OPINION: Today we have news of an Invercargill teenager's sentencing for dealing LSD. Crimes serious enough to carry a maximum life imprisonment, but an offender young enough to appear in the Youth Court. Well that's just peachy.
There was no direct evidence presented in the court that she was supplying other teens. The 16 counts she admitted were of offering to supply the drug in cellphone communications; deals she said she was arranging "for friends".
But Judge Becroft was clearly disinclined to any assumption that she was targeting the old remnants of the 1960s Timothy Leary generation.
He wanted it known that this was a highly addictive drug which could have devastating, even catastrophic, consequences on teenagers.
Granted. And those who deal illicit drugs aren't generally known for being reliably scrupulous about to whom they sell.
Whatever the age range of this girl's market, this was a case that should send a direct warning to the community, particularly parents. The police summary cited a recent increase in the quantity of LSD, ecstasy and methamphetamine in general circulation.
The teen had been offering all three. Her sentencing, as sometimes happens, carried something of a mixed message.
The judge stressed that a prison sentence would ordinarily be given, but in the public mind, exceptions aren't all that exceptional any more. So it wasn't all that great a surprise that in this case the girl avoided jail on the grounds of her background. The judge suppressed details of this, referring only to "tragic and difficult" circumstances.
So she escapes jail and instead is on supervision, curfew, non-association, counselling and drug programmes.
She was caught in a police campaign, began last December and January this year, targeting active drug dealers within the Invercargill area. Further afield, there have been more than 2500 arrests and seizures of drugs with a potential worth of $130 million during the past six months. Every gang in the country was involved, police said.
Notably, that campaign also reached into the lives of 248 children who would have watched their parents grow drugs and sell them at the door.
Lately, we've had a British national living in Queenstown charged with importing more than $14,000 of LSD, ecstasy and class C drugs.
And last month, a city labourer caught with more than $11,500 of methylenedioxpyrovalerone (MDPV), ecstasy and LSD in his car was jailed for two years and one month. His lawyer said he had spent most of his drug profits feeding his own habit.
Teenagers are inevitably going to be caught up in this - and not just as consumers. Some are going to be suppliers. This isn't to say that drugs are the new lemonade stands with the cute backwards letters written on the signs, but there's going to be plenty of activity out there, so parents and schools - and pretty much everyone else - need to be acutely aware not only that it's happening, but that lately it's been escalating.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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