busted: america's war on marijuana
Synopsis
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 marijuana.

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 unduly harsh.

"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."

 

 
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