The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has today released a paper revealing the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on recreational cannabis use among police detainees.

Based on data gathered as part of the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program, detainees who said they used cannabis within the past month reported doing so an average of 25 days per month, significantly more often than before the pandemic began.

An increase in cannabis use was reported by those who experienced changes in their employment, financial or living situation as a result of Covid-19. Individuals who reported changes to their mental health or used drugs to cope with negative emotions were also more likely to increase their cannabis use.

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Most users reported no changes to supply, although there were increases in price and decreases in supply in some specific locations around the country.

AIC deputy director Dr Rick Brown said the findings reveal why some individuals have increased their use since the pandemic began.

He added: “This study has provided valuable understanding from people who have used cannabis in the past month to help uncover patterns and predictors of cannabis use around Australia. These findings help us to develop a fuller picture of cannabis use and the impacts on its users.”

While the data suggests cannabis supply has been largely resistant to the impacts of Covid-19, patterns of use have been altered by the pandemic. The number of detainees reporting cannabis use in the past month did not change, but their frequency of use was significantly higher than before the outbreak.

Brown said: “These results are in line with the increases in cannabis consumption found in the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program results from June 2020 and show us how the Covid-19 pandemic is changing how people purchase and consume illicit drugs.

“The AIC will continue to pursue areas of research to explore how the pandemic and lockdowns have changed not only the illicit drug market, but also broader crime trends in Australia.”