Adam and Russel began selling during their sophomore years at Purdue. The process for them was simple: They were fronted marijuana on a buy now, pay later basis. Russel said that when things went well, he would be fronted a half pound of marijuana with an $800 payment due at the end of the week. “But I could turn that money into $2,000 and that is $1,200 a week for a sophomore that didn’t have a job,” he said. They would send out text messages to their clients when product came in, advertising for movies and CDs that were code for marijuana. Both Adam and Russel built up clientele over the following year, and with each addition to their client base the money continued to pour in. For Adam, however, there was a darker side to his sudden success. “It’s a huge gamble when you have the opportunity to make some money, and then it happens so easily and quickly, it’s really hard to turn down,” Adam said. “You keep making more and more, but in your mind you know that your winning can end suddenly and the ride will be over.” Adam would soon learn how right he was.
It was October 2008 when Adam was arrested and charged with four drug-related counts: dealing and possession of marijuana, both Class D felonies; possession of paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor; and maintaining a common nuisance. Adam was home studying for an exam late at night when he heard a knock at the door. His roommate answered, cracking the door open to find a uniformed police officer. He unintentionally cracked the door just enough to give the officer a glimpse of the marijuana paraphernalia sitting on the table. The officer now had probable cause to search the entire house. Soon after entering, police discovered several pounds of marijuana and several thousand dollars in cash stacked in neat piles on top of Adam’s dresser. Currently, Adam is serving 5 or more months of home detention, 6 months of supervised probation, 6 months of unsupervised probation, 5 days on a work crew, and rehabilitation for his prior offenses. “The good times were extremely good,” Adam said. “I paid for everything on my own and even funded a Spring Break trip. But that can’t compare to what I’m doing now; the bad times have been toward the other extreme.” Adam is confined to his apartment except for going to work, attending class or taking three hours of weekly free time. He also submits to weekly alcohol and drug screens. Adam said he has left selling in his past and mostly focuses on school now. He still hopes to get a degree from Purdue. For those like Russel, who are still in the business, Adam offered a bit of advice. “Stop before you get to the top,” Adam said. “Because odds are you’ll eventually come down, and the come-down sucks.”