Global Drug Survey: Dark Net Drug Sales Up; More MDMA Is Not More Fun

Cannabis is the most popular drug. Synthetic cannabinoids are most dangerous.

Data gathered in the 2016 Global Drug Survey (GDS) and published Tuesday indicates that more chemical consumers are turning to the dark web––an "underground" and somewhat anonymous part of the Internet––in search of psychoactive (and sometimes new) substances. Cannabis and MDMA are the most popular drugs; synthetic cannabinoids a/k/a "Spice" or "K2" are the most dangerous. 

From the GDS

"Globally almost 1 in 10 participants (9.3 percent) reported ever buying drugs off the dark-net, with those reporting last year dark-net purchase rising from 4.5 percent to 6.7 percent. MDMA, cannabis, new or novel substances (including 2C-B and DMT) and LSD, are the drugs most commonly bought."

An Internet-saavy drug culture should be expected of a society glued to at least two screens at most times. "The dark net is booming with our three year trends showing increased rates of people buying drugs on the dark-net in virtually every country," the GDS says via press release. 

Digital currencies, such as bitcoin, which this week saw a two-year high, allow for secure, somewhat anonymous deals to take place between buyer and seller. A lot of these sites––most famously, the Silk Road––are discovered and shutdown; or disappear into thin air; the creators being dodgy, fly-by-night bitcoin thieves. 

"Exit scams, where market owners close the market unexpectedly and steal the funds, have also become commonplace," notes the GDS. But policing peer-to-peer communication on the dark web is a game of Whack-a-Mole. And demand continues for fresh moles to pop up because the Internet drug trade opens up global access to a growing list of substances. 

For instance, nitrous oxide, or "whippets" is blowing up among consumers. "Increasing rates of use in the UK and globally, nitrous oxide is now ranked the 7th most popular drug in the world," according to the GDS.

Some classic highs never really fell out of common use. The drugs just got better, and more easily accessible. 

Pure MDMA crystals have disrupted previous generations' battering in pressed ecstasy and "molly" pills, leading the GDS to suggest that, "2016 might be the worst time to start taking MDMA in a generation. MDMA has never been so plentiful, more and more people are using it, with last year use among UK clubbers increasing from 68 percent to 80 percent." Women are reportedly two to three times more likely to seek medical treatment than men from rolling too hard.

While the fallout from synthetic cannabinoids continues only to worsen,  use remains rampant among society's "most marginalized" population demographics. "Synthetic cannabinoids [are] more likely to lead to emergency medical treatment than any other drug," concludes the survey.