Cannabis offences have halved in the past decade and the Drug Foundation says the figure reflects the fact police have adopted a more sensible approach to the drug.

The number of people charged with cannabis offences dropped from 14,465 in 2008 to 6812 last year.

NZ Drug Foundation Ross Bell said the reduction was “largely down to police choices”.

“Police have discretion. They can focus on certain types of crime and I think in many police districts they are choosing to not focus on low-level cannabis offending and putting effort into things like methamphetamine, which is becoming more common,” he said.

“There hasn’t been a directive from police headquarters saying ‘we want to see fewer cannabis arrests’, I think it’s just like everyone else with limited resources, they have to make choices. I think part of that choice is informed by the fact that methamphetamine causes much greater harm than a drug like cannabis, so it makes logical sense that law enforcement concentrates on it,” Bell said.

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