An analysis of Canberra's wastewater has revealed the city's drug users have a more expensive taste than most Australians.
Ice was the most consumed drug in all regions covered in the national project, but the ACT's levels were below average.
More cocaine was detected in the capital compared with other states and territories, except for New South Wales and the Northern Territory. Levels were significantly higher in these three states than the rest of the nation.
The trends were exposed in the first results of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's National Wastewater Analysis Drug Monitoring Program, as recommended by the national ice taskforce. The $3.6 million three-year program tests 13 drugs in 50 waste water sites, including one in the ACT.
The study detected methylamphetamine (ice), amphetamine, cocaine, MDMA (ecstacy), MDA, tobacco, alcohol, oxycodone, fentanyl, and four new psychoactive substances.
Unsurprisingly, alcohol and tobacco were the most consumed drugs in every region.
But two prescription drugs were found at even higher levels than cocaine in the ACT, with oxycodone and fentanyl trailing ice use.
On average, daily consumption levels for each 1000 Canberrans was 18 for ice, three for cocaine, seven for fentanil, six for oxycodone and one for MDMA.
Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT chief executive Carrie Fowlie said the report's exclusion of marijuana caused misleading results. A recent federal government survey found about 10 per cent of Canberrans use marijuana, while rates of ice use is 2 per cent.
She said the data could not clarify user numbers and consumption amounts for each person. But she said it showed territory's ice levels were deeply concerning, even though they were below the national average.
"There is a concentration of methamphetamine use among socio-economicly disadvantaged communities, therefore Canberra's higher socio-economic-status may be one protective factor," she said.
"However, this report shows that Canberra's level of use is higher than a number of other comparable Australian sites."
Despite these concerns, she said the report reiterated alcohol was the most problematic drug in the ACT.
During 2016, ACT Policing made 2,253 drug seizures, including 592 for cannabis, 475 for amphetamine and 122 for illicit pharmaceutical drugs. In the same year, it recorded 5980 alcohol-related incidents, of which 523 were assault reports.
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission CEO Chris Dawson said the results revealed high levels of prescription drugs in Canberra compared with other states, though it was unclear how much use was illicit.
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