Dec 2nd, 2019, 10:20 PM

Selling Drugs: We Have Our Reasons

By Lauren Nanes
Her hands. Image credit: Lauren Nanes
Why a Student Started and Stopped Selling Weed

The concept of smoking weed is no longer as taboo as it once was a couple of years ago. Our friends do it. Our colleagues do it. Some of our siblings do it, even some of our parents. Marijuana usage in the US has become increasingly legalized with currently thirty-three states that have passed laws legalizing weed in some form. Conversations of decriminalization and legalization of weed in France are being had, with the French Senate recently giving the go-ahead for the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes. What is still taboo and highly criminalized, however, is the distribution and selling of weed especially when unregulated. A twenty-four year old, female student at AUP - although now acutely focused on her Psychology major and French minor - had previously spent her last two years of high school generating an income off of selling weed. Although wishing to remain anonymous, she was willing to share why she got involved in distributing weed, how the selling process works, and why she finally decided to stop.


Q: Are you currently a weed user?

A: Yes.

Q: When did you start smoking weed?

A: I started smoking weed regularly around the age of 16. I had smoked before that, but not as regularly.

Q: How were you introduced to drugs in general?

A: I have an older brother and sister. But, well, before we start I just want to make a point to distinguish hard drugs from weed. Especially in the States, I feel like now more and more people are moving away from classifying weed as a hard drug -- so much so that it is becoming legal in various states. But, my introduction into any type of substance or drugs, if that's what you want to call it, was through my older brother and sister. Both of them drank and smoked weed when I was a kid. So, just by watching their behaviors I found out about it.

Q: How were you able to get weed when you first started smoking?

A: Let me think. In the eighth grade, some kid that I was friends with had weed on him. I think he had taken it from his older brother. It was very much through older siblings of friends that most of us would get weed. As eighth graders once we had it we would sit together and try to figure out ways to smoke it. We didn't even know what we were doing. Once I got into high school weed was very easy to find and get.

Q: At what point did you start paying for weed?

A: Personally, I started paying for weed in the eighth grade. I was buying dime bags, which were $10 or splitting a twenty bag with someone.

Q: During this time period had you ever thought about selling drugs like weed before?

A: I think so, just because I was fascinated with pop culture. I have seen the movie Scarface as a child and other movies that kind of glorify that lifestyle. I was attracted to that and I was friends with people who were attracted to that. I definitely thought about it when I was younger.

Buds in hand. Image credit: Unsplash/Sharon Mccutcheon

Q: So at what point did it actually become a possibility for you to start selling drugs?

A: I'm trying to remember my freshman year of high school, that's when I got into a lot of trouble smoking weed. But yeah, freshman year I would buy an eighth, which is three and a half grams, and then I would sell that to a friend for more money. I mostly stuck to selling little bags like that. I began to really sell weed my junior year of high school.

Q: Were you selling to just friends or anyone that would ask?

A: I went to Blair High School, a public school in Maryland. My high school had a lot of students, around 3000 kids, but there were definitely groups of people that knew each other really well. Despite the amount of students it definitely felt like a small school at times. But, I did stick to mostly selling to my friends or kids at my high school. If people would ask if I could sell to their friend I would do that as well.

Q: How much would you charge for the amount that you were selling?

A: When I break down the math, I was actually not getting a good deal back then. I thought I was, but I wasn't. My friends and I would buy an ounce of weed for $200. An ounce is 28 grams. A gram is around $20. 28 multiplied by 20 is 560. That's around how much we would make when we broke the grams down and tried to make a profit. We would do that and then go buy another ounce to make more money.

Q: So you started selling weed with a group of people?

A: I started with my one friend from high school, we did it together. Although, we didn't split the profits. What we made ourselves we kept, but we did do everything together. We would go buy weed together. We would weigh it together. We were partners in that way I guess.

Q: How exactly would you get weed to then sell?

A: We were all smoking weed at that point, but you have to develop a relationship with your dealer in order for them to give you a low price on something. So just through my friend and I smoking a lot and buying from this same dealer over and over again, we were able to ask him if we could buy in bulk. That's how it started. Because he trusted us to keep coming back, he would give us a better price and we started to build a relationship with him.

Q: Did this drug dealer also go to your school?

A: He didn't. I think he was in college, but I'm not exactly sure how I got introduced to him. I think one of my friends knew him and after we bought from him once we began to buy from him a lot because he had good quality weed.


Q: What was the reason that you decided to start selling weed?

A: It was really just a money thing. I did not have a good relationship with my mom at the time. I was living alone with her. I didn't really have any contact with my dad either. I was going through a lot of things in my life and I didn't really think I could just go out and work at like an ice cream parlor or something. That wasn't really my thing. I didn't want to do that. I just wanted to make some money and I also liked smoking weed, so it seemed like a perfect fit.

Q: What did the selling process look like for you?

A: The selling process would usually revolve around someone texting me or asking me in the hallway if they could buy from me.

Q: How would you meet?

A: If they wanted to pick up from me at school we would meet at school. There were areas without any cameras so we would meet there and do it "hand-to-hand" really quickly. I would make most of my sales at school.

Q: Would you ever bump up your prices to certain people you sold to?

A: When I used to sell I definitely robbed people. I would prey on people's ignorance and sell them less than what they were buying. One time I sold a kid oregano. Yeah, I did that once. 

Q: Would you sell better quality drugs to people that you knew?

A: Yeah, one hundred percent. If people were kind of stupid, they didn't know what they were getting, or it was their first time buying I could tell. I would prey on that weakness.

Living alone. Image credit: Unsplah/Kevin Fernandez

Q: Did you have a system to how you would raise your prices?

A: A gram will always be $20. Or it was back then. Half a gram would always be $10. But, once you get to like an eighth range, three and a half grams, or a quarter, seven grams, then you have a range of prices. So, you could tell someone $50 or $65 for an eighth. For a quarter you could tell someone $90 or $110. You have that range where you could give "friend" prices where you wouldn't lose or gain any money, but then you could jack up the prices and gain more money than you normally would.

Q: You describe your process very methodically, almost like a type of business model.

A: I mean it is, you kind of have to look at it like that. If there is money involved it is a business. Of course, it was not legal or regulated, but I decided to handle it with organization. You get the product and however you want to break it down is at your discretion. And if you make good money why wouldn't you continue selling? It's very hard to walk away from it.

Q: Around how much money would you make within, for example, a week of selling weed?

A: Around $400 to $500 a week at my peak.

Q: What did you do with the money that you made from selling weed?

A: I just spent it on myself. Looking back, I really wish that I had saved it. I probably would have been better off in the years to come because I did make a decent amount of money. But, I think when you are that young and you see that much cash you are spending it on clothes and material stuff. Especially because I was living on my own and doing this at 18, I definitely was not as responsible with money as I should have been.

Q: Did you experience any negative consequences to selling weed at that time?

A: I got expelled from high school for this. I sold weed throughout all of my junior year and it was fine. But, during my senior year of high school, I kept selling weed. I mean I was getting good grades, I was getting ready to go to college. My relationship with my mom was even getting a little bit better, ironically, while I was still selling weed on the side. And then one day in high school this girl had gotten caught smoking weed right outside of school. She basically turned in all of the drug dealers that she knew. I was one of them. My school responded by expelling me, but still allowed me to graduate on time. I had to basically be homeschooled for the last semester of my senior year of high school.


Q: Did you stop selling weed after that?

A: No, I didn't. I didn't. After being expelled from high school, my relationship with my mom deteriorated again and she kicked me out of the house. My dad actually got me a place, this tiny apartment, because he didn't want me to live with him either at that time. He had a new wife and it was just not a good situation. At that point I was 18, I had just graduated from high school, my mom had kicked me out of the house, and so I started working at a dog grooming store. I was making decent money, but I still kept selling on the side.

Q: Were you selling to the same people that you sold to in high school?

A: Yeah, it was always the same kind of people and connections. When you have those connections already it's really hard to break away from them. Because you have this clientele built up already, it's really difficult not to continue selling and making money. I know I am prone to risk-taking behavior and that it probably had some share in why I kept going back to selling weed instead of devoting myself to a full-time career.

Q: Until when, exactly, did you sell weed?

A: I was selling weed up until my freshman year of college. I took a year off after high school and worked and then afterward started my freshman year of college at the University of New Orleans. I stopped then just because I had no connections. I didn't know anybody at my university so I didn't really have the opportunity to sell.

Q: Did you only ever sell weed?

A: Um, if I had sold anything else it would have been like a one-off situation. A one-time thing really. Mostly, if I had something like Molly and my friend wanted some. I wouldn't necessarily even make a profit from it. I think I also probably sold a couple of people Xanax a few times.

Q: Have you had any problems because of selling besides what happened in high school?

A: No, not really. I never had any legal trouble either. And because I was out of my parents' house, I no longer had any problems with my mom for selling weed.

Q: How did you make the decision to stop?

A: Even when I grew contacts at my university in New Orleans I got tired of it. I was tired of having people text me all of the time and keeping up with random numbers. And of course, there was a little bit of fear; whether or not I was going to get robbed or if someone was going to tell the police. There is always a bit of anxiety that comes with selling and I guess I was tired of feeling that.

Q: Did you know anyone personally that had gotten robbed or turned into the police?

A: Yeah, definitely. In high school, there was a lot of bad shit that went down, stuff that I'm not sure I'm necessarily comfortable talking about. There was violence - people getting jumped and a lot of one-on-one fights. I never committed any of those acts but I definitely saw them happen. I knew my friends were doing it. I mean I've gotten robbed before. The area that we were going to high school in was a nice area - suburban - but I think a lot of people wanted to make names for themselves and so they tried to act "hard." There were many robberies and fights in high school.

Q: What is your current point of view towards selling weed?

A:  I don't know if I have a view. I have personal opinions and views for myself; I know I don't want to do it again. Yes, I should tell everyone, "Don't sell drugs kids!" because technically it's wrong. But, I think people are in tough situations sometimes and don't have access to good jobs or substantial ways to make money. If selling weed is what they feel like they have to do, I don't think that makes them a bad person in any way. I do think it's a different question with harder drugs like heroin because then you are selling something that can really ruin people's lives. But, I think we can all agree that weed is a lot less harmful than something like heroin or cocaine. I don't think that people that sell drugs are bad or flawed in any way. It's probably not the best decision to be made, but I understand why people make it. And I understand why I made it, even if in retrospect I know that it wasn't the right one.


It's important to demystify why people sell drugs. Drug deals and their actors are not always as dark and maleficent as we may perceive them to be. Although the act itself is criminal, the motivations sometimes are not. For this AUP student, selling weed was a fast and easy way to make money. There are economical and social factors that play into why some people decide to sell weed and why others feel that they need to. Inadequate wages, competitive job markets, even the simple prospect of fast and untaxed money are all motivators for selling weed. Without understanding where these motivations come from, why they exist, and how they are embodied we will continue to be left in the dark about the reality of drug dealing.