Drug policy

The National Drug Policy is the guiding document for policy and practices aimed at preventing and reducing drug-related harm in the community.

Drug policy in New Zealand: An overview

In New Zealand the National Drug Policy is the guiding document for policy and practices aimed at preventing and reducing drug-related harm in the community. 

The Policy divides substances that have psychoactive effects into four categories: tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, and other drugs.

The National Drug Policy's key goal is to minimise the social, economic and health harms of tobacco, alcohol, illegal and other drugs. It does this through a balance of measures that:

  • control or limit the availability of drugs (supply control)
  • limit the use of drugs by individuals, including abstinence (demand reduction)
  • reduce harm from existing drug use (problem limitation).

Drug policy is a complex area that requires input and participation from a wide range of government and non-government agencies, including the Ministry of Health.

Having a strong interagency focus brings together health, justice, enforcement, social development and education agencies that are working towards the common goal of preventing and reducing the harms linked to drug use.

The National Drug Policy helps central and local government agencies and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) to develop work programmes and action plans that fit into a national direction.

The objectives of the Policy are progressed through initiatives ranging from work by law enforcement agencies to seize illegal drugs, education to highlight the dangers of taking drugs through to alcohol and drug treatment services.

National Drug Policy Committees

These interagency committees meet to monitor, review and advice on drug policy and related issues.

  • Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy (MCDP)
  • Inter-Agency Committee on Drugs (IACD)
  • Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD)

Medicine safety

The Medsafe website provides information on the regulation of medicines and medical devices in New Zealand and the safe use of medicines.

Data sheets list every drug approved for use, along with information about clinical trials, risks and who the New Zealand distributor is (useful for establishing how much of the drug is used in New Zealand). There are also recall notices and warnings on drugs available for use in New Zealand.

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