Many medical cannabis suppliers are struggling to promote their products, due to limitations on cannabis marketing. One of the unwanted results coming from that, is a sharp rise in sales of cannabis products in the dark web…
According to a recent study carried out by RAND Europe, the number of transactions of illicit drugs on the dark web has tripled in the last three years, and cannabis is the most common product at the center of these anonymous trades. It appears that in the lack of traditional cannabis marketing solutions, people are finding alternatives in questionable places.
While most cannabis is still bought offline, cryptomarkets are proving to be increasingly popular for many in the UK, other parts of western Europe, and the US. This is likely because the dark web is far more accessible than it used to be, whilst a wide selection of strains and varieties are available.
Limitations Also On CBD Marketing
While, unlike cannabis, CBD have a better legal status, CBD marketing still confront a strong objection from a variety of online marketing platforms, starting from Google AdWords all the way to Facebook, where companies offering CBD products are facing penalties, whenever using the wrong keywords in the title, or placing disallowed content in the image. Cannabis marketing is even harder, and in most cases you won’t last long, before having your advertisement account disables.
Although studying cannabis marketing and sales in lucrative markets can be difficult due to their quest for secrecy, the think-tank Rand Europe was able conduct an analysis of data scraped from the largest crypto markets during January 2016, as well as interview experts and professionals in the field of online drugs trade for an insight into the so-called dark web’s goings-on.
The study was done at the request of the Dutch government, who expressed concern that the Netherlands may play a major role in the online sale of narcotics – which they do. In fact, Netherlands had the highest revenues for illicit drug sales on cryptomarkets per capita, with vendors making $1,140,000 in January 2016.
Cannabis is most popular
According to the analysis, cannabis accounted for 37 per cent of all sales for illegal narcotics on the major cryptomarkets. Sales of stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines accounted for 29 per cent of the market, while “ecstasy-type drugs” were responsible for 19 per cent of sales.
With total drug revenues on cryptomarkets during January 2016 estimated to be between $12.0 million and $21.1 million, it stands to reason that between $4.4 million $7.8 million was spent on cannabis during that one month.
Fuelling street markets
The findings also suggest that drugs sold on cryptomarkets are fuelling offline drug markets, with buyers quite possible sourcing stock from the dark web for offline distribution. 25 per cent of total drug transactions on cryptomarkets during January 2016 were greater than $1,000, making it likely that these drugs were bought for wholesale purposes.
The majority of drugs sold on cryptomarkets were under $100, so were likely to be for personal use, but they only generated 18 per cent of total transactions.
Some personal cannabis users are known to purchase from the dark web due to the greater variety available online compared to ‘street’ dealers. This could be of particular benefit to medicinal users who require a specific strain and a certain cannabinoid ratio.
Despite the dangers of ordering cannabis online, some harm reduction organizations even recommend that users buy from these unregulated marketplaces because their review system does allow for some measure of quality assurance.
The trend of buying cannabis online is not likely stall anytime soon. Although the authorities may disrupt the market with takedowns and arrests, new marketplaces will pop up in their place almost immediately. And while it remains illegal in much of the world, purchasing cannabis online is seen by many as the future of the industry.
However, the dark web cannabis market is still unregulated and scammers and swindlers are common, not to mention the occasional undercover agent. So tread carefully.