The impact of social networks and not-for-profit illicit drug dealing on illicit drug markets in Australia: A discussion paper


This paper focuses on some of the characteristics of the lowest level of illicit drug retailing in Australia - the end user, retail, or 'street market' level. It discusses the changes that have occurred in the markets in recent years and highlights some potential gaps in the knowledge base of the law enforcement sector concerning the functioning of these markets. It also considers the motivations that lie behind many of these retail level transactions. It suggests that many of these transactions are not profit driven, but by primarily social factors, that is, to accumulate social capital rather than financial capital. In finds that the extent to which social networks form the basis of low level drug distribution appears to vary between drugs and possibly between locations. Possible factors which may underpin the emergence of social networks and not-for-profit drug supply in illicit drug markets include changes in the profile of illicit drug use; the demographic characteristics of Generation Y; the ways in which illicit drug users and suppliers perceive themselves and the implications of illicit drug supply; and the law enforcement sector's perceptions of the functioning of the illicit drug markets.