Past Meetup

Drugs 2.0, with Mike Power

This Meetup is past

69 people went

Price: £5.00 /per person

Birkbeck College

Torrington Square WC1E 7HX · London

How to find us

Room 402 is on the fourth floor of the main building

Location image of event venue


Drugs 2.0, The Web Revolution That’s Changing How The World Gets High.

About this talk:

The drugs market, in common with every other economic sector, has been disrupted by the rise of the web.

In 2013 so far, 73 new recreational drugs have already been discovered for sale in the EU. Sold mainly online, these synthetic drugs cover every category of intoxication imaginable, and they are, in most cases, completely legal and sold to any curious person with a credit card.

The press called them ‘legal highs’ and they first emerged into the mainstream in around 2008. And for every one that was banned, a new one, slightly modified to avoid the law, would appear a few days later, giving legislators a Sisyphean task.

Mike Power is the British journalist who first documented this phenomenon in 2008, when he broke the news of a new drug, mephedrone, that came to the market and rewrote the rulebook for users, police, politicians, and parents.

We are rapidly moving towards a point where most commerce is carried out online, even drug deals. We should ask: which approaches to drugs availability are working – and which are guaranteed to make things worse?

The rise of anonymous cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and anonymising browsing technologies such as TOR make enforcement of the law, as we look ahead, even more difficult, if not impossible.

This is an area with no easy answers, but it deserves our urgent attention.

About the speaker:

Mike Power is the author of Drugs 2.0, The Web Revolution That’s Changing How The World Gets High (, published earlier this year by Granta/Portobello.

Here are some sample comments about the book, from its page (

• An informed, entertaining and profoundly sobering explanation of the state of play in the modern day global narcotics trade. ... Power delves into the minutiae and oddities of the trade's development in illuminating detail. Some of it is technical, but it's rarely dry and often very funny. ... Drugs 2.0 is profoundly compelling. --Metro

• Powers lifts the lid on forums where amateur chemists and dedicated drug experiments compare notes. Anyone who has remained unaware of the existence of the Dark Web will be genuinely shocked at what it's now possible to buy on the streets. --Herald

• It's a global billion-dollar industry that has been revolutionised by the same forces that have revolutionised everything else and, in this carefully researched book, Power enumerates the ways ... there are some astonishing stories here. --Carole Cadwalladr, Observer

• Though light in tone and often pretty funny, Drugs 2.0 delivers huge amounts of information, user experiences and a very balanced view. Drugs 2.0 is hugely informative and I can't recommend it highly enough if you want to read about how we got to a place, as Power says, "one step ahead of the law". --Testpressing

• A clear-headed look at a hidden subculture. --New Scientist

Mike Power is a writer, editor and digital copywriter with 15 years' experience and a wide range of expertise.

His long-term press clients include The Guardian, Reuters, The Mail On Sunday, The Sunday Herald, Drugscope Magazine, MixMag and Lonely Planet.

As well as his longer investigative pieces on the international drugs trade, he has reported from news wires in Latin America on politics and conflict.

Meeting Logistics:

2pm-4pm, Saturday 23rd November

Venue: Room 402, Birkbeck College (, Torrington Square WC1E 7HX, London.

Room 402 is on the 4th floor in the main Birkbeck College building, in Torrington Square (which is a pedestrian-only square). Torrington Square is about 10 minutes walk from either Russell Square or Goodge St tube stations.

Coffee and other light refreshments can be purchased from the Costa Coffee shop in the reception area of the building, either ahead of or after the meeting.

The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub - The Marlborough Arms (, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ

Optional pre-meeting rendezvous - please feel free to join a small number of regular London Futurist attendees at the Marlborough Arms any time from 12.30pm onwards, for general chat over a light lunch and/or drinks. To find us, look out for a table with a futurist book on it.

Covering meeting costs:

A small fee (£5) is payable to attend this meetup. This fee covers room costs. Please pay in advance, online.

This will be refunded if the meeting is cancelled or rearranged, or if the attendee cancels at least 3 days before the meetup.

Alternatively, if there are still seats available, payment can be made in cash at the door on the day. (Requesting payment in advance assists with accurate planning of the event.)

Journalists are welcome to attend the meeting free-of-charge - please contact the organiser, notifying us in advance of your plans to attend.