News & Politics

The Drug Economy at Columbia University: A Conclusion


This week, we met Columbia’s Drug Dealer Frat Boys, and learned:

So, what’s next for the boys? And, more interestingly: Overall, how are the prices of drugs at Columbia University? Well…

For the Marijuana, 16 ounces to 10 pounds as a sale is a Class C felony in New York, which comes with 1 to 15 years in prison and a $5,000 fine for a first offense. Second offenses includes mandatory jail time. That said, sales to minors is a Class D felony, and carries with it 1 to 7 years of prison and a $5,000 fine.

For Cocaine, more than two ounces comes with a A II Felony, but at 40 grams (under two ounces), these guys are probably looking at a class B non-violent felony, and anywhere from one to three years in prison.

That Ecstasy and LSD is where things get really dicey. Both are “Schedule I” drugs, but in some places (like New York!) so is Marijuana. That said, courts tend to take these drugs more seriously than others, because arrests are rarer as dealers of these drugs are harder to suss out and prosecute due to the discretion inherent in “moving” them, as opposed to coke or weed, neither of which will ever be mistaken for Advil or Altoids. Also, drugs legislators haven’t done themselves generally scare the shit out of them. They probably didn’t sell more than two ounces of E or Acid, though, so they could only be looking at a minimum of 15 years.

This all goes without mentioning that all the drugs sold might not add up, as in, this might not have been a “ring” so much as a coordinated bust, and if that’s the case, the number of drugs sold by each person would be significantly less than the sum total of drugs purchased by cops (or so their lawyers will definitely try to argue), and as such, so are the punishments.

Generally, though, every drug bust is meant to lead to a bigger drug bust, and so long as these kids are first-time offenders and squeal on their dealers — two of whom were already picked up — they might stand a chance in court of not spending too much time in the slammer. Good lawyers help, too, but they cost money. Given that one set of parents showed up to court “with a blank check, prepared to post bail” and that one of the parents of the arrested actually is a lawyer, you can bet at least one of them might skate by sans-jail-time. BWOG did a great service by contacting Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia Law Professor “who specializes in Criminal Law, Drug Policy, and and Juvenile Justice” for opinions on what might happen to the young dealers. You can read about it here, but the most curious thing he notes is that:

“…This is way beyond an informal network of marijuana sales,” he said. Fagan noted that this will make it more difficult for the Manhattan DA to argue for the students.

That’s the exact quote, though to clarify, the Manhattan DA’s going to have an easier case against the students if they really were this organized, though it certainly doesn’t sound any more complex than you’re average fratboy drug dealing operation. Then again, we’re not professors at Columbia Law. And we’ve never purchased drugs from fratboys, either.

The Final Verdict: Drugs at Columbia are either bad (unlikely) or heavily discounted and used by dealers (likely), in which case, prices are great.

Yet, chances are you have to “know someone” (who has yet to be arrested) to take advantage of the “deals,” pun unintended. These guys aren’t too screwed, though. They might be expelled from Columbia, but luckily for them, New York’s draconian Rockefeller drug laws were repealed just last year. Even if they’re screwed, they’re not as screwed as they could’ve been one year ago. As one convict noted to the New York Times‘ CityRoom, the new laws are much easier on dealers than they previously were. Also, they’ve probably been exiled from their frats, but you know: worse things have happened.


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