The Silk Road And The Changing Drug Laws

ANNOUNCEMENT: Since the Silk Road 2.0 bust by the feds a few other Darknet Markets have fallen. Silk Road 3 is up and running with a big selection of goods.

>> Click here to find the Silk Road 3 Guide <<

The launch of the darknet marketplace Silkroad led to the proliferation of illicit activities on the internet. Politicians, especially Charles Schumer, quickly started targeting Silkroad and the website was shut down by the law enforcement in 2013. However, the concept of distributed, anonymous and peer-reviewed e-commerce using digital currency originated by Silkroad is here to stay.


ross-ulbrichtThe central theme of the operations in the darknet marketplace is bitcoin, the digital currency developed by a person known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, which enables pseudonymous transactions. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silkroad who was convicted, leveraged bitcoin technology to enable purchase and sale of illicit goods on his website. During the heydays of Silkroad, researchers from academic institutions demonstrated as to how the transactions executed using bitcoin could be tracked as well as analyzed.

The reputation of Silkroaddeclined after the hire-for-murder scheme offered by the website was brought to light. Though the damage it caused through sale of drugs is still unclear, one heroin dealer has said that Silkroad was instrumental in ruining his life. However, as drug laws are changing very fast, particularly with respect to cannabis, the website deserves a fair deal. Further, various political establishments around the world are pushing for decriminalization of different drugs.

The Netherlands is notorious for its lax marijuana laws. In Vancouver in British Columbia, proliferation of cannabis stores, on and off, is very common. In fact, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, has even said that he would like to decriminalize, but regulate, cannabis. In many jurisdictions around the world, marijuana is legal.

Australia wanted to control enteogens and the Supreme Court overturned the decision of a New Mexico Court, preventing the federal government from banning the use of a sacramental tea by UDV (a Christian Spiritist religion) as it contained a Schedule-1 substance.

US politicians Rand Paul and Ron Paul have worked for the decriminalization of several drugs. Paul has even hinted at decriminalization of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Academic institutions have also classified certain drugs as having therapeutic benefits, for example, LSD.

In an article recently published by Reuters, David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology who has worked with Carhart-Harris, said that it is now possible to see as to what is going on in a person’s brain when it is in the psychedelic state and better understand as to why LSD profoundly impacts self-awareness. According to him, this would mean a lot as far as psychiatry is concerned.

The studies on beneficial effects of drugs would definitely be continued and, therefore, law enforcement agencies should be aware of the implications of once forbidden drugs. Actually, Silkroad was futuristic in the sense that it set the trend for drug commerce, especially marijuana, in the years to come. Most of the transactions on Silkroad involved marijuana.

In the US, legalization of marijuana is a bi-partisan problem. Sixty-three percent of the Republican Millennials and seventy-seven percent of the Democratic Millennials support legalization of cannabis. If marijuana is legalized, movements that promote decriminalization and legalization of Schedule-1 drugs might ensue.

Even pharmaceutical users who did not have insurance allegedly had accounts on Silkroad for purchasing medicines. This is because the site offered privacy, a key health care system attribute, for the procurement of medicines.

silk-road-logo (1)Further, Silkroad offered a rating system that was akin to what eBay or other e-commerce sites offered. This meant that the product sold on the Silkroad site were peer-reviewed. In addition, the rating system effectively monitored the buyers, sellers and products. The rating system also plays a role in keeping a check on false claims through advertisements.

However, many questions remain unanswered, especially the violent services allegedly offered by Silkroad. In addition to counterfeit money, fake IDs and passports, the Silkroad also purportedly offered hitmen services. It is alleged that Ross Ulbricht, who just completed one year in jail, ordered one hit on-site users.

However, the law enforcement agencies that tracked down Ross Ulbricht and Silkroad did not experience any difficulty in cracking the darknet marketplace. If regulated, a pseudonymous marketplace might prove to be a safe option for people who want to buy substances like marijuana that are on the fence as far as legality is concerned. Further, the law enforcement will be in the know of the deals taking place on these websites and will, therefore, be able to enforce better oversight.

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