The impact of the drug ‘ice’ on local communities has been significant with the police, communities and the health services looking for ways to combat the impact of the drug. Recognising the seriousness of the effects of the drugs across the community a Special Commission of Inquiry into the drug ‘ice’ and other amphetamine stimulants such as MDMA is starting today. The inquiry will visit Lismore among other regional areas during the inquiry that will run until August this year.
‘This Special Commission of Inquiry will examine the effectiveness of current responses to ice and will consider options for improvement and reform,’ Commissioner professor Dan Howard SC said in his opening remarks this morning.
‘It will look at a wide range of issues and strategies to address the problem of ice and other illicit ATS (amphetamine stimulants), including law reform, harm-minimisation initiatives, drug service enhancement and vulnerable populations.’
While alcohol is still the drug that has the highest level of misuse, methamphetamine is now the second-most common drug to be misused on the North Coast, according to Leone Crayden the new CEO of The Buttery.
‘I think the inquiry needs to look at pill testing and the decriminalisation of drugs as part of its inquiry. The war on drugs hasn’t worked and we need to look at this as a health issue rather than with punitive responses,’ she said.
‘There has been an increase in drug use including MDMA across the region particularly in the younger generation and there is a lack of understanding of how dangerous it can be. They are buying an illegal drug and the buyer doesn’t know if the drug they bought is pure or has been cut with something dangerous like rat poison or other toxic chemicals.’
A spokesperson for the commission told Echonetdaily that ‘The Special Commission of Inquiry will consider a wide range of options to enhance NSW’s legal framework and response to ATS. The hearing was told today that the Inquiry will hear evidence from experts in the field of law reform and social policy about the arguments for and against various models of decriminalisation, including what has been done in this area in other jurisdictions.’
Your views sought
If you have a view on the impact of these drugs on yourself, your community or people you know then you are being asked to lodge a submission with the inquiry.
‘Importantly, the Commission will hear from people with lived experience of ice and ATS use as well as their families to understand the full impact these drugs can have on individuals and the wider community,’ said professor Howard.
‘It is also important that we hear from members of the public with their views on this important issue, and I encourage those interested to lodge a submission with the Inquiry.’
On 26 March 2019, the Commissioner released four Issues Papers on key concerns relating to the use, prevalence and impact of ice and other illicit ATS. The papers also examine the effectiveness of current policy and legal responses to harm caused by these drugs that will be investigated by the inquiry.
The Commissioner invites people and organisations to make submissions in response to questions raised in the issues papers, or to share information, experiences or views relevant to the inquiry generally.
Submissions are open until Tuesday May 7, 2019. For more information, to access the issues papers and to view the first directions hearing of the Commission today via webcast.