Market assessment: HIGH with a stable market trend.
What is it?
Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that is extracted from the native South American coca plant. The most common form of cocaine is cocaine hydrochloride, a white crystalline powder that has a bitter taste, numbs the gums, and is water soluble. Other forms of cocaine that are smoked (such as crack and freebase) are rarely detected in Australia.
The cocaine market in Queensland
- The cocaine market in Queensland has grown slightly over the past three years but remains smaller than other traditional illicit drug markets.
- There has been an increasing trend in the number of detections of cocaine in Queensland and an increase in the number of users reporting that cocaine is ‘easy’ to access.
- The number of people using cocaine has increased in some areas of Queensland, particularly on the Gold Coast; however, it continues to be used mainly within higher socioeconomic groups and as a “special occasion” drug.
- In the past three years, the Gold Coast policing district accounted for the largest number of cocaine seizures in Queensland.
Organised crime presence
- This lucrative market is likely to continue to attract organised crime groups attempting to establish a greater foothold in Queensland, particularly in the south-east.
- The consistently high price of cocaine and reliance on international importations continues to inhibit further growth in the Queensland cocaine market.
What you should know
- The physical and social harms associated with cocaine use are lower in comparison to other traditional illicit drugs. However, the effects from ingesting cocaine do not last for long, which may result in people using more of the drug to sustain the effects and lead to dependency.
- Cocaine is cut with a diverse range of substances, some of which are potentially toxic. These include ketamine, clenbuterol, PMMA, 2CB, alpha-PVP and levamisole. For example, PMMA has been associated with deaths, and ingestion of levamisole, a cattle de-wormer, can reduce the body’s immune system, causing common infections to become potentially life threatening.
- Forensic testing has identified a trend towards adding levamisole to wholesale quantities of cocaine during production, because it makes the product appear purer and increases weight.
- To date, little research has been conducted on the long-term health effects of cocaine use, or the ingestion of harm adulterants such as levamisole.