Among all the illicit drugs available to ACT consumers, methylamphetamine has proved the most persistent and pernicious in the community, and the most consumed across the country.
However, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's latest wastewater drug monitoring report, compiled in April this year well before the most recent lockdown period and also before the huge international Operation Ironside cartel-busting operation, provided some welcome news for health and law enforcement.
It showed that the use of most illicit drugs in the ACT had decreased, with only cannabis and methylamphetamine use rising.
Surprisingly, even the average nicotine and alcohol consumption in the territory decreased.
It also revealed that the ACT had the country's second-highest average capital city consumption of oxycodone and cannabis.
Former ACT Chief Police Officer and now the intelligence commission's chief executive officer Michael Phelan described methylamphetamine abuse as a "wicked problem" and the market for the drug as very resilient because consumption is widespread and strong in both the capital cities and regional locations.
Organised crime groups both import the finished product and precursor chemicals and domestically manufacture meth, with wastewater analysis one of the tools used by law enforcement to track the location "footprint" of certain drugs.
Canberra was one of 56 wastewater sites monitored in the report, these sewage sites covering about 56 per cent of the population.
Comparing Australia's usage data with 23 other sites across Europe, North America, South Africa and Oceania, Australia had the second highest meth consumption, and ranked 16th in cocaine consumption. Cocaine prices here are among the highest in the western world, with Sydney as the largest market in the country.
Since cannabis was added to the wastewater testing back in August 2018, longer term trends show that its use in the ACT and New South Wales has been steadily increasing.
Cannabis was decriminalised in the ACT from January 31 this year when new laws allowed possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis per person, and made it legal to grow and consume small quantities cannabis in your own home for personal use.
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