At the University of North Florida (UNF) in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, five students were arrested for possessing and selling illegal drugs, including marijuana and LSD. Like many arrests on drug crimes, these arrests were the result of an investigation that started with a tip that students at the UNF were selling drugs and then undercover agents going onto the campus and buying drugs from the suspects. Police will then use the evidence of the undercover drug purchases to obtain a search warrant to search a residence or place where the drugs are suspected of being kept and/or to obtain an arrest warrant for anyone involved in selling the drugs. In this case, the undercover officers were apparently UNF campus police, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office police and Jacksonville Beach Police Department police. In addition to the serious penalties associated with drug possession and sales charges, if convicted these students also face the potential of separate penalties from UNF that could affect their abilities to further their educations.
Another recent article noted an increase in using websites popular with high school and college students as a way to promote drug sales in Florida. Myspace.com is a very popular, high-traffic website that is being used as a conduit for drug sales. It is estimated that there are over 100 million people with a Myspace account. Many of these users are kids and young adults. According to the article referenced above, in the two months before the article was written, the police in Punta Gorda, Florida made nine arrests of people using or trying to use Myspace to sell drugs like, marijuana, crack, cocaine and illegally obtained pills like Oxycontin. While preparing to write the article, the author typed “marijuana” into the search field on Myspace.com and came back with 212,000 results. This, of course, does not mean that there are 212,000 people selling marijuana on Myspace, but it does give an indication of how often marijuana is being mentioned or discussed on the website. Myspace representatives said they try to monitor the website for illegal activity, like drug selling and solicitation of minors, but they are unable to effectively monitor 100 million plus accounts.
Finally, according to recent reports, a new substance with effects similar to illegal drugs is becoming more popular among students. Salvia is a hallucinogenic herb that is smoked and has hallucinogenic effects similar to LSD, a very dangerous and illegal drug. It is currently legal, but Florida lawmakers have proposed a bill that would make possession of Salvia a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
A substance like Salvia is not automatically illegal just because it is similar to, or seems like, other illegal drugs. Just like cocaine and ecstasy years ago, there is often a lag time between when a substance is used by people, becomes popular, gets recognized by the authorities, is studied and then becomes regulated by the government. Currently, Salvia is illegal in eight states. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is currently analyzing the potential for abuse of the substance, its effects on people who use it, its risks and other factors to determine whether Salvia should be labeled a controlled substance. If it is considered a controlled substance, it would then be regulated by the government.