Late last year, an 18-year-old University of South Alabama student was shot and killed by a police officer when he acted out while apparently high on a potent, lab-made research chemical called 25I-C-NBOMe.
Our Birmingham drug crime defense attorneys understand that the officer was recently cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting, but the entire incident has sparked a discussion regarding teen drug use, arrests and addiction in Alabama.
The drug that this student consumed was reportedly transported from Birmingham to Mobile, where the incident happened.
in some ways, the chain of events was not surprising, given what we already know about Alabama teens and drug use. According to a study conducted not long ago by Pride Surveys, students were polled in each state during the 2008-2009 school year. What they found was the teenagers in Alabama have recently used alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs more frequently than those in most other areas of the country.
The students were in grades 6 through 12, and ranked higher than the national average when it came to recent consumption of:
- Beer (15.9 percent to 15.8 percent);
- Liquor (15.7 percent to 15.3 percent);
- Tobacco (13.6 percent to 12.2 percent);
- Marijuana (10.4 percent to 10.2 percent);
- Cocaine (3 percent to 2.4 percent);
- Uppers (4.1 percent to 3.5 percent);
- Downers (4 percent to 3.4 percent);
- Inhalants (3.8 percent to 2.9 percent);
- Hallucinogens (3 percent to 2.4 percent);
- Heroin (2.7 percent to 2 percent);
- Steroids (2.8 percent to 2 percent);
- Ecstasy (3 percent to 2.3 percent);
- Oxycontin (3.2 percent to 2.7 percent);
- Methamphetamine (2.7 percent to 2.1 percent).
Throughout the state, more than 20 percent – 1 out of 5 teens – said they had consumed alcohol in the last 30 days.
Clearly, Alabama’s youth has a serious drug problem. Unfortunately, the way that local authorities often find fit to deal with them is through the criminal justice system. Not only is this ineffective in terms of curbing long-term addiction rates, it ends up leaving our youth worse off. If they emerge from the ordeal with a felony or even a misdemeanor drug conviction, it can be much tougher to get into a good college or find employment in the future. We end up slamming doors in their faces before they’ve ever really started on their journey.
The recent shooting of the university student prompted a roundtable discussion, hosted by the local newspaper, with the Drug Education Council and other area advocates. Some of the key takeaways from that gathering were this:
- After alcohol, prescription drugs were the most commonly used substance by teens between the ages of 12 and 18 – topping even marijuana usage.
- A single drink is enough for an underage drinker to reach the 0.02 percent legal threshold allowable by law.
- Anyone caught with an underage ID kid can actually be charged with a felony, as the process involves the altering of the state seal.
Our Birmingham drug crime defense attorneys know that the one thing many youthful offenders have going for them is a lack of extensive criminal history (usually). This, combined with the fact that many prosecutors and judges are more amenable to treatment options for younger offenders than for younger offenders, may work in your favor. However, it’s not a given. Having a good lawyer is the first step.