AS a self-described “straight-y 180” who does not use drugs, Matt Noffs does not believe that precludes him for fighting for the rights of drug users in Australia.
“Drug users come in all shapes and sizes… I’m not an illicit drug user but people who use drugs absolutely deserve the same rights as me,” he told Star Observer.
The author believes there is in fact, not a crisis facing Australia at all but rather a lack of understanding about the drug and drug policies in general.
“I’m really frustrated by the narrative that we should be scared of ice and that’s it, I’m frustrated with not being able to get out of how far we’ve gone down the wrong path,” he said.
“I’m frustrated by seeing people suffer because of our inability to act in a compassionate and informed way.”
Noffs is speaking at a community forum hosted by Unharm in conjuction with the Noffs Foundation and The Institute of Many Sydney next week about his book and about the reality of the ice epidemic in Australia.
“There’s other books out there about ice, mainly driven by fear,” he said.
“The people who are adamant that we should be scared about drugs with nothing to back it up or know about it believe the apocalypse is coming. I wanted to say no to that, because we did really well with heroin in Australia, we were able to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C and we did a lot better in harm reduction than other countries.
“We’re pioneering when it comes to drugs and drug responses.
“The book is not just about ice, but all drugs, drug policies and responses.”
Despite being around for decades, Noffs said the recent hysteria about ice was constructed by the Federal Government and picked up by the media which created panic about the drug.
“If there’s something sensational it gains traction. It’s naturally a part of the political and media ecosystem to find an enemy and amplify the issues around that,” he said.
“The other reason (for the panic) is it can be in rare circumstances a difficult substance, but the line that ice destroys lives is an oversimplification of the issue and an over dramatisation.”
Noffs refers to evidence from the Australian Crime Commission which indicated a minority of users suffer from meth induced psychosis.
“We need to listen to organisations like the Australian Crime Commission, most people who use ice in Australia won’t have an issue with it and that’s not a ratbag leftie like me saying it,” he said.
“People are asking me things all the time about ice, this is why I do things like write a book or speak at forums.
“When you only get soundbites you’re not getting the stories behind it all.”