Last week’s record ecstasy haul created headlines around the world. That’s no surprise when you see the type of numbers we are talking about here -“ 15 million pills, 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy with an estimated street value of just under half a billion ($440 million). So in real terms what does this actually mean on the street? Are we all of a sudden expecting to see the price of ecstasy skyrocket or the market dry up?

First of all it is important to remember that these drugs were removed from the market last June and, even though they went missing, the syndicate involved just kept on going, apparently able to wipe off a half billion loss without much concern. Since that time we have seen no major changes in price or availability, which must be extremely concerning for law enforcement. To remove 4.4 tonnes of a drug from the street and see no impact whatsoever clearly shows just how large this market is.

In recent years we have seen law enforcement have quite a deal of success in seizing some significant hauls of ecstasy, each time announcing to the Australian public that they have made inroads into breaking major syndicates. However, there has been little evidence of this on the street.

Unlike drugs like heroin and cocaine, where even small seizures can have an impact on the market, the ecstasy market appears to be resistant to even the largest of seizures.

That said, we have never seen anything like these numbers and it could be that this was one of the major syndicates involved in the importation and distribution of the drug. However, most experts believe that in reality even this major operation will have very little effect on price and availability.

Law enforcement is an integral part of our drug policy but almost every police officer and customs agent will tell you that there is no point pouring money into that area without trying to reduce demand at the same time.

Ecstasy continues to be popular amongst a specific subculture in the Australian population. In fact, we buck world trends and our prevalence rates are increasing -“ ecstasy is actually becoming increasingly popular here. If the government is really serious about trying to make change here, they need to do something about decreasing demand.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blase.

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