Cannabis use has spiked in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a University of South Australia study published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters outlined by News Medical Life Sciences which also found methamphetamine use decreased more than 50%. In South Australia, alcohol use rates also fell 12% last year, the researchers found.
The researchers tested the levels of various drugs in the wastewater and compared those to previous samples. The study attributes the drop in methamphetamine use to the border closure, which prevented imports, but cannabis is produced locally. During the pandemic lockdown, cocaine use in Australia was also cut in half but returned to previous levels once restrictions were lifted.
Cobus Gerber, study lead author and an associate professor at the University of South Australia, said that “job cuts and loss of income could have contributed to the lower usage nationally, but it is more likely to be connected to disrupted supply lines.”
“This study provides an insight into the first four months of COVID restrictions in Australia and it remains to be seen what the longer-term effect of the pandemic will be.”—Gerber to News Medical Life Sciences
Dr. Richard Bade from the University of Queensland’s Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences, said another study found that in eight European cities use of cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA decreased just over one week last year. He noted, however, that an Austrian study, analyzing samples from one city, showed that methamphetamine use increased.
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