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The Aussie economy might be in turmoil, but one market defies the trend

Anastasia Santoreneos
Aussies are spending billions on drugs per year. Source: Getty
Aussies are spending billions on drugs per year. Source: Getty

Earlier this year, the Barefoot Investor’s Scott Pape warned the Australian economy was in dire straits.

Writing in the Herald Sun earlier this month, Pape said record-low rate cuts are actually a sign that we’re in deep trouble and the Aussie economy was in a state of “monetary madness”.

Some experts, like financial adviser, Eddie Hobbs, were even comparing the state of the Aussie economy to the Irish 2007 economy crash.

But, while the economy is in turmoil, there’s one market that’s still booming: illegal drugs.

How much money are Aussies spending on drugs?

According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s February analysis of wastewater, Aussies spent a whopping $9.3 billion last year on cocaine, meth, MDMA and heroin.

That’s more than they’re spending on drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, despite alcohol and nicotine continuing to be the most consumed drugs in the country.

The Commission estimated more than 9.6 tonnes of meth was consumed in Australia in the year to August 2018, with four tonnes of cocaine, 1.1 tonnes of MDMA and over 700 kilograms of heroin,

Cocaine consumption in Sydney was particularly high, with an estimated 2,397.8 kilograms used in that year.

To put that into perspective, Victoria ranked second-highest with just 819.9kg.

Meth use was highest in South Australia and Western Australia, but trends were rising nation-wide.

According to the report, of the 25 countries with comparable data, Australia ranked second highest for total estimated stimulant consumption.

Are we rivalling the US?

We’re not quite there yet.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs costs Americans over US$740 billion (AU$1 trillion) annually - but that includes lost work productivity and health care costs.

As of 2014, Obama White House reported that drug users in the US spent approximately US$100 billion annually over the past decade on illicit drugs.

The report found that, from 2000 to 2010, the amount Americans spent on cocaine dropped by half, from US$55 billion to US$28 billion, which reflected a dramatic decrease in the availability of cocaine after 2006.

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