It’s called the Silk Road, but it’s not used to transport spices–at least, not the kind we’re used to. It’s an underground website that sells drugs, and children as young as sixteen are joining the caravan.
The Fairfax Media in Australia conducted a global drug survey to understand the demographics of online drug trading. More than 6600 Australians responded, making it the largest and most up-to-date survey of present-day drug users down under. The majority of participants were older, wealthy males.
Visitors to the Silk Road website include a wide array of people from age 16 to 68, with 6.5 percent of users aged 16 and 17. Whether younger people were participating in the website is unknown, as 16 was the youngest age allowed to participate in the survey.
The site raises a number of obvious concerns, particularly to parents. Not only do they have to worry about online peer pressure, their children may be able to order any drug they want right to their front door.
The survey was conducted to see if synthetic drugs–sold as legal highs in convenience stores and smoke shops–would actually be the drug of choice if people could choose. Are people opting for synthetic drugs simply because of lax legislation?
Spice, Bud And Herbs
Despite a mixed potpourri of drugs available on the website, the majority of visitors appear to be leaning toward more traditional drugs like marijuana and ecstasy. New and untested drugs like Spice (synthetic marijuana) do not draw much appeal. The most common products have been MDMA (ecstasy), cannabis, LSD and cocaine.
The fact that synthetic drugs are not eliciting much interest seems to confirm the theory that it their main appeal is their lax regulations. Synthetic chemicals are extremely toxic and produce dangerous, mind-altering effects and psychotic behavior. Upon their arrival, they were sold legally in stores across the country under the guise of bath salts or insect repellant. Though they were recently outlawed, they are still easy to get behind the counter at most convenience stores. And chemists change their formulas all the time, making it hard for authorities to keep up.
The Silk Road
The survey revealed that out of the 2500 people who reported buying their own drugs, more than half had heard of Silk Road. Most had heard about it from media reports. But though many had visited the site, only 184 had actually purchased drugs. Most said they already had access to the drugs they wanted, and about half said they were worried about authorities. A smaller percentage said they were worried about being scammed.
The site belongs to what’s known as the “dark Internet” and uses an alternative currency. Dealers on the site promise to vacuum pack and seal the drugs in stealth packaging, making it undetectable to customs. Researchers suspect that most Australians would be more cautious about such websites as Silk Road because it is more difficult to import drugs onto the continent.
Parents as well as school officials have to be educated on this dangerous way of purchasing drugs. Know the facts, talk to your kids about the risks of drugs use and make sure they you know the signs of abuse and act if there is a problem.
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