Reads: Reefer Madness and Other Tales from the American Underground

Despite the occasional bravado and leftist rhetoric, I play it just as safe as any other typical Singaporean. Though that’s probably got more to do with balls (the lack of) than anything else. I say all this as a precursor to the fact that I’ve not tried any form of drugs ever, apart from the societally-accepted poisons of alcohol and nicotine, though the idea remains both seductive and vaguely romantic.

Reefer Madness – which is the first of three essays in the book – deals with the marijuana trade in America along with its absurdist law enforcement policies, which impose harsher penalties on a clueless pot smoker than murderers or rapists. This despite exhaustive studies which have shown pot to be less toxic than nicotine, albeit a fair bit more hallucinogenic. Not to mention the various medicinal properties of pot, as opposed to cigarettes, of which there are none. Mostly, the essay hits home when detailing various cases of ruined lives more a result of legal persecution and witchhunts than actual drug abuse.

The next essay is In the Strawberry Fields, which is an indictment of the Californian strawberry industry and its unfair practices regarding migrant labour from Mexico. This bit is quite reminiscent of Schlosser’s earlier Fast Food Nation. The final piece is An Empire of the Obscene, which profiles Reuben Sturman, the greatest porn baron the world has never known. Seriously, Hugh Hefner is a joke next to this guy. Who would’ve thought that the first porn capital of the world would have been as nondescript as Cleveland, Ohio?

Reefer Madness and Other Tales from the American Underground
(ISBN No: 0713996587) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.


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