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Drugs

Drugs

There are legal restrictions on drugs (use and supply) in NZ, but statistics have shown that New Zealanders have some of the higher drug-use rates in the developed world.

This section helps to answer some of the legal questions about drugs.

What kind of problems can I face when using drugs?

Using drugs can lead to lots of problems for young people and can affect your overall well-being. The effects of using drugs are similar to those of using alcohol. Problems and consequences of using drugs differ dependent on the type of drug used, but may include:

  • physical health problems;
  • mental health problems;
  • making bad decisions and failing to keep yourself safe;
  • messing up your relationship with friends and family;
  • affecting your ability to do the things you enjoy such as sports and/or other hobbies;
  • problems with turning up for school or work;
  • financial trouble;
  • trouble with the police or other authorities;
  • addiction.

Are illegal drugs bad for my body?

Some drugs can make you feel momentarily happy or relaxed, but there are scientifically proven health risks for most illegal drugs.

Drugs and alcohol are more harmful to the body for young people (compared to adults) because your body and brain are still developing throughout your teenage years and well into young adulthood. Drinking and taking drugs during your critical growth period can lead to lifelong damage in brain function and other health risks.

For example, the use of cannabis by young people have been shown to increase the risk of problems with thinking later in life, and an increased risk of serious mental illness.

What sorts of drugs are illegal?

There is a wide range of illegal drugs. Drugs are generally classified from A – C, A being the most high risk and C being moderate risk. There are different penalties depending on the class of the drug, and whether you’re using, possessing, making or dealing the drug.

Some of the more commonly known drugs are:

  • Class A: methamphetamine (meth), cocaine, heroin, magic mushrooms, LSD (Acid).
  • Class B: cannabis oil, hashish, ecstasy, opium, morphine, amphetamine-type substances.
  • Class C: cannabis seed, cannabis plant, codeine.

What is the penalty for using and possessing illegal drugs?

The penalty depends on the class of the drug. If you are charged with possessing a drug, you will need to go to Court. If you’re under 17, you may go to the Youth Court instead.

The maximum penalty for possessing a drug is:

  • Class A: 6 months imprisonment and/or $1000 fine;
  • Class B and C: 3 months imprisonment and/or $500 fine.

Please note that most penalties are less than the maximum penalty.

What is the penalty if your property or vehicle is used to make, use or carry drugs?

The penalty depends on the class of the drug. If you’re under 17, you may go to the Youth Court instead. If you let your premises or vehicle be used by someone (or yourself) to make, use or carry drugs, the maximum penalty for possessing a drug is:

  • Class A: 10 years imprisonment;
  • Class B: 7 years imprisonment;
  • Class C: 3 years imprisonment.

If you’re found to be guilty of dealing with drugs, the court can also order for any related vehicle to be seized and confiscated.

Please note that most penalties are less than the maximum penalty.

What is the penalty for making and dealing illegal drugs?

Supplying or manufacturing drugs is a much more serious crime. The penalty will depend on the class of the drug. If you’re under 17, you may go to Youth Court instead.

The maximum penalty for supplying or manufacturing a drug is:

  • Class A: Life imprisonment
  • Class B: 14 years imprisonment
  • Class C: Indictment (with a jury) – 8 years imprisonment. Summarily – 1 year imprisonment and/or $1,000 fine.

Please note that most penalties are less than the maximum penalty.

What can the police do when they suspect I have drugs?

The police can search you and your property (including your home or your car) without a warrant if they have reasonable grounds to believe you have drugs on you or at the place they’re searching. Reasonable grounds are things like smelling or seeing you with drugs or seeing you affected by drugs.

If they find you with drugs or suspect you had drugs, they may charge you and take you to Court or the Youth Court if you’re under 17.

How can I tell if I have problems with drugs?

You may notice that you are having problems with drugs when you’re:

  • Finding it difficult to listen and concentrate;
  • Not turning up for school or work;
  • Forgetting things more than usual;
  • Getting into arguments about being late;
  • Falling out with mates because of your drug use;
  • Spending too much money on drugs;
  • Paranoia.

I think I have a problem with alcohol or drugs, where can I go for help?

There are various organisations that can help:

  • Community Alcohol & Drugs Auckland (CADS) is a free Auckland-based service for addiction to alcohol and drugs. They have a range of programmes available.
    (09) 845-1818
  • The Alcohol Drug Helpline is a confidential information service for people with questions about their own, or someone else’s drinking or drug problems.
    0800-787-797,10am – 10pm, daily.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship to share your experience with others experiencing the same problems.
    For information about local meetings go to or call 0800 2296757 for the helpline.
  • Al-Anon Information Services & Alateen is a fellowship to share your experience with others experiencing alcohol problems.
    Alateen is the international website.
  • Altered High is an Auckland-based alcohol and drug treatment/counselling service for young people, rangatahi aged 12-20 and their families who have any kind of worries about alcohol and drugs.
    (09) 845-1818
  • Odyssey House treats adults and young people with serious substance abuse and associated problems. They also have residential programmes available.
    (09) 623-0228
  • YouthLine provides general counselling services.
    0800 376-633 or (09) 376-6650,
  • You can also contact your nearest Alcohol and Drug Clinic Centre listed in the phone book.

If you are unable to find support, phone the Ministry of Youth Development (04) 916 3300 or free phone 0508 FOR MYD (367 693). You can also contact YouthLaw who will be able to suggest where help is available.

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