11 May 2010

PM says reduction in 'P' likely by next year

7:37 pm on 11 May 2010

The Prime Minister expects to see a clear reduction in the availability of methamphetamine, also known as " P", by as early as next year.

John Key on Monday released the first six-monthly update on the Government's plan against the drug, called Tackling Methamphetamine.

The Government also announced funding for the customs service of $5.9 million which will be used to upgrade drug detection equipment at the border.

Mr Key says though the report shows the price of "P" has remained stable and the drug may have become slightly easier to obtain, those statistics will soon change.

He said by next year, over-the-counter sales of pseudoephedrine, a precursor used in the illicit manufacture of "P" will almost certainly be banned in New Zealand.

"This new technology will mean that the illegal importation of that material hopefully will be reduced."

However, a group working to reduce the harm caused by methamphetamine says the Government's action plan against the drug does not go far enough.

The Prime Minister says there has been substantial increases in methamphetamine seizures at Customs and there is evidence that fewer people are becoming addicted to the drug.

But consultancy group MethCon says as long as demand for the drug remains the same, suppliers will continue to make and sell it.

Director Mike Sabin says the Government needs to try to reduce the number of "P" users through more effective rehabilitation programmes.

Call to strengthen border control

The Labour Party's customs spokesperson says it is about time the Government put more money into strengthening New Zealand's border control methods.

Su'a William Sio says the funding boost is essential for the fight against "P", especially after the Government cut the Customs budget by $2 million last year.

Mr Sio says it is worrying to think about how much methamphetimine and substances used to make the drug passed through customs after last year's cuts.