Methamphetamine prices drop to record lows in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington

The price of methamphetamine has dropped nationwide, with record low prices being recorded in several regions.

New research from Massey University's SHORE & Whāriki Research Centre has found the median price for a gram of meth has fallen nationally from $538 in 2017/2018 to $500 in 2018/2019.

The decline is even more significant in Auckland, Waikato and Wellington, where record low prices of $450 a gram have been found.

Associate professor and research lead Chris Wilkins said the lowest prices are found in regions close to international drug smuggling routes, such as airports, seaports, and isolated coastlines. This is also where most of the domestic manufacture of the drug happens.

"The higher prices for methamphetamine reported in Tasman/Nelson/Marlborough and the Southland/West Coast regions likely reflect geographical distance from production and importation sites and smaller less competitive drug markets," Wilkins said.

Although meth was typically more expensive in the South Island, Wilkins said several regions were seeing price declines, which coincided with gangs expanding into the areas and reports of record meth seizures.

He told Newshub the dropping price was concerning as it possibly opens the drug up to new people.

"Often frequent or heavy users use more methamphetamine, but it also makes that drug more attractive or accessible to new users as well, so there are a number of concerns there," Wilkins said.

"This new record low price of $450 a gram is really unexpected.

"There have been record seizures of methamphetamine, but the sad reality is that the market tends to swamp drug enforcement. I think we need to focus on drug importation, drug smuggling gangs."

There have been several large seizures of meth across New Zealand recently, such as a massive 500kg haul stopped at the Port of Auckland and 200kg in Waikato.

A price drop over the last six months had been noticed by 29 percent of meth users surveyed which contrasted to 1 percent of cannabis users, 6 percent of LSD users and 9 percent of ecstacy users seeing a price decline.

The median price for an ounce of cannabis in 2018/2019 was $350 - the same as in 2017/2018.

"Only one per cent of cannabis users reported the price had dropped in the previous six

months. Seventy-one percent said it was 'stable', 16 percent said it was 'increasing' and 12 percent said it had been 'fluctuating'," Wilkins said.

That data comes from the New Zealand Drug Trends Survey - an anonymous online survey which was promoted on Facebook between November 2018 and February 2019. A total of 10,966 Kiwis participated from 16 regions.

Meth prices by region:

Auckland: $450

Waikato: $450

Wellington: $450

Bay of Plenty: $500

Canterbury: $500

Gisborne/Hawke's Bay: $500

Northland: $500

Taranaki: $500

Otago: $550

Manuwatu-Wanganui: $600

Southland/West Coast: $600

Tasman/Nelson/Marlborough: $650.