A new study on the Georgian illicit online drugs market, presented by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers – Georgia, a Tbilisi-based research and polling organization on September 29, says that illicit drugs yield over USD 8,000 in average daily revenues in Georgia, while illicit substances with a value of over USD 35,000 are hidden on an average day in locations around the country’s major cities of Tbilisi, Batumi, and Kutaisi for collection by clients.
Most illicit drug trade activity relates to cannabis, cocaine, and MDMA (“ecstasy”), “with cannabis sales alone comprising around 56 percent of recorded transactions,” the study found, with authors noting that “level of trade is substantial in international comparison, exceeding monthly cryptomarket revenue for Spain and Belgium combined.”
The report underscored that cocaine, the second largest substance in terms of transactions, accounts for nearly a quarter of revenue, adding that the finding “stands in contrast to recent studies which suggest cocaine use in Georgia to be limited.”
The study also found that MDMA tablets (“ecstasy”) on the web-site “Matanga” are offered at dangerously high dosages, while around 12% of the site’s Georgian revenue during the period of the study came from the sale of powdered methadone, a powerful synthetic opiate.
According to the report, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the illicit drugs market substantially, halving average daily revenue in late February 2020, falling from a pre-crisis baseline of around USD 15,000 a day in March to USD 7,500 in August.