An annual survey of frequent drug users has revealed that the internet is becoming an increasingly common tool for sourcing drugs.
The latest results from the Massey University Illicit Drug Monitoring System (IDMS) study show 72 per cent of frequent drug users report increased buying and selling of drugs via social media and encrypted websites.
Dr Chris Wilkins, senior researcher and leader of the illegal drug research team at the SHORE and Whāriki Research Centre, says social media, and in particular the use of encrypted websites, offers a new platform to promote drug use and connect drug sellers with drug users.
“These technological advances present new challenges to domestic and international drug control,” he said.
The survey, which interviews approximately 300 frequent drug users, also found evidence that methamphetamine availability was increasing, particularly in Christchurch, and that there has been a downturn in the supply of cannabis. Availability of (previously legal) synthetic cannabis products had also dropped off sharply, following an effective ban introduced in 2014.
The results have been widely covered in New Zealand. Examples include:
Newshub: Drug study: Synthetic cannabis ban is working
New Zealand Herald:Huge rise in Kiwis using the ‘dark web’ to buy illegal drugs
RadioLIVE: 76% of drug users surveyed say they could find P within an hour
Newshub: NZ’s drug trade moves online
Stuff.co.nz: It takes less than an hour to score methamphetamine in Auckland and Christchurch: annual study
TVNZ News: Internet the battleground of the war on drugs, says expert
Otago Daily Times: More Kiwis trading drugs on social media
RNZ: Illegal drug sales flare up online
TVNZ News: Kiwis increasingly using social media to do their drug deals – new report
RadioLIVE: NZ’s P supply rises, online drug-buying up