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Inside the Deep Web Drug Lab (medium.com)
111 points by steven on Mar 27, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 39 comments



What a great service. What most people don't realize is the majority of ecstacy-related deaths are due to non-ecstasy pills. The drug war is one of the most futile and frustrating things in the modern world.


Drugs will ruin your life, and if by chance they don't, the Government will finish the job.


Most of the issues that afflict drug users stem from their illegality.

1. Drugs are frequently adulterated because of lack of any regulation. Adulterants are responsible for most of the side effects of heroin use. The only side effect of pure heroin is constipation.

2. Again, purity of drugs varies a lot, so there is no proper information available about dosages. This leads to overdoses.

3. Drug users are denied jobs and treatment, so they cannot get their lives on track even if they want to.

4. Money from drug sales is entirely in black, and is used to fuel further illegal activity.

5. Drug users don't have access to clean needles and safe paraphernalia, which leads to spread of blood-borne diseases and injuries.

All of these problems simply go away with legalization and regulation.


That's a very cherry-picked list of problems.

* Drugs are addictive and expensive. Not all of this expense is due to costs of avoiding enforcement. This can and does drive users to poverty, which has its own correlation with crime outside of drug enforcement itself

* Not all overdosing is due to "no proper information available about dosages". I'd wager that few overdoses are from first-time users, so the overdoser has some information about their own previous dosages at the very least.

> Drug users are denied jobs and treatment, so they cannot get their lives on track even if they want to.

If the only problem with drugs is that they are illegal, why do they need treatment? Can we agree that an addict that wants treatment would need it whether the drug is legal or not? And that some people don't do it, or can't afford it, regardless of its legality (see: alcohol)?

I'm pro-legalisation, but you're hardly making a good case here by picking strawmen and showing how easy it is to beat them down.


> Not all overdosing is due to "no proper information available about dosages". I'd wager that few overdoses are from first-time users, so the overdoser has some information about their own previous dosages at the very least

The purity of drugs varies a lot, and a couple of missed steps of dilution and adulteration can easily lead to overdoses.

> If the only problem with drugs is that they are illegal, why do they need treatment? Can we agree that an addict that wants treatment would need it whether the drug is legal or not? And that some people don't do it, or can't afford it, regardless of its legality (see: alcohol)?

I didn't say all, I said "most" of the problem with drugs is that they are illegal.

The problem is that the current system does absolutely nothing to combat the problems both you and I mention. It is a huge waste of money, time, life and resources. Sticking addicts who need treatment in jail does nothing to solve the problem.

Legalization, harm-reduction and proper education seems to be the way to go. Current "abstinence-only" drug education simply doesn't cut it. Informing users about both the risks and benefits of drug use in an unbiased, non-judgemental way would be much more effective.

All this doesn't even take into account the philosophical argument that an adult should be free to put whatever they want into their own bodies. You can't stop people from making poor life decisions.


I'm pretty sure that you can still deny someone a job for being a drug user, even if the drugs are legal. In fact, several of those things aren't solved merely by legalization and regulation. Overdoses happen on legal, regulated drugs all the time. A lot of drug related complications are due to mixing substances, which is not solved by legalization or regulation. Clean needles and paraphernalia are not necessarily "solved' by regulation or legalization, clean needles are available right now in any drug store.


Overdoses would certainly be reduced by a large extent by legalization.

Also, drug education that is more rational and nuanced than "drugs are evil and will ruin your life" will go a long way in preventing the kinds you problems you talk about.


Illicit drugs are the minority of overdoses[1], so I don't see how your logic follows. If anything, they might increase.

1. http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts....


Overdoses would certainly be reduced by a large extent by legalization.

Not sure that's true. Look at all the deaths due to overdoses of prescription opiates. These drugs are pure, the exact dose, etc and people still take too much and die.


Drugs will save your life, and if by chance they don't, nature will finish the job.


This is a really good idea and uptake of services like this, and sharing the information generated, could help increase the quality of products sold on darknet markets, and ultimately save lives.

I'd love to see something like this in the UK, and ideally it would be a bit cheaper.

Ideally such services should be ran by governments, which could also help to ensure that items mailed to their addresses are not seized.


There is http://www.wedinos.org/db/sample_testing although it does require you to submit a bunch of questions and a postcode along with the sample.

Politicians are very sensitive to being seen to be 'running a drug dealer QA lab', despite the obvious harm reduction benefits, so they try to cover themselves with various constraints.


Netherlands you can anonymously drop pills and powders for lab testing. Tons of kids were dropping dead buying fake mdma on the streets and this put an end to it. Same thing happened in Canada as soon as they cracked down on precursors and drove up the price the streets were filled with poisonous alternatives but unfortunately the police still shill a failed abstinence policy and as a result you get stuff like this happening everytime a bad batch floats around

http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/canada/calgary/8-alberta-deaths-lin...


Then you have the moral police complaining that the government is promoting drug usage.


Maybe drug usage shouldn't be considered a "moral" decision....


Yes, I agree there would be serious obstacles to this, and such people would certainly be one of them!

Funding is always going to be an issue for NGOs though.


Needle exchange programs already exist, surely this would be similar enough to get them enacted.


Meanwhile you have people calling to abolish the FDA because markets are so much more efficient at providing safe, efficaceius pharmeceuticals. It makes no sense, real-world data from the black market shows it makes no sense.


Are you kidding me? In what world is the black market a free market? The entire reason it's called an "underground" market is because it can't legally operate as a free market.


What do you mean? The underground market is perfectly free, you have only private entities contracting with each other, with no appeal to a higher power (i.e. the law) possible. Whatever rules are in effect instead are instituted and upheld by the market participants.


Depends on your definition of a free market. It is free in the sense there is no government (or other entity) controlling it.


Say what? The black market is completely defined and dominated by the heaviest form of government control, literally men with guns kicking down your door.


free mar·ket noun an economic system in which prices are determined by unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses.

By that definition, the black market is a free market. You could argue about the word 'unrestricted' but I doubt you'd change my mind.


The competition is limited to entities willing to break the law and deal with other people doing the same.


That doesn't really say anything at all.

The bakery competition is limited to people who want to run a bakery. The beer store market is limited to people who want to run beer stores.

Breaking the law obviously isn't an issue for people in drug industry.


What you're describing is the point in time when an entity exits the free market. How does the government control the market aside from whack-a-moleing individual entities? How does whack-a-mole have a controlling effect on entities who haven't been whacked yet?


Honestly, given how many drugs have been allowed into the market as-is through the FDA, I'm not entirely sure how effective it has been. That said, I'm all for reducing patent protections all around (and eliminating all software patents), and decriminalizing most drugs...

I'm not advocating getting rid of all testing and standards bodies... I can't speak for anyone else.


There is/was a similar organization in California called DanceSafe (which friends used). Still there: http://dancesafe.org/ You could/can mail them pills and they would test them for content ratios (not content amounts). Fantastic service to reduce harm.


Interesting that the marketplace they talk about (Evolution) closed down a couple of weeks ago with evidence of a huge Bitcoin scam. Seems you can test the honesty of the sellers but not the market :-(

http://www.deepdotweb.com/2015/03/18/interview-with-nswgreat...


Multisig solves that problem.



There's also pillreports.com a basic review site to identify bad street pills


I wonder how the deep web can protect against two things happening:

- users who have an interest in promoting one of the vendors providing them with positive reviews, while other vendors receive negative reviews

- users who are known for reviewing samples receiving higher-quality orders

Surely there's a way to keep the vendors honest in a more long-term way, as well as gauge the consistency of each, but it eludes me right now.


The same way these things are / are not dealt with in the "ordinary" web. Ebay must have precisely the same issues.


The second problem is easily solved by the reviewers creating new accounts for each order. In fact it's a better test since newcomers are more likely to be screwed over by a seller than someone with a forum presence who would have more credibility if they complained.

The first problem is harder.


I hate to be pedantic, but "Deep Web" is the part of the Web that crawlers can't reach, because it's hidden behind POST requests and JS actions[1], and not nefariously. "Dark Web" is the term they're looking for.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Web


> She is holding the lab’s latest delivery of a drug bought from the “deep web,” the clandestine corner of the internet that isn’t reachable by normal search engines...

Seems like they used the term correctly.


Trouble is, the academics talking about deep web don't mean a clandestine corner. They more mean private Facebook pages and uncrawlable product catalogues. Stuff that is part of the normal internet though.

It's kinda silly semantics now though, most people seem to use it to talk about illicit hidden stuff. It's like saying, that's not a Hoover it's a vacuume cleaner.

This particular article is a bit annoying though because the writer is either confused, trolling, or avoiding describing technical specifics for ethical raisins. Best kind of raisin.


That dude looks like a straight dealer. Lol. DoctorX.

But yes I agree if someone is going to put harmful chemicals in their body they might as well prevent any further damage to their body and reduce risk of complications.




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