Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

P use in NZ slashed, but battle far from over

New Zealand has lost its status as one of the biggest P users in the world, but the Government says the battle against the drug is far from over because 25,000 New Zealanders are still using it.

A Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet report showed the rate of pure amphetamine use had halved since 2009, and the drug's street price was starting to climb.

Prime Minister John Key told media this afternoon that in 2009 New Zealand had one of the highest rates of P users in the world with 2.2 per cent of the adult population using the drug.

"Five years later, we have reduced that number to just under 0.9 per cent.''

Mr Key welcomed the drop in the number of users, but emphasised that 25,000 adult New Zealanders were still using the drug, and that was far too many.

He added: "P is a problem in New Zealand. It hooks people from all walks of life and creates misery for those who are addicted to it for families and for communities. Quite simply, the Government wants to stamp it out.''

The drop in methamphetamine use was believed to be connected to increased efforts to intercept the precursor drugs which were used to manufacture P. The Government had also invested in increased treatment for addicts and drug education programmes in schools.

Mr Key said the ``fantastic``efforts of police and customs had led to a drop in supply, which was reflected in the higher price for P. The average price per gram had increased from $723 in 2009 to $757 in October this year. The price per "point" of P had increased slightly from $107 to $109.

However, the report showed the cost of precursor drugs continued to fall and the purity level of P in New Zealand remained high.

Police analysis of point samples found the median purity was around 70 per cent - slightly higher than in 2006.

Another data set, which was based on interviews with people detained by police, found more people believed the purity level of P was getting higher than those who believed it was not.

Mr Key also announced $3 million in new initiatives to fight P abuse, funded by money and assets confiscated from gangs, drug dealers and manufacturers.

The largest grants would go towards residential accommodation for drug treatment programmes and a pilot scheme for a drug and alcohol court.

The rest of the funding would cover police legal costs, border controls, purity assessment, training of drug dogs and the development of media guidelines for reporting on drugs.

- NZ Herald

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