- Advertisement -

'Now Everyone Can Smoke' as Malaysian drug dealers head online

Social media apps like Instagram and Telegram are popular platforms for anonymous transactions involving illicit drugs.

3 minute read

Drug dealers and sellers have begun to leverage online platforms and applications such as Telegram and Instagram to sell illicit goods, with everything from prescription medication to recreational drugs up for grabs.

The transaction process is simple: on Instagram, for example, sellers use hashtags, allowing potential buyers to track phrases such as #goGreen or #allcansmoke.

On Telegram, meanwhile, accounts under the name "green" have been found to be actively selling marijuana, with promotional prices offered nearly every week.

Prospective customers can pick which menu they like and browse through the prices which are updated daily.

In Malaysia, accounts with names such as "GoGreenBot", "Go Green Malaysia", "Malaysia Marijuana Culture", and "Weed Malaysia Go Green" are actively offering several types of cannabis including top picks from Colombia and Thailand.

These groups operate under the slogan "Now Everyone Can Smoke".

Checks by MalaysiaNow of one of these groups found discounts and user testimonials shared nearly every day by the anonymous administrator.

Customers would then contact the administrator's account through direct messaging.

Purchases could be made in person or online, with the condition that sensitive words such as "cannabis", "marijuana" or "green stuff" were not used in the transactions.

If buyers chose to make face-to-face transactions, meetings would be arranged with a courier agent with the drugs hidden in innocuous-looking packages.

But despite the level of activity, there appear to be no concrete statistics on the purchase of drugs through social media.

Target group

While there has been debate on legalising cannabis for medical purposes, Malaysia still has some of the toughest laws against the substance. 

Anyone found in possession of 200g of marijuana is presumed to be trafficking illegal drugs and could face the death sentence, while those in possession of 50g or less face imprisonment of up to 10 years.

A recent survey by the Malaysian government found that some 617,000 people aged 15 to 40 had used drugs and abused substances at least once in their lifetime, while about 395,000 had used drugs and substances in the last 30 days.

MalaysiaNow's checks found that young people are by and large the main target of drug cartels.

There is always the risk of buyers being sold out and caught by the authorities, and there are no guarantees of the quality of the drugs that change hands.

Nevertheless, for young people, the internet appears to be the go-to place for easy access to drugs.

"There is no relationship between the buyers and sellers," a 29-year-old Telegram community member said on condition of anonymity.

"They don't know each other. So buying and selling is easy, and there is very little doubt."

The young man said he found out about the Telegram accounts through chatter with his colleagues at work.

The accounts were believed to have been established several years ago, although the groups' names were changed several times to dodge the authorities.

While he himself has taken marijuana outside of office hours, the youth said not everyone in the community buys the drugs just to get high.

"Some of them buy marijuana for medical purposes," he said.

"But how medical marijuana works, I'm not sure. I've only ever heard about it, I've never seen it for myself."

'Front' in Kedah?

MalaysiaNow is still working to uncover more information about the "Go Green Bot" Telegram account which became active after Thailand allowed the cultivation of cannabis and the use of the drug in food and drinks.

In this group, interested buyers are directed to make payments to an AmBank account under the name of HZ Food Store.

Checks at the Companies Commission of Malaysia found a company in Jitra, Kedah with a similar name, claiming to be in the wholesale food and beverage business.

Locals met by MalaysiaNow said the owner also runs a restaurant and has a bread factory across the border, where a thriving cannabis industry spans several countries including Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Due to banking regulations, MalaysiaNow is unable to track down the name of the AmBank account holder for HZ Food Store.