A degree in dealing

January 9, 1998

Student supplier makes Pounds 1,000 a month

JOHN (not his real name) sells drugs. A business studies undergraduate, he did not go to university with the intention of becoming a dealer. "It was freshers' week, and everybody was asking where they could score. There was a gap in the market," he smiles.

Now, unlike the majority of colleagues at his university, he worries little about student debt. He can make up to Pounds 1,000 per month, he boasts.

When higher education minister Tessa Blackstone called last year for more entrepreneurship in undergraduate courses, she surely did not have this in mind. But John, who has never heard of Baroness Blackstone, does not want to struggle for cash like his colleagues. And he is proud of his business acumen. With a little opportunism and minimal effort, he has found a lucrative opening.

John can buy cannabis resin, in bulk, at Pounds 60 an ounce, from older friends in his home town. "It's Pounds 15 for an eighth (of an ounce) so I make Pounds 120 an ounce - 100 per cent profit," he says. He knew enough of student life to realise there would be a market for his wares but after just one term at university, his enterprise has snowballed.

The more cannabis he buys, the cheaper his unit cost. And the demand seems endless. He started dealing to his closer new friends. But he lives in a hall of residence with more than 200 students and word gets round quickly. His empire is constantly expanding.

"It is getting a bit out of hand," he admits. "But it is hard to resist. It is easy money."

But it seems that for John, the kudos brought by his new-found occupation is as important as the cash. Dealing from his room in hall, he has a constant stream of visitors. Many stop for a chat, or a game on his computer, or to practise their DJ-ing skills on his record decks - he has all the trappings of a disposable income that few of his flatmates can match.

Happy to boast to almost anyone who will listen, he appears almost oblivious to the risks involved in his new trade. All the comings and goings in and out of his student flat are recorded on closed-circuit television systems. "People have probably dealt from rooms in this hall for years," he says. "I'm not taking any chances, but I think I would spot it if there was a policeman knocking at my door. If I get caught by the university, I'd probably just get kicked out."

He has no moral qualms, either. "I'm dealing to students - adults. They're responsible enough to know what they are doing. They come to me. I'm not ramming it down their throats."

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