A look inside the College’s unseen drug culture

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March 23, 2010

5:43 AM

Charlie is an enterprising student at the College of William and Mary who took an idea and used his drive, acumen and intelligence to develop a profitable business: Charlie was a drug dealer.

Charlie, whose name was changed for this story to protect his identity, used to sell illegal drugs, primarily marijuana and illegally obtained prescription drugs such as adderall and painkillers, to students at the College.

According to Charlie, the College’s population of habitual drug users is more diverse than is commonly assumed.

“Are you kidding me? Everyone does them,” he said. “[I sold] to frat kids, non-frat kids, a cappella kids, athletes. Drugs are a common bond that everyone shares.”

Charlie classified himself as an average marijuana seller on campus since he used marijuana in addition to selling it. He contrasted himself with a dealer who buys the drug in bulk with no intention to use it himself or herself or with one who sells whatever is left over from his or her own use.

Charlie began by dealing exclusively to his closest friends and people he knew well. After receiving a lot of requests from other students, he realized that he could turn a bigger profit by expanding to a wider population.

“Everyone smokes weed,” he said. “You can find weed everywhere if you try hard enough. All it takes is 10 minutes.”

Finding there was more money to be made in cheaper marijuana, Charlie began purchasing higher quantities of the drug from his off-campus source, netting bigger profits.

“Lower quality stuff means higher profit margins,” he said.

Charlie recounted that he would often be approached at parties or in public by customers who had heard about his supply from other sources. While this increased his earnings and the potential of his business, Charlie began to realize the risks of his illegal actions.

“Too many random people started asking me for drugs,” he said. “I didn’t want to get arrested.”

His caution was warranted. Violating the current drug policy at the College can result in dismissal and arrest, a fact that Alex Leach ’10, a member of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, criticized.

“The current school policy doesn’t reflect Virginia law,” Leach said. “School law punishes possession [of marijuana] much harsher than underage drinking.”

Virginia law currently punishes underage drinking with a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to 12 months in jail, while possession of marijuana without the intent to sell only results in a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in jail. Leach argued that the College’s drug policy is both vague and too harsh.

According to Leach, under current policy, a Resident Assistant is only instructed to document an incident of underage drinking, while they are instructed to call police in the event of marijuana possession.

Leach said that this procedure produces negative consequences.

“Drug users should be treated,” he said. “Suspending them or expelling them just harms them. The individual doesn’t gain anything from the experience.”

Although Charlie agreed that marijuana can be abused, he spoke out against ideas that it is a “gateway drug” that leads to more dangerous drug use. He said that the illegal nature of its purchase and use causes a misconception.

“If weed is a gateway drug, it’s only because you’re forced to come into contact with people who sell other, harder drugs,” Charlie said. “Moderation is key. I know kids who have a 3.9 GPA and smoke pot.”

In the end, Charlie likened the popularity of the drug he once sold to the same reasons for other substances’ success.

“Why do people drink alcohol?” he said. “Why do people use tobacco? Weed is just an extension of that mentality.”

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