The rise of the dark web has made it increasingly easy for users to buy illicit drugs, especially weed: Cannabis is the most popular drug on marketplaces like Agora, Evolution and Silk Road 2.
While purchasing substances on these marketplaces may be easy thanks to user reviews—in Russia, getting your hands on them can turn into quite a difficult process.
Drug-related penalties in the country are harsh, even small possession of marijuana can result in three to 10 years behind bars. And just like the rest of the world, cannabis is widely used, accounting for 70 percent of illicit drugs seized by Russian authorities.
Law enforcement in the country have ambiguously broad powers to stop and search anyone deemed “suspicious.” So, dealers and their customers try not to meet in person.
The circumstances have given rise to “Treasure Hunts,” reports the Outline. Drugs are the treasure, and sellers are known as “treasure men.” After a purchase has been made, the treasure men will send the GPS coordinates and a photo of where the treasure is hidden.
Sometimes the drugs are ingeniously disguised, like one user who recently found his package of foil that had a small magnet inside of it.
“Magnet makes a lot of sense, because your order can be attached to anything made of metal around the city,” he explained.
But other times, there are unexpected obstacles. Treasure hunters described encountering wild animals while searching in forests and digging through snow, ice and broken glass.
“Cut off the part of the great finger while digging. Don’t hide treasures in broken glass… I have more fingers though, so I’ll continue to shop here!” wrote one reviewer.
While the practice certainly seems less risky than having a package delivered to your address, it can sometimes result in lost goods.
“Found nothing. Birdhouse wasn’t the best place to hide amphetamine. Hopefully, at least, birdies sped up!” wrote another reviewer.
And if purported YouTube videos of the practice are any indication, treasure hunting can look pretty suspicious—especially if you have trouble finding what you’ve paid for.
Unfortunately for drug users in the country, Russia shows no signs of easing up on the drug war. While the Americas and other parts of Europe are starting to recognize these unhelpful tactics, Russia is one of the most vocal proponents of prohibition on the international stage.
Looks like treasure hunting is here to stay for a while.
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