Monday, January 20, 2020
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Some Hereford seniors buy drugs for sophomores

Upperclassmen at Hereford High School have, on more than a few occasions, purchased e-cigarettes and other illegal substances for underclassmen at the school, the student newspaper at the high school in Parkton, Maryland, is reporting. “There’s not a day that goes by where you can’t find someone under the influence of a substance in school,” writes Emma Charles in the Hereford Harbinger.

The International Association of Top Professionals in October named Bill Geha the Top Drug Counselor of the Year for 2017-2018. Mr Geha is the drug counselor for two school districts in Lucas County, Ohio, the Toledo Blade reports. More than three decades ago, he had a student go to a party, pass out from drinking, and die of alcohol poisoning. That convinced him to become a drug counselor and try to improve the life situation for the next student and the one after that. He has no plans to throw in the towel on this problem, even at 72 years of age. “It’s very painful at times,” the paper quoted him as saying. “Last year I went to four funerals, but I never give up—ever. I know there’s only so much I can do and I just never give up—ever.”

The illegal activity at Hereford seems to be more of a “social thing,” Ms Charles writes. She quotes an unnamed sophomore boy: “I get pods, bud, alcohol, etc., from older kids. It’s great. It gives you a chance to talk to them and ask about their day. It’s just nice.”

With one anonymous senior boy saying he and the woman who works as a cashier—at an anonymous liquor store, of course—are “BFFs, because [he goes] there so much,” it seems there are a number of known hotspots in northern Baltimore County where the employees just don’t care about the age of the purchaser or the subsequent passing on of the product.

The venture is a little profitable for the upperclassmen, one saying he typically charges about $20 to buy $16 pods for freshmen and sophomores. Many of the users have become addicted to the drugs as much as to the social interactions. Not only is purchasing tobacco, alcohol, or e-cigarettes for underage classmates illegal, but if classmates who engage in this trade were true friends, they wouldn’t profit from any activity that was detrimental to their friends’ health.

A report just released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine shows that vaping with e-cigarettes that contain nicotine can be addictive and that teenagers who use the devices may be put at higher risk of switching to traditional smoking. “What the report demonstrates is that despite the popularity of e-cigarettes, little is known about their overall health effects, and there is wide variability from product to product,” the New York Times quoted Matthew L Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, as saying. “That makes the case even stronger for FDA regulation. This report makes very real the concern that e-cigarettes may well increase the use of combustive tobacco products.”

But Ms Charles has a much dimmer outlook on the possibility that the situation with underage drug use, which is illegal, will get better in Parkton:

Now I know nothing is going to stop this trade. It’s a part of our culture no matter how much authorities wish it weren’t. But just look out for yourself and your friends, because not everything is as pretty as it seems when it comes to drugs. Things can take a sharp turn in a split second.

Maryland isn’t the only state that prohibits this kind of trade. Florida, for example, prohibits anyone from providing any tobacco to anyone under the age of 18. It’s a crime there for anyone to sell, deliver, trade, provide, or give tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to underage people. The crime is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. The penalties go up for subsequent convictions of this crime.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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