By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Gone are the days when a walk on St. Marks Place between First Avenue and A brought a chorus of "smokesmoke?" and "ganja?" But Mayor Giuliani's cleanup isn't stifling the drug use of college students. "I can pretty much find whatever drug I want," says Myron, a dreadlocked sophomore at the School of Visual Arts. Myron says he maintains a 3.1 grade average, despite "smoking weed every day."
Conversations with a few students from New York schools reveal that casual drug use is common, if not rampant. These students purchase drugs primarily from friends or delivery services and avoid the risk of "cold calling" at clubs. Marijuana, unsurprisingly, seems to be the most abundantly used and the easiest to obtain. Hallucinogenics such as LSD and mushrooms are popular, along with stimulants such as cocaine and Ecstasy. Some drugs, such as Ketamine and DMT (hallucinogens) and GHB (a liquid that produces similar effects to Ecstasy) are available, but less widespread.
Gerard, a business student at NYU, smokes pot three to four times a week, and pops Ecstasy weekly. "When I first got to Waterstreet," he says of the downtown NYU dorm, "I got weed from a friend who had the hookup. But after a while, you just ask around, and find numbers for delivery services." Now Gerard keeps three such numbers handy, and can get $50 worth of "kind bud" (about two grams) or Ecstasy ($25 to $30 a pill) delivered within an hour.
"The first delivery I used, I had to go to their car and they'd drive around the block while I gave them the money. That was so sketchy. Now I use Max Green," he says, referring to a particular service. "That guy comes up and we'll smoke. He tells me stories about all the other people he delivers tocrackheads, Wall Street types, everyone."
Myron used delivery numbers for pot and mushrooms when he first checked into SVA's George Washington dormthen voted tops for drug trafficking by High Times. But he learned quickly that he got better deals by buying from friends. "Delivery services are good in a pinch," he says, "but the count sucks."
Now Myron pays Michael, who will attend Queens College in January, $50 for twice what the delivery services bring. Michael says he doesn't consider himself a drug dealer: "I started because my own habit got so expensive." He gets a quarter-pound of marijuana, keeps a quarter-ounce to smoke, and sells the remainder for a couple of hundred dollars' profit. "I just hook up friends," he says. "It turns out I have a lot of friends."
Myron adds that once you get to the dorms, "everyone knows someone like Michael. That's how I get everything now. You just hear they're going around from friends. Or you know the different scenes. If you want trips or shrooms or hash, go to a Phish show. If you want K or speed, hit Limelight."
But Gerard and Chelle, a premed student at Brooklyn College who takes cocaine and Ecstasy most weekends, say they won't buy from a stranger. "Everyone is worried about getting narc'd," says Chelle. "I only buy from people I know. That way you usually know what you're getting, too. So many people have bought a pill from a stranger at Twilo or wherever, and it never turns out to be Ecstasy."
Gerard cautions that "you don't have to be an expert on drugs. But you should know about what you are taking, and be sensible." Chelle recently saw a girl overdose on GHB: "She was turning blue. I was giving her mouth-to-mouth. No one wanted to take her to the hospital because they were all afraid she'd throw up in their car." Chelle calls the incident an eye-opener. "I didn't do drugs for a long time after that. At least a month."
All four students say they are harder-pressed to find peers who don't do any drugs than ones that do, and that they rarely, if ever, feel pressure to clean up their acts. "The resident assistant on our floor didn't care at all," says Myron. "We came back from Christmas break, and she called this big meeting to address drug use. We all thought, 'This is it.' But it turned out she just told us to towel the door when we smoked. A couple of the security guards in the dorm would actually smoke with us, drink a few beers. That's just New York."
Welcome to it.