OPINION: Tackling the P problem

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross says almost $15 million seized from criminals in the last year will be invested into anti-drug initiatives. Photo / Wikimedia Commons.

New Zealand has seen a scourge of methamphetamine in recent years.

This has impacted the lives of drug users, their families and the wider community, as well as enabling gangs and organised crime to flourish through manufacture and supply.

In 2009, the Tackling Methamphetamine Action Plan was launched to address the prevalent use of the drug.

The plan focused on disrupting and closing down manufacture and supply of methamphetamine.

Customs used a range of interventions and technologies to restrict importation, such as controlled deliveries and interception, which enabled Police to identify and arrest key offenders.

Through the combined efforts of Police and Customs we have been making progress. But there’s more we need to do. The Prime Minister has recently announced further steps in the Government’s plan to tackle P.

Almost $15 million seized from criminals in the last year will be invested into anti-drug initiatives. This is the highest funding to date.

It will provide more resources for Police and Customs to target drug trafficking as well as develop more treatment options for drug abusers.

We are now also investing in programmes to identify and stop precursors and illicit drugs before they even reach New Zealand.

This involves Customs continually working to detect drugs at the border and also attempt to disrupt and dismantle the supply of methamphetamine being brought into New Zealand by overseas gangs.

So far $35,000 has been invested to set up an early warning system for new and emerging illicit substances (such as psychoactive substances).

This process aims to help Customs prepare to identify and prevent new illegal substances being brought in.

It’s also really important that we address the demand for drugs in New Zealand. We’re now dealing with a hard-core group of users struggling to kick the habit. We need to focus more on them by investing $8.7m in health-related initiatives.

This is on top of the $150m the government invests every year into alcohol and drug treatment programmes. The additional funding includes treatment facilities, detox services, and helplines.

We are tackling drug related offending from many angles by targeting those who are trafficking, manufacturing, supplying and demanding P. This approach prioritises saving lives, giving families hope, and making our communities safer.

By: Jami-Lee Ross, Member of Parliament for Botany