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Kiwis spend $629m on illegal drugs

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/04/2016
A person rolling a joint of cannabis. © PA Image A person rolling a joint of cannabis.

New Zealanders are spending more than half a billion dollars each year on illicit drugs, with trafficking helping fuel organised crime into other illegal areas.

Around $550 million was spent by Kiwis on cannabinoids alone according to the The New Zealand Drug Harm Index released on Thursday, accounting for nearly 90 per cent of $629 million in total drug purchases.

It isn't just those who are dependent who are spending big on cannabis and related products, with casual users shilling out $225 million.

Those illicit purchases are being used to fuel other criminal activities.

Around $70 million from drug trafficking is being reinvested in organised crime with nearly 90 per cent of the funds being provided by the sale of cannabinoids.

"The indirect funding of other criminal activity touches all drug users. In general, the casual user does not face the range or intensity of harms endured by dependent users," the report states.

"Nevertheless, the casual user makes a significant contribution to the expansion of criminal activity beyond drug trafficking and into other forms of crime."

Further drug trafficking, as well as extortion, fraud, pornography and weapons trafficking are generally the areas where the money is reinvested.

Amphetamine-type stimulants were the next biggest purchase with around $76 million spent annually while hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs as well as sedative drugs accounted for less than $4 million.

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