How have illegal drug markets adapted to the emergence of COVID-19 and social/mobility restrictions imposed across many nations?
The emergence of COVID-19 has prompted an unprecedented global health emergency. Government responses have included social and mobility restrictions (e.g. lockdowns), designed to halt the spread of this highly infectious disease. Markets for illegal drugs have typically been resilient and actors within these networks are known to adapt to new challenges. How have drug markets changed in light of COVID-19 and social/mobility restrictions imposed across many nations? To address this question, we will draw on a subsample of people reporting recent illegal drug use in the Global Drug Survey's COVID-19 special survey (N~50,000; data collected 4 May to 20 June 2020; countries with highest participation included Germany, France, Ireland, Brazil, Switzerland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom). Demand side changes by drug type (e.g. cannabis, MDMA, cocaine, LSD) will be analysed by country. Changes in the nature of drug purchase events will be explored, including changes in source and delivery methods. This population's experiences with policing will also be described.
Dr Monica Barratt is a social scientist working at the Social and Global Studies Centre and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT University as Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow. She also holds a visiting appointment at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), UNSW Sydney, having previously worked at NDARC for 5 years (2014-2019). Monica’s research focus is on how digital technologies and the cultures they sustain are transforming illicit drug use and drug markets.
Monica has published over 100 academic journal articles, commentaries and chapters. Her work has been funded by the NHMRC, NCCRED and the AIC, and internationally, by NIH and NZ's Marsden Foundation. She is the Research Lead for Global Drug Survey, Bluelight.org and The Loop Australia; and Associate Editor for International Journal of Drug Policy and Drug and Alcohol Review.