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Should we be concerned about all the drug dealers on Grindr?

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If a methamphetamine dealer set up a stall on the corner of your street, complete with a sign advertising their business and testimonials from satisfied clients, would it get your attention?

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Last year, Jay Morris, a gay man in NSW, suggested that the Australian government should shut down social networking sites like Grindr unless they proactively took steps to ban users who were openly selling drugs on the site.

The suggestion made international headlines as LGBT news sites around the world repeated the suggestion made by the 24 year old former TV presenter.

Morris had waged his own two yearlong battle with an addiction to ice. During that time he’d turned to being a sex worker to support his addiction and inadvertently been filmed taking the drug and having sex, the footage later appearing on a website.

Morris’ position is that social media sites contribute to the problem by not actively taking down profiles that are breaking the law. For people trying to break free from addiction the easy availability of the drug is a serious problem.

Does the same challenge exist in Perth? OUTinPerth randomly searched Grindr to see how prevalent profiles overtly selling drugs were. It didn’t take us long to find a stack of Grindr uses offering marijuana, methamphetamines and a variety of pills.

Profiles with images of smoke, clouds and pills were easy to spot. One user creatively used the character of Monkey Magic, who travelled on a cloud, to advertise their wares. In their bio lines one user promoted that a delivery service was available if you placed an order, while another boasted they their product was superior to other suppliers.

Speaking to OUTinPerth Morris said as a recovering addict his experience of apps like Grindr is that you are bombarded with offers of drugs.

“People don’t realise that it is life and death for people who go through rehab.” Morris said.

Morris described the process of going through rehab as the hardest thing someone can try to undertake.

“It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life, but it’s also the most rewarding thing you’ll do in your life. It’s challenging, its eye opening and it’s an emotional experience.

“I say it’s a bit like being a baby, you have to learn to do everything again, and you have to learn how to walk, and talk and eat – without being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. It is really like being reborn.” Morris said.

Morris said the road to recovery is a tough one, and while he acknowledges everyone is responsible for their own choices, it is difficult to say no to drugs when you’re an addict.

Since he first raised his concerns last year he said the response from the LGBTIQ+ community had been disappointing.

“The vast majority [of responses] have been negative.” Morris said, “A lot of people have said ‘it’s your choice what you do’ – and yes, I did choose to take the drug in the first place, but I didn’t choose to become an addict. People also say it’s not Grindr’s fault that you use drugs, and I know that, but it does fuel the addiction by making it easier to get drugs.”

The most recent official figures on the use of methamphetamines come from the 2013 National Drug Strategy Household survey which reported that use of the drug was not increasing but user were taking it more often. There was also an increase of the drug being consumed in the more powerful crystal state than powdered form.

OUTinPerth asked WA’s Police Minister Liza Harvey if the amount of illegal drugs being sold online was a concern and what plans she had to tackle the problem.

“All law enforcement agencies are aware of the issue of drugs being brought and sold online.” Minister Harvey said.

“Much of the work undertaken by WA Police in this area cannot be discussed due to operational reasons, however if a complaint is received by police, further inquiries will be carried out into the matter.’

WA Police and Grindr were contacted regarding this article.

Graeme Watson

How do you think the LGBTIQ+ community could do to help tackle the problem of drug abuse?

Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter or send us your thoughts editor@outinperth.com

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