The recently released Global Drug Survey 2015 has shown that an increasing number of drug consumers are doing their shopping online. The survey which was conducted by Dr. Adam Winstock, a London based addiction specialist and psychiatrist, is the most extensive drug survey in history. It’s based on the information obtained from over 100,000 drug consumers from fifty different countries during the months of November and December 2014.
23% of the drug consumers who participated in the survey said that they purchased drugs online for the first time in 2014. This means that the number of online drugs buyers increased 13% in only one year. This increase comes despite the October 2013 infamous shutdown of the Silk Road drug marketplace and the imprisonment of its creator Ross Ulbricht, who was recently sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The Silkroad was by far the largest online black market for purchasing drugs at the time of its closure, with a total of 13,000 drug listings. After the Silk Road shutdown and last year’s Operation Onymous took down Silkroad 2.0, Agora Marketplace became the largest online black markets for purchasing drugs. Within a 4 month period in 2014, Agora Marketplace product listing grew from approximately 7400 to more than 16000. Agora Marketplace now has over 20,000 product listings and is bigger than the Silk Road ever was. According to the Global Drug Survey 2015 drug consumers prefer purchasing drugs online because darknet markets such as Agora Marketplace guarantee better quality and cheaper products and less exposure to violence. The study suggests that people don’t become drug addicts because of online black markets. Indeed, 96 percent of those who purchase drugs online said they had used drugs before.
However, 21 percent reported that they moved to consuming a wider range or a different class of drugs. According to Dr. Winstock, this means that the access to lots of drugs leads to experimentation with new drugs and extended drug repertoires. LSD, MDMA and forms of cannabis such as herbal or hydro are the most popular drugs purchased online. Additionally, the report notes that when people are given access to purchase drugs from online black markets such as Agora Marketplace, the ones they appear to select are the “traditional illicit” drugs that are “tried, tested, familiar, desirable and probably safer”.
According to the survey, online black market shopping is particularly popular in Sweden (18 percent of respondents), other Scandinavian countries, Poland and UK. 11.2% of the respondents from the United States admitted that they had purchased drugs from an online source. 8% of the U.S respondents said that they bought drugs online in the past year, and another 3.2% said they did so before the beginning of 2014 but had not since. Globally, 4.5 percent of the respondents purchased drugs from the online black markets. It is also important to note that less than 1% of the 100,000 respondents cited law enforcement as the reason they no longer buy drugs online.