NEW Zealand is winning the battle against methamphetamine, but ecstasy and cocaine use has doubled, an international drug report says.
The United Nations World Drug Report, based on an annual snapshot of worldwide drug use, also shows New Zealand is increasingly being used as a port for methamphetamine trafficking.
However, cannabis remains the No 1 illicit drug used by Kiwis - and the most used drug worldwide - though its popularity is falling, in line with global trends.
The Drug Foundation said it was possible young drug users were opting for faster paced drugs, such as ecstasy and party pills, over marijuana.
Executive director Ross Bell said party pills - which are not included in the United Nations report as they are seen largely as a New Zealand phenomenon - may have a "gateway" effect, enticing users to other drugs.
Mr Bell believed the drop in methamphetamine use was the result of stricter laws - 'P' became a class A drug in 2003 - tougher border security and greater awareness of the drug's dangers.
The Health Ministry said the methamphetamine drop was positive but it remained more concerned about frequent users who were experiencing more health, financial and legal problems due to their use, compared with the previous two years.
But Detective Sergeant Paul Tricklebank, of the national drug intelligence bureau, said there was no evidence of a decrease in methamphetamine, or other drugs. "All the surveys are indicating there's still a huge problem out there."
The report also showed trafficking of amphetamines through New Zealand increased by more than 10 per cent in 2006. New Zealand was used as a midway point between Asia and United States, it said.
The UN report says about 208 million people, or nearly 5 per cent of the world's population, aged 15 to 64, have used drugs at least once in the past 12 months, which is in line with the previous four years.
Problem drug use remained at around 0.6 per cent of the global population.
Mr Bell said New Zealand's increased rate of cocaine use reflected a European trend.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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