Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in Asia
Papua New Guinea


Extent of Drug Abuse

Cannabis is the most abused illicit drug in Papua New Guinea with an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 annual and 100,000 daily abusers (ARQ 1992). The type of cannabis abused in Papua New Guinea is reported to be of very high potency (25-30 per cent THC content) and known as "New Guinea Gold" (HONLEA 1993).

Cocaine (200-400 annual abusers, 20-50 daily abusers) and datura metel (angel trumpet) are also reported abused (ARQ 1992). Heroin is reported not abused in Papua New Guinea (CMO 1990).

Abuser Characteristics

Abusers of illicit drugs are reported to be mainly males (95 per cent of the cannabis abusers), and young (8-30 years old for cannabis, 18-26 for cocaine) (ARQ 1992). Particular groups at risk of drug abuse are reported to be farmers and students (CMO 1991).

Regional Variations

No regional variations in drug abuse are reported (Papua New Guinea 1993).


A large increase in the abuse of cannabis and a slight increase in that of cocaine were reported for 1992. The abuse of datura metel was reported as increasing for 1992. These trends have been attributed to the increase in unemployment, especially among young people, and the lowering in prices of traditional cash crops (coffee, copra, cocoa), resulting in more farmers turning to the cultivation of cannabis (ARQ 1992). In 1992, an increase in the number of persons referred to rehabilitation centres with serious mental disturbances and irreversible brain damage was reported (HONLEA 1993).

Mode of intake

Cannabis is reported smoked and taken in combination with alcohol (ARQ 1991), while cocaine is sniffed (ARQ 1992).



An estimated 80,000 people are reported engaged in cultivation and trafficking of cannabis (DETPR 1993). Organized crime behind the drug trade in Papua New Guinea and the exchange of drugs for fire arms is reported to be of growing concern (HONLEA 1993).

The abuse of drugs is reported to be closely linked with violent crimes (Papua New Guinea 1993).



Treaty adherence

Papua New Guinea is Party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.



National Strategy

The National Narcotics Control Board, established in 1992, is the overall coordinating body to address all aspects of the drug abuse problem (Papua New Guinea 1993). Its Secretariat, the National Narcotics Bureau (NNB) is responsible, inter alia, for conducting surveys to gather and evaluate information on the consumption, cultivation, trafficking, manufacture and convictions of persons for drug related offences. Plans to carry out studies to collect data were reported canceled in 1993 due to lack of funds (ESCAP 1993).



Primary Prevention

Drug preventive activities are reported almost non existent mainly because of lack of funds (ARQ 1992). In 1991, activities on drug prevention are reported to have been kept on a low key as a result of threat from drug barons (CMO 1990). The need for assistance in formulating awareness programmes for specific target groups (parents, teachers, students) has been expressed (ARQ 1992).

Drug education is not part of the curricula of primary schools, secondary schools and higher education. Some preventive activities are carried out in some secondary schools with the use of slides, brochures and lectures. These cover about 5 per cent of the students enrolled (ARQ 1992).

Drug education is not part of the training of any relevant professional groups (like doctors, social workers, law enforcement, teachers). Newspapers are reported to have published articles regarding drug abuse (ARQ 1992).

The Education Division of the NNB is reported to have started a nationwide anti-drug campaign. As of October 1993, posters, pamphlets and videos were distributed in the Central Province and the capital. This campaign is to be extended to the 6 major towns of the country (DETPR 1993).

Treatment and Rehabilitation

Treatment of drug addicts is reported carried out in the psychiatric clinic (DETPR 1993). Treatment programmes reported operating include drug free counselling, outreach programmes, self help groups and support to families of drug addicts. No treatment or rehabilitation programmes are reported available to prison inmates (ARQ 1992).



Arrests, Convictions and types of Offences

Between January and October 1992, a total of 454 persons were imprisoned for drug related offences (382 between January and June 1993) (NNB 1993).


Between 1990 and 1993, cannabis is the only drug reported seized in Papua New Guinea (HONLAP 1993).

Supply Sources of Drugs

Wild growth as well as cultivation of cannabis is reported throughout the country (Papua New Guinea 1993).


References and Notes

* The Legal, Administrative and Other Action Taken to Implement the International Drug Control Treaties section was prepared by the Secretariat of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs based on Annual Reports Questionnaires for the years .... (not yet received from CND)

ARQ 1991,1992. Replies to the UNDCP Annual Reports Questionnaires for the years 1991 and 1992.

CMO 1990,1991. Replies to the Questionnaires concerning the seven targets of the Comprehensive multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control for the years 1990 and 1991.

ESCAP 1993. ESCAP Workshop Paper from Papua New Guinea. National Narcotics Bureau of Papua New Guinea, Research Policy Planning Division. 18-21 October 1993.

Papua New Guinea 1993. Overview of the Present situation of the drug abuse problem in Papua New Guinea. Report of Papua New Guinea to the Senior Officials Meeting on Strengthening in the Regional Network of National Focal Points on Drug Abuse Demand Reduction. Bangkok, Thailand, 1-4 February 1993.

DETPR 1993. Division of Education, Training and Public Relation 1993. Country Report of Papua New Guinea to the ESCAP Meeting. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. 18-24 October 1993.

HONLEA 1993. Report of Papua New Guinea to the Eighteenth Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA), Asia and the Pacific. Seoul, 13-17 September 1993.

HONLAP 1993. Current Situation and Most Recent Trends in Illicit Drug Traffic in the Asian and Pacific Region. Eighteenth Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA), Asia and the Pacific. Seoul, 13-17 September 1993.

NNB 1993. Statistical Report on Alcohol and Drug (Marijuana) Abuse Convictions. Papua New Guinea Correctional Services, Buimo Metropolitan Gaol. Fax from Joshua Daniels, National Narcotics Bureau, 1993.