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Safer alternatives lead to reduced demand

30 November 2005

Safer alternatives lead to reduced demand for methamphetamine

The industry supplying safer legal alternatives to illegal drugs today welcomed the release of new research which it said points to a reducing demand for methamphetamine.

Chair of the Social Tonics Association of New Zealand (STANZ), Matt Bowden, said the research showed a corresponding relationship between the increased use of legal ‘party pills’ and an emerging glut in the market for methamphetamine.

“Despite increases in seizures from police, and increases in methamphetamine labs being busted, a good number of methamphetamine users said that prices were coming down and availability is easy. This shows that demand is dropping off,” he said.

Mr Bowden explained that the key indicators for supply and demand are the rise and fall of prices and availability.

“The drug economy is like any other - where you decrease supply without adjusting demand, the price goes up and quality goes down, with an increasing public health risk.

“Where safer and legal alternatives are available, the demand for drugs like methamphetamine decreases, price slumps and the product becomes increasingly easy to source.

“This is precisely what is happening now in New Zealand. Every time this survey’s respondents say they have used party pills is a time they are not using dangerous illegal drugs, and this is a good thing.

“Given the huge harm that this survey shows methamphetamine is causing, anytime that somebody chooses a safer legal alternative over drugs like P is a victory for public health.”

Mr Bowden said senior New Zealand police officers have also stated that the increased availability of legal party pills is leading to a decrease in demand for the illegal drug ecstasy.

“What is happening here is simple supply and demand economics, with the result being a decrease in the public health risk.”

Mr Bowden said there were some worrying results in the survey – particularly a third of respondents saying they have injected methamphetamine and the arrival of new ‘starter packs’ to encourage first time methamphetamine use.

“Another concern is the presence of PMA, a dangerous amphetamine derivative sometimes passed off as ecstasy. In other places where PMA has been present, it has signaled the time for pill testing to become available to ensure drug users are not inadvertently taking the substance.”

Mr Bowden said the report highlighted that New Zealand still had a considerable problem with the use of dangerous drugs and that innovative new approaches to reducing demand were needed.

ENDS

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