- halve the threshold required to charge dealers with possessing large commercial quantities of ice, from one kilogram to 500 grams, so more offenders face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment
- a mandatory state-wide online recording system of all sales in NSW pharmacies to reduce access to pseudoephedrine – a vital precursor chemical ingredient in ice
- triple the number of roadside drug tests, to over 97,000, by next year.
- grant greater powers to confiscate the assets of drug dealers and traffickers
- invest $7 million in establishing three new Stimulant Treatment Program clinics within the Illawarra, Mid North Coast and western Sydney regions, with an additional $4 million earmarked for non-government programs. Along with two existing facilities at Newcastle and Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, the clinics will collectively cater for up to a thousand drug users at a time.
- it is likely to end up with a lot more mules in jail without greatly affecting supply
- the State already has substantial powers to confiscate assets of drug dealers. It is not clear that an extension would have significant impact
- increased roadside drug tests may have a public safety aspect, people may be more careful about driving having taken drugs, but so far as the Ice problem is concerned the impact on use is likely to be zero
- it may actually make family or community members more reluctant to come forward to seek help or provide information to police.
- I think that we need to make a clear distinction in our minds between users and the distribution system.
- So far as individuals, their families and communities are concerned, we need to find a way of providing help that can be delivered in the first instance without involving the police. I am well aware that there are specific programs already in place, but the Ice explosion has been such that many of those affected have no idea where to seek help.The Government's expansion of treatment options is limited and does not address to information gap, nor is it especially helpful if you live outside the immediate coverage areas.
- I think that we need targeted information and health awareness advertising and programs. At the moment, you get generalised approaches such as the War on Drugs.This doesn't really cut through, especially given the multiplicity of health messages, If Ice is the scourge I see it to be, then it needs a very specific campaign along AIDS lines. This would also address distribution issues by attacking demand.
- Penalties along the distribution change should be more graduated and even reduced. Seriously, families, friends and communities will not cooperate if the effect is to send their loved ones to jail. To illustrate, would you give information to the police on any drug issue connected with Indonesia if the effect was death by firing squad?
- We should attack the distribution chain. This is an area where I as a civil libertarian have absolutely no problem with being required to sign for a product containing pseudoephedrine. It does not affect my real liberties, but may make it more difficult for the bad guys. That I can support. I suspect that there are other measures that I would support too.
- I support additional police resources, but only if those resources focus on intelligence, targeted action and, most of all, support for individuals and families who want to redress problems at individual and local levels. I also support more discretion for police.
- I have focused on one drug
- I am trying to help communities, families and friends deal with an immediate problem that affects those that they care about
- I suggest measures to attack demand
- I then focus on the supply chain, looking for a nuanced approach that will encourage people to inform, place action responsibility at individual, family and community level, give the police new resources and social responsibilities but limit this to their core role.
I am going to treat this post also as the Monday Forum post because I am interested in increasing my understanding of the problem.
This is a Radio National story from 10 March focused on Ice related problems in Mildura in Victoria.
I suppose that it was about eighteen months ago that I first started hearing stories of Ice problems in particular communities. Prior to that, it seemed to be just another recreational drug, cool to use kvd's phrase among particular groups and at dance or music events. From this base, it spread through fairly aggressive pushing into new markets especially in regional areas.
I do not know whether or not the stuff I was reading that I referred to earlier is accurate. It wasn't a police report or anything like that, simply the minutes of a meeting of particular community groups. The Ice problem came up as one issue, raised in the context of one community in particular, one with considerable mining/trades presence. I mention this only because the RN program mentions tradies as a particular Ice using group. I have no idea whether or not this is true.
The salient features of the minutes were:
- Ice use had exploded quite suddenly among a particular group at this particular place
- The Ice was Chinese origin and was being pushed by Chinese linked gangs using children and teenagers to deliver
- The trade was quite violent, leaving people afraid to talk. There had been a spike in deaths and in criminal activities such as burglaries in order to find cash to buy the drug.
- Community groups were struggling to work out just how to respond.
In a comment, Sue pointed me to an new book, "Chasing the Scream" by Johann Hari. While apparently flawed, the book looks interesting.
Postscript 3 - 25 March 2015
The Australian Crime Commission has now released a report The Australian Methylamphetamine Market, The National Picture that deals with the Ice epidemic. At this point, I haven't been able to find a link to the report its self.
Postscript 3 26 March 2013
A commenter kindly provided this link to the report. Just click on download this file. As an aside, Australian Policy Online is a good resource. Maybe I'm wrong, but I expected more substance in the report after all the reporting.