Did you know the first thing sold on the internet was weed?

Luke Sumpter

Forget about Amazon and Ebay, the history of using the internet to buy or sell dates back to 1971, when university students used the net to sell a bag of weed.

The Internet is a powerful consumer tool that has made buying easier than ever before. From electronics to home appliances and even food, it’s hard to think of a product or service that you can’t already order online.

But did you know that the first thing ever sold online was a bag of weed? In his book The Dark Net, author Jamie Bartlett explains that computer science students at Stanford and MIT first used the Arpanet network to sell other students a tiny amount of cannabis. The deal took place in 1971.[1]

“In 1972, long before eBay or Amazon, students from Stanford University in California and MIT in Massachusetts conducted the first ever online transaction. Using the Arpanet account at their artificial intelligence lab, the Stanford students sold their counterparts a tiny amount of marijuana,” writes Bartlett.

It is important to note that the deal didn’t involve an online transaction of money. Instead, the students just used the internet to arrange the meeting place for their deal The first official e-commerce transaction would happen over 20 years later when David Kohn a 21-year-old entrepreneur who ran a website based in New Hampshire called NetMarket sold a CD online to friend.


  1. ^ Google Books, The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld, retrieved December-12-2018

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter

Luke has worked as a cannabis journalist and health science researcher for the past seven years. Over this time, he’s developed an advanced understanding of endocannabinoid system science, cannabis phytochemistry, and cultivation techniques.