FRONTLINE goes behind the scenes of America's marijuana industry, examining
the production, sale, and effort to eradicate the nation's most widely used
illegal drug. The program takes viewers underground to see firsthand hidden
indoor marijuana grow rooms; tells the stories of men and women who are
serving sentences of up to 93 years for marijuana offenses; and
follows law officers as they arrest offenders in the $10 billion a year war on
A guide through this program is former DEA agent Steve White, a
twenty-year veteran of the drug war. Like some other experts in the report, White
believes marijuana growers stand apart from other drug offenders - "...one
thing that amazed me was how cooperative a lot of people were.... how normal in
every other respect they were." Yet, stiff penalties are set for
growers and sellers as a result of mandatory minimum sentences enacted in 1986
and this has angered judges like Thelton Henderson who believe they are
"Busted" shows how the contrast between tough sentences and marijuana's treatment in popular
culture reveals Americans' deeply divided attitudes toward marijuana throughout its
history in the U.S.
And scientific studies of marijuana haven't
resolved the debate over its use.
The one thing nearly everyone agrees on, however, is keeping
marijuana away from kids should be a national priority. FRONTLINE travels to
Warsaw, Indiana to observe D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), a
program to keep illegal drugs out of the hands of children.
In the end, this one-hour report offers a many-sided look at this complex
and polarized issue and the efforts being made by some people to foster a new middle-of-
the-road approach. "We don't want to debate legalization versus
prohibition.... hawks versus doves," says policy analyst Mark A. R. Kleiman.
"We want to look in detail at individual policies and figure out which ones
will actually serve the public interest."
"It's an emotional issue," says agent White. "It's right there with gays in
the military and abortion. Everybody's got an opinion on it, it touches
everybody in America."