Queenslanders nearly tripled their cocaine and ecstasy consumption over the past four years but the COVID pandemic temporarily put a brake on surging ice use, according to a new study.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's latest wastewater drug monitoring report for August 2020 found the pandemic had "altered the drug landscape in Australia".

Methamphetamine (ice) consumption dropped to the lowest levels recorded in four years of testing as the pandemic disrupted supply chains.

But ice was still the nation's most consumed illicit drug by "a large margin", according to the report.

"Interestingly, however, the COVID restrictions appear not to have had a tangible adverse national impact on the major drug markets other than methamphetamine and fentanyl between April and August 2020," the report says.


Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive officer Michael Phelan.
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive officer Michael Phelan.


Marijuana consumption is not included in the report.

ACIC chief executive Michael Phelan said Australians spent $8.9bn on methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy and heroin in the past year with nearly 80 per cent of that on ice.

"In the year to August 2020 the annual estimated consumption of cocaine, MDMA and heroin was at the highest level recorded by the program and the consumption of methamphetamine at the second highest recorded level," he said.

"Illicit drugs are debilitating, they are destroying lives and the fabric of many communities in Australia," he said.

The report also found alcohol use rebounded in Queensland to normal levels in August following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, which had led to a heavy decline in April.

The results marked the fourth full year of the wastewater testing results, highlighting the skyrocketing use of cocaine, ecstasy and ice in Queensland across that period.

Estimated cocaine consumption in Queensland surged from 319kg in the first year of testing to 919kg in the fourth year.

In the same period, ecstasy use surged from 217kg to 628kg while ice consumption jumped from 1278kg to 2247kg.



Originally published as Qld's $8.9b drug habit skyrockets