Pubdate: Tue, 18 Jun 2002
Source: Reuters (Wire)
Copyright: 2002 Reuters Limited


PERTH, Australia - Better, more efficient growing techniques are slashing 
marijuana prices in Australia and pushing up consumption. Prices of the 
weed have fallen in real terms by almost 40 per cent over the past 10 
years, according to a survey by the Economic Research Centre at the 
University of Western Australia.

Marijuana remains illegal here, but smoking or possessing small amounts has 
been decriminalized in most Australian states.

"Even though marijuana is an illegal substance in Australia it seems that 
the application of modern production techniques, particularly hydroponic 
techniques, has led to a substantial increase in supply," said Professor 
Ken Clements who led the research.

"This, in turn, has led to the sharp fall in price we have recorded," he 
told Reuters on Tuesday.

According to the research, an ounce of marijuana leaf in Sydney in 1990 
would have cost A$438 (US$244). In 1999, the date of the research, the 
price had fallen to A$275.

Perth had the cheapest marijuana in 1999 with an ounce costing A$250, but 
was one of the few places to record an increase. An ounce costs A$210 in 1990.

The falling price of marijuana sparked a 15 per cent rise in consumption, 
the survey found.

"Australians are widely recognized as big beer drinkers but what we've 
found is that they are also among the biggest marijuana consumers in the 
world," Clements said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth