The raging coronavirus pandemic has affected the global economy negatively, and exerted significant effects to the dark-web fueled drug markets. This reality has also extended to the cryptocurrency industry that determines the distribution and sale of banned substances.
In recent reports, it has been shown that the Hungarian drug market has also responded to the COVID-19 crisis. This observation was made by an online survey done by Drugreporter indicating that the Hungarian drug market remains relatively undisturbed.
The study was meant to target Drugreporter’s Hungarian readers, and it was shared on the platform’s Hungarian-language Facebook page and blog.
In the survey, the data was instrumental in providing representative insights into experiences of drug buyers who had purchased products amid the social distancing guidelines. This way, a clear picture would be drawn about the effect of COVID-19-related restrictions on the local drug market.
By the time the study was being concluded, the research team managed to collect 600 valid responses, which reflected on drug pricing, the amount and quality of drugs, including the availability of substances to be purchased.
In addition, the authors were interested to learn about any major changes in the market dynamics as far as the domestic illicit drug market is concerned. Among the hypothesized changes were the advancement or decline of the significance of dark web purchases, including behavioral factors that affected drug users amid the pandemic.
In terms of the sample population, most of the respondents fell in the youthful age bracket with 50 per cent of the survey participants being 25 to 29 year-olds, and 30percent accounting for those between the ages of 18 to 24 years. A majority of the respondents were male, and would be considered as middle class persons residing in the Budapest Metropolitan Area.
In summary, the following findings were made:
Drug Pricing and Availability
In the context of drug prices, the survey found no significant increase. In fact, only 33 percent of cannabis-buying respondents reported a price increase in their purchases for hashish buyers, only 29 percent of the respondents noted an increase in prices, while ecstasy and crystal MDMA price increases were reported in 18 percent and 30 percent respondents respectively.
For LSD buyers, 21 percent of the respondents reported having had to spend extra bucks for their purchases, while cocaine buyers accounted for 31 percent of the reported increases in drug prices. Importantly, the survey noted the influence of COVID-19 restrictions affected the synthetic cannabinoids market to a small extent.
On the subject of drug availability, the survey made interesting findings, 58 percent of cannabis and 56 percent of cannabis buyers admitted that the COVID-19 crisis has made it exceedingly difficult for them to access products.
Further, 24 percent of respondents in the survey were noted to have obtained drugs from sources that were different from their usual vending options pre-COVID-19. Importantly, the new sources did not account for dark web sources- about 1.6 percent of the survey participants admitted to have bought drugs from the dark web even before the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic.
Prevalence of Drug Scams
Finally, the survey touched on the occurrence of drug scams amid the pandemic. Specifically, it posed the question about whether responders had suffered inconsistency in terms of ordered and received products.
Well, 93 percent of the responses affirmed that they were satisfied with their drug purchases so far, an aspect that challenged the hypothesis that drug scams have become common place following the COVID-19-related value chain imbalances.
In addition, there were generally no significant disparities in terms of the quantities of drugs ordered vis-à-vis the delivered products except in the context of cocaine, where 35 percent of buyers complained.