The Internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, engage with the world, and hide porn from our parents. It was only a matter of time before the drug trade caught up.
Yes, you can buy illegal drugs on the Internet, and it's a lot safer for you than dealing with the types of characters you expect to meet on AMC's next acclaimed series. The dealers on the darknet markets are less Walter White, more Walt Jr. If you don't know how to access them, though, you're liable to feel as clueless as Hank. (Don't worry, we promise not to work every Breaking Bad character into this article.)
Now, first of all, if you're trying to buy hard narcotics, don't. Stop now, and get help. Buying drugs online is a lot safer than buying them in person, but far less safe than never buying them at all.
That said, if you're in the market for something harmless, here's a guide on getting to the sites that will replace your sketchy dealer.
1. Download Tor
In order to access the parts of the web where you'll find darknet markets, you need to start by downloading Tor, the most popular system for anonymous web browsing. Read all of their recommendations before installing, and be sure you've got the latest version. Use the Tor browser whenever accessing the Dark Web.
PSA: Parents, if you spot Tor on your kid's computer, now you know why it's there. While Tor is legitimately valuable for helping people living under repressive regimes communicate and organize without alerting the government, for an American teen, it's a tool to do everything you worry abut your children doing on the Internet.
2. Take precautions
Know how you instinctively roll up the car windows when cruising into a bad neighborhood? Exploring the Dark Web is a lot like that. Many suggest that you get yourself some PGP encryption software, which will let you send your personal information in an encrypted format. GnuPGP is a solid option. Once you've downloaded it, learn how to get a personal key pair, as well as how to encrypt and decrypt text, on your specific operating system. Here are tutorials for Windows, OS X, and Linux. Encrypt everything!
Some will recommend that you also cover your webcam with tape while browsing, as a precaution against hackers peaking back at you. Just pretend you're a spy and it'll be much more fun.
3. Get some Bitcoins
To buy anything dodgy on the Internet, you'll need Bitcoins. They can be purchased at sites like LocalBitCoins. Reddit's /r/bitcoinmarkets is a useful resource for investigating your options and making sure you're using the best service you can. You'll probably want to tumble your coins so that they can't be traced back to you. Helix is a common option that works. It's worth your time to cover your tracks.
4. Start browsing
As you probably expect, navigating the Dark Web isn't as simple as getting around the Internet normally is. You may sympathize with your grandparents at first.
With major marketplaces like The Silk Road and several of its replacements being shut down by the Feds, finding a reputable place to purchase drugs can be a challenge. Again, Reddit comes in handy here with /r/DarkNetMarkets. Tor has its own directory of sites you can browse as well. Some popular options like Agora require referral links, which can often be obtained on its forums. Be patient, but do your research to make sure you find a decent market that's not likely to scam you. Once you figure that out, search for tutorials on how to use it safely—here's one for Agora.
The extra time put into the process will be worth the comfort of knowing you're protecting yourself.
5. Investigate the vendor
Once you've decided on a market and feel confident that you can use it safely, start searching for your drug of choice. Don't get ready to make your purchase as soon as you find someone selling what you're looking for. One of the greatest benefits of buying drugs online is being sure you're getting a quality product. Customers leave eBay-esque reviews for vendors, letting you know whether you're dealing with a legitimate salesperson or someone looking to rip you off.
(By the way, avoid anyone who requires you to pay them before the transaction is finalized. Most reliable markets require an escrow method of payment to make sure people aren't getting robbed.)
While no one should be buying hard, life-threatening drugs, those committed to doing so are a lot safer when they buy through darknet markets. They avoid the dangers of in-person interactions, can plan purchases in order to avoid buying too much at one time, and can investigate vendors to make sure they're not dealing with someone who delivers product laced with more dangerous substances.
Again, we must reiterate, no one should be buying drugs that can kill them. Get help. Right now.
That said, until we find a way to locate every addict and convince them to turn away from that behavior, being able to buy drugs in an environment that not only allows for safer usage, but actively encourages communication about quality and proper dosing methods. It's the best option for society as a whole.
You're not placing a fast-food order, you're covertly buying illegal substances from an underground marketplace. Sometimes, it can take a few weeks to get what you paid for, and sometimes, it can come disguised in a surprising package. If you feel the need to contact the vendor to make sure everything's all set, do so, but give it some time before you take that step.
While your drug-buying experience may not have been interesting enough to inspire a badass Velvet Underground song, it was, once again, a lot safer than buying it in person. Smoke up and enjoy some of the following knowledge: though it's still too soon to be sure just how the online drug trade will affect the narcotics industry as a whole, experts believe that it's reducing violence, since, aside from the obvious safety involved in never needing to meet your dealer, vendors are no longer focused on fighting each other over turf, since there literally is no turf. Instead of building a business on fear and intimidation, they need to build it on providing a safe, quality product. And, until medical marijuana is legalized everywhere, the many people who can benefit from it now have another form of access.
The drug trade doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon. Might as well have a form of it that limits the danger for all involved.
Here's that link for getting help with addiction one more time. Be safe, everyone.
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