ERIC SCHLOSSER REEFER MADNESS PDF

Reefer Madness Marijuana has not been de facto legalized, and the war on drugs is not just about cocaine and heroin. These figures are actually higher than the figures nationwide: eight years and eight months in prison is the average punishment for an American found guilty of murder. The prison terms given by Indiana judges tend to be long, but with good behavior an inmate will serve no more than half the nominal sentence. Those facts are worth keeping in mind when considering the case of Mark Young.

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Reefer Madness Marijuana has not been de facto legalized, and the war on drugs is not just about cocaine and heroin. These figures are actually higher than the figures nationwide: eight years and eight months in prison is the average punishment for an American found guilty of murder. The prison terms given by Indiana judges tend to be long, but with good behavior an inmate will serve no more than half the nominal sentence. Those facts are worth keeping in mind when considering the case of Mark Young.

At the age of thirty-eight Young was arrested at his Indianapolis home for brokering the sale of pounds of marijuana grown on a farm in nearby Morgan County. Young was tried and convicted under federal law. He had never before been charged with drug trafficking. He had no history of violent crime. The offense occurred a year and a half prior to his arrest. No confiscated marijuana, money, or physical evidence of any kind linked Young to the crime.

He was convicted solely on the testimony of co-conspirators who were now cooperating with the government. There was so much talk in the s about the decriminalization of marijuana, and the smoking of marijuana is so casually taken for granted in much of our culture, that many people assume that a marijuana offense these days will rarely lead to a prison term.

Calculations based on data provided by the Bureau of Prisons and the United States Sentencing Commission suggest that one of every six inmates in the federal prison system—roughly 15, people—has been incarcerated primarily for a marijuana offense. The number currently being held in state prisons and local jails is more difficult to estimate; a conservative guess would be an additional 20, to 30, A dozen or more marijuana offenders may now be serving life sentences in federal penitentiaries without hope of parole; if one includes middle-aged inmates with sentences of twenty or thirty or forty years, the number condemned to die in prison may reach into the hundreds.

Other inmates—no one knows how many—are serving life sentences in state correctional facilities across the country for growing, selling, or even possessing marijuana.

The phrase "war on drugs" evokes images of Colombian cartels and inner-city crack addicts. In many ways that is a misperception. Marijuana is and has long been the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. It is used here more frequently than all other illegal drugs combined. According to conservative estimates, one third of the American population over the age of eleven has smoked marijuana at least once.

More than 17 million Americans smoked it in At least three million smoke it on a daily basis. Unlike heroin or cocaine, which must be imported, anywhere from a quarter to half of the marijuana used in this country is grown here as well. Throughout this Marijuana Belt drug fortunes are being made by farmers who often seem to have stepped from a page of the old Saturday Evening Post.

Marijuana has well-organized supporters who campaign for its legalization and promote its use through books, magazines, and popular music. They regard marijuana as not only a benign recreational drug but also a form of herbal medicine and a product with industrial applications.

At the heart of the ongoing bitter debate is a hardy weed that can grow wild in all fifty states. The two sides agree that countless lives have been destroyed by marijuana, but disagree about what should be blamed: the plant itself, or the laws forbidding its use. After more than a decade in which penalties for marijuana offenses had been reduced at both the state and federal levels, the laws regarding marijuana were made much tougher in the s.

More resources were devoted to their enforcement, and punishments more severe than those administered during the "reefer madness" of the s became routine. Video:Scenes from the film Reefer Madness. In various forms it has long been familiar throughout the world: in Africa as "dagga," in China as "ma," in Northern Europe as "hemp.

Marijuana has been cultivated for at least 5, years; it is one of the oldest agricultural commodities not grown for food. The stalks of the plant contain fibers that have been woven for millennia to make rope, canvas, and paper.

Cannabis is dioecious, spawning male and female plants in equal proportion. The flowering buds of the female—and to a lesser extent those of the male—secrete a sticky yellow resin rich with cannabinoids, the more than sixty compounds unique to marijuana.

Several of them are psychoactive, most prominently deltatetrahydrocannabinol THC. Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, believes that marijuana will someday be hailed as a "miracle drug," one that is safe, inexpensive, and versatile.

In his book Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine Grinspoon provides anecdotal evidence that smoking marijuana can relieve the nausea associated with chemotherapy, prevent blindness induced by glaucoma, serve as an appetite stimulant for AIDS patients, act as an anti-epileptic, ward off asthma attacks and migraine headaches, alleviate chronic pain, and reduce the muscle spasticity that accompanies multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and paraplegia. Other doctors think that Grinspoon is wildly optimistic, and that no "crude drug" like marijuana—composed of more than chemicals—should be included in the modern pharmacopoeia.

Dronabinol, a synthetic form of deltaTHC, has been available for years, though some clinical oncologists find it inferior to marijuana as an anti-nausea agent. Nevertheless, thirty-six states allow the medicinal use of marijuana, and eight patients are currently receiving it from the Public Health Service. As Grinspoon explains, "You cannot patent this plant.

Marijuana does not create a physical dependence in its users, but it does create a psychological dependence in some. People who smoke marijuana are far more likely to experiment later with other psychoactive drugs, but no direct cause-and-effect relationship has ever been established.

DeltaTHC is highly lipid-soluble and has a half-life of five days, which means that it diffuses widely throughout the human body and remains there for quite some time: an occasional user can fail a urine test three days after smoking a single joint, and a heavy user may test positive after abstaining from marijuana for more than a month.

Studies of lifelong heavy marijuana users in Jamaica, Greece, and Costa Rica reveal little psychological or physiological damage.

Much more research, however, needs to be done in the areas of cognition, reproduction, and immunology. Adolescent users in particular would be at risk if marijuana were found to have pernicious systemic effects. Some studies have shown that short-term memory deficiencies in heavy smokers, though reversible, may endure long after the cessation of marijuana use.

Other studies have demonstrated in vitro and in laboratory animals that marijuana may have a mild immunosuppressive effect, but no study has conclusively linked deltaTHC to immune-system changes in human beings. Well-publicized horror stories from the s—that marijuana kills brain cells, damages chromosomes, and prompts men to grow breasts—were based on faulty research. Smoking marijuana does seem to damage the pulmonary system, in some of the ways that inhaling tobacco smoke does.

In a study of people who have smoked four or five joints a day for more than ten years, the physician Donald P. Tashkin, of the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, has found substantial evidence that marijuana smoke can cause chronic bronchitis, changes in cells of the central airway which are potentially pre-cancerous, and an impairment in scavenger-cell function which could lead to a risk of respiratory infection.

A joint seems to deliver four times as much carcinogenic tar as a tobacco cigarette of the same size. Tashkin expects that some heavy marijuana users will eventually suffer cancers of the mouth, throat, and lungs, although none of his research subjects has yet developed a malignancy.

Oddly enough, the more potent strains of marijuana may prove less dangerous, since less of them needs to be smoked. There is much less disagreement about the short-term health effects of marijuana. According to the physician Leo Hollister, a former president of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, who now teaches at the University of Texas, the occasional use of marijuana by a healthy adult poses no greater risks than the moderate consumption of alcohol.

For a variety of reasons, however, marijuana should not be smoked by schizophrenics, pregnant women, and people with heart conditions. Marijuana is one of the few therapeutically active substances known to man for which there is no well-defined fatal dose. It has been estimated that a person would have to smoke a hundred pounds of marijuana a minute for fifteen minutes in order to induce a lethal response.

Criminalized, Decriminalized, Recriminalized THE first American law pertaining to marijuana, passed by the Virginia Assembly in , required every farmer to grow it.

Hemp was deemed not only a valuable commodity but also a strategic necessity; its fibers were used to make sails and riggings, and its by-products were transformed into oakum for the caulking of wooden ships. Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland eventually allowed hemp to be exchanged as legal tender, in order to stimulate its production and relieve Colonial money shortages.

The domestic production of hemp flourished, especially in Kentucky, until after the Civil War, when it was replaced by imports from Russia and by other domestic materials. In the latter half of the nineteenth century marijuana became a popular ingredient in patent medicines and was sold openly at pharmacies in one-ounce herbal packages and in alcohol-based tinctures as a cure for migraines, rheumatism, and insomnia. The political upheaval in Mexico that culminated in the Revolution of led to a wave of Mexican immigration to states throughout the American Southwest.

The prejudices and fears that greeted these peasant immigrants also extended to their traditional means of intoxication: smoking marijuana. Police officers in Texas claimed that marijuana incited violent crimes, aroused a "lust for blood," and gave its users "superhuman strength.

Sailors and West Indian immigrants brought the practice of smoking marijuana to port cities along the Gulf of Mexico. In New Orleans newspaper articles associated the drug with African-Americans, jazz musicians, prostitutes, and underworld whites. In El Paso, Texas, enacted perhaps the first U. Amid the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment fueled by the Great Depression, public officials from the Southwest and from Louisiana petitioned the Treasury Department to outlaw marijuana. Their efforts were aided by a lurid propaganda campaign.

Anslinger, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, at first doubted the seriousness of the problem and the need for federal legislation, but soon he pursued the goal of a nationwide marijuana prohibition with enormous gusto. In public appearances and radio broadcasts Anslinger asserted that the use of this "evil weed" led to killings, sex crimes, and insanity.

He wrote sensational magazine articles with titles like "Marijuana: Assassin of Youth. A week after it went into effect, a fifty-eight-year-old marijuana dealer named Samuel R. Caldwell became the first person convicted under the new statute. Although marijuana offenders had been treated leniently under state and local laws, Judge J. Foster Symes, of Denver, lectured Caldwell on the viciousness of marijuana and sentenced him to four hard years at Leavenworth Penitentiary.

Harry J. Anslinger is a central figure in the history of American drug policy. He headed the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from its inception through five presidential Administrations spanning more than three decades.

Anslinger had much in common with his rival, J. Edgar Hoover. Both were conservative, staunchly anti-communist proponents of law and order who imbued nascent federal bureaus with their own idiosyncracies. Anslinger did not believe in a public-health approach to drug addiction; he dismissed treatment clinics as "morphine feeding stations" and "barrooms for addicts.

When the New York Academy of Medicine—after years of research—issued a report in concluding that marijuana use did not cause violent behavior, provoke insanity, lead to addiction, or promote opiate use, Anslinger angrily dismissed its authors as "dangerous" and "strange.

The Boggs Act, passed by Congress at the height of the McCarthy era, specified the same penalties for marijuana and heroin offenses—two to five years in prison for first-time possession. Like Hoover, he maintained dossiers on well-known entertainers whose behavior seemed un-American.

For months Anslinger planned a nationwide roundup of popular musicians—a scheme that was foiled by the inability of FBN agents to infiltrate the jazz milieu. In his memoir, The Murderers, Anslinger confessed to having arranged a regular supply of morphine for "one of the most influential members of Congress," who had become an addict.

By , when Harry J. Anslinger retired, many states had passed "little Boggs Acts" with penalties for marijuana possession or sale tougher than those demanded by federal law. In Louisiana sentences for simple possession ranged from five to ninety-nine years; in Missouri a second offense could result in a life sentence; and in Georgia a second conviction for selling marijuana to minors could bring the death penalty.

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Hashish to ashes

Schlosser uses Reefer Madness to discuss three topics — marijuana, pornography, and migrant workers. He provides some historical background, talks about key players, looks at some of the major court battles and government actions that shape the drug, sex, and agricultural industries. He also proposes policies. I enjoyed listening to the book. I listened to Reefer Madness without any expectation except that I would be learning about the three industries described in the title.

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Eric Schlosser

Sociologists, Those interested in American culture. The book is a look at the three pillars of the underground economy of the United States, estimated by Schlosser to be ten percent of U. Must redeem within 90 days. Marijuana is erid best, as it presents some sort of viewpoint about marijuana laws and punishments.

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Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market

Reefer Madness Indeed such is the stated importance of these books that buying them rather than reading them appears less an act of intellectual curiosity than one of social responsibility. Perhaps that is why so many have become bestsellers. At any rate, surely it is time someone wrote a book about the global fall-out of this particular cultural trend. A suitable choice for author might be Eric Schlosser, who knows the genre well, having written Fast Food Nation and, now, Reefer Madness.

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