One of the more powerful deterrents to drug addiction is the lack of availability and anonymity in traditional drug purchasing. If one didn’t have solid connections, he or she couldn’t pursue their addiction any further.

However, with the advent of the Silk Road Market, these barriers have been removed, resulting in increased access to drugs and other illegal substances.

What is Silk Road?

Silk Road is an anonymous Internet marketplace that specializes in the sale and distribution of drugs, including street drugs and prescription painkillers. The site has made purchasing or selling drugs as simple as buying a CD through a major retailer.

While Silk Road does not house any of the goods it sells, it links buyers with sellers to create an interactive marketplace. Like eBay, buyer and seller feedback is recorded and publicized so that people know what to expect with each transaction.

Bitcoin Payment on Silk Road

The only way a site like Silk Road could ever work is with total anonymity. This is exactly what’s required of those who use Silk Road. The site can only be accessed through the Tor Network, which specializes in making users who access the network untraceable and completely anonymous. Additionally, all transactions on Silk Road are conducted using Bitcoin, a digital currency that also enhances anonymity.

In theory, the combination of these two forces creates an environment in which nobody could get caught dealing or buying drugs.

The Down Side

The problem is, while Silk Road does match buyer and seller, these two individuals must rely on outside forces to transport their goods. This means putting illegal drugs through standard mail, where there are any number of drug-identifying methods that can be used. Attempting to buy or sell drugs through the mail is a serious federal offense, and it could result in jail time.

Furthermore, since the buyer doesn’t know the seller and vice versa, there’s no way to work on an alibi, or even to trust that the person on the other end won’t report them to the authorities right after receiving payment for drugs. Silk Road may provide many conveniences, but the nature of the arrangement may provide more sleepless nights than anything else.

Safety

Another potential downfall of Silk Road is that people don’t really know what they’ve paid for until they receive it. This is true of the drug trade in general, but it’s especially true online. In reality, people are held accountable for their actions. In a fully anonymous marketplace, though, loyalty doesn’t exist.

Sellers can send the buyer pretty much anything after receiving payment, and there may not be any way to make restitution. Though Silk Road does strive for a pleasant transaction for all parties, the nature of anonymous transactions makes this a difficult goal to achieve.

There’s also the possibility of receiving a dangerous strain of a drug through Silk Road. Again, this can happen in any drug transaction, but chances are increased when dealing with the Internet. People can easily overlook what they perceive to be shipping issues, especially if they’re deeply mired in drug addiction. They may not know that they’ve taken something deadly until it’s too late.

The Big Picture

FBI Shuts Down Silk Road Marketplace

The Silk Road may be everything a drug user could possibly want, but it’s a flawed institution that is constantly being eyed by the government. In fact, Silk Road was shut down by Homeland Security in September 2013 due to the crimes committed via the site. Although a new Silk Road site has taken its place, the fact remains that a shutdown can happen at any time and that it’s a matter of when, not if, Silk Road will go black again.

The very nature of anonymous drug transactions makes it very easy for people to end up with severe drug addictions. This is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of Silk Road. Those who have used Silk Road to purchase drugs should consider seeking treatment for what could be a potentially fatal drug addiction.


Sources:

http://blogs.findlaw.com/blotter/2013/07/is-it-legal-to-mail-marijuana.html

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-10/news/ct-met-beach-park-raid-sidebar-20121010_1_search-warrant-illegal-drugs-search-and-seizure