what’s in it, are you still planning to take it?
- How would you take it? e.g. swallowing, snorting
- Are there any things you can do to stay safer?
Why is drug checking not available in your area?
Drug checking was made permanently legal in 2021. Since then, we’ve worked hard to establish drug checking around New Zealand. This takes time, and we are limited by the amount of equipment and staff available. Check out our drug checking calendar to see if there is an upcoming drug checking clinic near you.
If you live in an area where people want to use drug checking, but it’s not currently available, please get in touch via our contact form.
What if you can’t make it to a drug checking clinic?
If you can’t make it to a drug checking clinic and you have a drug you’re concerned about (particularly if you’ve taken it and had an unexpected or unpleasant experience), let us know by emailing us. We can sort out options for getting your drugs checked.
You can check your drugs at home using reagent tests. Read this article for an overview on what reagent tests are and how to use them.
Reagent testing involves putting a drop of a chemical onto your substance and waiting to see if that chemical changes colour. There are different types of drug checking chemicals for different drugs. You can get reagent tests to use at home from places like Cosmic and The Hempstore.
You can also use test strips to check for the presence of a certain drug. Find out how to use fentanyl test strips in this article.