Social Drug Supply
Social supply is something that I would imagine many/most drug users have unknowingly participated in. If you were to go to a dealer and pick up a bag of something for you and your best mate then you have indeed participated in social supply and can all too quickly find yourself in front of a judge looking at a maximum sentence of 14 years in the UK (Class B & C) or life imprisonment if that bag in question contained drugs of Class A status.
I recently heard of someone who had picked up 3 grams of cocaine for himself and a good friend and is now looking at some jail time as the police watched the exchange of drugs/money and pounced – something that if you plead innocent to you will find that all too quickly the laws that before you would have had to scour through a criminal practice book or the internet for a good half an hour are being spelt out in front of you and there is no lenience whatsoever. Of course the judge can state that it is common knowledge that drug dealing is illegal and if caught you are likely to go to prison however after watching films such as Blow and American Gangster it comes as no surprise that a lot of people would not constitute picking up a bag for them self and a friend as “drug dealing”. Unfortunately it is only when in this position that you realise that anything other than taking drugs on your own pretty much constitutes as social supply which in court can be translated into the more colloquial “drug dealing”, which takes you back to the rather daunting guidelines spelt out in my last paragraph.
Play the system wrong and you could seriously be looking at a long time behind bars – I’m sure there are many people who think that co-operating with the police in this situation is going to help you out and prove your naivety however when the courts are telling you to pack your bags its all too late to realise that you only helped the police put you inside. It’s a shame as the system often catches those that it sets out to defend due to naivety – after all there are mob bosses who know the law as well, if not better than the lawyers who defend them.
Social supply at the lowest level as I’ve talked about is pretty easy to find yourself involved with if you are a recreational drug user – but what if we’re talking social supply on a very small commercial scale. Say, selling a few ounces of weed each month to friends at university in order to smoke for free – something that having been to university is extremely common. This psychologically is hard to come to terms with that in the eyes of the law you are a full on drug dealer and can expect some form of harsh punishment if facing the magistrates or crown court. Unfortunately the supplying of drugs on a small social scale (unlike cigarettes and alcohol) do not come with a health warning nor any television advertisements that warn you something along the lines of “if the police catch you with this you will go to jail” – you assume (from word of mouth) that like being caught for possession you will receive a caution or at most a fine. Again you could relate this to films and the media in general as the papers and Hollywood are hardly going to mention someone who has been caught with a couple of ounces and had to go to prison for 6 months, firstly because that film wouldn’t be very long or interesting and the media would have to designate a few pages of print every day to the subject.
Of course one could argue that in this situation it is unlikely that you would go to prison however if you’d been caught for say possession of cannabis in your teens and then possession (with intent to supply) in your early twenties and shoved in front of a magistrate who’s in a bad mood and doesn’t like the look of you – well I’m afraid you are going to prison. It’s not the going to prison so much that is so bad – one of my close friends just came out of Feltham and of course it was no holiday but certainly wasn’t what the general public would imagine it to be like, the worst part of it for him was when he came out and went to get a job – of course no degree and a prison sentence is not going to find you shortlisted for any job whatsoever. All because of a misunderstanding with the law that will stick with you for your whole life, seems a bit ill advertised and slightly unfair to me.
Those that are whiter than white can of course say don’t get involved with drugs – but what if it came to light that David Cameron bought an ounce whilst at Eton and split it between him and Boris Johnson – they’ve both admitted to taking drugs in the past. Or if Boris Johnson a month later had gone to pick up two eighths for the pair of them. They too by the law of the land would have been drug dealers and charged with possession with intent to supply. However unlike my friend they would now have top jobs from their parents contacts, albeit probably not Prime Minister and Mayor of London respectively.
The problem is its all too easy to find yourself in a position where with bad luck you will have the finger pointed at you – perhaps it is the lack of information, perhaps it is the illegality of these substances which are all too easy to get hold of and with the majority of the youth of today widely accepted. Who knows however I do believe that some sort of change is required before the UK ends up like America where nearly 1% of the entire population is incarcerated – but that’s another matter altogether!