Did You Know People Are Dealing Drugs on Instagram?

It became illegal to possess or sell 2C-B in the U.S. in 1994. At the time, it was not missed as many other alternatives were readily available, but with the current crackdown on Molly and Meth, it looks like 2CB - and the associated 2C-E and 2CI, are making a comeback. The reason I say “associated” is that the chemical compounds that create 2C-B derivatives like 2C-E and 2CI aren't necessarily illegal and thus can be purchased separately and then combined. This legality status is changing, and in 2012, an amendment was made to Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act to include 9 different 2C chemicals.

The dangers are also growing.

Last year the Guardian reported a number of people were hospitalized after taking 2C-B and last month Time reported on the death of people who had taken 2C-E recreationally.

The 2C drugs fall into something the 2013 United Nations World Drug report classifies as NPS. This stands for new psychoactive substances and this is the category the 2CB and its family fall under.

The report shared that the use of NPS’ increased 50% from 2009-2012, which is pretty substantial.

“There has certainly been an explosion of abuse of the 2C drugs, mostly by teenagers and those in their early twenties,” said DEA spokesperson Dawn Dearden.

So, what does this have to do with Instagram?

Instagram might seem like an odd place to turn for drug purchases, but taking into consideration that the main users of Instagram are 18-34 year olds,(also the main recreational drug user age) it doesn’t seem so strange. Once upon a time, drugs were bought and sold in the confines of dark clubs and rotten stairwells, but now everything is about virtually connecting, and running the drugs through a filter provide a level of removal and security for those concerned.

Yes, you leave a digital trail, but that’s become almost a redundant fear as there are so many people online, that it’s almost impossible for the police to keep track of them. Dealers can gain access to a large clientele, users can find a way to get their kicks and photos of drug taking.. well, that’s just not smart.

However, though the DEA is aware that drugs are being traded on social media, in some ways dealers have an easy route, “Keep in mind that the DEA doesn’t go after the small user, “ said Dearden. “Our intent is to go after the biggest and the baddest of those operating in this market.”

Thus, the small time dealer could easily fall under the radar.

“It’s not our job to monitor them,” said Derden. Often, this would fall under the local police, but as social media has no “obvious” locality, it’s often an untapped - and unmonitored resource.

“People using social media as a way to sell drugs and communicating with buyers is something that we know happens,” said Dearden. “It happens with cellphones and social.”

Sure, user accounts can be tracked and traced, and many Instagram users include GPS data with their uploads. Under the Instagram terms of service they say that, “You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content,” and drug usage and dealing clearly falls into this category. We reached out for comment and received no response.

Even were Instagram to ban certain #2ci and #2Cb hashtags, it’s clear that users would get more creative and choose other labels, so while the company could do more, equally it’s an unsolvable problem.

The final question is one everyone will have to answer on their own: Would you buy drugs on Instagram?

Update: Instagram has responded to this story with this comment: "Instagram has a clear set of community guidelines which make it clear what is and isn't allowed. We encourage people who come across content that makes them uncomfortable to report it to us using the built-in reporting tools next to every photo or video on Instagram."

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