Closer Look

Let’s Talk Drugs: Dealers, Users and Effects

By Brett Levin Photography

It’s been said drugs are everywhere, and for regular readers of The Phoenix, it may seem that way. Our weekly Security Notebook regularly contains blurbs about confiscated drugs and paraphernalia in the dorms.

So we decided to write about Loyola’s drug scene, profiling not only a student drug dealer, but also users who are classmates. We’re not identifying them by name because, well, the drugs we’re talking about are illegal.

But we wanted to pull back the curtain on drugs — their availability, their perils and the mindset of those who buy and sell.

THE DEALER

The 20-year-old Loyola sophomore may not seem like the traditional drug dealer. She’s a woman, first off, and she only sells weed-filled brownies to people she knows.

She said she’s a low volume seller but can still make a good buck.

The student dealer said she sells brownies for $10 a piece and can make up to $200 on one batch. She said she doesn’t sell regularly, but it’s a good way to make extra cash.

Selling weed is a high source of income; the average cost of 1 gram in Chicago is about $20, according to Price of Weed, a website where weed users can document the price of weed they bought so interested buyers know what to expect. The average price for a gram is about $20 in Washington D.C. and New York City, too. However, the price increases and decreases based on the quality of cannabis.

“I have [eaten the brownies] before, but I try not to indulge in my own product because they have too much of an effect on me,” said the 20-year-old. “I usually make sure there’s between three and four grams in each batch.”

The 20-year-old said she has never overdosed on weed, and it’s unlikely that anyone buying her brownies will. Overdosing is possible, but no one has died from a marijuana overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Since she doesn’t pay much for tuition and bills, she said she spends the profits from selling brownies on more drugs.

She said she makes about $100 by selling one batch of brownies.

She said she gets the weed from a larger dealer, who gets it from an off-campus dealer. There are two reasons she doesn’t worry about having a bad trip. First, she said she trusts the people she buys from. Second, she said dealers don’t want bad things to happen to anyone either.

THE USERS

It’s easy to find some drugs on campus at Loyola, and many students take advantage of this.

One 19-year-old sophomore from Chicago said she enjoys the feeling of being high and that she can get almost any drug she wants through her friends. She said some of these students live near her, while others are people she knows from in the city. If her friends don’t have the drugs she wants then they will know where she can get them, she said.

The 19-year-old said she has experimented with several forms of drugs, including weed, cocaine, molly (MDMA), Ecstasy, crack and prescription medications, such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Codeine, Xanax, Adderall, Vyvanse and Ritalin.

“I hate being sober,” she said. “When [I use drugs], my inhibitions are lower and I’m less self-conscious. [Drugs are] an escape or a coping mechanism.”

She said it’s easy to fake symptoms so doctors will write prescriptions.

The 19-year-old said she has a prescription of Vyvanse from faking symptoms — a drug used to treat ADHD and binge-eating disorder — and uses it to help her study and occasionally make some extra cash by selling it.

“Sometimes I sell them when people actively seek them from me,” said the 19-year-old. “I don’t call myself a drug dealer, though. It’s all just word-of-mouth, and I sell [Vyvanse pills] for like $5 a pop.”

She said she doesn’t sell often so she doesn’t make much money. The drugs she’s buying aren’t cheap, though.

“There’s kind of a barter system for payment,” said the sophomore. “When I was in high school, I used to ask my mom for money to go out and buy food but would buy drugs instead. So I would pay [the dealers] in food that I bought with the money my mom gave me.”

A 20-year-old sophomore can relate to the high cost of being high all the time. He said he spent this weekend getting high with his friends as one last hoorah until the semester is over. He said he spent about $200 to $300 last month on marijuana.

He explained that finding a dealer is relatively easy for him, especially as a commuter.

“I have many friends who deal me weed,” he said. “One of my buddies lives in Seattle and will actually ship to me and my friends.”

This student said he smokes weed at least once a day, sometimes more. While some might categorize him as a stoner, he is not worried about his smoking habits. He said he keeps up his grades in all of his classes and focuses on school.

He said he gets most of his weed from high school friends, not Loyola students.

THE RISKS

Alcohol, marijuana and prescription medications are among the top drugs commonly abused by college students, according to a study by Dual Diagnosis. Some other drugs on that list include over-the-counter medicines, cocaine and Ecstasy.

Despite popular belief, there are potential long-term effects of frequent marijuana use. Using marijuana affects brain development and can also reduce thinking, memory and learning functions of the brain, according to a National Institute of Drug Abuse report. Other symptoms include difficulty breathing and increased heart rate.

In addition to having negative effects on personal health, recreational marijuana is illegal in Illinois. Penalties for possession of marijuana range from a misdemeanor with up to 30 days in prison and a $1,500 fine, to a felony with four to 30 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, according to a list published on the Drug Possession Laws website.

The consequences of getting caught in possession of hard drugs, such as cocaine, heroin or morphine, are even worse. It’s considered a felony and is punishable by imprisonment between four and 50 years, according to Illinois Drug Possession Laws and Penalties.

The unofficial marijuana holiday, 4/20, on April 20, is celebrated around the world. However, Loyola is not 4/20 friendly, and neither are universities across the country.  Although these students don’t seem worried about the legality of selling and using drugs, there can be serious consequences from the university.

Depending on the severity of the violation, a student’s financial aid can also be taken away if they’ve caught selling or using drugs, according to Loyola’s Alcohol and Other Drug Policy. The use of drugs on Loyola’s campus can result in fines of $50 to $200, 10 to 20 service hours, 20 to 40 disciplinary hours and extensive educational service projects or expulsion from the university.

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Krista Watson is a Closer Look reporter. She is from Warren, Ohio and a sophomore studying AD/PR. She is a member of Public Relations Student Society of America and a contributor to Go Global Blogger.

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