Whilst methamphetamine use as a generic category may have stabilised over the last decade, there has been a significant rise in the use of crystal methamphetamine the more potent and dangerous form of the drug, particularly by young people between 20 and 29 according to this report.
The Law Reform, Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee was given Terms of Reference to investigate and report to Parliament on the supply and use of methamphetamine, particularly ice, in Victoria. Methamphetamine is part of the family of drugs broadly referred to as amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS). Methamphetamine, unlike cocaine, cannabis or other plant based drugs is a purely synthetic substance. Crystal methamphetamine colloquially known as ‘ice’ is the most potent of the amphetamine class of drugs and therefore has a stronger effect on the central nervous system. It is generally stronger, more addictive and has more harmful side effects than the powder form of the drug known as ‘speed’. The ‘high’ experienced from ice is much more intense, and with intense reactions come powerful responses including comedown, the potential for dependence (addiction) and chronic physical and mental health problems. Despite the colloquial use of ‘ice’ to denote the drug crystal methamphetamine, the Committee has decided to use the term crystal methamphetamine unless the context otherwise demands it. This is to avoid ‘glamourising’ or sensationalising the drug and its impact on society.
This Inquiry has proved to be complex. The Terms of Reference were extremely broad and required the Committee to undertake a wide-ranging investigation into the supply and use of this drug. The Committee’s deliberations involved extensive consultation with the community, and experts in law enforcement, drug treatment and statistics. In all the Committee received 78 submissions and took evidence from 220 witnesses. In addition to hearings in Melbourne, the Committee also travelled widely throughout the state ascertaining the views of rural and regional Victorians. The Committee’s research, deliberations and investigations have been based on the evidence from the academic literature, submissions and information provided in public hearings.
The Committee acknowledges that during the course of the Inquiry there were differing, and sometimes conflicting, viewpoints presented by various stakeholders. Notwithstanding this, the Committee has sought to be objective in presenting and balancing the opposing arguments and contradictory evidence.
This Executive Summary commences with an account of the key findings arising from the Inquiry. It is followed by a list of the principles informing the Committee’s recommendations. The Summary concludes with a commentary on the content of the Report that underpins and justifies the recommendations.