Engage & Learn

Culture of Drug Dealing

For some, dealing drugs is a way to earn extra money to spend on luxuries. For others dealing is a way to possibly to change their socioeconomic status. In a survey of young dealers, the motives for why they sold drugs were split between these reasons.  Regardless of the reason, dealing drugs is about the money. The need or want for money differs from person to person. Some dealers need money to help support family and can’t find work anywhere else. Others want to earn money to achieve higher status among peers or to purchase personal luxury items.  The same survey also inquired into the average weekly income of a drug dealer, around $672. Compared to this, real jobs pay too little and take up too much time. The dealers interviewed said that they sold on average only 21 weeks out of the year.

Drug dealing is an entrepreneurial venture and most dealers have the desire to grow as entrepreneurs in other markets. They sell because they believe they lack the means to achieve success in another avenue. To establish oneself as a dealer, one needs an understanding of marketing, retail, geography, and other business skills. Adolescent dealers also learn to be out-of-the-box thinkers, take risks, develop a vision, and work hard– all traits of a good entrepreneur. They adapt and foster these skills to combat their socioeconomic circumstance.

Dealer culture is often times intermingled with a culture of violence, whether it be gang activity or gun violence. Dealers establish a territory in which they sell. To prevent other dealers from encroaching on their area, they resort to violence in protecting it with violence.

Sadly, most dealers who start as adolescents never escape the world of drugs and dealing. They are continually sucked into the cycle of dealing drugs, enmeshed in drug culture. Either the dealer finds the benefits are worth the risks, enticed by the money or the dealer becomes trapped by pressure or violence from peers and clients.

The risk of violence and arrest that comes with selling drugs also can affect the decision to deal. Younger drug dealers usually do not sell narcotics like cocaine or heroin. Instead, they deal in marijuana, which is easier to obtain and has less severe punishments if caught. Selling pot is still considered a felony in the United States, although offenders receive less harsh penalties than dealers of heavy narcotics. Still, they run the risk of earning a felony on their permanent record, which can impair their ability to get jobs, get into school, and to succeed later on in their lives.

What factors do you see influencing Shine, Mimic, and Thug’s participation in the cycle of dealing drugs?