When Silk Road was shut down by the FBI in 2013, the hidden web for selling illegal drugs became public knowledge. Online black markets pose new threats online for Australian children and families, and their use is expanding. A 2016 study found that Australia had the highest rate of drug retailers per capita on the drug cryptomarkets Agora, and innovations in the international drug trade require new modes of response.

In collaboration with UNSW and other partner universities, Associate Professor Jason Ferris is assessing the global health risks of a rapidly expanding faceless drug trade, including harms for children and young people. The study involves a quantitative cross-sectional drug trends survey, forensic analysis of drugs purchased on cryptomarkets, analysis of digital records, and qualitative interviews.

The results will identify and characterise the health outcomes of drug cryptomarkets. We will produce new knowledge about the impact of cyrptomarkets on the prevalence, intensity and harmfulness of drug use in order to make an overall evaluation of the net health outcomes of drug cryptomarkets.


  • Determine the health outcomes of drug cryptomarkets internationally and for the Australian population specifically

Project team

  • Monica Barratt - Project leader
  • James Marting
  • Ross Coomber
  • David Decary-Hetu
  • Jason Ferris

Project details

Duration: November 2016 - November 2020


  • University of New South Wales (Administering Organisation)
  • The University of Queensland
  • University of Montreal
  • Griffith University
  • Macquarie University

Funding: National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant

Contact: Associate Professor Jason Ferris (j.ferris@uq.edu.au)

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