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A gram of cocaine can cost $600 in Australia

Aleks Vickovich
  • The market for cocaine in Australia is expanding with greater supply and demand, according to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

  • The newly-released figures found lifetime and recent use of cocaine increased between 2013 and 2016, with 9.0% of Australians now having tried the illicit drug.

  • The number of national cocaine arrests also increased in 2017-18 to a record high of 4,325.

Wage growth might be stagnant, but you wouldn't know it judging by the latest figures on Australia's cocaine consumption.

Demand and supply for the illicit drug – which can retail for as much as $600 per gram or $300,000 per kilogram in Australia — is on the rise, according to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

The latest Illicit Drug Data Report, which compiles data from law enforcement agencies from 2017 - 2018, found that usage by Australians increased between 2013 and 2016 for both once-in-a-lifetime use and recent use.

"The proportion of the Australian population aged 14 years or older who reported having used cocaine at least once in their lifetime increased, from 8.1 per cent in 2013 to
9.0 per cent in 2016," the report found. "The proportion of the Australian population aged 14 years or older who reported having recently used cocaine [in the past six months] increased, from 2.1 per cent in 2013 to 2.5 per cent in 2016."

That figure is likely to be even higher when you consider the data is reliant on self-reporting, which is notoriously under-stated due to the illegal nature of the behaviour being reported.

When it comes to younger Australians, the demand is steady, with the number of 12-17 year-olds reporting to having used cocaine at least once in their lives remaining at 2.0% and the number reporting they had used in the past six months stable at 1.0%.

Despite the growing demand, prices in the cocaine market are also steady — but still staggering.

"Nationally, the price for one gram of cocaine remained unchanged between 2016–17 and 2017–18, ranging between $200 and $600," the report found.

"Nationally, the price of 1 kilogram of cocaine ranged between $100,000 and $300,000 in 2017–18, compared to a price range of between $180,000 and $300,000 in 2016–17."

On the supply side, availability of the drug also seems to be on the rise.

A 2018 study of regular ecstasy users, referenced in the report, found that 64% described cocaine as "easy or very easy to obtain" — up from 55% in 2017.

Colombia was found to be primary source country of most of Australia's cocaine supply, with almost 61% of seized cocaine analysed by the Australian Federal Police believed to hail from the South American country, followed by neighbouring Peru, with just over 14%.

That ease of access comes despite what the law enforcement authorities say was a record period for cocaine-related seizures and arrests.

"The number of national cocaine seizures increased 11.6 per cent this reporting period, from 4,567 in 2016–17 to a record 5,096 in 2017–18," the report found.

"The number of national cocaine arrests increased 28.5 per cent this reporting period, from 3,366 in 2016–17 to a record 4,325 in 2017–18."

With the economics of the growing market looking more attractive by the year — and those pay rises non-existent — these final figures look set to grow as well.