Supervised Crystal Meth Smoking Rooms Could Be Coming To Australia

By McCarton Ackerman 06/30/16

The proposed harm reduction initiative comes in the midst of Australia's crystal meth epidemic.

Supervised Crystal Meth Smoking Rooms Could Be Coming To Australia

Despite government opposition, a pair of drug law reformers in Australia are moving forward with plans to build the country’s first supervised crystal meth smoking room.

ABC reported that the smoking room will be established in Sydney. Drug law reformers Matt Noffs and Dr. Alex Wodak are behind the groundbreaking initiative and still scouting out potential locations, which include the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre located in Sydney's Kings Cross area, or the city's Street Universities, youth-friendly venues that offer educational workshops and activities geared toward engaging disadvantaged youth. Although the room wouldn’t provide any substances to users, it would offer clean pipes and a clean smoking environment (complete with air purifiers) and access to addiction health services for those who request it.

Harry Hunt, president of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, has already spoken against the idea, declaring that a crystal meth smoking room would “project the image of Liverpool as the drug capital of southwest Sydney. We don’t want that image.” Assistant Minister for Health of the New South Wales Government (the state that Sydney resides in) Pru Goward also said the regional government has no plans to open up such a facility.

However, Noffs boldly declared that “if we don’t get permission and the community knows that we have the evidence to do this, we’re going to do it anyway.” Wodak also insisted there are no legal hurdles to opening the facility, also referred to as an "inhalation room," and the only things stopping them are “politics and crisis management.”

The proposed initiative comes as Australia is in the throes of a crystal meth epidemic. Last year the drug was said to pose the highest risk to Australia of all the illicit drugs. A March 2015 report from the Australian Crime Commission showed that 60% of the country’s most dangerous criminals are involved in the meth market, while the drug has also been linked to a rise in drug-impaired driving and crimes including burglaries, assault and murder.

Last August, Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie, whose son was battling crystal meth addiction, pushed a bill that would allow parents to put their children into involuntary rehab and detox programs. Lambie, who kicked her son out of her home for stealing and behaving erratically as a result of his drug use, acknowledged the country didn't have the facilities to enforce mandatory detox. However, she proposed converting empty detention centers across the country into rehab centers.

"I’m quite sure we can make them very cost effective,” she said at the time. “What we spend on it early on compared to what it’s going to save society in years to come will be absolutely worth it. It will be priceless.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.