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People in the UK are buying drugs on the dark web more than ever

Sales of MDMA, cannabis, and LSD have escalated

The UK is one of the biggest purchasers of drugs on the dark net, and people across the world are buying substances from the web more than ever before, according to the latest research by Global Drug Survey.

In the latest survey, the UK topped the charts of English-speaking countries accessing drugs online at 24.6 per cent of respondents, coming in third overall behind Finland (45.8 per cent) and Norway (30.3 per cent).

“As technologies such as the dark net, vaping and drug checking increase, we need to become smarter in how we communicate the right information to the right people at the right time,” says professor Adam Winstock, consultant psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist and founder of Global Drug Survey. “We cannot reduce the risks associated with drugs to zero but by helping people know about drugs we can support them to adopt safer use behaviours.’’

Of the 65,000 people buying drugs on the dark web, the average age was 21, with the majority being male. Two thirds of these respondents claimed they bought drugs online because of positive feedback found, as well as the ability to ship to their homes.

The study also gave insight into the drugs that participants – 130,000 people across 44 countries – buy most frequently. Once again, MDMA came out on top, followed by cannabis, LSD, and novel drugs. The survey noted a significant increase in rates for cannabis and LSD in the last four years, with a year-on-year decline for psychoactive substances, or ‘legal highs’. 

Drugs sold online have been found by experts like Winstock to be of a higher quality that those from street dealers or elsewhere.

Silk Road and more recently AlphaBay – the biggest dark web marketplaces for drugs – were shut down by police investigations. At the time of its closure, Silk Road processed around $15 million transactions a year.

Accessible only by using an IP blocker and the decentralised Bitcoin, dark web marketplaces allow users to buy illegal products in the safety of their own homes; completely cutting out awkward or dangerous moments with dealers or others. Of course buying online has its hindrances, like some of the exit scams and hacks witnessed on major sites before. 

Research from last year found that the ‘cryptomarkets’ have been going from strength to strength, with revenue doubled globally. Previous research by Rand Europe also found that UK-based drug dealers were earning more money online than their European counterparts, as British dealers made £1.7 million in one month off of web sales, with a 16 per cent share of the global digital drugs market.

Check out more findings from the Global Drug Survey here.