The Webvolution of Drugs

How the internet changed the drug industry for a lifetime.

Legal highs” — This interesting term sent me from link to link, reading, dumbstruck by the evolution of the drug industry and its workings within the deep web.

Legal highs are created off of chemically altered compounds which recreate the effect of currently illegal drugs, which of course unlike their illegal counterparts are legal in most countries. The internet + DIY-chemists =cannabinoid receptor agonist (synthetic marijuana substance) and other new-synthetic chemicals which are mass produced in labs and shipped off to the west to be sold to young crowds who puff, snort and swallow regardless of what they’re made of.

Hidden midst this chemical evolution of the industry is also the evolution of the drug deal. The *webvolution *of drugs. It’s almost as if the news of the online drug industry knuckled under the boom of online retail shops for clothes, books and what not. In 2012 alone researchers found 73 new drugs in the market which were also sold by over 700 websites in Europe alone!

The Silk Road sold $1.9 million *worth of illegal drugs and other black market items online *every month.

In fact the first online trade over 40 years ago was a bag of marijuana! As revealed in the book What the Dormouse Said *by John Markoff; a few students used their ‘Arpa-net’ *accounts at the Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to make a commercial transaction with their counterparts at Massachussetts Institute of Technology for the sale of some marijuana.

#### How can a website selling illegal drugs go unnoticed from the police?

It’s not on the so-called ‘usual’ internet. These websites cannot be browsed using your regular browser. The sites are found on hidden and encrypted parts of the internet which can only be browsed using a special browser called “Tor”. The high-level of encryption makes it almost impossible for the police to know where they are or who uses them — making it the perfect place for an online drug marketplace.

The most famous of these sites used to be called The Silk Road *until it was shutdown by the FBI. Security researchers at Carnegie Mellon Universityestimated that The Silk Road sold $1.9 million worth of illegal drugs and other black market items *per month before being shutdown.

A single heroin dealer — Michael Duch having never sold on the street confessed to selling more than 2,400 orders of heroin online, totaling nearly 32,000 individual in just six months. He made between $60,000 and $70,000 a month at the time. — (Source: Wired)

“1/5: this seller is a fking scammer, i payed for hashish and now i have 40 grams of fking paraffin! DON’T BUY FROM THIS C* (20 gram of maroc hashish)” — Frustrated buyer

Online black markets don’t end with The Silk Road. Copies and competitors popped up quickly following the shutdown and it would certainly be a long time (or possibly never) before all these services could be brought down; given the fact that perpetrators continuously advance their technology and seek for more and more ways to remain anonymous and hidden from the law.

Online access to chemical procedures, journals and research means that even street chemists can whip up a new compound, mass produce it and ship it off even before the police could identify the previous 100 chemicals already in the market. Lawmakers have even tried to combat this rising by banning entire chemical families, but new designer drugs popup the very next day carving a path around the law and making it harder and harder for the police and governments to control the global drug industry.

2012 saw an estimated 183,000 (range: 95,000–226,000) drug-related deaths globally.

International legislation on drug control are starting to seem somewhat redundant when a new chemical could easily be concocted to replace the ones which were banned just yesterday.

The internet not only saw the rise of online drug trading, but the sheer openness of research and information has given even the least skilled chemist the opportunity to create new types of drugs which are yet to be made illegal in most countries across the world. It’s so much so that lawmakers are having trouble keeping up with the quickly evolving drug trade.

### Drug overdose causes more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes.

People are usually dangerously ignorant about any drugs they come across, which makes overdoses and poisoning more common than you might think. It can result in serious if not fatal consequences. Especially when it comes to designer drugs which might not even be identified by hospitals in case of an emergency.

Almost all recreational drugs ranging from amphetamines to opiates can act as toxins and cause poisoning. Find out more about drug overdoses at theCDC website.

#### Strip drug culture of its mystique…

The only possible silvers lining to drugs becoming popular online is that it will “strip drug culture of its mystique” — as worded by Mike Power. Hopefully the internet would raise enough awareness of the risks and harmful effects of drugs and someday lead the path to creating a drug free world.

Drugs: You use, you lose.

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