In 2013 Ross Ulbricht was arrested for allegedly operating the black market website Silk Road. In early 2015 he was found convicted in what was essentially a kangaroo trial, where his attorney was prevented from presenting evidence of government corruption in the case, because of an ongoing investigation. Two of the federal agents investigating the case have since been arrested for fraud and money laundering.
Ulbricht’s lead defense attorney Joshua Dratel wrote in a court filing, “In contrast to the government’s portrayal of the Silk Road web site as a more dangerous version of a traditional drug marketplace, in fact the Silk Road web site was in many respects the most responsible such marketplace in history, and consciously and deliberately included recognized harm reduction measures, including access to physician counseling. In addition, transactions on the Silk Road web site were significantly safer than traditional illegal drug purchases, and included quality control and accountability features that made purchasers substantially safer than they were when purchasing drugs in a conventional manner.”
Meghan Ralston, a former harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance says Silk Road was “a peaceable alternative to the often deadly violence so commonly associated with the global drug war, and street drug transactions, in particular.”
Despite the improprieties in the investigation and the trial, and despite the fact that Ross Ulbricht actually made the black market safer, he will be in prison for a minimum of 20 years. The Ulbricht family has said they plan to appeal the conviction, however they shouldn’t need to do so. Ross Ulbricht should be pardoned, as should all non-violent drug offenders!