The vast majority of cocaine users (80%) consumed cocaine less than 10 times in the last 12 months, at an average dose of 1/2gm. This raises questions about the medical risk and dangers assumed to go with the drug. Retail prices vary, with the highest prices per gram recorded in New Zealand and Australia, though there may be even more expensive niche markets elsewhere, for instance in some of the Islamic countries. Both New Zealand and Australia have sizeable markets for psychoactive substances and established drug cultures. There is an appetite for stimulants like domestically produced crystal methamphetamine, but importation of cocaine is hampered by geographical distance from production zone and trade routes. The market has been too small so far to attract the attention of transnational organised crime groups. Prices are high enough for the drug to keep its cachet as an elite drug.
In Europe and particularly the UK where use is much more widespread and cutting across social classes, the market is far more complex. It appears that there are now different price points, at both retail (gram), middle (ounces) and wholesale (kilo) markets where quality product can secure significantly higher prices. The interesting question arising here is how quality is established at each of these levels, and how reputation for trading in quality product is maintained. The converse of this question is where adulteration takes place. Logically this would be as close to the retail market as possible, but work done by PRELAC experts in Colombia suggests that the different cocaine purity levels arise much earlier on, in the refinement stages. Understanding the rationale behind such decisions, and the opportunities and constraints under which laboratories operate are indispensible for dismantling the illicit production facilities.
The Global Drug Survey is an annual online survey collecting information on drug prices and consumption patterns across the world. With all online data gathering tools there are shortcomings that make it difficult to jump to hard and fast conclusions, but the information is indicative of trends and helps draw attention to particular phenomena.