The seizing and shutdown by the FBI of Silkroad 2.0, a “darknet” marketplace, has just caused a ripple in the market that will inevitably lead to more crime and deaths from drug use and sales.
Silkroad 2.0 and other darknet sites like it, provide their users with the ability to purchase substances, among other things, from the comfort of their own homes.
These darknet sites are merely a reaction to the market demand for what the state calls “illicit” drugs.
What the state fails to realize, or actually does realize and chooses to ignore, is that people will always use drugs, be it caffeine or alcohol or even heroin. Since the beginning of humanity people have enjoyed partaking in substances that alter their normal state. To try and prevent this natural human tendency with state force, always ends terribly.
People also value their safety and freedom. So, when the state declares its “War on Drugs,” pushing the market for these substances into dark alleys and crime ridden areas, demand wins out. The demand for safety and freedom of choice coupled with the internet, laid the groundwork for a mutually beneficial black market-based solution.
With the creation of Silkroad 1.0 people could obtain their drugs without going into that dark alley. The purchase could be made by the user without ever identifying oneself to a drug dealer or the drug dealer ever risking interaction with an undercover cop. No potentially dangerous human interactions had to take place at all.
This online trade, through the use of digital and impersonal means, actually fostered a net reduction in violence.
Had the FBI worried about actual crimes, which have actual victims, eventually Silkroad and other darknet sites, could have starved out the crime associated with the sale of these “illegal” substances all together, by providing a market-regulated free trade environment.
Now that these more peaceful channels of exchange have been taken down by the state, demand will certainly not go away. The supply chain will simply shift back into the dark alleys, thus proliferating and sustaining the criminal aspect of the black market.
Forcing the drug trade back into an environment which is more conducive to criminal behavior is only half of the reason why the recent actions by the FBI, have made America less safe.
By pushing the sale of drugs back out on the streets, the FBI has dealt a blow to the safety of the actual substance as well.
Silkroad, like most online retailers had a system for rating the quality of the product and the seller.
Do not misinterpret any of these statements as a declaration that all drugs are without potentially harmful side-effects, that would be foolish. However, sellers with high ratings meant they had a purer product which also meant it’s a safer product.
The likelihood of receiving a product which had been “stepped on” or “cut” with dangerous fillers, decreased significantly through the review system as one is much less likely to purchase from a person with a low rating.
Drug impurities are responsible for a myriad of negative health consequences over and above that of the drug. Some of these impurities will even kill the user. If you are buying products from a seller on Silkroad with a 4.9/5 star rating, you could be fairly certain that the product was pure.
The FBI themselves even knew the products on Silkroad were of a higher purity and quality. The FBI made over 100 purchases on Silkroad and had the drugs shipped to New York to be tested in a laboratory. They stated that the substances “have typically shown high purity levels of the drug the item was advertised to be on Silk Road.”
So not only has the FBI driven a more peaceful means of the drug trade back into the dark alleys and increased the likelihood of violence, they have also removed the free market safety protocols and purity regulations of the ratings-based model.
Well done law enforcement; you’ve succeeded in curtailing personal freedom while at the same time stifling the safety of the market.
The good news is that the market is resilient, be it black, grey, dark or purple, if the people demand it, they will find a more efficient and less violent way to get it. This is why there are still many other sites which continue to operate, and why many more just like those will be springing up in the weeks to come.
It is high time we demand that the state stop squandering resources trying to control what people can and can’t do with their own bodies. Not only is it immoral, but it decreases safety and creates more crime!