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Books - The Dream Sellers
Written by Richard Blum   
Saturday, 08 December 2012 00:00

We sought to identify drug dealers representing as many different levels of activity, kinds of people, and types of drugs trafficked as possible. We wanted to be able to compare one type of dealer with another, but since we did not know what the "real" population of all dealers is like—for they are a concealed group—we could not use ordinary census-type survey procedures to gather our sample. Instead, we set sampling goals based on population diversity, which we knew to exist. We could not estimate the actual size of these diverse groups within the total population of illicit drug dealers; so we did not set quotas of the sort which, in ordinary surveys, aim to get proportionate representation. Our diversity sampling, for example, did require that we obtain some young and some old dealers, some who had been arrested and some who had not, some in jail and some out, some selling LSD and some selling heroin; some from the Haight-Ashbury, some from the Tenderloin, some from suburbs, some from communes, some from each ethnic group in the Bay Area, some who had quit as well as those still in the business, and so on. We also set sampling limits; for example, after we had interviewed ten street hallucinogen peddlers in the HaightAshbury, we stopped seeking any more of this breed and shifted to a different place, dealer level, or user population. When we did know something of a population's real size—for example, the percentage of blacks in the Bay Area—we tried to be sure that the number of dealers drawn from that group would be roughly proportional. Thus, 9 per cent of our sample is black; blacks constitute about 8 per cent of the Bay Area population, where most of our work was done.

Our work-a-day procedures were simple. We had been studying drug users in the Bay Area for nearly ten years. We had studied hippie, student, patient, professional, and other groups of illicit users. We had been involved in various education and treatment endeavors. We had colleagues working in diverse settings, ranging from detoxification centers, vice squads, church counseling services, prisons, and the like, to free clinics, poverty programs, neighborhood centers, and user self• help enterprises. Finally, from prior work, we knew a number of dealers. To begin our work, we turned to all these sources. We asked those who were willing to join us—and whom we thought reliable—to become interviewers. We pretested, for several rounds, an interview schedule which, when judged satisfactorily by interviewers and interviewees, we adopted along with a detailed set of instructions for use and a set of standards for behavior. The latter were to assure the safety and anonymity of dealer subjects and the safety and reputation of interviewers. From the standpoint of cooperation, clarity, and safety, the procedures worked.

One basic and bedeviling problem was never solved. Since we could not identify subjects by name, we could not reinterview them for reliability; nor could we independently assess them to test the validity of their replies. For the most part, dealers were interviewed by interviewers who already knew them and thus were in a position independently to judge the truth or falseness of what was said. Even so, we accept the possibility that we were told lies and that the data do not entirely reflect the state of affairs of some of our dealers. We did ask each dealer what questions he believed other dealers would not answer truthfully. Almost half (45 per cent) of our sample thought that dealers would lie about something—mostly how much money they made; that is, they would brag about and exaggerate their income. (Four per cent of this group believed that other dealers would lie about everything.) In our study of deception among normal citizens (Blum, 1972), 18 per cent of our subjects said that they or their neighbors were also likely to lie about their incomes. In this matter—as, we shall see, in some other matters—our dealers reflect American status and values. Indeed, exaggerating income and personal worth ranked first as the kind of lie reported by respectable (randomly sampled) American families as they spoke of lies told to neighbors, lies told to casual acquaintances, and lies between good friends. The relationship between the dealer and his interviewer was usually that of friends or acquaintances, and so the dealers' surmise about lie-evoking questions is compatible with the normal citizens' pattern.

We estimate that several thousand nonincarcerated dealers in the Bay Area were identified during over two years of field work, 1968 to 1971. Among these, 480 constitute that sample which we refer to as the variegated dealer and which occupies our attention in these early chapters. These were dealers who met our sampling goals and who cooperated with us.

Sample Characteristics

Our dealers range in age from 12 to 70 years old. The median age is in the 19 to 23 bracket. About three fourths are male, and 65 per cent have never been married. Nearly 10 per cent eschew the conventional marital categories (married, separated, divorced) and spoke of homosexual, group living (multiple partners as in a commune), or other unconventional sexual arrangements. Over half of the sample have had some college education. Ten per cent have college degrees; one fourth have some high school education; about one fifth hold high school diplomas. Nearly all of those reporting incomplete schooling-65 per cent of the total sample—said that they were dropouts.

Most of the dealers in the sample were already known to our interviewers or were introduced through friends or acquaintances. About one fifth were sampled via a formal police contact (that is, they were in jail or on parole). At the time of the interview half held a straight (legitimate) job; half did not. Half of those working held white-collar or professional positions; half held blue-collar positions. Businessmen are represented among the dealers as are civil servants, artists, and others. In fact, the only major urban work levels or styles not represented in the sample are clerics, housewives, or major corporation executives. As we have already noted, most (84 per cent) of our
dealers are white; about 9 per cent are black; the rest are Oriental or classified themselves as racially mixed. On old-fashioned anthropologi-
cal grounds we classify Mexican-Americans as Caucasian, even though young Mexican-Americans in California now often identify themselves separately—on social-ethnic grounds--as "Chicano."


Fifty-five per cent of the dealers' fathers hold white-collar or professional or business positions; and more than S per cent work in religious or supervisory civil service occupations. Thus, over 60 per cent of the dealers came from upper- or middle-class families. (U.S. Census figures show that approximately 47 per cent of California families have heads of households in these upper- or middle-class jobs.) The single most frequent occupation for mothers is that of housewife. Less than 15 per cent are employed as domestic servants or in working-class jobs. Mothers and fathers (45 per cent mothers, 36 per cent fathers) are most often Protestant, with Catholics (29 per cent mothers, 26 per cent fathers) second. About 10 per cent of the families profess Judaism. Excluding those families with one or both parents deceased, the majority (58 per cent) of the parents are married and living together; one third are either divorced or separated or (in a few instances) were never married to each other.

The drug-use and criminal histories of the parents were of interest to us. Alcoholism is described in one or both parents by 28 per cent of the dealers, with the father more often alcoholic. Three per cent describe one or both parents as opiate addicts. Felony arrests are noted for their parents by 23 per cent of the dealers. As with alcoholism and addiction, fathers more often than mothers have felony-arrest histories.

We cannot be sure that the dealers' characterizations of their parents as either alcoholic or drug-addicted are correct. If we accept them, it is apparent that the alcoholism occurs more often in the parents of dealers than would be expected to occur among married adults; problem drinkers occur among the total adult population at a rate of approximately 6 per cent (Blum and Blum, 1967).

Similarly, a drug-addiction rate of 3 per cent—even presuming that barbiturate dependency as well as opiate dependency is included—is many times greater than would be expected from a representative adult population; estimates of narcotics addicts in the United States at any point in time do not exceed 200,000. The dealer parents' addiction rate does, however, come closer to the 4 per cent rough-estimate figure in the Bay Area normal population study (Blum and associates, 1969a) of overall illicit-narcotics experience. One wonders whether the dealers believe that their nonaddicting parents' experience with narcotics really constituted addiction; or whether dealers are reporting "real" addictions at a rate so much higher than past studies estimate because there really is much hidden addiction; or whether dealers are simply inaccurate in describing their parents—for example, projecting their own drug habits, justifying them, and the like.

We inquired about the dealers' brothers and sisters. The average number of children in the dealers' families runs between three and four. Fifteen per cent of the dealers are only children and one third are the eldest; altogether, about half of our sample are first-born children. Given the average family size of 3.6 children, there are more first borns than would ordinarily be expected. Ordinal position in the family may be a factor in becoming a dealer. (See Schacter, 1962.)

When we examine the reported delinquency pattern among dealers' brothers and sisters, we find that the older siblings have had more frequent arrests than the younger ones. On the other hand, reversing the positive age and delinquency association, there are more juvenile than adult arrests for dealers' siblings. Among the oldest siblings, vis-a-vis the dealer, one fifth had at least juvenile arrests. Among the dealers themselves, 62 per cent have had juvenile and/or adult arrests. Analysis of age and delinquency reveals that the differences between dealers and their siblings in reported delinquency are not due to artifacts arising from sex or age differences. Individual (idiosyncratic) propensities are clearly operative.

Among the arrested siblings at all ages (here again their siblings are contrasted to the dealers) narcotics offenses are far and away the most common reason for arrest. Among oldest siblings, that is, the oldest in the families excluding the dealer, these narcotics offenses occur at least ten times more often than the next most common offense, which is drunkenness—and that too is a drug offense. However, the actual number of arrests for narcotics violations among siblings of dealers is small compared with the prevalence of illicit use that is not revealed by arrest; for instance, among oldest siblings the ratio of narcotics arrest to prevalence of illicit use, as described by the dealer for his sibling, runs one to three. This ratio of arrests to illicit use remains constant at one to three for all siblings down through the fifth sibling. Drug peddling also is found among siblings, but not as often as illicit use. On the other hand, peddling among siblings occurs at the same rate as moderate or heavy illicit-drug use. As with overall delinquency, siblings' drug commerce is less common than that of the dealers. For example, among the older sibs (who deal the most) about one fifth are said to deal; among these dealers about half are very active dealers (that is, those who peddle regularly). Drinking problems, as identified by our dealers, occur more rarely among siblings than among their parents. About 11 per cent of the oldest siblings are said to have alcohol problems. This estimation rate decreases to 5 per cent through sibling 5. As a proportion of siblings with alcohol problems, this rate is fairly constant.

The sibling data—and here we focus on the oldest sibling, since that is the one with the greatest chance of having used drugs—show that the rate for overall illicit drug use by eldest siblings is 31 per cent. This figure, given the oldest sibling's median age of 24 to 35, suggests that the dealers' siblings rates are "average" for California urban resident (under 29) illicit-drug use.

We asked whether the dealer's siblings had ever initiated him or her into the use of drugs. Nearly one fifth of the dealers say that they were first given at least one illicit drug by their oldest sibling. There is a gradually decreasing role for younger siblings as initiators of an illicit drug experience; for the very youngest, no teaching role at all is described. We asked whether siblings had also introduced the responding dealer to criminality other than illicit-drug use. Although this did occur, again with decreasing frequency the younger the sibling, it was rare; for example, only about 3 per cent attribute to the oldest sibling any role as a criminal leader or teacher. As a final question we asked the dealer whether he likes his siblings. Most, between 80 and 90 per cent, like all of their brothers and sisters. There is no indication of any greater affection for those who had taught them drug use—or were themselves users—than for the younger, straighter, siblings.

Interests and Social Relations

Aside from drugs, and drug-related sociability, what leisures do the individuals in our sample enjoy? Although many are mentioned, there is a striking theme: 90 per cent list activities that are solitary. Only 7 per cent enjoy team sports and athletics; about 12 per cent mention nondrug social activities. (Double coding accounts for a sum > 100 per cent.) As for their risk-taking propensities, most of them like fast cars, but only 40 per cent like gambling.

What about preferences in other matters? In school the most favored subjects are arts and humanities; technology and hard sciences are second; the social sciences are third. In politics the great majority prefer liberal Democrats; some prefer the radical left; Republicans are far behind. In religion the preference is for "nothing"; only a minority claim Catholicism, followed by Protestantism, mysticism, and Judaism. These preferences mirror those reported by drug users in general (R. H. Blum, 1969).

As far as family relationships are concerned, most claim that they get along well with their parents; only 9 per cent state that they emphatically do not. As for teachers, half claim that they were liked by their teachers; a strong minority say that they were both liked and disliked; one third claim that their teachers either disliked them or were indifferent to them. Being liked was not enough to keep them in school. We have already noted that many are dropouts; further, the majority (60 per cent) were truants before they quit. We presume that the truancy was in high school; for whereas most (72 per cent) enjoyed elementary school, a lesser number (63 per cent and 61 per cent, respectively) enjoyed junior high and high school. Among those attending college, most (79 per cent) report enjoying it; paradoxically, however, most did not complete it (although a few are still there). In school most claim that they were either average or above average in popularity, although over one fourth say that they were either unpopular or loners. The majority had many or some close friends, but one third had no friends or only a few.

In discussing present friendships, 71 per cent indicate that they have close friends who are not drug users. Two thirds say that they have close ties to someone of the opposite sex: spouse, boy or girl friend, or mistress/lover. As for settling down to enduring relationships such as marriage (only 13 per cent are now married and living with their spouse), about half think well of that; many are not sure or are antipathetic.

Asked about spending patterns, 40 per cent say that they are spenders, not savers; only 17 per cent confess to being thrifty, parsimonious, or otherwise "saving" without a spending goal. Even so, 40 per cent report investments; most do not use charge accounts (85 per cent); half have no present debts, and the debts outstanding average under $500. They are also lenders—although not so many of theme as are borrowers—with the average debtor owing them under $500. More intend to pay their creditors back than say they expect to see themselves repaid. As for their individual income requirements, these are modest indeed compared to their actual incomes, the median being between $200 and $300 per month. We conclude that ours is not totally a spendthrift sample and that they are capable of self-control in financial matters.


Turning to their own person, we asked each dealer to describe himself. In analyzing these responses we coded for the tenor of that description—whether self-approving or self-rejecting—and for the substance of it; that is, we tried to discern an underlying set of values or orientations linked to particular traits, and we classified dealers by the most-used terms (or traits) in their self-descriptions. We set one theme as that of the Protestant ethic; terms linked to this theme are "hard-working," "competent," "self-controlled," "foresightful," and the like. Another theme is the naturalist-humanistic one encountered so much these days in the drug scene; traits linked to this theme are "loving," "relaxed," "pacifist," "sincere," "natural," and "friendly." A third theme is that of the modern psychological ethic; words here cover the range of diagnoses, adjustment, and insight such as "aware of myself," "uptight," "nervous," "paranoid," "at peace with myself," "self-realized," "intelligent," "open," and "honest with oneself." Another theme is that of the artistic ethic; self-description classifications here include "creative," "artistic," "musical," "flamboyant," "intense," and "emotional."

The theme of the conventional religious ethic also appears, although conspicuous by its rarity. Self-descriptions linked to it include "I believe in God," "Christian," "religious," "pious," and "God-fearing." Another theme is that of the uncertain soul. Here are classified those who use terms such as "seeker," "searcher," "trying to find myself," "unsure," or "I don't know." A final theme is that specific to drug use—as, for example, "junkie," "head," "freak," and "ex-addict."
The self-descriptions reveal considerable self-acceptance; in their descriptions of themselves, 51 per cent of the sample use only words that we judge to be benign. Thirty per cent offer a mixed, indifferent, or negative view; 4 per cent have only bad things to say about themselves.

As for the descriptive themes, the naturalist-humanist one prevails two to one over any other. The most common traits offered are "free," "natural," "sincere," "unspoiled," and "friendly." In second place is the psychological ethic, with the uncertain soul a close third; indeed, some may prefer to place these inner-state-concerned and adjustment-oriented themes together (in which case that combination equals the naturalist-humanists). Psychological terms popular are "aware," "realizing one's own potential," "honest with self," and "no hang-ups"; favored items of the uncertain souls are "I don't know," "haven't found myself," and "searching." The Protestant ethic runs a very weak fourth (outranked three to one by psychological or naturalist folk); the artistic ethic behind that; the drug ethic next; and, by less than 1 per cent, the religious man or woman.

Descriptions by Interviewers

"0 wad some power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as others see us!" Perhaps it exists, for our interviewers rated the dealers. The interviewers were diverse in outlook and untrained in rating; their ratings were not checked for reliability and not subjected to validation. Consequently, these ratings have only the same poor virtues as the self-descriptions: words used by humans to describe other humans without assurance of agreement. The rating-list words and the percentages so described are as follows: (A) friendly (85), reliable (58); (B) angry (5), domineering (6), suspicious (13), unreliable (4); (C) businesslike (20), good salesman (58); (D) nervous (12), confused (8), slowed or overactive (14), ill at ease (11).

If we take A (friendly and reliable) to reflect approval in two areas, immediate social relations and trustworthiness, we conclude that most of our interviewers (85 per cent) approve of the dealers as social beings but that fewer (58 per cent) are confident about their trustworthiness or consistency. If we take B to reflect disapproval in aspects of interpersonal relations and, again, trustworthiness, we again find that the majority of our interviewers enjoy or approve the dealers' person, as in A. Fifty-eight per cent of the raters check the positive rating "reliable," but only 4 per cent check the negative rating "unreliable." There is clearly a discrepancy in the raters' behavior and, we infer, the certainty with which they view the trustworthiness or predictability of dealers they are rating. Let us assume that C estimates aspects of work competence. If so, our dealers impress interviewers more as salesmen than as hard-headed and matter-of-fact business types. Let us treat D as a diagnostic device. The results imply that a fairly consistent proportion of the dealers suffer at least visible strain and possibly worse —disorders in thinking, affect, or mood. Let us return to C and reconsider "businesslike" as a Protestant virtue. Our interviewers rated that ethic, then used it twice as often as the Protestant ethic theme emerged in the dealers' own self-descriptions.

Interviewers also rated dealers on their dress, hair style, and hair grooming. In dress the descriptions and ratings were as follows:
casual (60 per cent), conventional (29 per cent), high style (8 per cent), shabby (8 per cent), flamboyant (5 per cent), and dirty (3 per cent). Hair styles are, for males, collar length (46 per cent), conventional or crewcut (37 per cent), shoulder length or below (17 per cent). For females, the long, smooth, below-shoulder (hippie) style is the most common hair arrangement. Hair grooming for 91 per cent of the males and 93 per cent of the females was described as clean, combed, and well kept.

History of Drug Use

Each dealer was asked to complete the drug-experience profile we used earlier. (Blum and associates, 1969b). Because this history-taking device was generally used in informal settings, and because dealers sometimes showed a casual disregard for the definitions of amount of use, the results obtained are general, not exact, indications of the dealers' drug-use histories.

With regard first to the approved social drug alcohol, 27 per cent of the dealers report that they began drinking during childhood (up to age 13), with 12 per cent of those who did drink doing so regularly (more than once a week) or considerably (more than four drinks a day). Alcohol consumption increases sharply during the teen years, with 88 per cent reporting any alcohol use and 10 per cent of these users describing considerable use. The prevalence pattern continues during the early twenties, when drinking by the 87 per cent reporting shows increases to include 37 per cent who drink regularly to heavily and 14 per cent heavily. Among the older dealers (26 or over) a decline in use occurs; but among those (66 per cent) still drinking, "considerable" drinking is proportionately greater (22 per cent).

A similar pattern occurs for tobacco. We find that 27 per cent began smoking in childhood, with 34 per cent smoking regularly (more than once a week) or considerably (one package or more per day). A sharp increase occurs in the teens, with 77 per cent smoking and, among these, 70 per cent smoking regularly (38 per cent of the regular smokers smoking considerably). A further increase has occurred by the early twenties; 82 per cent now smoke, and 86 per cent of the smokers are regular or heavy smokers, 57 per cent smoking one pack or more a day. A slight decline in prevalence (to 77 per cent), occurs with age; but the incidence of heavy use among smokers continues as before.

With regard to tranquilizers we find use prevalent among 26 per
cent of the dealers during their teens and 39 per cent during the early twenties (19 to 25 bracket); after 25 a decrease in prevalence is reported (30 per cent). However, among those who continue to use tranquilizers, the incidence of regular (more than once a week, but less than seven times weekly) and considerable (daily use) use rises—from about one fourth during the teens and early twenties to two fifths among dealers 26 and older.

Thirty-seven per cent of the dealers reported that they used
sedatives when they were teen-agers; 53 per cent in their early twenties; and only 43 per cent later (25 years and older). From age 13 on, the incidence of regular (more than once a week, but less than seven times a week) and considerable (daily) use remains constant (about 30 per cent); but an increasing proportion over time become daily users (from 12 per cent in teens to 14 per cent in twenties to 18 per cent of those 25 and older).

The histories show most amphetamine use beginning in the teens, with a prevalence of use of 50 per cent. By the early twenties prevalence has increased to 69 per cent, followed by a decline after age 25 (back to 52 per cent). There is a constant incidence of regular (more than once a week, but less than seven times a week) and considerable (daily) use, averaging about 40 per cent from age 13. If one singles out the heaviest use, the incidence pattern (20 per cent considerable) remains unchanged with age. With regard to manner of use, nearly half (45 per cent) report intravenous use of (mostly) methamphetamine.

Cannabis (marijuana and hashish) ranks third behind alcohol and tobacco in its use during childhood. Six per cent of the dealers report cannabis experience before 13. A sharp increase occurs during the teens, with 65 per cent reporting use; 90 per cent of the dealers say that they used cannabis by age 25. A slight decline after age 25 is reported, with 82 per cent of those 25 and over reporting cannabis use. The incidence of regular (more than once a week, but less than seven times a week) and considerable (daily) use increases from the teens to the early twenties (from 68 per cent to 80 per cent) and falls off somewhat after age 25 (70 per cent). Heavy (daily) use remains constant for about 44 per cent of all the users from age 19 onward. As for the type of cannabis used, most dealers report experience with both marijuana and hashish. However, 28 per cent of the users say that they have had only marijuana.

Hallucinogen use is reported by 36 per cent of the dealers during their teen years and had increased to 69 per cent for those in the 19-25 bracket. Dealers over 25 are more likely to abstain from hallucinogens than the 19 to 25 group, for only half of those over 25 report ,any hallucinogen use. About half of the using sample (46 per cent and 49 per cent) report either regular use (once or twice or three times a month) or considerable use (four or more times a month) from the teens through early twenties; but only 41 per cent of those using after age 25 report regular or considerable use.

As for opiates, 1 per cent report childhood use: 35 per cent during the teen years, 66 per cent during the early twenties, and only 57 per cent in later years (25 or older). Heavy use (defined as regular or considerable; that is, more than once a week to daily) characterizes most childhood users: 30 per cent of those in their teens, 35 per cent of the early-twenty group; 66 per cent among the 26-and-older dealers.

Cocaine experience is described by 1 per cent in childhood, 15 per cent in the teens, 39 per cent in the early twenties, and 26 per cent in the older group. Heavy use (regular or considerable; that is, more than once a week to daily) is reported by 18 per cent in the teens, 14 per cent in the early twenties, and 36 per cent in the older dealer group.

The use of special substances (gasoline, glue, nitrous oxide, etc.) began for a few in childhood, peaking in use (to 26 per cent prevalence) during the teens and early twenties, and declining thereafter (15 per cent using after age 25). Heavy use declined from a high proportion of 17 per cent of the teen users to 7 per cent in the early twenties and then rose again after age 25 to 18 per cent. However, the teen users most often used glue or gasoline and the over-25 group, if they used at all, most often used more esoteric substances such as nitrous oxide, atropine, or amyl nitrate. Multiple special-substance use occurs more often in the 13 to 18 age group.

Index of "Favorite" Drugs. We thought an index for drug dealers' enduringly favorite psychoactive drugs would be interesting. We created an index by ranking each drug according to the greatest number in any age bracket who had ever tried it, the least absolute decline in use with increasing age, the greatest heavy use (for alcohol our "considerable" category, for all others our "regular" or "considerable" category) in any age bracket, and the greatest increase in intensity of use from any early years to the post-25 years. Arbitrarily we gave equal rank to drugs when percentage-point differences were less than 5 per cent between them. The overall ranking of enduring favorites places tobacco first and cannabis and opiates a close second. Classifying favorites (drugs of enduring demand in three major groups), we find, in order, (1) tobacco, cannabis, and opiates; (2) tranquilizers, alcohol, cocaine, hallucinogens, amphetamines, and sedatives; (3) the special substances (least in demand).

Shifting emphasis now, let us compare our dealer sample with a "normal" population. We can do this only crudely, since data on "normal" drug use are limited; and, ideally our dealers should be matched with controls from the same age, background, and so forth. As thifigs stand, it is apparent that compared with a normal population drawn from the Bay Area in 1966 (Blum and associates, 1969a) and again in 1969 (Manheimer, Mellinger, and Baiter, 1969) the dealer group's overall rate of use for all psychoactive drugs is considerably greater than that of adults drawn randomly from the same region. Comparing dealers with special samples—for example, college students —again one sees much higher use among the dealers.


It appears that dealers' parents are more likely than ordinary parents to have serious drug-dependency problems. The parents are also likely to have more visible (publicly recorded) criminality than ordinary parents. Dealers' parents also come more heavily from high socioeconomic levels than lower levels. A bimodal distribution, one of middle-class and one of disordered lower-class families, is implied within the variegated dealer population. As for the brothers and sisters, they appear to use illicit drugs at approximately the "normal" rate for the region(s) in which they live. They appear to have escaped illicit-drug involvement, including dealing, as well as the delinquency which characterizes the dealers. The foregoing suggest that family factors (drugs and crime) are predictors for drug dealing (see, for example, Robins, 1966) but, in addition, personal or idiosyncratic features within the youth (or adult) himself will have to be invoked.

The histories of the dealers shows that nearly all (476 of 480) are themselves involved in illicit-drug use; that the majority of dealers have at one time or another used a variety of psychoactive substances (including alcohol, tobacco, sedatives, amphetamines, cannabis, hallucinogens, and opiates); that some dealers decrease their drug use as they grow older, whereas others continue to use at least some potent substances with increasing frequency. A hierarchy of drug preferences, measured by an index of enduring favorites, ranks tobacco, cannabis, and the opiates first and sedatives and the special substances (glue, thinner, and so on) last.

Most dealers report that their favorite nondrug leisure activities are solitary ones. They claim good relationships with parents and teachers, reasonable popularity among peers, friends, and heterosexual ties. On the other hand, most had been truant from school, a third are without close friends, only 13 per cent are married and living with their spouse (compared to an estimated California average of 66 per cent for that age group), and half are dubious about ever settling down. ,

Half of the dealers describe themselves in self-approving terms; only 5 per cent are solely negative in their self-appraisals. Most of the self-descriptions reveal an adherence to the naturalist-humanistic ethic prevalent in the drug scene, or the modern psychological ethic, or the theme of the uncertain soul. Words most used in self-descriptions illustrating these self-views are "free," "natural, "aware," "honest with self," "friendly," "realistic," "I don't know," "unsure," and "haven't found myself."

Dealers were rated by the interviewers. The ratings suggest that the interviewers liked most of the dealers but saw a small but consistent minority as, at best, ill at ease and, at worst, suffering mental and emotional upset. In their appearance, most dealers were well groomed and neither flamboyant nor hippie types. Their appearance is in keeping with their own counsel not to attract attention and be discreet. It is also compatible with their avowal of many values of the dominant non-dealing, nonusing society.


Our valuable member Richard Blum has been with us since Tuesday, 21 February 2012.

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