Safer scoring? Cryptomarkets, threats to safety and interpersonal violence

Barratt, Monica, Ferris, Jason and Winstock, Adam (2016) Safer scoring? Cryptomarkets, threats to safety and interpersonal violence. International Journal of Drug Policy, 35 24-31. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.04.019


Author Barratt, Monica
Ferris, Jason
Winstock, Adam
Title Safer scoring? Cryptomarkets, threats to safety and interpersonal violence
Journal name International Journal of Drug Policy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1873-4758
0955-3959
Publication date 2016-09
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.04.019
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 35
Start page 24
End page 31
Total pages 8
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background

Cryptomarkets are digital platforms that use anonymising software (e.g. Tor) and cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin) to facilitate trade of goods and services, most notably illicit drugs. Cryptomarkets may reduce systemic violence compared with in-person drug trading because no face-to-face contact is required and disputes can be resolved through a neutral third party. In this paper, we describe the purchasing behaviour of cryptomarket users and then compare the self-reported experiences of threats, violence and other drug-market concerns when obtaining drugs from cryptomarkets with obtaining drugs through friends, known dealers and strangers.

Methods

The Global Drug Survey was completed in late 2014 by a self-selected sample who reported accessing drugs through cryptomarkets in the last 12 months (N = 3794).

Results

Their median age was 22 years and 82% were male. The drug types most commonly obtained through cryptomarkets were MDMA/Ecstasy (55%), cannabis (43%) and LSD (35%). Cryptomarket users reported using a median of 2 sources in addition to cryptomarkets to access drugs, the most common being in-person friendships (74%), in-person dealers (57%) and open markets/strangers (26%). When asked to nominate the main source they would use if cryptomarkets were unavailable, 49% nominated friends, 34% known dealers and 4% strangers. ‘Threats to personal safety’ (3%) and ‘experiencing physical violence’ (1%) were less often reported when using cryptomarkets compared with sourcing through friends (14%; 6%), known dealers (24%; 10%) or strangers (35%; 15%). Concerns about drug impurities and law enforcement were reported more often when using the alternative source, while loss of money, waiting too long and not receiving the product were more often reported when using cryptomarkets.

Conclusion

Cryptomarkets are associated with substantially less threats and violence than alternative market types used by cryptomarket customers, even though a large majority of these alternatives were closed networks where violence should be relatively less common.
Keyword Cryptomarkets
Drug markets
Dark web
Violence
Social supply
E-commerce
Anonymity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
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Created: Sat, 18 Jun 2016, 04:35:07 EST by Jason Ferris on behalf of School of Social Science