The Drug Fentanyl Is So Dangerous, Even Dark Web Drug Dealers Are Refusing To Sell It

The high-strength painkiller has been effectively classified alongside mass-casualty firearms and explosives.

Fentanyl written on a bottle with label.
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The high-strength painkiller has been effectively classified alongside mass-casualty firearms and explosives.

There are a number of illicit drugs, but there is a class of opioids so dangerous that even the crackpots on the dark web refuse to sell it.

That drug is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which doubles up as a high-strength painkiller and is usually laced with heroin for extra potency. In fact, one can imagine the dangers of fentanyl by considering the simple fact that it can be 100 times stronger than heroin, and is therefore much more likely to cause overdoses.

Now, the dangers associated with the drug are being taken seriously, not only by the police, but also by dark web traders, who had made the underground internet one of the biggest marketplaces for fentanyl. But according to the Guardian, dark web traders have now decided to “delist” fentanyl and ban it, effectively classifying it alongside weapons of mass destructions, including high-powered firearms and explosives.

But if one were to think that the dark web marketplace has banned fentanyl because of the danger it poses to people, it would be a wrong assumption. The dark web is infamous for its affinity to commerce no matter what the costs on society, and in this case, fentanyl has been banned because it is considered too high-risk for dark web traders, especially with the likelihood of police crackdowns associated with it.

Even so, this is the first time that drug dealers on the dark web have organized to actually ban a drug.

“If they’ve got people selling very high-risk commodities then it’s going to increase the risk to them,” said Vince O’Brien, one of the NCA’s leads on drugs.

“There are marketplaces that will not accept listings for weapons and explosives – those are the ones that will not accept listings for fentanyl. Clearly, law enforcement would prioritize the supply of weapons, explosives, and fentanyl over, for example, class C drugs – and that might well be why they do this.”

While the typical class of fentanyl is much more lethal than heroin, one particular type — the carfentanyl — is one of the most dangerous drugs available to be used recreationally, with a potency nearly 1,000 times that of heroin. In the United States, fentanyl, mostly owing to its potency, has virtually replaced heroin in many drug markets, thus leading to a deadlier phase of the country’s opioid crisis. From nearly 3,000 deaths due to opioids five years ago, the number of deaths due to fentanyl and other similar drugs stood at 29,000 last year.

So while it is good news that the dark web has banned the drug, it is time that the U.S. authorities would rally together for a similar response outside the internet as well.