Cannabis consumption in Australia fell in the second half of 2021 as Covid lockdowns began to ease, but regional use outstripped that of the capital cities, according to the latest Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program.
While nationally, cannabis consumption trended downwards between August and December 2021, regional sites in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania all reported well above average consumption, with a marked upward surge in the Northern Territory.
Comparative international wastewater data showed Australia ranked 6th out of 16 countries in which cannabis consumption was monitored.
Covering 13 million Australians (around 56% of the population), the report compares consumption data from previous reports with results obtained from regional and capital city sites in December 2021 and February 2022 to present patterns of substance use across the country.
It also includes updated 2021 data from the Sewage Core Group Europe, which covers Europe, Asia and Oceania.
ACIC said the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns on consumption varied by substance. While cannabis use fell overall during the period, use of other substances such as alcohol, nicotine, methylamphetamine, cocaine and MDMA all increased.
It added: “Previous wastewater reports have demonstrated the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on drug consumption across different drug markets. This report adds further detail to the picture, during a time when restrictions were being relaxed or removed in most jurisdictions.
“The remnants of Covid-related restrictions have not impacted drug markets uniformly, with differences continuing to be observed across drug types and between and within jurisdictions.”
The report is available from the ACIC website.