Revealed: The number of New Zealanders in court for cannabis-related crimes in 2020

There's been another drop in the number of people fronting a judge for cannabis-related crime, with just 4197 before the courts between January and October 2020 - compared with 13,789 a decade ago.

But there was a spike in the number of those in court for alleged supply or manufacturing of the drug in 2020 - 1089, up from 984 in 2019.

Figures from the National Drug Intelligence Bureau, released to Newshub under the Official Information Act, show the number of people before the courts for alleged cannabis-related crimes (including possession or use, supply or manufacturing, and cultivation) have fallen nearly every year for the past decade. Those in court for alleged possession or use of the drug has fallen from 6171 in 2010 to 1674 between January October last year, the latest available figures.

In 2010, alleged supply or manufacturing of cannabis saw 2045 before the courts - it was just 1089 last year.

A decade ago 2416 people were in court for allegedly cultivating cannabis. Last year that had fallen to 847.

Newshub can also reveal all proceedings against alleged cannabis offences (including non-court action such as police warnings), have fallen from 10,263 in 2019 to 9486 in 2020.

Figures show that in the Bay of Plenty, 222 people fronted court for possession or use of cannabis in 2020. In comparison, just 66 people were sent to court in the Southern region in the same time period.

Last year, New Zealand voted against legalising cannabis for recreational use in a referendum. 

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told RNZ in November that cannabis convictions had dropped about 40 percent in the past five years. 

"We have seen a continued ongoing trend of greater use of warnings and a lesser use of prosecutions and that is consistent with the trend that has been running over the last five years."

Newshub revealed earlier this week that police had budgeted $580,000 to eradicate cannabis this season, despite dropping its nationally coordinated cannabis eradication operation.

Det Supt Greg Williams says the illicit supply of cannabis remains a focus for the police.

"Funding is still available to districts that wish to prioritise the use of tactical support for the detection of cannabis plantations."

Court action against offenders for alleged cannabis-related crimes (between January 2010 and October 2020):

  • Possession or use - 33,676
  • Supply or manufacturing - 14,979
  • Cultivation - 15,431