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Cocaine prices around the world (economist.com)
70 points by csbartus on June 26, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 21 comments

What, no data for Colombia?! This map shows the street price of a gram of "cocaine", as advertised, but it doesn't tell us anything about the purity of that gram. A recent police report in the UK suggested street purity had dropped from 30% to around 9%, compared to the 70% of stuff hot out of the factory. A recent government sponsored report on drugs misuse in Britain found the supply chain to be completely flexible: big busts higher up the chain would simply result in more cutting agents added lower down, with customers seemingly willing to pay standard street price for whatever purity they could get. Demand is rising, if anything. It's interesting that police have now turned their attention to the supply chain of the cutting agents. We're fighting a war on laxatives.

More detailed figures and trends here, with both wholesale and retail prices: http://www.unodc.org/pdf/WDR_2006/wdr2006_chap5_cocaine.pdf

With those price differences, it's no wonder the illegal drugs trade is so tough to shut down.. you can lose 9/10 shipments and still be profitable.

Somewhat related - measuring consumption by looking for metabolic byproducts in waste water:


Given some more data points, and the above map - one could get some idea of the amount of money involved.

Interesting article.

From having a friend who has an addiction to cocaine here in Perth, I can confirm the $285 figure is pretty close to correct, although it is in Australian dollars, not USD, so with that in mind I decided to run some of the figures in the article through a currency converter (against the US dollar) to get a more normalised view.

  USD - $97/g USD
  CAD - $83.47/g USD
  AUD - $227.18/g USD
  NZD - $198.87/g USD
So umm, yay us for having the most expensive cocaine in the world?


The chart says "$ per gram" so I had assumed the prices were already represented in US dollars.

Anyone else got info on local prices? Esp Canada, NZ.

Here in Canada (west coast) it's usually around $80/g (cdn). This number obviously fluctuates based on quality, dealer, etc.

I see an opportunity for arbitrage.

The prices directly reflect the difficulty of arbitrage by country.

Exactly. The difficulties create the price differences. And the price differences fuel the trade.

The chart doesn't specify what their data sources are. There are a number of conflicting agendas that go into the reporting of illegal markets. The police want to make the criminals appear wealthier, to justify more police enforcement, so they tend to inflate statistics. Caught criminals want to be able to hide some of their cash so they tend to deflate their prices.

Some of these differences likely reflect the reporting methods, and not the underlying markets.

Prices seem to be in $ instead of purchasing power. So not really meaningful, except insofar as it indicates where someone buying with $ would find the cheapest.

"Prices seem to be in $ instead of purchasing power. So not really meaningful, except insofar as it indicates where someone buying with $ would find the cheapest."

I decided to use the Big Mac Index to satisfy your hunger for knowledge (pardon the pun) to figure out purchasing power.

Appropriate Links at the end of the comment. As with my above comment regarding street prices here in AU - it is assumed that the prices are in the local currency, so these figures represent local currencies.

  US - 27.17 big macs
  Canada - 23.71 big macs
  New Zealand - 63.67 big macs
  Australia - 82.61 big macs


With those figures, I think cocaine is a healthier option

Are you using the straight Big Mac Index, or the Working-time Big Mac Index?

I guess the straight one. Otherwise he would have given the figure in hours not Big Macs.

the reporter however never made it back from columbia, where she is now seeking permanent residence

You used to be able to buy real Mate de Coca on Amazon. I have no idea how they never got caught for that until recently. They are working on bringing back a version without the cocaine now, last I checked.

Coca leaves != Cocaine

You don't get 'high' from drinking Maté de coca, it actually has less of an effect than coffee.

There are a lot of chemicals and processing that go into making cocaine - it's not just coca leaves.


I wasn't claiming it gets high. I just think it's funny that Amazon got away with selling it.

from $2 to $80 or $90 is a big business when it's with tonnes, this explain why it's a dangerous work!

Cocaine is God's way of telling you that you have too much money, except in Peru.

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