Drugs Unlimited: The Web Revolution That's Changing How the World Gets High

Drugs Unlimited: The Web Revolution That's Changing How the World Gets High

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 1250054710

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The very first thing ever bought or sold on the Internet was marijuana, when Stanford and MIT students used ARPANET to cut a deal in the early '70s. Today, you can order any conceivable pill or powder with the click of a mouse. In Drugs Unlimited, Mike Power tells the tale of drugs in the Internet Age, in which users have outmaneuvered law enforcement, breached international borders, and created a massive worldwide black market.

But the online market in narcotics isn't just changing the way drugs are bought and sold; it's changing the nature of drugs themselves. Enterprising dealers are using the Web to engage highly skilled foreign chemists to tweak the chemical structures of banned drugs―just enough to create a similar effect and just enough to render them legal in most parts of the world. Drugs are marketed as "not for human consumption," but everyone knows exactly how they're going to be used―what they can't know is whether their use might prove fatal.

From dancefloors to the offices of apathetic government officials, via social networking sites and underground labs, Power explores this agile, international, virtual subculture that will always be one step ahead of the law.

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that, until he invented them, did not exist anywhere in the universe. The process of producing new drugs in this way is known as ring substitution. The connections between basic chemical structures, drugs and the brain’s neurotransmitters can be represented in a molecular triptych. First, here is the molecule for phenethylamine: Phenethylamine Starting from the left of the molecule, the hexagonal structure is known as a phenyl group, and each of its vertices represents a carbon atom. This

clear on why official services can only ever fail to achieve their goals. ‘People don’t take government services seriously; it’s the official tone that’s the problem,’ he told me. That official tone can be more than high-handed – it can be dangerous. ‘Someone I’m very close to rang the government’s Talk to Frank [helpline] when they were having a panic attack after overdoing a few substances and booze,’ said one poster on the drugs subforum of Urban75, another busy bulletin board based in

have been sold for fifty dollars a litre. One litre of this oil can make anything up to 1,000 Ecstasy pills. In late 2008, in Pursat, 170 km west of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, UN anti-drug officers destroyed 33 tonnes of safrole oil,which had been earmarked for use by drug gangs in the Netherlands to make Ecstasy following Shulgin’s recipe. The oil, confiscated over the preceding weeks and months, had been produced in illegal safrole labs like the one in the Cardamom Mountains, that made

control, a high-tech anarchist cadre has built an online market in traditional narcotics that may very well be untouchable, and which represents a major new battlefield in the war on drugs. 9 Your Crack’s in the Post The first time you see the Silk Road website there’s a creaking disconnect between your eyes and all the evidence they deliver, and your preconceptions up to that point. There’s a strange smile, mixing recognition, revelation and confusion, playing on your lips. It all looks

and social media grows daily. When researching sensitive or medical matters, some users don’t want Facebook or Google searches sending unsettlingly accurate adverts back at them. There were thirty-six million downloads of the software last year, though that does not necessarily translate to daily users, of which there are around one million. And in repressive regimes such as Iran, Tor users can access sites that are blocked by the government. ‘In Iran, between 60,000 and 100,000 people use Tor

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