Marko (name changed), who has now turned 18, must spend four months in prison for selling cannabis. It turns out that young drug dealers are becoming an increasingly common phenomenon.
Marko was first convicted of selling marijuana in late 2017 when he was still 17. He came away with a conditional sentence. «It took him less than a month of his two-year probationary period to go back to selling drugs,» said prosecutor Gardi Anderson.
Marko started dealing again in December of 2017. The young man would meet a contact who would give him 30-40 grams of marijuana that Marko would then sell on in smaller quantities.
He was arrested again in April of this year after having sold several batches of the drug. Marko was convicted of a criminal offense in June and will have to spend four months in prison this time after turning 18.
Anderson said that sending such a young person to jail is rare.
Marko’s story reveals a sad and troublesome trend: the police catch more and more underage drug dealers. While alcohol offenses involving minors are becoming less common, problems with drugs are on the rise.
«Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see minors selling drugs in Estonia. A few dozen such cases are processed every year,» said special investigator with the Pärnu Police Department Kati Vaher. Minors have mostly been caught peddling cannabis but also ecstasy pills.
How does a child become a drug dealer? The pattern is often the same. «It starts with them giving drugs a shot, followed in time by a habit and then addiction. The latter is expensive, and the young person will find themselves strapped for cash often.»
One solution is for the young person to buy more of the illegal substance and start selling it to their friends at a premium which they take in drugs. «This leads to even more serious addiction of the substance and the practice of selling it. Kids often find their way to other drugs and end up behind bars or with a broken life,» Vaher said.
The police believe that this can be avoided with the help of school, parents and friends who should keep their eyes open and look for signs of danger. «The most important thing is to notice drug use as early on as possible. This provides the best chance for a clean break,» the investigator said.