"Before all the busts there were people partying all over this hill," sighed the teen-aged girl with a sad shake of her head.
As if in sympathy, a friend passed her a lighted joint which she puffed thoughtfully and passed on. "But if I'm going to smoke, I'm going to smoke," she shrugged. "It relaxes you and makes class a little less boring."
The teen-ager and six of her friends were seated at a picnic table on "the hill" at Einstein Senior High - the hangout for those students who gathered to smoke marijuana before and after school and between classes.
Although fewer students have congregated on the hill to smoke openly since the Montgomery County police began their surprise drug busts last month, the members of this group passed a joint almost defiantly.
"I was busted," the girl boasted, recalling how she and eight friends were sitting on the hill smoking dope a few weeks earlier when a police officer carrying a walkie-talkie arrested the group.
She said she was suspended for one day and will be serving on a work program. But being arrested didn't make any difference to her, she noted. "I still get high, but I do kinda look around."
"You've got to be more careful," added another teen-ager. "Don't trust anyone."
Students shouldn't "get ripped and stagger into school" acknowledged another boy. But smoking a little bit, to "get a buzz" makes school much more tolerable, he added.
Another boy who was also arrested at the school said that since the bust he had cut down from "getting high a couple times a day" to smoking every now and then when he had some grass.
"I figure it's okay as long as we're not hurting anybody," chimed in another girl. "The police should be going after people like robbers and murders."
The opinions of those students, however, are by no means a consensus. The reactions of Montgomery County students to the drug busts, and drugs in general, vary widely. As one student put it, "The people who party "smoke marijuana during school are against the drug busts, and the people who don't are mixed."
What follows is a sampling of student, opinions given in interviews at several county schools:
"A lot of students feel it's about time the police came in and arrested students breaking the law, but I feel the majority looks at it a different way. Undercover police coming onto the school grounds causes a lot of disturbance."
"It (the busts) aren't going to stop me. I'd much rather get high than get drunk."
"I'd be high in English class and I could still answer any questions the teacher asked me. I like math, and it may sound strange, but when you're really buzzed it's neat to figure things out and solve equations. Smoking may not help, but it doesn't hurt."
"I think it's disgusting to smoke that stuff. It damages you, and I think it's right that the police arrest students who smoke."
"The majority of the students sympathize with the drug users because they're not hurting anyone else but themselves."
"I think a lot of people don't want to be in school, so they get wasted and just sit there."
"By saying that you don't support the police arrests is in no way saying marijuana shouldbe legalized or schools should be a haven."
"I see students who come into class hyper and can't pass a test. Getting stoned calms them down and they pass with flying colors."
"The whole thing was that I got caught. My father said he was underage and he drank and didn't get arrested and he drove while drunk and didn't get arrested. It's the fact that I got arrested that's humiliating."
"I used to smoke in school, but I stopped because it gets you ragged out and you can't learn."
"I've personally never seen people smoke. I think it's right what the police are doing. People who are breaking the law should be punished."
"I'm the most anti-drug person, but I don't agree with the drug busts. I feel it causes so many problems like protests and peer pressure and student council people get put on the spot."