Smoking Out America's 'Reefer Madness'

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, May 8, 2003.

  1. By Jason Hopps
    Source: Reuters

    London - When the author of best-selling expose "Fast Food Nation" turned his sights on America's underground economy, he found a mountain of government hypocrisy among all the pot and porn.
    In "Reefer Madness," his second book, author Eric Schlosser broadens his target from fast food and takes a swipe at what he sees as the river of moral and economic contradictions that run through America's so-called "free market" economy.

    "The free market ideology is a myth," said Schlosser, whose "Fast Food Nation," a dig at the burger and fries industry, is still riding high on best-seller charts after more than a year.

    "The government is intervening all the time in the market, but on whose behalf? Is it protecting somebody who wants to smoke marijuana in their home, a migrant worker forced to live in a cave, or, more likely, a multi-national corporation drilling for oil?" he said in a recent interview in London.

    "Reefer Madness" -- a title taken from a 1930s morality movie that warned of hellfire consequences from smoking cannabis -- picks apart America's long-running crusade against pot and porn at a time when governments in much of the western world are letting individuals decide for themselves.

    In the book, Schlosser investigates three pillars of the American underground, marijuana, the traffic in illegal immigrants and pornography, and asks why some private pleasures are strongly punished while public crimes can pass unnoticed.

    "The average convicted killer spends 11 years in prison in the United States and 110,000 people are killed every year by alcohol, but the punishment for possessing even a small amount of marijuana can be life in prison," Schlosser said.

    "At a time of so-called "Orange and Red" terror alerts, the government is using scarce law enforcement resources to round up people making bongs and roach clips and thousands are in prison for marijuana offences," he said.

    Schlosser believes the hypocrisy of the market is laid bare when Republicans and Democrats alike demand "zero tolerance" on marijuana, but accept millions of dollars from alcohol and tobacco lobbyists.

    He said it is contradictions like that that are the real "reefer madness" polluting American society:

    "Certain things cannot be sold because they are immoral, while other things -- such as the exploitation of illegal immigrants, their poverty and poor health -- hardly raise a moral qualm," he writes in the book.

    In "Reefer Madness," Schlosser interviews cannabis smokers and growers who have been shut away for years in prison, but he remains convinced harsh laws against the drug will soften:

    "In the short term I'm pessimistic because the current Bush administration is a radical administration," he said.

    "But in the long term I'm optimistic. A lot of these laws and systems are not sustainable. And If McDonalds can lose money, that proves America's values can change."

    "Reefer Madness and Other Tales From the American Underground" is published by Penguin Books.

    Source: Reuters UK
    Published: May 05, 2003
    Copyright: 2003 Reuters News Service

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