By Alex Braae / The Spinoff

Between August and October last year, more than 300 New Zealanders faced court for possession of cannabis. 

Campaigners say this reflects a lack of change in how police handle low-level drug offending, despite an amendment in the Misuse of Drugs Act in 2019 that gave police more discretion over whether to prosecute. But police say the stats don’t show the full picture of their current approach to the issue. 

Statistics compiled by the Drug Foundation from police data show that in September, 127 people ended up in court for possessing or procuring cannabis for personal use. That was marginally higher than the number of people who faced court in the same month for possession of methamphetamine. 

The figures also showed that while more low-level drug offenders were being put through non-court actions since the law change, overall the number of drug offences police are processing is increasing.