Is FAMU and FSU drug use under control?

Pill bottle containing prescripton drugs | Photo credit: Frankieleon via Flickr

In a high-stressed environment like a college, where the workload appears endless and time seems skimp, one has to ask, are drugs being used as an ingredient to success?

Tallahassee being the home ­­­­­of both Florida A&M University and Florida State University, would seem to be the perfect spot for drug traffickers to hover, and it just may be the perfect “hit.”

When it comes to the numbers, FAMU’s campus saw 68 drug-related offenses this year, according to the 2017 Public Crime Log. According to the report in 2016, 36 cases of drug-related incidents were recorded. In both 2015 and 2014 there were 31 offenses each year.

Possession of cannabis, marijuana, paraphernalia, controlled substances and other drug violations were the listed types of drug-related crime. Paraphernalia can be classified as objects or equipment carried that can be used to conceal, store or create drugs.

Audrey Alexander, administrative lieutenant for the FAMU Police Department, said majority of drug cases on campus are with marijuana.

“Every once in while you may get a very small percentage of cocaine,” Alexander said. “Most of the time that comes from people coming through the campus.”

William Evers, captain of the FSU PD, said the department has witnessed a lot of the pre-packaging of drugs, which could possibly be telling of the usage going on around campus.

Evers said through conversations with students, he found that they sometimes use drugs as a means to cope with the everyday stresses of college. Those pressures could stem from financial issues, test anxieties or personal conflicts.

Alexander said the miseducation of drugs is what worries her the most.

“Our students are not really taking the time to educate themselves about (marijuana) and they’re not taking out time to learn where it’s coming from,” Alexander said. “We have gotten situations where people are getting ‘bad’ marijuana.”

Alexander added that the drugs bought by students could be laced with chemicals that could damage those individuals for the rest of their life.

Another logic for the use of marijuana is that the drug is “herbal” to the students and is derived from the Earth, Alexander said.

David Perry, FSU police chief, said the FSU Police Department has routinely dealt with marijuana and cocaine but occasionally sees prescribed drugs being abused.

“Unfortunately we’re also seeing what seems to be an uptick in large drug sales,” Perry said. “(We see) people trying to traffic marijuana or cocaine to increase sales. We’re starting to see and go after those people who create these opportunities to distribute to our students.”

FSU has seen 199 drug law violations in 2016, 223 in 2015, and 176 in 2014 according to the FSU 2016 Annual Security Safety Report.

FSU does not have specific areas for drug trafficking, but Perry said it is the students doing a majority of the selling.

Like FAMU, FSU’s most prevalent drug is marijuana.

In this day in age one may wonder how students are getting these drugs, and according to Perry the distribution of drugs on FSU’s campus is through a variety of methods.

Whether it is Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, GroupMe, or the traditional meetup, students are finding crafty ways to get their hands on narcotics. But to combat the drug issues on campus, both campus enforcements have taken proactive measures.

For the FSU PD, they have their “First 45” initiative, where the unit is out full force for the first 45 days of each fall semester. For FAMU PD, they utilize their new K9 unit to do on-campus drug busts.

“We expect our numbers to be a little higher during the fall,” Perry said. “That’s the first time away from home for many of our college students. The trend has been that we’ve seen fewer incidents in the spring because we’re so proactive in those first few months.”

The question still remains, why are students turning to drugs during this time of their lives? During separate interviews, Alexander and Perry agreed on one thing: the decriminalization of marijuana.

“Some people feel almost as if it’s been decriminalized already because some have medical permission to use it in other states,” Perry said. “In their minds (marijuana) is working its way through the courts and one day will be legal.”

Even though some states are legalizing the depressant, Florida’s reigns have not loosened, meaning students will be arrested for the possession of marijuana.

David Norway, public information officer for the Tallahassee Police Department, said the department sees a lot of marijuana use, cocaine use and a small percentage of methamphetamine around the city.

“We have a special investigations division that has separate divisions to it. One is for short-term drug sells on the street and the other is for long-term,” Norway said. “Anywhere where you’re going to have a high population of people is where your street-level sales of narcotics are going to take place.”