It's much easier to get P than cannabis in NZ - study

Police have launched an organised crime taskforce in Tauranga, as data shows that it's now easier to get meth than cannabis everywhere in New Zealand. 

More than 6000 drug users were surveyed by Massey University, and the results are frightening.

A shocking 54 percent of meth users said the highly addictive drug was "very easy" to get, compared to just 14 percent of cannabis users saying the same.

In Northland, 65 percent could get meth very easily compared with only 15 percent for cannabis. In Auckland, it was 51 percent to one percent. Wellington and Otago were the only regions where it dipped below 50 percent.

In contrast, the percentages of cannabis users who found it very easy doesn't exceed 20 percent anywhere in New Zealand.

In terms of how easy the drug is to obtain, 31 percent of P users said they could get it in 20 minutes or less. Less than half that said they could get cannabis that quickly.

On Tuesday, police launched their taskforce in Tauranga, which has seen an influx of Australian biker gangs in recent years - meaning more meth on the streets.

"We're in the middle of a battle with organised crime," says Police commissioner Mike Bush.

The latest gangs to arrive are the Bandidos and Comancheros - both notorious across the ditch for their ruthless violence. 

The influx began when Australia started deporting Kiwi convicted criminals and those who failed the good character test in 2015. 

"The impact of some returning offenders does impact upon us," says commissioner Bush.

"There are a number of gangs that are growing in size that we are concerned about. That's what we want to nip in the bud before they take hold."

As of the end of 2017, nearly 40 percent of deportees had reoffended since landing in the country, committing almost 1600 crimes. 

Because many of them were associated with gangs in Australia, they've just moved their operation here. 

"Organised crime groups don't really care what the commodity is as long as there's a big mark up," says commissioner Bush.

"At the moment the commodity of choice is meth, that's what attracts them."

That's why a much higher percentage of P users than cannabis users can get their drugs in 20 minutes or less. It's a trend right throughout the country - but the difference is most pronounced in the Manawatu-Whanganui Region, where 44 percent of P users say they can get it in that time, but only 12 percent of cannabis users can.

"A lot of people answering the survey were saying 'I want to use cannabis but meth is so available and the price is going down, I can't get the cannabis', says Massey University lead researcher Chris Wilkins.

"The amount of supply is just getting into all parts of New Zealand."

Tauranga's booming population and the country's busiest port are easy targets for gangs, but they're now on notice. 

"We're coming for your freedom," says Police Minister Stuart Nash. 

"We're coming for your money and we're coming for your assets, because we will not tolerate this in our communities."