The internet is starting to rival the backstreet as a place to buy illicit drugs, according to findings from the 2013 Global Drugs Survey, with 22% of users reporting the had bought drugs online.
The online marketplace Silk Road has risen to notoriety in recent years as essentially an eBay for drugs: a service operating where law enforcement can’t trace the computers of sellers or buyers, where transactions use the anonymous and untraceable online currency Bitcoin.
But responses to the Global Drug Survey, an annual academic research poll with more than 7,000 UK respondents, suggest Silk Road is merely the most visible aspect of a much wider phenomenon.
Just under a third of survey respondents had heard of the Silk Road marketplace, while 14% had set up an account on the site and browsed its wares. However, only 3% said they had themselves bought and consumed drugs purchased from the site – though a similar number had taken drugs a friend had bought on the Silk Road.
The wider phenomenon of drug dealing online happens with less rigorous secrecy than the high-tech (but hard-to-use) Silk Road.
]Such sales are strictly against the terms and conditions of all major listings and exchange sites, and are done without the complicity of their owners. However, as most lack the resources to pre-check each of the hundreds of thousands of listings they host, many are only flagged if a user marks the listing as suspicious.
More than 22,000 people worldwide completed the Global Drugs Survey, which is conducted online.
Guardian News Service