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Online Drug Sales Sweep the Market

Tech advances in consumer drug culture call for new methods responses.

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By McCarton Ackerman

02/01/13

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The availability of illegal substances online is making drugs easier to buy and harder to regulate, according to the findings of a new report compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The report states that users are increasingly getting drugs delivered directly to their doors, through legal commercial transportation like aircraft and postal services, without making any contact with a dealer. Many of these deals are conducted on so-called "darknets", or anonymous computer networks, like The Silk Road, making it harder for authorities to track and intercept purchases. "Practically any type of drug can be bought on the Internet. The consumers may feel that it is 'cleaner' to buy drugs without any direct contact with the drug dealer," says Europol director Rob Wainwright. These online networks have altered the behaviors of drug users, according to EMCDDA director Wolfgang Goetz. "Patterns of drug use have become more fluid," he says, "With consumers often using multiple substances or substituting one drug for another." Because of the changing market, the report urges the EU to work towards targeting high-value crime groups, developing intelligence on the geographic relocation of potential criminals, interrupting money flows and creating barriers to online drug sales. "We need to keep pace with these new developments and adapt our policies and responses to this reality," says EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. "National measures, however robust, will simply not be sufficient if implemented in isolation."

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