It wasn't too hard. Pot is the most popular drug in suburbia. It's clean, like the kids using and selling it. Pot users smoke regularly, whereas users of designer drugs like Ecstasy, or cokeheads, or junkies, are -- on this level -- weekend warriors, according to Razz, who admits to moving some Ecstasy and mescaline once in a while. Drugs like cocaine (now called "butter") are much less in demand, and are much riskier in terms of jail time, so it doesn't make much sense to sell them. "If you want to make flow [high profits], cocaine is a good way to cash in," he admits, "but butterheads are wigged-out customers who'll call you at 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning," and that's just a drag. "And cops don't let you go after finding coke in your car like they might with pot," Razz says. He's been caught and released several times with stern lectures and warnings. He was arrested for possession once, when police found fifteen grams in his car after pulling him over for a traffic violation. That was still five grams short of felony weight, so he spent one night in jail and took part in a county "diversion" program. The program, usually optioned to first offenders, put Razz through "boring-as-hell self-help videos and group counseling." But he loved the free doughnuts.
Still none of this stops him from selling dope, at least for now. The pot supply is endless. The federal National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) tracked a steady rise in marijuana consumption by high school seniors through the Nineties, and estimated that less than a quarter of them smoked in 1992 -- the year Dr. Dre released The Chronic, his epic statement on the subject. More than a third use now (15 million between the ages of 15 and 24 nationally; 100,000 in Miami-Dade). By contrast, Sgt. Castro explains that "drugs like Ecstasy, cocaine, and the popular but banned prescription painkiller, Rohypnol, are mostly produced in the Netherlands, Colombia, or Mexico and smuggled into the U.S. When a large shipment is intercepted by agencies like the Port Authority, it affects the availability and price of the current supply." He adds that pot can be homegrown in back yards and inside houses around the U.S., so prices are stable. According to the Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program, funded by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), over 70 percent of the marijuana sold in the U.S. is cultivated domestically.
"I think I've spoken to maybe two people who've never gotten high," Razz swears. What catches the attention of researchers is the fact that pot use increased most significantly over the past ten years among white adolescents living in suburban areas whose family incomes are in excess of $80,000 per year. NIDA says 48 percent (seven million in the U.S.; 50,000 locally) admitted to smoking in 2000, as compared to 28 percent in 1990.
The common notion of scoring drugs still has these nice kids wandering through the inner city looking for street-corner pushers every time they want a sack. Wrong. If that were the case, there would be plenty of private-school jits getting jacked by hoods or roped by cops (both know white kids driving new rides in shit hoods aren't sociology students). "When a kid gets busted in a place like the 'zero' part of the Grove or Goulds, it's because they're looking for crack, heroin, or coke," Razz affirms. No. The deal is, nice homes, green grass (the kind that grows on lawns) are the new pot turf. Razz says he competes with "countless" dealers throughout Kendall, Coral Gables, Westchester, and South Miami, and describes them as "ordinary people who take up kicking to other ordinaries because none of them want to deal with real criminals." He remembers as a high school freshman eight years ago that "you might have to wait around for a day for good krypie or you had to find someone who was a crook, because there weren't as many people kicking as there are now." So enterprising smokers with no scruples have taken a chance of making a buck off the smokers around them -- their schoolmates, friends, and family. As they cap more, they sell to more people, so it's in the veins of the dream-clean, safe neighborhoods of America. Lotta Razzes out there.
It helps a dealer like Razz to have a friend for a grower. The usual pot "farmer" in Miami-Dade -- outside the collegiate market, according to Sgt. Castro -- is Hispanic and middle-aged. But Razz's guy is Kiki, a graduate of a prestigious prep school, Belen Jesuit, who lives on his own in South Miami and isn't very much older. Like many growers in the preppy pot market, he uses the attic in his apartment to crop pot with all the latest technology.