Meth now easier to get than cannabis in Northland, locals say
Methamphetamine has become easier to source in Northland than marijuana, according to locals.
Whangarei defence lawyer Kelly Ellis said according to her clients, P was soaring in availability over cannabis, which had long been considered the country's preferred illegal drug.
"It makes sense, let's get real about it," she said.
"Meth is much more lucrative and much easier to do than having to carry smelly bags of cannabis around the place."
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Ellis deals with people at "the pointy end" of the drug trade, including meth users, dealers and manufacturers.
She said gang presence in the north had increased rapidly over the past five years, and what were once tinnie houses had converted to dealing the much harder drug.
The seizure of half a tonne of P from 90 Mile Beach in June was an indication of the size of New Zealand's meth problem, she said.
"If you look at that as being a basic economic indicator of availability versus demand, it seems demand is not outstripping supply."
Chris Fowlie, president of the New Zealand reform marijuana advocacy group NORML, said he too had heard meth was easier to come by than cannabis in Northland.
"People can't find cannabis but they know where to get meth from a tinnie house," he said.
"Gangs really do run the show because of fear of people growing their own."
Detective Inspector Kevin Burke said the take-down of 12 local labs last year, on top of the June bust, was another indication of the "significant problem" meth had become.
"It illustrates, in addition to the importation of methamphetamine, there's still a demand clearly for homegrown methamphetamine," he said.
"At the end of the day it's profit-driven and people are prepared to run the risk."
In October, then-Prime Minister John Key acknowledged meth had become "the drug of choice" for some Kiwis.
Police needed to do more to stop it entering the country through remote areas like Northland, he said.
Key said at the time that a $15 million boost for anti-drug initiatives was not an admission the Government was losing the war against P.