WeHo Mayor and Council Members to Address Grindr Meth Issue

Screenshots of Grindr users in and around West Hollywood
Screenshots of Grindr dealers in and around West Hollywood

West Hollywood’s mayor, city manager and three city council members are going to reach out to the founder and CEO of Grindr and ask him to act on reports that the gay hookup app headquartered in West Hollywood facilitates illegal sales of methamphetamine.

In a story published two weeks ago, WEHOville cited reports in other media and its own investigation of meth dealers in West Hollywood to call out Grindr’s app as a tool used to sell the highly addictive drug, which is popular among some gay men. As WEHOville noted, competing apps such as Scruff have taken steps to make illegal drug sales very difficult. Grindr has not responded to multiple requests from WEHOville about the issue.

WEHOville’s story drew reaction from readers, especially those in the recovery community, but no public response from local elected officials.

However when questioned by WEHOville last week, Mayor Lauren Meister said that she and City Manager Paul Arevalo would meet with Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai to discuss the issue. In an email exchange, council members John D’Amico and John Duran said they also would reach out to Simkhai, who they described as a friend. Councilmember John Heilman said he would reach out to Grindr as well. Councilmember Lindsey Horvath said that Estevan Montemayor, the chair of the city’s Public Safety Commission and her appointee to that body, has asked for a report from Sheriff’s Station Capt. Holly Perez on what steps have been taken to deal with meth sales in West Hollywood. That request was initiated by Commission member Ben Coleman.

Joel Simkhai
Joel Simkhai

“I do agree that we can and should question Grindr about allowing users to use ‘trigger words’ to identify drug use – especially meth,” D’Amico said.

“The city could do more on the public education side with the kind of edgy and provocative messaging and images we’ve produced to illustrate other kinds safety concerns and public interest issues. Info that could speak directly to those not yet in the grips of meth addiction — what is in the drug and in store for them if they become addicted.”

Both Duran and D’Amico noted that the City of West Hollywood supports a variety of resources to help people after they have become addicted.

“The city invests millions of dollars in drug treatment, mental health, homeless services and public safety to address the various wreckage caused by this insidious problem,” D’Amico said in an email message. “And our partners at the county invest even more. Meth is a dangerous drug that kills.

“For gay men the nexus between HIV infection and crystal is clear – in fact I worked with Ferd Eggan (deceased) the former City of Los Angeles AIDS coordinator in 1996/97 as he organized a ground breaking, community study of crystal meth use and gay men.

“In addition, In 1997/8, I taught a class at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SciArc) with the former City of West Hollywood Urban Planner John Chase(2) (deceased) on designing harm reduction housing for people with AIDS – that with an investment from the HOPWA program and the city of Los Angeles became an actual housing project in the Valley (Safe House) and for nearly two decades after was a place where harm reduction was practiced as people learned to stabilize their HIV disease.”

  1. Meth use is more common than most people think. Even among people that wear ties and drive expensive cars. I wonder who gets arrested. I bet its only the homeless.

  2. I fully support drug legalization but I would never be so irresponsible to put any belief in the idea that recreational use of the garbage drug that is crystal meth is acceptable. Unwrap yourself from the American flag if you want to spout that b.s.

  3. I’m not sure where we draw the line when it comes to legalization of narcotics. There is no doubt in my mind that prescription meds are often as dangerous and addictive as illegal drugs, but meth seems to be its own beast. I don’t like the idea of censorship or blaming Grindr, but I also hate what meth does to our community. More than anything, though, we need to start embracing users rather than shaming them so they stop hiding in their shame until it’s too late. That includes certain AA meetings stopping the practice of excluding meth addicts and often leaving them with one option – CMA – which many addicts feel is a triggering environment.

  4. Randy, not to mention former users trying to get away from it. PNP and Party and Play should be wiped off of these sites. Very easy modification to make.

    Start charging them as accessories as the city seems to be hinting at and you’ll see real changes.

  5. David, no, no, no. This drug is highly addicting and destroys lives. I’ve never seen any good come from it. It needs to be kept illegal.

    Stop equating gay peoples rights to meth users.

  6. Sorry, David, I don’t agree, at all. Yes, meth is used to treat ADHD (Adderall). That doesn’t mean that we should be complacent about the ease in which one can access it as a recreational drug.

    I believe the war on drugs is overreaching, but we nevertheless need laws to control substances. Sorry, but people can’t be trusted to always make decisions on their own, and barriers need to be set. Just like we have laws for drinking and driving.

    I use Adderall for my ADHD and I can’t even get it without a hand-written, water-marked, no-refill prescription directly from my doctor. It is the same reason that drugs used to make meth are locked up in pharmacies.

    It shouldn’t be this easy to get meth. People blatantly advertise selling it on Grindr, and the authorities should crack down on it. Grindr should take some responsibility, as Scruff has, to make it more difficult.

    Please remember that a lot of people who try this highly-addictive substance for the first time are young, and sometimes naive. They don’t know what they are getting themselves into.

  7. Where are all the comments? Here’s one. Methamphetamine is used on children in its purest form to treat ADHD. Yes we are all aware of the party and play issue in the gay well let’s just get this right, in the entire community. Meth use, and I’m just guessing here is 60%. Not in the gay community but in the entire USA adult community. Well I bet you anything grindr and scruff users are deleting their accounts for fear of government overreach coming into their neighborhoods and bedrooms for drug use. We in this country have a drug war that needs to end period. Prop 64 which should have been passed as prop 19 years ago would have helped hasten the end to it. Everyone knows what a tweaker looks like. But you can party smart just like you can drink responsibly and if Scruff or Grindr succumb to government threats they are traitors to freedom. West Hollywood is a joke in the gay community with their standards of being flawless beautiful and rich. Weho is just Beverly Hills adjacent and lost all their Gay culture because of their outright persecution of anyone that doesn’t fit their mold of the perfect Ken doll. Instead of going after dealers decriminalize all drugs. Have them sold at state run dispensaries and tax the he out of it to aid in community rehabilitation projects. We have a constitutional right to privacy in California. Any waiver of that is a breach of our civil rights. Gays are people too. So are drug users.

  8. Thanks Hank for making this all happen through your excellent research and commitment to community. One would think that the city council and the sheriff would not need your prodding to make something happen with regards to the public safety and sale of meth amphetamines.

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