Drug agency advise to test for synthetic drugs

By Mānia Clarke

A drug-testing agency is advising employers to carry out stricter synthetic drug testing in the workplace. This comes after a man, who chose to remain anonymous, told Kawe Kōrero that he and a number of other people he knew had allegedly turned to smoking synthetics to keep their jobs.

The Drug Detection Agency is concerned that a man, who filmed a group of people allegedly dazed from synthetics, has revealed that he himself had smoked synthetic drugs to keep his job.

Dr Paul Fitzmaurice, Director Research and Development, TDDA says, "What we're advising our clients is that they need to look at doing more laboratory testing for synthetic drugs because the laboratory testing tries to keep pace with how the drugs are developing and evolving."

The man, who filmed the video and chose to remain anonymous, told Kawe Kōrero that he and a number of other people allegedly smoked synthetics.

A person who wishes to remain anonymous says, "Personally I jumped on the stuff cos they were drug testing at work and people were passing the drug test smoking that legal stuff, that's why I jumped on and I knew a few other people jumped on for that reason too."

In 2013, the Psychoactive Substances Act banned all synthetic substances as illegal.  However, testing for synthetics is difficult.

Fitzmaurice says, "What we try to do is adjust our testing methodology to incorporate those drugs, but to a certain extent it's a cat and mouse scenario, the drug market produces a new drug that's released onto the elicit drug market.

Dr Fitzmaurice says the cost of synthetic testing may be a deterrent for employers.

"The more elaborate the more comprehensive the testing the greater the cost.  It comes down to understanding what other evidence you've got to support that you've got a problem with synthetic drugs and that it normally easily justifies the cost, " says Fitzmaurice.