Lambeth has had relatively high rates of both drug possession and drug trafficking in London for several years. 1 Mick, a detached youth worker in Brixton, said, 'Drugs is definitely a part of young people's lives today'. Why do young people use drugs? What do young people do when 'high'? This chapter explores how drugs are part of the young people's lives by exploring their use of illicit drugs, and their attitudes towards and experiences of selling such drugs. The first section examines the young people's frequency of use, their behaviours when using drugs, and their attitudes towards different types of drugs. The second half of the chapter addresses how, where and why four of them sold crack, heroin and/or cannabis.
Nearly all of the young people in my sample said they had tried cannabis at least once. Many of them who committed more serious offences used cannabis on a daily or frequent basis, and, if not for the money they made from their acquisitive offences, maintaining this level of use would be difficult. And while cannabis use was not uncommon amongst my sample, the same cannot be said of other drugs. Only 6 of the 31 young people said they had tried other drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, amphetamines or aerosol inhalants, and several of them expressed negative views of 'hard' Class A drugs, particularly heroin and crack, as well as those who used these drugs. Overall, the young people appeared to have a set of differentiated values regarding the use of various drugs.
Cannabis was the most widely self-reported drug used, a point in line with other research (for example Aldridge et al. 1999; Flood-Page et al. 2000; Graham and Bowling 1995; Parker et al. 1988, 1995). In fact only 5 of the 31 young people in my sample had not tried cannabis, which they referred to as 'draw', 'gear', 'puff', 'herbs' or 'greens'. 'Skinning up' means to produce a marijuana spliff, 'blazing down' means to smoke it and 'getting a buzz' were the ideals expressed by the young people as to why they smoke weed.
In terms of experiences with cannabis, significant differences emerged between