Ice addicts should get free meth: lawyer

Parts of 4 kilograms confiscated crystal meth drug (File: Getty) Source: AFP

Mandatory sentencing is the last thing needed to tackle the ice epidemic, the president of WA's Criminal Lawyers' Association says.

Just as heroin addicts are given methadone, Perth's worst ice addicts should be given free methamphetamine to combat the crime epidemic, high-profile lawyer Tom Percy says.

Mr Percy, who is president of the Criminal Lawyers' Association in Western Australia, told ABC radio on Friday that mandatory sentencing was the last thing needed to tackle the drug's scourge on society.

"The crime epidemic and the ice epidemic are inextricably linked," Mr Percy said.

"Until some politician wakes up that we've got to treat it as a medical issue, then just batten down the hatches guys because it's going to get a lot worse."

Mr Percy said his whole practice was overrun by people who used ice or suffered from the effects of the drug.

He said heavy sentencing already in place wasn't working and giving ice addicts the drug for free in controlled circumstanced would stop them from mugging old ladies and robbing pharmacies to pay for their $1000 a day addiction.

"There's so many of these cases going through that none of them ever make the paper unless there's something very odd about them or something very serious," he said.

"There's not a murder that comes across your desk which really isn't tainted by the spectre of methamphetamine at some stage."

Mr Percy said the record seizure of 321kg of ice in Perth this week was just the tip of the iceberg and he believed deals like that were going down every day in WA.

"This is not some huge deal that's a one-off that's going to save us all from the scourge of methamphetamine," he said.

"Where this one came from, there's plenty more to come.

But fellow lawyer Simon Creek disagreed.

"We have a whole generation of heroin addicts who have been placed on methadone at the taxpayers' expense in an attempt to prevent crime," Mr Creek told AAP.

"All that's really done, in my personal opinion, is substitute one drug for another.

"To now suggest that a whole new generation of illegal drug users should also be put on a government-funded drug instead of helping them to become clean altogether is in my view a cop-out."

Mr Creek, who works closely with the Fresh Start addiction treatment centre in Subiaco, said many heroin addicts describe methadone as "liquid handcuffs".

"And I can't see how that would be any different for an ice user."

Mr Creek said research seemed to show "blockers" are a better solution to serious addiction.

These include naltrexone, an opioid antagonist that prevents heroin addicts from feeling the effects of the drug.

Source AAP

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