Like everything else, weed has moved to the web, the Deep Web, at least. Named as such because it's a part of the internet that doesn't appear on search engines (really that's all it actually means), subsections on the Deep Web, such as Darknet, have also become a place for internet users who want to remain anonymous for any number of privacy-based reasons (and as a result, that does mean there is some pretty horrible shit on there), making it a relatively safe way to buy weed and other drugs through the mail using a form of digital currency, Bitcoin. City Paper engaged in email exchanges with two people who buy from the Deep Web. Their answers follow.
City Paper: Can you explain the process of buying from the Darknet?
Anonymous 1: For me, [getting Bitcoins] used to involve a maze of prepaid cards sold at office supply stores. Now there are private sellers you can meet in person advertising online, but I now prefer the physical “Bitcoin ATM” [there is a permanent one at Fells Point’s Bad Decisions, though mobile ones have appeared around the city, including one at Hampdenfest]. Once you have Bitcoins in your possession, there are several sites that operate as drug marketplaces where you can deposit them. Most people are familiar with Silk Road. Agora Marketplace is my current go-to site. When purchasing, you encrypt your shipping information in a way that only the person selling it to you [can] decode. Marijuana is definitely the hardest thing to ship in the mail, as it reeks, but somehow through the power of vacuum sealing and the apathy of the Postal Service, you receive it.
Anonymous 2: (1) Buy Bitcoins from a site like coinbase.com (2) Using Tor, a software that routes your internet traffic through thousands of relays so your information and location are anonymous, log on to your Darknet market of choice, obtain their Bitcoin wallet address (3) Transfer Bitcoins to Darknet wallet (4) Add items to cart (5) Use public-key cryptography to encrypt your name and address and send it to the vendor (6) Check out (7) Receive your items in your items in the mailbox, often in amusing stealth packaging (had some LSD come in a donation letter from the Church of Latter-day Saints; had some MDMA come in a jewelry box, complete with receipt and instructions for care).
CP: What's the reason for buying from Darknet instead of a dealer IRL?
A1: There is such a wide choice of what to purchase. You can get marijuana in any dreamable form: Candy, Wax, Hash, Cooking Oil, etc. I'm also not good with social situations let alone drug deals, so this offers a relatively stress-free alternative. The quality is equal to or better, it's almost all medical grade from California and Colorado.
CP: How is the market regulated and how do you know it's dependable?
A2: Vendors receive reviews from customers to establish their reputation, both on the Darknet market website itself and on Darknet market online communities. New vendors will often offer promotions to draw in wary customers. Silk Road at its peak was very safe. Evolution, which took over as the largest and most reliable Darknet market after Silk Road was shut down, was also very safe. Recently, the owners of Evolution decided to shut down their market and run away with all its Bitcoins, so the Darknet community is once again in a state of precarity. Customers lost the Bitcoins that were in their Evolution wallet. Customers are being forced to buy from new vendors and getting scammed. Vendors are threatening to doxx (i.e. expose the personal information of) customers and other vendors. Overall, on the one hand, the risks are lower with buying on the Darknet because transactions occur from bedroom to bedroom; on the other hand, they're higher because you don't have a personal relationship with your dealer.