Australia launches ‘crystal meth’ clampdown

Australia has announced a new task force to combat rising use of crystal meth in the country

CANBERRA, (Australia) – The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Wednesday that his government was launching a new task force aimed at tackling “the growing scourge of ice,” a nickname for the drug crystal meth.

At a press conference in Canberra, Abbot said the highly addictive nature of crystal meth, a form of methamphetamine, made it particularly challenging to curb its use.

The taskforce will examine state and federal efforts to eradicate the illegal substance and identify ways to improve those strategies.

The move follows a March report by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) that found ice posed the highest risk to communities of any illegal substance.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that former Victoria state chief police commissioner Ken Lay would head the task force which will report to the government by mid-year on a new coordinated approach to the drug scourge that will involve law enforcement, health and education agencies.

The proportion of methamphetamine users in Australia who took ice, also known as crystal meth, had increased from 20 percent in 2010 to 50 percent now, Abbott said

“The trouble with ice is it’s far more potent, far more dangerous, far more addictive than any previous illicit drug,” Abbott told reporters.

“It’s worse than heroin, it’s worse than cocaine, it’s worse than LSD, it’s worse than ecstasy. It’s much more addictive, much more dangerous, much more damaging. The chances of being able to function while being a serious ice user are almost zero and that’s why it’s so important that we ramp up our response,” he added.

According to a 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 7% of the Australian population aged 14 years or older have reported using amphetamine or methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime.

In the same survey, 2.1% reported recent use. These figures remain unchanged from those reported in 2010.

Of Australia’s population of 24 million, 400,000 had used methamphetamine in the past year. Of these, 100,000 used the drug at least once a week.

The crime commission report found that the purity of the drug available in Australia had increased over the past few years, making it even more dangerous.

It said the price of crystal meth in Australia was among the highest in the world, driving the country’s organised crime gangs to trade increasingly in the drug. More than 60% of Australia’s major organised crime figures now deal in crystal meth.

It said that, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the average street price per gram of methamphetamine in China is $80 (A$105, £54), whereas in Australia it is $500. Wholesale prices in Australia have been recorded as ranging from A$90,000 ($68,875, £44,450) to A$325,000 per kg.

Recommended For You

About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

Tribune International