The very first thing ever bought or sold on the internet was marijuana, when Stanford and MIT students used ARPANET to make a deal in the early '70s. Today, you can order every conceivable pill or powder with the click of a mouse.
But the online market in narcotics isn't just changing the way drugs are bought and sold; it's changing the nature of drugs themselves. Enterprising dealers are using the Web to engage highly skilled foreign chemists to tweak the chemical structures of banned drugs—just enough to create a similar effect and just enough to render them legal in most parts of the world. Drugs are marketed as "not for human consumption," but everyone knows exactly how they're going to be used—what they can't know is whether their use might prove fatal.
From dancefloors to the offices of apathetic government officials, via social networking sites and underground labs, Mike Power explores this agile, international, virtual subculture that will always be one step ahead of the law.