Methamphetamine and the law

What is methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is an extremely addictive, powerful stimulant. It produces wakefulness, hyperactivity and a euphoric effect.
Methamphetamine is also known as speed, pure, P, burn, goey, crank, meth, crystal, ice and yaba.

What does methamphetamine look like?

In New Zealand, it is available in two main forms: a powder and a crystal 'rock'.

  • Crystal rock methamphetamine is the purest form of methamphetamine. It is often called 'ice' due to its appearance. This highly addictive form is becoming more popular. Because it is usually smoked it is absorbed rapidly into the body, resulting in more pronounced effects on the central nervous system.
  • Methamphetamine powder is snorted, injected or swallowed as a pill by users. It can come in a variety of shades of blue, green, brown and yellow.

What Police are doing about methamphetamine

Methamphetamine has serious social, economic and even environmental consequences. Police are focused on breaking-down local and international crime syndicates and disrupting the production, importation and distribution of methamphetamine.

Police has a methamphetamine action plan which makes disrupting methamphetamine manufacturing a priority for all Police staff. Police works closely with the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand, which targets organised criminal groups such as gangs that are involved in the methamphetamine trade.

Visit the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website to read Tackling Methamphetamine: Indicators and Progress Report [PDF 987KB].

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Clandestine drug laboratories

Methamphetamine is manufactured in New Zealand in clandestine (secret) drug laboratories, known as 'clan labs', or imported in crystal form. There are risks in the process due to the poisonous, explosive, corrosive, toxic and extremely flammable chemicals used.

Exposure to chemicals found in clan labs can cause various symptoms including headaches, watery or burning eyes, nausea, burning skin, coughing or choking, diaphragm pain, feeling of coldness or weakness, shortness of breath or dizziness, decreased cognitive function, vertigo and convulsions.

If you find a clan lab, get out

Strange smells, fumes and vapour escaping from windows or ventilators, sealed windows and premises being used for purposes other than normal, are some of the signs that indicate premises may be being used as a clan lab. If you suspect you have found a clan lab get away from the area immediately.

  • Never taste, touch or smell any chemicals or equipment.
  • Do not attempt to stop a chemical reaction.
  • Do not turn any electrical device on or off, such as lights or a fan. This could cause an explosion.
  • Do not shut off the water supply to the house or the chemical reaction.
  • Do not smoke in or near a clandestine laboratory.
  • Do not use tools, radios, cell-phones, torches or devices that produce sparks or friction.
  • Call the Police.
  • Do not go back inside.

If you suspect the house you are moving into has previously been used as a clan lab, contact your local council's environmental health officer or your local police station.

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Methamphetamine laws and penalties

Methamphetamine is a class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act and therefore attracts severe penalties.

Manufacturing, importing, dealing and possession for supply can lead to a life sentence. Possession of five grams of methamphetamine (a tablespoon) is enough to warrant a conviction for possession for supply.

Those caught importing the precursors of methamphetamine (pseudoephedrine and ephedrine) without a licence can attract jail sentences of up to eight years.

Possessing a pipe or utensil for smoking methamphetamine is also an offence and can result in a one year jail term or a fine of up to $1000.

To find out more about penalties associated with methamphetamine see Illicit drugs.

What you can do about methamphetamine

If you have information about offences relating to methamphetamine:

Getting help

If you or someone you know is having problems with methamphetamine, other drugs or alcohol, it is important to know there are people who can help. To find out more see Getting help.

To find out more about methamphetamine, its risks and effects, visit the website of the New Zealand Drug Foundation.