More deaths: fears changes on ice could lead to carnage
THE decriminalisation of Ice would just lead to more death and destruction a local expert has warned.
It's one of over 100 recommendations to come out of the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into Ice.
Jean-Pierre Reifler, along with his wife Annette, established the Sherwood Cliffs Rehabilitation Centre at Glenreagh in the 70s and say Ice use has skyrocketed over the past four years.
Statistics show that Coffs Harbour has recorded a spike in ice possession of almost 1000 per cent - from about 15 incidents in 2009 to 163 in 2018.
"Decriminalising ice would just be the thin edge of the wedge. At least there is a barrier there stopping people who think they might go to jail or get a fine," Mr Reifler said.
"The government needs to decide either way. It's the same with injection rooms, is it illegal or not ?
"People can use an injecting room and dealers line up on the footpath and it's like a honeypot. People need to get the message drugs are illegal and they are harmful."
Other community groups including the Coffs Harbour Greens are more open to the idea and say a decriminalisation model would not let dealers off the hook.
"Late last year we hosted a public drug forum and while the decriminalisation of ice and other drugs was widely discussed, it's not an excuse to promote illicit drugs in our community," convener Jonathan Cassell said.
"Instead this model is expected to simultaneously free up our courts of misdemeanours and force drug users into health programs."
But Mr Reifler says most rehabilitation centres are rife with drugs.
"I picked up one guy this afternoon from the bus and he's moved around to rehabilitation centres all over the State and says there's more drugs inside than out.
"He said it was great when he didn't want to get off it, but now he's 44 he really wants to quit."
With statistics showing police are losing the drug supply battle in Coffs Harbour, The Greens are calling on the NSW Government to embrace an evidence and health based model with equitable resourcing as a policy priority by the State government.
The findings from the ice inquiry, which visited numerous regional NSW centres, will be handed down this week.
The Commissioner, Professor Dan Howard SC, has thanked the many individuals who gave evidence, and the government agencies, non-government organisations, professional bodies and others who provided statements, submissions and information to the inquiry.
Mr Reifler says he hasn't been following the developments of the inquiry, which was announced by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in November 2018.
"It's just another talk fest."
He wants to remain independent from government services and continue to provide rehabilitation services at Sherwood Hills using donations from local churches and individuals.
"We exist on donations. Once we start taking government money they start telling us what to do. The government never gives any money without strings attached. "