Civil Liberties

Judge in Ulbricht/Silk Road Case Did Not Believe that the Site Could Reduce Drug Use Harm

Even Though There is No Reason Not to Believe It.


Illuminating accounts from some reporters at or near the sentencing of Ross Ulbricht in the Silk Road trial are coming out this afternoon. Here are a couple of highlights and lowlights of a terrible sentencing decision of life in prison with no parole for a man who did no direct harm to anyone's life and property, and merely faciliated via a website he launched and operated the statutory crimes of sales of illegal items, including drugs

From Andy Greenberg at Wired, who got the only pre-arrest interview with the man running Silk Road under the pseudonym "Dread Pirate Roberts":

"The stated purpose [of the Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn't exist. You were captain of the ship, the dread Pirate Roberts. You made your own laws," [Judge Katherine Forrest] told Ulbricht as she read the sentence.

The Daily Dot reports that the Judge found the (totally correct) arguments that Silk Road's particular style of selling drugs—with no need for buyers and sellers to meet, product and dealer community ratings, and a lively community to exchange intelligent information—reduced some of the harms attendant to the use of sometimes dangerous illegal drugs, nonsense.

She called one specific doctor apparently paid to provide a harm reduction advice presence on Silk Road forums under the name "Dr. X" to be "particularly despicable" and "irresponsible." Parents of people who allegedly overdosed on drugs bought through Silk Road were on hand to help the judge throw the book at Ulbricht.

My Reason feature on the rise and fall and significance of Silk Road, written before the trial.

A Reason TV video on the importance of the case, from before the conviction.