Methamphetamine 'easy to get'

ROB KIDD
Last updated 05:00 18/10/2012

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Despite strides made by police to stem methamphetamine production, a new study has shown it's still seen as easy for users to get hold of.

The 2011 Illicit Drug Monitoring System study, carried out by researchers at the SHORE and Whariki Research Centre at Massey University, showed 86 per cent of Auckland drug users surveyed thought P was easy or very easy to get.

Lead researcher Dr Chris Wilkins and his team interviewed 372 illegal drug users from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch late last year about trends in the use, availability, price and potency of a number of key illegal drug types and about any new drugs they had encountered in the previous six months.

The study was designed to provide timely information about changes in drug use, and inform responses such as better provision of drug treatment services and reducing barriers to entering treatment.

Methamphetamine was significantly cheaper in Auckland than the other two major cities, with a gram selling for $659 compared to Christchurch where it was $977.

Despite a big drop in ecstasy supply, the Class B drug was also still seen as easy to get hold of by three quarters of respondents in the nation's biggest city.

An Auckland syndicate believed to be responsible for a substantial proportion of the supply of ecstasy in New Zealand was dismantled in mid-November 2011, resulting in a massive seizure of 105,000 pills, which were selling for $42 each.

Cannabis prices in the region had risen over the last five years, while strength declined.

There was a decline in the proportion of frequent drug users who purchased cannabis from a "tinny" house from 2010 to 2011, which researchers said may reflect greater enforcement focus on these selling locations in recent years.

The way users got drugs appeared to be changing.

Nearly a third of those spoken to had used someone else's prescription to illegally access pharmaceuticals last year, a figure which had more than trebled since 2008.

Though many synthetic cannabis products are banned now, the study showed they were popular among methamphetamine users.

Nationally, only 10 per cent had tried them in 2010 but that number skyrocketed to 41 per cent in 2011.

Worrying trends of people having their drink spiked and being given drugs without their knowledge also showed up, with numbers steadily increasing in both categories.

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- Auckland Now

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