Pubdate: Tue, 18 Jun 2002
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2002 The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Andrew Stevenson


Globalisation might have done you out of a job but the marijuana
market has been transformed, like the Australian economy, by the drive
to ever-greater efficiencies.

Prices have fallen markedly in the past decade, according to research
published by the Economic Research Centre at the University of Western

In real terms, marijuana is 40 per cent cheaper, with the price of an
ounce of heads falling more than $100 in the past decade. The saving
for smokers is estimated at $1billion a year.

"Our best guess is that it [the price drop] is the result of
productivity enhancements in growing marijuana through hydroponic
techniques," said Professor Ken Clements, who produced his analysis
from figures compiled by the Australian Bureau of Criminal

"When you see a drug bust it used to be out in the bush with trip
wires and shotguns but now it's houses that have their windows blanked
out and they're growing marijuana indoors with lights on 24 hours a

Sydney is the most expensive Australian city in which to buy
marijuana, at $500 an ounce, double the price in Perth.

Decriminalisation of small-scale possession and cultivation in some
states and the ACT - or police being less assiduous in busting users -
may have also affected the price, Professor Clements said.

Whether growers or dealers have worn the price squeeze is hazy, but
the impact is clear: marijuana users are smoking more and drinking

"We estimate consumption has risen by 15 per cent due to the price
fall," Professor Clements said.

"Interestingly, the extra money spent on marijuana has got to come
from somewhere and it comes from substitute products such as alcohol."
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