About a month ago, a student from another University walked into Currier House carrying $12,000 worth of hash oil, a dark brown, sweetsmelling, tar-like substance distilled from hashish ["You take 20 pounds of hash and you get two pounds of hash oil," the dealer said] By the time he left a week later, he had sold an ounce of the drug for $350 and a few grams for $20 each [a gram occupies about one-fourth of a bottle cap.]
Last February, three disgruntled Harvard students left a Yard dorm cursing two of their fellow freshmen for selling mescaline at the "outrageous" price of $2.50 per hit. They could have bought ten hits for only $20, not really a bargain either.
Hard drugs are still available at Harvard, but they are neither as cheap nor as easy to obtain as they were a decade ago. In the late '60s Harvard Square earned a reputation as one of the nation's clearinghouses for drugs. Today the narcotic industry at Harvard has ducked underground, and most hard drugs are available only intermittently.
But the business is still a profitable one. "From dealing grass alone, I can make as much as anyone who works dorm crew all year long," boasted one Harvard sophomore. "If I deal mesc or PCPs, acid or speed, I can make a small fortune every year--maybe pay my tuition!"
Student attitudes on drug usage range widely from enthusiasm to grudging acceptance to resolute disapproval. Though the Harvard community tolerates marijuana to the point where some students have smoked it in lecture halls, both pot and harder drugs are stigmatized in many circles here.
One freshman woman illustrated current attitudes among some students when she said, "Drug use is repulsive. I don't see anything wrong with drinking, but you have to draw the line somewhere, and drugs are simple degeneracy."
Drinking is openly and brashly accepted at Harvard, while pot and other drugs linger as whispers. One senior named Paul who admitted to using mescaline and acid monthly and who classified himself as a daily marijuana smoker said hotly, "This place is so hypocritical. They accept one of the most powerful drugs (alcohol) in plain open view but if I smoke a joint outside in the courtyard someone always glares at me. It's so hypocritical."
Most students interviewed who said they disapprove of marijuana also admitted that they have never tried the drug. Even those who frequently smoke pot approach harder drugs with extreme caution.
One student named John said he is somewhat awestruck by certain drugs because "there is a lot of power not to be messed with."
Nevertheless he said that he has had experience with more drugs since coming to Harvard than he ever did before. "I've discovered a lot of things through drugs I never would have discovered without them, and I've just had plain fun. It wasn't morally right to do it just for fun before, now I feel that having fun is justification in itself."
Grant Bue '80 said he has become "more open minded about the benefits of certain drugs" since coming to Harvard in the fall, but he is also more aware of "their disadvantages."
Liza H. Gold '80 also said she has "been exposed to stronger drugs here" than in her "quiet suburb in Jersey," but that most of her drug experience, as that of most Harvard students, has been confined to marijuana.
Despite pot's wide acceptance among most students, parents and law enforcement officials continue to group it with harder drugs. Cambridge police chief Leo F. Davenport said last week, "The problem with marijuana is that it leads to the harder stuff--LSD, cocaine, mescaline, speed, heroin, the stuff that will hurt you." Davenport still thinks that marijuana is "a major concern" for law enforcement officials.
The Harvard Police report that drug usage on campus, including marijuana use, is on the decline.
Sgt. Richard Smith of the Harvard Police criminal investigation unit said drug use has "gone way down from what it used to be. Most of the trafficking is done by outsiders. We haven't had any problem here in a long time, the last case of student drug trafficking we had was last year."