The first nationwide snapshot of the consumption of restricted drugs indicates the prevalence of methamphetamine use in New Zealand, says Police Minister Stuart Nash.
“The first quarterly analysis of the nationwide wastewater testing programme reinforces the coalition government’s determination to target organised crime,” Mr Nash says.
“We know that methamphetamine causes a huge amount of harm. It is confronting to learn that on average, an estimated 16 kilograms of methamphetamine is used every week.
“This translates to an estimated $20 million per week in social harm. Organised crime groups are primarily responsible for manufacturing, importing and distributing this drug.
“Police are committed to dismantling the supply of illicit drugs and also work closely with other agencies to help reduce demand, by breaking the cycle of addiction.
“The expanded testing programme is still in its infancy and care must be taken with reading too much into the results of the testing, between November 2018 and January 2019. However, it is clear that methamphetamine use, and the organised crime syndicates behind its distribution, need attention.
“The programme was initially a pilot in three sites but $1 million was set aside in last year’s budget which enabled it to be rolled out to 37 sites nationwide. It tests for methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy), cocaine, heroin and fentanyl.
“The wastewater testing cannot pick up traces of synthetic drugs, nor is yet covering cannabis use. The programme tests public sewage schemes for traces of restricted drugs, to provide insight into patterns of use.
“The results are the first real insight we have on drug consumption in both major urban centres and regional communities. I am pleased to see the use of fentanyl remains low. Only 3 grams were consumed on average each week, which includes medically prescribed use.”
“As part of the coalition agreement, more than 700 extra Police are being deployed in dedicated roles as investigators and specialists in detecting and preventing organised and serious crime. This is central to our efforts to enhance the wellbeing of families and communities”, says Mr Nash.