Moves to allow "drug-checking" at nightclubs and music festivals have won support in principle from Peter Dunne.
After a Kapiti man died of a suspected drug overdose on Tuesday, and several fatal overdoses were reported in Australia this summer, the Drug Foundation said drug-checking kits could save lives.
Dunne, the associate health minister responsible for drugs, said he was open to allowing the kits, even though it could be politically contentious.
Others, he said, would regard toleration of drug-checking as the "thin edge of the wedge".
But it was important to "minimise the dangers" of drug use, and allowing drug-checking kits did not equate to support for drug decriminalisation or legalisation.
Kits were already available online to test for drug identification and purity. The first type could identify several different opiate, amphetamine and hallucinogen or psychoactive drug types.
Purity tests claimed to show consumers the concentration of substances such as pure MDMA, cocaine or heroin in their product.
Dunne said it was important that the kits used were accurate, because inaccurate ones would have extremely harmful effects.
Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said said there there was no point in pretending risky drug use wasn't rampant.
"We have a view that, while the safest drug use is no drug use at all, we're also quite pragmatic."
A "complex drug black market" was confronting New Zealand, where plenty of unknown substances were sold to drug users.
The death this week of Kapiti man Kerry Grant, who is suspected of being the first to have died from an overdose of Alpha-PVP, or "bath salts" was a sad reminder of this, Bell said.
"We've come to the view that other countries are addressing this complexity through drug-checking.
"We don't think it condones drug use. We are thinking about people who are choosing to take drugs anyway. Let's make sure they at least don't die."
New Zealand Needle Exchange national manager Charles Henderson supported moves to allow drug-checking or drug testing kits at raves, nightclubs and festivals.
He said lawmakers and policymakers should use "a good public health approach" as the starting point for decisions on issues like drug-checking.
In practice, there might be kiosks where kits were available, with an understanding that police would not raid or visit the drug-checking areas.
They could also be a point where drug users could also access educational material, he said.
Police were also concerned about harm reduction and public health, and had not undermined needle exchanges. "They don't come and sit outside the needle exchanges."
The rise of online dealers was sometimes displacing peer-based information sharing among drug users, who were increasingly isolated, Henderson said.
In November, 25-year-old Sylvia Choi died after overdosing at Sydney's Stereosonic festival.
Hers was one of three similar deaths, and sparked calls from a Canberra emergency department doctor for drug-checking kits to be introduced at music festivals in Australia.