By Lee Shi-Ian and Halimatul Saadiah Abdul Hamid
KUALA LUMPUR - Students as young as 13 are getting high on cannabis, Ecstasy and ketamine, not just outside schools, but under their teachers' very noses in class.
Even worse, the New Sunday Times found that female students who don't have the money have sex with the pushers for a free supply of drugs.
Students claim the drugs help them relax and recover from the stress of examinations.
A sizeable number of secondary school students, aged between 13 and 17, are very familiar with both plantbased drugs such as cannabis, and synthetic drugs such as Eramin-5.
Students from several national and private schools in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Negri Sembilan admitted they are drug users.
Many come from middle and upper class families and receive generous monthly allowances of between RM250 and RM1,500.
Those who can't afford to buy the drugs, are recruited as pushers by the traffickers. If they hit the "sales target? -- selling drugs to five students a week -- they can get drugs for free.
Female students can get the drugs free by having sex with pushers. They also get discounts but the boys have to pay the full price.
Kylie (not her real name) said she knows of female classmates who sleep with drug pushers to be taken to popular entertainment outlets, and also to get ketamine, Eramin-5 or Happy 5, Ecstasy (in various colours), cannabis, cocaine and syabu or "ice" for free.
Seventeen-year-old Jamil (not his real name) failed his Penilaian Menengah Rendah exam because of his drug habit.
"Even though I failed, I continued to smoke cannabis with my friends at a park near my house."
Jamil gets a monthly allowance of RM300 and pools his resources with friends to buy cannabis. His friends also buy Ecstasy for RM35 a tablet and ketamine for between RM250 and RM300.
Jamil, who is sitting for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations this year, has been drug free for four months and is trying hard to quit.
"I feel very restless though as I have been smoking regularly since I was 15."
Jamil's classmates introduced him to drugs.
"I could not focus on my studies after starting on the habit. I was constantly lightheaded and in a dream-like state."
Alang (not his real name) began doing drugs when he was 14. His peers were doing it, and he did not want to be perceived as a "square". He had also heard that cannabis could help students relax and ease exam stress.
Others told Alang that snorting ketamine was more effective than coffee if he wanted to stay awake and study until morning.
Now 21, Alang also pops Ecstasy and Eramin-5.
"My choice of drugs depends on my mood and where I will be going to hang out. A stressful day means a joint to relax and wind down.
"Clubbing night means Ecstasy, ketamine or Eramin-5 because it helps me to loosen up and groove to the music."
He stocks up every week.
City Narcotics Department chief Assistant Commissioner Kang Chez Chiang said investigations revealed that some of the arrested pushers were selling drugs to students.
"Certain pushers are using students to sell drugs. Some students get RM10 and think they are doing their friends a favour."
There are also students who know what they are doing is wrong but they do it anyway for the money. Many of the drug pushers are studying at institutions of higher learning or have just started working.
"They recruit their juniors to act as runners or even be pushers. They meet once a week," said Farahin (not her real name), 17.
"Some of my more creative classmates sniff glue and correction fluid to get high. They squeeze the correction fluid on a piece of paper and inhale the fumes."
Farahin said there were also students who sprayed muscle relaxant into their mouths to get high.
"They become violent after that and fight in class. The older ones, those between 15 and 17, prefer to inhale glue."
Selangor Narcotics Department chief Assistant Commissioner Nordin Kadir said 541 youngsters, aged between 14 and 18, were arrested in the first six months of the year for drug offences.
Of the figure, 460 were males and 81 females. During the same period last year, there were 229 arrests.
"Many students take drugs because of peer pressure. They want to fit in. There are also those who take drugs because they come from broken families," Nordin said.
According to statistics from the National Anti-Drug Agency, there were 115 cases of 13 to 17-year-olds involved in drugs last year. The agency conducts its own raids, separate from the police.
Akmar (not her real name) said students usually take drugs after school examinations.
"That is when our teachers are busy marking examination papers. We have all the time to wander around, go to other classrooms and meet up with friends," she said.
It is not just urban students who do drugs. The reach of the pushers may not extend to rural areas and small towns but imaginative students there make do with controlled medication such as Dormicum, codeine or Nospan.
In April, 14 lower secondary school students, including three girls, were detained by Bukit Mertajam police for supplying and consuming Nospan.
If more than one pill is taken, the active ingredient in Nospan, dextromethorphan, can induce hallucinations, vomiting and drowsiness.
A Health Ministry source said two or three pills were enough to induce hallucinations. To get the same high from heroin or syabu, addicts would take between five and 10 tablets.
A businessman operating a Chinese medical hall in Seremban was until April selling about 50,000 Nospan pills a month to students for just 50 sen each.
Health Ministry enforcement officers closed down the medical hall as its licence had been revoked more than a year ago. -New Straits Times