We’re all familiar with the growing number of legalized locations when it comes to cannabis, and the fight between the legal market and the ever-present black market. We also know that black markets exist for tons of products. The next big thing coming toward the medical market, psychedelics, have always had their own black market, which is now gaining momentum with a growing presence on the web.
It’s no shock that the psychedelics black market has expanded out into the web. Tons of illegal operations can now be found online. This also goes for other unregulated industries like cannabis cannabinoids, an array of which can be bought easily from the web as well. From delta-8 THC (a half brother to delta-9) to THC-O-A to THCV, we’ve got great deals for tons of cannabis compounds, so go through them all, and pick the options perfect for you. Remember to subscribe to The Psychedelics Weekly Newsletter for more articles like this one. And save big on Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!
Sometimes its easy to forget just how much of the world runs on black markets. Back markets, are, after all, illegal markets that are unregulated and untaxed. Pretty much anytime you encounter clothing with a brand name which doesn’t look quite up-to-snuff, or when there’s a guy selling watches out of the back of a car, or when you buy a no-name replacement part for your phone from that dicey storefront down the street, these are all likely black-market products. But the black market can include much more.
Right now, there are tons of cannabis compounds flooding the market, like delta-8 THC, THCV, THC-O-A, and even hemp-derived delta-9 THC. All of these products are released under the misguided notion that the 2018 US Farm Bill makes them legal, when in actuality, no such legality has been made. It almost seems odd that this can exist without anyone doing anything about it. But then again, I walked into illegal dispensaries right in the middle of the Las Vegas strip, not hiding one little bit in the shadows.
When it comes to cannabis, local black markets have consistently outdone legal markets, and this is likely due to higher prices in dispensaries. Why extremely high taxes are consistently waged on these markets is beyond me, as the pricing plays into general complaints of not being able to divert more from the black market, which stays consistent, and doesn’t overcharge consumers. California is a great example of how overly stringent regulation has led to a much smaller number of legal operations than illegal ones, and the overall need for a bailout due to lower-than-expected sales.
Black markets can consist of stolen products (fell off a truck), fake products that resemble known products (knockoffs), illegal products (heroin), and simply untaxed products (whatever you buy off the guy in the street). It used to be that these markets were more hidden, whereas now they often parade around in daylight, like the fake dispensaries sitting on the Vegas strip. In the US, the black economy accounts for approximately 11-12% yearly, and brings in somewhere between $2-2.5 trillion annually.
The rise of psychedelics
Technically, legal psychedelics have been around for awhile. Since 1958, DXM has been in cough syrups, ready to be bought over-the-counter by anyone of any age. Most people simply don’t consider this, even as stories of robotripping have repeatedly come out over the years. More recently, ketamine clinics have been picking up speed, along with the formal legalization of ketamine’s cousin esketamine, which seems to be the pharmaceutical answer to the gray-area ketamine industry. Ketamine clinics have been popping up all across the US, which operate by using ketamine legally, but for off-label uses like pain and depression management.
Two more psychedelics are on their way to legalization. The US’s FDA has already given ‘breakthrough therapy’ designations to MDMA and psilocybin from magic mushrooms. A breakthrough therapy designation is given when a company is in the process of doing trials into a compound, which show promise for providing a better answer than known remedies. The designation is specifically meant to quicken the research and development of medications, to get them to market.
The FDA even helped put together the 3rd phase of the MDMA trials with the organization MAPS, in an effort to ensure that results would meet regulation. Kind of would be weird for a US government agency to go that far for compounds in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances list, if there wasn’t an intended legalization coming soon.
And this isn’t the only place where the US government has shown an understanding that psychedelics are coming. On September 2nd of this year, the DEA posted a notice stating an intention to increase psilocybin production for medical research purposes. In fact, the DEA wants increased production of both psilocybin, as well as secondary psychedelic component psilocin. How much? The DEA wants the quota for psilocybin to increase to 1,500 grams from 50, a 2,900% escalation. For psilocin, the increase would be from 50 grams to 1,000.
The psychedelics black market on the web
The internet is a place where a lot of stuff happens, and a good part of it is not on the up-and-up. A lot of people probably forget how censored the place is, and sometimes this is good, especially when it relates to things like child pornography. In fact, the sheer lack of kiddie-porn (and the sheer amount we know is made) means that a lot of power can be wielded over the internet and what ends up on it.
Part of what has propelled the psychedelics black market, and drug black markets in general, has been the advent of the dark web, and apps like Telegram and Signal that fully encrypt information, and can’t be effected by censorship. These apps allow communication between buyers and sellers that can’t be traced, as well as the ability to broadcast information to groups of followers, without law enforcement knowing.
Yet even so, tons of black market retailers set up shop on the regular internet. Now, maybe that stuff gets through because the majority won’t find it nearly as offensive as something like kiddie-porn, which the masses seem okay with putting tax dollars into stopping. How much the masses want money pumped into a continued war on drugs, particularly drugs without a death count, is quite questionable at this point.
Judging from the unregulated (and often untaxed) industry of cannabis compounds including delta-8 THC, which hasn’t been targeted by the government much at all (in fact being practically ignored), it stands to reason that the US government isn’t going to be able to stop a burgeoning psychedelics black market on the web either.
How the psychedelics black market operates on the web
So does this mean that a prospective user can put a search into a browser and land on a site willing to sell and ship out drugs like LSD, magic mushrooms, ayahuasca, MDMA, and more? Apparently, yes. To make it that much more confusing in terms of how technically okay this is or is not, some of these companies employ payment methods like Paypal, Western Union, Zelle, and standard bank transfers for users to pay for these products.
None of the payment methods just listed will generally work with illegal operations. Yet they all can now be found hooked up to sites selling illegal psychedelics from the internet. How did that happen, and will it continue? Hard to say, but that’s the situation now, and a quick look around makes clear it’s not just one or two sites, but dozens. Some of these sites also offer international shipping, meaning its not just US regulation that’s being broken, but possibly the regulations of tons of other countries.
While the psychedelics black market has grown recently, on the web and off, this issue was already an issue over ten years ago. Back in 2009, stories were published about the vast availability of mild-altering drugs being sold online, though most at that time were solely plants, like kratom, salvia, and mushrooms. These headlines are now coming out again, but not as many as would be expected considering the number of online retailers that come up in a search to buy psychedelics online.
While Britain has now mentioned the issue formally here, the US really hasn’t (seemingly ignoring it), with only stories like this published that show actual arrests. This is a good time to remember how much the internet is censored, and how little of that kiddie-porn gets through. The US might like the idea of hiding a problem it can’t fight, rather than having the masses know it exists.
Why it probably matters
I’m not the kind of person who thinks this has to matter. But I’m also the kind of person who knows it can. I have no issue with the use of drugs that aren’t deadly. Hell, I believe people should have the ability to choose what to do with their own lives, even if it does involve a deadly drug – though I don’t love the idea. But not deadly? And especially with the ability to hep with spiritual awakenings, and all kinds of medical and psychological recoveries? Let ‘em have it!!! I support the legalization and use of these compounds, and I don’t even particularly care if the industries are legal or not.
But I do care if they’re clean. And that’s the problem. In fact, it’s a problem with both legal industries and illegal ones. That there is currently no heavy metal testing for vape cartridges says a lot about the ability for legal industries to totally drop the ball with safety measures. An omission like that doesn’t sell the safety appeal of a regulated industry at all, at least not to someone like me.
This, however, does little to undermine how bad the fakes industries have gotten, selling synthetics in edibles and as distillate cartridges, and without any measures in place to ensure products are real, that there won’t be even worse chemical exposure, or that they’re not cut with the kind of ingredients that can cause groups of users to fall over dead. For this reason, I tend to think that a bottom level of regulation is needed to ensure people aren’t being poisoned by someone looking to make a quick buck.
The problem with a psychedelics black market on the web isn’t that psychedelic drugs are being sold. It’s that there’s no way to know if users are getting the right thing, or if what’s being sold is safe at all. But it exists, in a flagrantly in-your-face way, allowing legal payment methods on regular internet sites, for illegal products. And chances are, if the cannabinoid market is any indication, this falls squarely into the no-one-will-do-anything-about-it loophole.
There is certainly something to be said about knowing your drug dealer in life. Sometimes more intimate connections can mean a level of product safety, or ability to trust the seller. If this isn’t an option, however, and you want to buy DMT, ketamine, MDMA, LSD, or any other psychedelic online, just do your homework, and try to make sure you’re getting the right thing. Otherwise, it’s okay to be a bit wary. Not because psychedelics are bad, but because internet vendors often are.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.