Prepared by Matthew Nice, July 2007
with funding from the sponsors of the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy
Matthew Nice is a Research Expert at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, Austria, specializing in global amphetamine-type stimulant drug markets. Matthew holds a Master’s degree in psychology and more than 10 years experience in drug control issues, working in the United States, New Zealand, and Austria. Prior to joining the UNODC he worked in the United States managing a government research unit evaluating crime and drug policies, monitoring drug and crime-related patterns and trends, and measuring criminal justice and addiction treatment system performance.
During Matthew’s Ian Axford Fellowship exchange to New Zealand he was based at New Zealand Police in Wellington, where he researched changing trends in the purity of New Zealand’s methamphetamine markets and their policy implications.
New Zealand was unprepared for the arrival and fast growth of methamphetamine use. An examination of government policy outcomes upon the methamphetamine market was performed using historical drug purity data. Results found that while a variety of increased enforcement activities have occurred, the market availability and purity of the drug has not diminished. Market purity levels increased from 30% in 2001 to 75% in 2003, and have since remained stable. Precursor chemical controls that target domestic drug manufacture – seen to substantially diminish the methamphetamine markets in the United States – had no measurable impact in New Zealand largely because they were not universally enacted and monitored. Additionally, while drug apprehensions have doubled, the likelihood of conviction has declined and currently those convicted do not face the possibility of legally mandated drug treatment.
The government has several opportunities to significantly reduce the country’s methamphetamine market availability and better prepare the country for future drug threats. These include creating a national drug monitoring program, adopting drug market availability outcome measures, improving prosecution outcomes, and developing the infrastructure to force drug offenders into appropriate treatment. For all recommendations, close monitoring and regular reporting on the results of the investments would be essential.
Appendix A: Methamphetamine Action Plan 2003
Appendix B: Key dates in New Zealand drug policy
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