Video: Welcome to Gisborne, where it's easier to get P than cannabis

The methamphetamine epidemic is ravaging the East Coast of the North Island, according to community workers.

A community advocate says buying drugs in the region is a problem which is growing. Source: 1 NEWS

They claim it's easier to buy a bag of P than it is to get a cannabis tinny, and that addiction is having a flow-on effect in the community.

"Depending on who you know it's between $550 and $1000 a gram, and in Gisborne we have kids going to school with no lunch," says former user Tricia Walsh, who was jailed for three years on drug offences.

She's now training to become a social worker and says addicts in the town have nowhere to go for treatment.

The Hauora Tairawhiti District Health Board has no detox beds for P users in Gisborne, and people have to go out of town for treatment, away from whanau.

Former gang member turned community worker, Tuta Ngarimu, says he's had Mongrel Mob members coming to him in desperation.

"They want to send two of their boys away right now," Mr Ngarimu said.

A drug operation in the region earlier this month caught 41 offenders, twice as many as a similar operation in Auckland the same week.

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon said the P-users are a scourge on the community, taking a toll on their families and workmates.