National Drug Policy

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

The current National Drug Policy 2015-2020 was released in August 2015.

The National Drug Policy's key goal is to minimise harm from alcohol and drug use, and promote and protect health and wellbeing. It does this through a balance of measures that:

  • reduce harm that is already occurring (problem limitation). 
  • reduce the desire to use alcohol and other drugs (demand reduction)
  • prevent or reduce the availability of alcohol and other drugs (supply control)

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.  The National Drug Policy 2015-2020 has a focus on collaboration and emphasises that everyone can have a role in reducing harm from alcohol and other drugs.

Changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act 

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act passed on 7 August 2019.

The Act made three key changes:

  • classified the synthetic cannabinoids AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-ADB as Class A drugs
  • affirmed the existing Police discretion to prosecute for possession and use of controlled drugs
  • enabled temporary class drug orders to be issued.

The Act is a key step in addressing synthetic drug harm, and implementing a health based approach to drug possession and use.

For more information, go to Changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Review of the 2019 Changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act

The Ministry is reviewing the impacts of these changes. 

The review seeks to understand the amendments’ impact on supporting a health-based approach to drug harm reduction. The review will conclude in August 2021 with a report to Cabinet. 

If you have any queries, please contact the Project Team at

UNGASS: Issues paper to support a New Zealand position 

The Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) brings together the member states of the United Nations at least once a decade to determine a way forward for global drug policy.  The next UNGASS summit takes place in New York from 19-21 April 2016.  It will consider progress against goals for drug policy set at the last UNGASS meeting in 2009 for achievement by 2019 and chart a way forward towards the achievement of these goals.  

Associate Minister of Health, Hon Peter Dunne, will lead the New Zealand delegation to UNGASS 2016 and deliver a statement of New Zealand’s position.

The Issues Paper provides the background for New Zealand’s position. It outlines New Zealand’s priorities in drug policy and feeds into New Zealand’s negotiations for the UNGASS Outcomes Statement, which is a summary of the goals and aspirations for global drug policy which will emerge from the session.  The Issues Paper is published here in full in the interests of stimulating discussion and keeping the public informed. Together with Minister Dunne’s statement, it fulfils the action in the National Drug Policy 2015 to 2020 committing the Government to develop a New Zealand position for UNGASS 2016.

Relevant committees

Two committees meet to monitor, review and advice on drug policy and related issues: the Inter-Agency Committee on Drugs (IACD), and the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD).

Medicine safety

Medsafe are responsible for the regulation of medicines and medical devices in New Zealand, and ensure that medicines and medical devices are acceptably safe.

Data sheets on the Medsafe website 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.