Methamphetamine is much easier to get in New Zealand than cannabis, new report suggests

The newly-released Massey University drug report shows methamphetamine is more easily accessible than cannabis in New Zealand.

When asked about availability, 14 per cent of cannabis users rated it as "very easy", while 54 per cent of meth users said the same.

Just 14 per cent of cannabis users could buy the drug within 20 minutes, while 31 per cent of meth users could do so.

Dr Chris Wilkins of Massey University said it comes down to supply.

"In the southeast Asian region there's a lot of production of methamphetamine and the reality is that's just flooding in to New Zealand," Dr Wilkins told TVNZ 1's Breakfast. 

"Cannabis, you have to grow it for two-three months, it's a very bulky drug, it has a distinctive smell so it's just [that] methampehtamine probably looks like a better option [for suppliers] in terms of concealment and being able to sell that drug."

Dr Wilkins noted that a lot of respondents to the survey said they would prefer to use cannabis, but were unable to get it, so used methamphetamine instead.

He was surprised to find the survey showing meth usage was highest outside of the main urban centres.

"It may well be that there are less job opportunities, more poverty, but also some of the places like Bay of Plenty has a large port so it's a natural part for smuggling, and Northland also has a coastline where a lot of methamphetamine is being seized, so those are all factors as well," Dr Wilkins said.

Some may be choosing meth over cannabis because meth stays in the body for a shorter time - a consideration when undergoing work drug testing.

Dr Wilkins said the report suggests police should be re-assessing how much resource they put into cannabis enforcement, and said there may need to be a "re-balancing" back towards meth.

"People could ask some really interesting question about how they want to spend their taxpayer dollars in terms of drug enforcement - is it on cannabis, or should it be focused on methampethamine only?

"For cannabis it seems to me they're in the ballpark of alcohol and tobacco, and we could really be doing something a bit more innovative than arresting people.

"The government has signaled they are going to have a referendum on cannabis by 2020, and I think that's a really good opportunity for New Zealanders to sit down and think about the issues and decide where they want to go with cannabis.

"That drug's been legalised in now eight states in the United States and there's a lot of innovation happening overseas in terms of how to control cannabis use."

Dr Chris Wilkins says the Massey University drug report shows meth is widely used, especially outside of urban centres. Source: Breakfast

One-stop health hub planned for Christchurch youth - 'We have more and more young people suffering'

A new health hub for youth including mental health, medical and housing support is being planned for Christchurch.

The Anglican Church bought an acre of land in the CBD last year in order to lease it back to the newly-established Youth Hub Trust to launch the project.

In what's believed to be a New Zealand first, the health hub will provide desperately-needed transition housing on site, and there are plans to construct purpose-built accommodation to support 20 young people waiting for more permanent housing.

Youth Hub Trust chair Dr Sue Bagshaw said the facility is desperately needed - as is funding from both the public and government.

"We have more and more young people suffering with their mental health going wrong, we have more and more pressures on young people ... particularly in Christchurch after the earthquakes," Dr Bagshaw said.

Dr Baghshaw said 15 similar youth centres exist across New Zealand, but the one in Christchurch would be the first to include accommodation.

"We're going to need a lot of money - so we want people to dig deep, from government to business to the community - we need about $10m at a rough guess," she said.

We feel though that this is really important ... if we want good responsible citizens we need to support people growing up."

Christchurch's Anglican Bishop, The Right Reverend Victoria Matthews, will officially carry out a blessing at the site on Thursday March 22.

The ceremony will also mark the launch of the official fund raising campaign.

Dr Sue Bagshaw says $10m is needed for the project, which will provide mental health, medical and other services. Source: Breakfast


North Island spared direct hit from Cyclone Hola, despite heavy rain for some

Former tropical cyclone Hola now lies to the east of Gisborne, with most of the weather system over and done with for now.

MetService released a track map at 1am showing the storm will continue to track away from the North Island to the southeast today and into tomorrow.

A satellite image showing cloud formation taken about 4.50am, March 13, NZT.
A satellite image showing cloud formation taken about 4.50am, March 13, NZT. Source: JMA/MSC

The storm brought strong winds and heavy rain to many northeastern and central parts of the island, with Northland especially receiving heavy rain.

Overnight, some parts of the Gisborne area received very heavy rain and a river level gauge set up on the Hikuwai River at Willowflat north of Tolaga Bay shows a rise of about 3m.

MetService reported that the rain only caused minor surface flooding in Gisborne.

Meanwhile, another cyclone has formed in the ocean northwest of New Caledonia, currently called 13P, and it is forecast to move southwest towards southeast Queensland this week.

The storm moved east overnight and out to sea, with most of the heavy wind and rain hitting offshore. Source: Breakfast