My Facebook and Twitter feeds have been full of comments about the federal government's recent shutdown. 'I should not have to pay taxes during the shutdown' and 'it is because of Obamacare that this is happening' and many other comments are common. There have been many ramifications as a result of the shutdown, but it seems that the federal drug war has not been affected.
Yesterday the FBI shutdown a very popular online drug market called Silk Road. I only consume marijuana, and I live in Oregon, so I have never frequented the website, as marijuana is just about everywhere where I live. However, I know a lot of our readers frequent the site and I have received a handful of e-mails from readers who are sad and are now without their hookup.
According to friend of the blog Russ Belville, "agents traced discussions from drug forums and blogs to a Gmail address that was registered to Ulbricht. From there, they began surveillance on Ulbricht in San Francisco, slowly piecing together enough evidence to make an arrest."
"Agents have also seized the contents of Silk Road's servers, which may include the personal details of buyers and sellers on Silk Road. The servers also contained Ulbricht's stash of 26,000 Bitcoins, which are an anonymous, stateless currency Silk Road users trade so their transactions leave no paper trail. At current exchange rates, these Bitcoins equal about $3.6 million. Agents allege since its founding in 2011, Silk Road may have processed 9.5 million Bitcoin ($1.2 billion) in transactions."
Many people considered this online purchasing method to be much safer than buying on the street. Have you ever tried to purchase marijuana in the ghetto from someone you don't know? I have had to do it a handful of times when I was away from home, and it was far from safe. Luckily nothing ever happened to me, but looking back, it would have been much safer to go the Silk Road route.
From our friends at the Drug Policy Alliance:
"Rather than a heinous crime, using Silk Road could be seen as a more responsible approach to drug sales, a peaceable alterative to the deadly violence so commonly associated with the drug war. For over two years, countless people around the world accessed the site, spending an estimated $1.2 billion in BitCoins, the majority of it being spent on drugs. And it all happened without much fanfare. People bought drugs from drug sellers with products that had been rated by other consumers, people consumed their drugs, life went on. If drugs were not prohibited substances, none of this would be remarkable. It's only that the drugs in question were illegal that makes any of this headline news."
Did you use Silk Road? How was your experience? Are you completely S.O.L. now? What do you think will happen do the drug market now, if anything? I am assuming if there is a demand, the supply will be met by someone else. Only time will tell.