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28 October 2019

Wastewater results show high levels of cannabis and fentanyl consumption in South Australia

Today Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Phelan APM and Professor Christina Lee, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences at The University of Queensland signed a contract extending their involvement in the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program (NWDMP) for a further four years. This enables the University of Queensland, and through it the University of South Australia, to continue to undertake the data collection and analysis underpinning the program.

At the signing, the ACIC also released the eighth report of the NWDMP, revealing South Australia reported some of the highest cannabis and fentanyl levels across the country.

Across the nine sites monitored in the state in April 2019—four capital city and five regional sites—findings show South Australia had the highest average regional consumption and second highest capital city consumption of cannabis nationally. Together with Queensland, South Australia had the highest average regional consumption and second highest average capital city consumption of fentanyl in the country.

Mr Phelan said that much of the harm that Australians suffer at the hands of organised crime is due to the illicit drug trade. By measuring the level of consumption of illicit drugs and legal drugs with abuse potential, the NWDMP provides a key indicator of the level of harm posed by these substances.

“Extending this valuable program to provide a further four years of drug consumption data will enable law enforcement, policy, education, regulatory and health agencies to build a more comprehensive picture of drug use in Australia,” said Mr Phelan.

The NWDMP found that, compared to December 2018, of the substances tested in April 2019 in South Australia:

  • average nicotine consumption increased in both capital city sites and regional sites
  • average alcohol consumption decreased in both capital city and regional sites
  • average methylamphetamine consumption decreased in capital city sites and increased in regional sites
  • average cocaine consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites
  • average MDMA consumption remained relatively stable in capital city sites and increased in regional sites
  • average MDA excretion decreased in both capital city and regional sites
  • average oxycodone consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites
  • average fentanyl consumption decreased in both capital city and regional sites
  • average heroin consumption decreased in capital city sites and remained relatively stable in regional sites
  • average cannabis consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites.

The ACIC would like to acknowledge the valuable support and specialist expertise of the University of Queensland and the University of South Australia, which provide the NWDMP with leading-edge, coordinated national research on illicit and licit drugs and the wastewater treatment plant operators which provide invaluable contributions to the program.

The report is available from the ACIC website:

www.acic.gov.au

Note to editors

In accordance with current wastewater analysis conventions, the terms of the contract, and to protect the integrity of the program, the exact locations are not able to be publicly released by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. To maintain the confidentiality of the participating site, each site was allocated a unique code to de-identify their results, however trends in particular states and territories are still able to be identified.

Last updated
28 October 2019