Street Drug Prices
On the wholesale market in Arizona, to take one example, one pound
of meth earns approximately $15,000 to $18,000, as reported by the
Arizona Star. A typical dose would earn $80 to $125 for
one-sixteenth of an ounce and over $200 for an eighth of an ounce.
In Florida in the mid 1980’s, drug smugglers could earn $750 million
dollars for 1.5 million pounds of cocaine. But street drug prices
in the U.S. have followed a similar downward trend to the rest of
the world since then, falling rapidly since the early 1980's due
largely to increased production and more agressive distribution
out of South America. Drug-related deaths are similarly at an all-time
Ten years ago, in 2001, the retail price for a kilogram of cocaine
was $110,000, or $110 per gram. This was slightly higher in Europe.
However, both areas of the world have seen price drop significantly
since then. Remarkable profits can still be made, however, considering
the amount of coca leaf needed to produce a kilogram of cocaine
costs only $400-600.
The American Journal of Public Health reported in 2001 that between
the years 1981 and 1996, hospital emergency department incidents
of both cocaine and heroin use correlated significantly with the
sharp decline seen on the street for both drugs. Specifically, the
street price of these drugs explained over 97% of the steep rise
in emergency department mentions.
Furthermore, since 1980, US federal spending on drug enforcement
has gone up 300%. Possibly as a result of this increase in aggressive
drug enforcement, drug distributors have increased the potency of
drugs to avoid detection and identification across border shipments.
This has made overdoses and drug-related deaths easier.
Gardai, the police force of Ireland, reported in January of 2010
that the street price for Cannabis by Gardai police was between
EUR2.00 and EUR10.00 per gram. Cannabis has normally stayed consistent
at EUR10.00 per gram on the street, but wholesale prices have dropped
the total significantly.
For heroin, sold mainly in EUR10.00 "bags," a quarter
of a gram reportedly sells for around EUR40.00. Cocaine was once
relatively exensive in Europe, but today its increased supply has
made it available at rock-bottom prices in Dublin, selling at less
than EUR15.00 per gram.
Street prices for high-grade Columbian cocaine sell at EUR80,000.00
per kilogram, or EUR80.00 per gram. It was once EUR130 per gram
for the same quality, due mainly to the increase in supply by the
Columbian “Medellin” drug cartel.
Ecstasy was valued at EUR5.00 per pill. However, more recently
they reduced that quoted value by 50%, leaving ecstasy at EUR2.50
per pill. Because the law requires that all offenders in possession
of over EUR12,500 worth of drugs get mandatory jail sentence of
10 years , the discrepancy between the different valuations means
offenders already charged under the old valuation results serve
a greater sentence in comparison to today’s offenders. For instance,
the new 10-year mandatory sentence will apply for any offender convicted
of possessing at least 833 pills of ecstasy.
Finally, amphetamine sulphate is sold for roughly EUR10.00 a gram,
available usually in paper satchets. The same mandatory minumum
Ireland has put into effect applies to amphetamines, as well.
A study by the University of Victoria in British Columbia, entitled,
The Price of Getting High, Stoned, and Drunk in BC, examined
1,600 recreational and hard-core users of drugs over the past three
years and found that alcohol was still by far the cheapest of all
drugs to consume. For example, it’s .58 cents for a strong beer,
.62 cents for a dose of spirits, and .71 cents for a cooler. The
daily maximum volume of alcohol recommended by the BC government’s
low-risk guidelines can be consumed for less than $3.00 dollars
The average national street price for cocaine in England is £42
per gram. However, in Middlesbrough, a large town in the North-East
of England with nearly twice the crime rate of the UK average, it
is as low as £25 per gram. The survey was administered to 40 frontline
drug service agencies by Druglink magazine and was published by
DrugScope in 2005.
Street prices for heroin in Middlesbrough were £10 per bag, or
£50 per gram, while in Newcastle it was twice as expensive at £100
per gram. The lowest street prices quoted for ecstasy in the country
were 50p. As an interesting side note, 89% of Europe's heroin is
supplied exclusively by Afghanistan.
Street drug prices are unstable and artificially low or high for
the purposes of conviction and sentencing, prompting some critics
to argue for sentences based on the weight, volume, or functional
human dosage of the quantity of drugs in an individual’s possession.
As reported in the Guardian in 2008, one ounce of skunk-type herbal
cannabis costs approximately £131, which is approximately £8.2 per
gram. This number has declined by £3 per gram since last year. Street
prices for illicit diazepam, trade-name Valium and known as “vallies”
or “blues” on the street, are approximately £1 per 10 milligrams,
the typical therapeutic dose. Consequently, the drug is being used
as a heroin substitute in many parts of England, often taken concurrently
with methadone and alcohol (a dangerous combination), or as a “come-down”
following the stimulant withdrawal of cocaine. Heroin in the UK
had risen from £13,000 per kilogram to £17,000 per kilogram over
the course of 2008.
As of 2005, Gloucester was the number one-selling city for cannabis
in the West of England, where the price of marijuana was approximately
£40 per ounce. Birmingham was the only city cheaper than Gloucester,
whereas in Bristol the price rose dramatically to £110 per ounce.
Ketamine, a popular tranquilizer used in veterinary medicine and
as a hallucinogen by recreational users, was selling close to the
national average at £20 per ounce in Gloucester, £15 per gram in
Nottingham, and £30 per gram nationally. Ketamine, also known as
Vitamin K, Special K, K, or Kit-Kat, is often included in ecstasy
tablets. Ketamine at 100 mg is the typical dose for providing energy
rushes and euphoria, while 200mg can cause hallucinations. Higher
or chronic doses can cause heart-failure, amnesia, and act as a
sedative strong enough to be used as a date-rape drug. In England
Ketamine grew in popularity among those in the gay clubbing scene.
Ecstasy was running at £2.50 to £3.00 per pill in Bristol while
in nearby Cardiff, the largest city of Wales, it is priced significantly
lower as 80p per pill. Cheaper still is Portsmouth, where an ecstasy
pill can be bought for as low as 50p. Here heroin sells at £50 a
gram, and crack cocaine sells at £10 a rock. In Torquay ecstasy
sells at £1.70 per pill and LSD at £1 per dose. In London, dealers
sell bags of heroin for £10 bags and a bag of crack for £25, £15
greater than the national average. In Sheffield heroin is £25 a
In Hong Kong, 3kg of dried cannabis would cost about $120,000 on
the street, despite the fact that law enforcement inflate the process
up as high as $400,000. Selling Cannabis resin in Nepal nets a maximum
of $1,200 per ounce, despite the fact that law enforcement value
the same amount at $2,835 per ounce.
Most people agree that cocaine prices today are cheaper than they
were during the 1980's. In Britain it is now the second most popular
drug, with 6.5% of the population reporting at least once in their
lifetime using the drug. In 2004, cocaine was selling on average
nationally at £64 per gram, but in some cases as low as £28 to £44
per gram. According to the Home Office, Britons spend more than
£1 billion per year on cannabis, consuming 412 tonnes in a year,
and purchasing the drug at an average price of £4 per gram. The
European Drugs Agency reported that the street prices of all drugs
have decreased in recent years: ecstasy was down 47%, heroin was
down 45%, cocaine was down 22% and cannabis was down 19%.
"Gardai reduce value of ecstasy drug," 3 January 2010,
"N-E is hub for cheap drugs sales," 7 September 2005 Newsquest
"Ketamine use in clubs worries drug workers," 6 September
2005, Birmingham Post.
"Britain's pounds 5.9bn a year drug habit: Government policy
failing to stop use as prices fall: EU survey finds seizures not
preventing boom," 24 November 2006, The Guardian.
"Dear OPEC leaders: PLEASE DON'T BOOST OIL PRODUCTION,"
26 March 2000, The Oregonian.
"Meth Inc.: Industrial-scale Mexican labs now pushing top-grade
poison our way," July 31, 2011, Arizona Daily Star
"Big Business," July 26, 2001, The Economist