Bitcoin is a currency that is born out of the Internet and is used on networks both for legal and illegal purposes - the intervention of the state at some level is a foregone conclusion. When it comes to the sale of drugs online, the issues are complex and serious and there is more than what meets the eye.

Bitcoin’s chequered history on the dark web

Recently, Ross Ulbricht, a man who also went by the name of “Dread Pirate Roberts” online, lost his appeal for a new trial. He was the man behind the infamous Silk Road marketplace and operated the website between 2011 and 2013. The marketplace sold things such as drugs, weapons and other contraband.

Ulbricht has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and his original sentence will stand. Silk Road payments were made in Bitcoin and, in fact, $15 mln worth of Bitcoin was recovered from Ulbricht’s computer when he was arrested.

Easy access to dark web drugs is deadly

In a story titled “Opioid Dealers Embrace the Dark Web to Send Deadly Drugs by Mail,” the New York Times published the news of the death of two 13-year-olds, Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth.

These boys died at Park City, Utah after consuming an opioid called “pinky” that they had procured through the dark web using Bitcoin. The father of Grant, Jim Seaver, was quoted in the New York Times as saying: “It’s unimaginable that Grant could gain access to a drug like Pinky so easily, and be gone so quickly, poof. The pain and brutality of this tragedy is crippling.”

According to the same report, there are more than 21,000 listings of opioids and more than 4,100 for fentanyl and similar drugs on AlphaBay, a dark web marketplace.

The answer lies hidden in the darkness

The answer perhaps lies hidden in the darkness of the dark web. Often, drug dealers and consumers have to go underground to get their drugs, exposing themselves to ruthless drug dealers who will sell to anyone who has the money.

Ever since Nixon popularized the term “the war on drugs,” there has been a consistently wrong policy applied to tackling the issue of drugs and addictions. Many countries have created systems where drug users are branded as criminals and we have filled prisons with people who are not inherently criminal.

The best policy could be the legalization of drugs and an above board selling these substances so that the users can get rid of the stigma and get the help they need.

The often cited example is Portugal, where the government treats drug-related issues as one of health and not criminal matters. According to the NPR, drug-related HIV infections in Portugal have since dropped 95 percent. Clearly, there are side benefits associated with the legalization of drugs.

Disassociate Bitcoin from discussion on drugs

Bitcoin is a medium of exchange and even if it disappears one day, people who are forced to go underground to procure their fill of drugs will simply use another medium to get what their addicted bodies need.

On the matter of regulation, so that underage users can’t get access to drugs, Tone Vays of tells us:

“No, what is needed is the legalization of drugs so that those who are selling drugs legally to adults would help expose those abusing the laws and interfering with legal businesses.”

The regulation of Bitcoin is not going to achieve anything significant in either the upliftment of people who abuse substances nor would it benefit the law enforcement authorities. It would simply be chasing symptoms instead of tackling the real problem.

David Mondrus, CEO of, says:

“No to regulation. Regulations never decrease, only increase. And the road to hell is ALWAYS paved with good intentions.”