A health-based approach to the country's illegal-drug problem means users will get assistance rather than possible jail time, writes Derek Cheng.

Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders use illegal drugs, and thousands are charged with using or having drugs every year.

For decades the response has been a War on Drugs, a criminal justice approach that could see jail time not only for those who supply, manufacture or import drugs, but also those who use them.

But a profound shift in drug laws is happening.

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The Government still wants to disrupt the supply chain, but is taking a health-based approach.

The Drug Picture

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A health-based approach

Government response to synthetic drugs crisis

Decriminalisation of drug use/possession?

What is current police practice?