Sweden: Drug market relatively unaffected by pandemic

Despite the restrictions resulting from the Covid 19 pandemic, the supply of drugs in Sweden appears to have remained relatively unchanged over the past two years. This is indicated by CAN’s annual survey of Swedish drug prices.

Since the 1980s, CAN (The Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs) has regularly collected information on street and wholesale prices for different types of drugs in Sweden. The information comes from all 27 police districts in Sweden, which report up-to-date data from their areas.

“Prices were relatively unchanged in the pandemic years 2020-21 compared to the years before. This indicates that, despite closed borders and reduced travel, there is no obvious shortage in the market,” says Ulf Guttormsson, head of the department at CAN and author of the report.

The exception is the prices of hashish, which have remained at much higher levels for the past two years. However, the rise in hashish prices was already taking place before the pandemic took off, as has been shown by, among others, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). They have also found that the European drug market has been surprisingly resilient during the pandemic, which is in line with the findings of the CAN study.

Several police reporters have mentioned that certain effects of the pandemic may persist: increased imports via parcel and freight traffic, increased cooperation between importers and increased drug sales via digital channels.

Street prices of drugs have been monitored by CAN since 1988, and from a long-term perspective, there have been major price changes. The most significant changes in street prices have occurred for heroin and amphetamines. Taking inflation into account, these substances now cost only a quarter of what they did in the starting year.

“Even cocaine and cannabis prices have fallen in this long-term perspective. They are now at levels that are about 40% lower than they were in 1988,” says Ulf Guttormsson.

¤ Street prices refer to prices for small quantities purchased at the consumer level. Wholesale prices refer to prices for the sale of larger quantities. 

Visit CAN to see the report