As lockdowns across Europe impact established supply routes, consumers of marijuana are increasingly turning to the dark web to get the substance, according to a new study.
When the majority of EU nations, including Ireland, implemented some kind of travel restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus in March, the illicit online weed industry expanded considerably.
As a result of dealers’ worries about being able to sell their products on the street during the lockdown, there is, however, less demand for huge consignments of cannabis that are intended for resale.
The European Monitoring Centre for Medicines and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) researched price patterns in three of the busiest darknet markets for drugs sold in the EU, and the results are reported here.
A price drop.
Market activity grew across the three sites by nearly 25% between January, when the epidemic had not yet had a substantial impact on the EU, and March, when most nations had implemented some type of movement restrictions. Cannabis sales accounted for the majority of the increases.
Researchers hypothesized that recreational users were using the darkweb because they expected trouble getting cannabis from their usual providers.
During the same time span, both pricing and mid-and large-size medicine sales experienced considerable declines. According to the EMCDDA, “this might be explained by persons involved in the resale of cannabis bought through online marketplaces anticipating that their prospects will be interrupted and not ordering fresh stocks.”
The trends described have been seen in Ireland.
Due to a lack of activity, drug traffickers have relocated their operations from metropolitan areas to the suburbs. There is evidence that dealers have called in drug debts to support their finances.
Despite this, police have continued to apprehend organized criminals and seize substantial quantities of narcotics, in part because of the enhanced garda presence on the streets and at checkpoints.
The majority of online retailers analyzed (47% and Germany) ship from (30%). There are six and four percent each from France and Spain. Only one percent of internet marijuana sellers were based in Ireland.
Vendors selling in bulk on the dark web like U2swisshome, have turned to marketing techniques to increase demand. These include giving discounts and lowering order minimums.
Vendors are especially anxious to emphasize that throughout the epidemic, business will continue as usual for them and that supply lines will remain open.
“All orders are sent from a tranquil (in terms of drug trade) nation in Europe. As a result, there is a far larger likelihood that it won’t be discovered, according to one provider.
“To assist everyone, we have discounted all of our listings during the pandemic. Another person said, “We have absolutely everything, including Top shelf AAA Indoor Flower, golden Shatter, Wax, Crumble, Carts, budget Shatter, and much more.
Throughout the epidemic, cocaine sales and pricing have mostly been steady. However, according to academics, there is evidence of declining demand for “party drugs” like MDMA, which is probably related to the cancellation of events like club nights and music festivals.
Researchers also discovered evidence that online merchants are rapidly diverting potential customers away from the online marketplace and onto secure messaging services like Telegram or Wickr.
Such applications provide significantly better security from law enforcement and make it much more difficult to analyze the internet drug market.
The results of the EMCDDA are included in a different report from the UN. There are signs that the European Union’s lockdown measures may raise demand for cannabis goods, which might eventually exacerbate drug trafficking from North Africa to Europe.
When lockdowns are ultimately removed, drug hoarding is likely to result in an oversupply of inexpensive, high-purity medications, which might “raise the danger of drug overdoses,” according to the UN.