Weed and mushrooms aren’t the only drugs you can get on the dark web with Bitcoin. According to the Irish Mirror, teenagers are using the digital currency to buy so-called synthetic cannabis — known popularly as Spice — on online dark web marketplaces. Children as young as 14 are purchasing the “legal highs,” which are not against the law in the UK and other countries. Many users of legal highs — in the US, UK and elsewhere — have become very sick, sometimes even brain damaged, due to smoking the synthetic marijuana.
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Synthetic Cannabis: A Legal High
The legal drugs are meant to affect users similar to cocaine and marijuana. Use of these products has resulted in many medical emergencies around the globe.
“The prevalence would have come to the attention of gardai from concerned parents. It was a pattern of behaviour within the family home,” Supt Jimmy Coen told the Irish Mirror. “Parents came to us with their concerns. It was all focussed as part of the operation.”
Teenagers have learned they can order legal highs online and have them delivered to their front door. The issue with legal highs is that, the world over, people have become sick and even mentally handicapped by the substance. A €3 bag of synthetic cannabis in late 2013 killed one person in the UK.
The part of synthetic cannabis that mimics marijuana is sprayed on using artificial cannabinoid families such as AM-xxx, HU-xxx, JWH-xxx, CP xx. These are sprayed on herbs and sold as “natural highs” under brands like K2 and Spice all over the globe.
Synthetic cannabis first appeared on the market in the early 2000s, and laboratory data demonstrated that synthetic cannabinoids function similarly to THC, and are used to avoid cannabis laws. Many European countries have made spice illegal.
In April 2015, the New York Times released a report in which spice was blamed for a spike in emergency room visits.
“We had one hospital in the Baton Rouge area that saw over 110 cases in February. That’s a huge spike,” Dr. said Mark Ryan, the director of the Louisiana Poison Center.
“There’s a large amount of use going on. When one of these new ingredients — something that’s more potent and gives a bigger high — is released and gets into distribution, it can cause these more extreme effects.” Government officials are not 100% confident they will be able to get spice off the street.
“Is it frustrating? Yes, but when you’re in this business what you come to understand is that total eradication of a drug threat just isn’t going to happen,” said Keith Brown, the special agent in charge of the D.E.A.’s New Orleans field division, which covers Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. “Until we can control the demand there’s going to be someone with supply.”
Mr. Brown went on: “We had success last year, and now it’s coming back. It’s like a guy who tends a garden or tends a yard. It’s impossible to eradicate weeds. They come back. They grow again.” The synthetic cannabis is responsible for many emergency room visits in recent years.
“It’s been more than 90 percent hospitals this year,” Mr. Ryan said. “It’s not, ‘Hey, I smoked this thing and I don’t feel well.’ It’s, ‘This guy’s trying to tear up the E.R. and we have him locked down in restraints. We don’t know what he’s taken. What do we do?’ ”
Dark web marketplaces made headlines across the world when the Silk Road was first reported, largely in Australia, to provide people with an assortment of drugs in the same manner as the legal highs have been distributed.
Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, oversaw an anonymous marketplace where millions in drugs were distributed across the globe. He was arrested in San Francisco and charged.
What do you think about being able to get synthetic marijuana on the dark net? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured image courtesy of US News