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

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,827 ratings  ·  428 reviews
In Reefer Madness, the best-selling author of Fast Food Nation investigates America's black market and its far-reaching influence on our society through three of its mainstays -- pot, porn, and illegal immigrants. The underground economy is vast; it comprises perhaps 10 percent -- perhaps more -- of America's overall economy, and it's on the rise. Eric Schlosser charts thi ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 8th 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company (first published 2003)
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Nate Nope, it discusses black market industries: undocumented workers, marijuana, and pornography.
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3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,827 ratings  ·  428 reviews

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David Sarkies
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Investigating America's Vices
19 June 2013

Written the author of Fast Food Nation, this book contains three case studies that each dealing with an area of the black market: marijuana, immigrant workers in the strawberry fields on California, and the hard core porn industry. As one can expect from Schlosser, it is a thoroughly researched and tries to look at these industries in an objective manner, and does not necessarily try to conclude with some left wing conspiracy.

Basically there are lots of
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Potheads, Pornhounds, and Migrant Workers
Eric Schlosser, the grade-a muckraker whose widely read Fast Food Nation catapulted him to fame, returns with Reefer Madness, dedicated to nothing less than examining the underbelly of America's black market. Through three distinct essays (dealing with marijuana, migrant workers, and pornography), he examines the history, underlying economics, policy effects, and future directions of products and services that America can neither seem to abstain from nor openly embrace.

Reefer Madness is a diffic
Brandon T.
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sociologists, Those interested in American culture
Eric Schlosser has made a name for himself by probing behind the scenes of popular American phenomena. He became famous for Fast Food Nation, which was later turned into a film.

Schlosser's subject matter may trend towards the pop world, but his cross of investigative journalism and postmodernist sociology is both fresh and informative. It is obvious that he takes his material as seriously as any professional observer, and the reader reaps the reward of his work in the form of a much clearer unde
Nov 06, 2007 rated it liked it
Reefer Madness is a collection of 3 extended essays about the underground market in America for marijuana, migrant workers, and pornography. The author has focused primarily on the economic aspects of the underground. The topics themselves are quite interesting. Reading about the strict laws against marijuana use are both frightening and mind-boggling. How can consuming something as harmless as a joint warrant a harsher sentence than what is often handed out to murderers or other violent crimina ...more
Jun 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for:
I read and enjoyed Fast Food Nation several years ago. This book is by the same author, Eric Schlosser.

None of the detail or commentary in this book is original, but it is put together in a compelling package and in a manor that makes you think about how some of the laws and prejudices that we have in place are that way, and it just may make you think to question that.

There is a quote in the ending narration of the book that talked about what Freedom means, and it said that if you are going to b
Dec 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was somewhat disappointing after the first section. The section on illegal immigration focused almost entirely on strawberry farmers. That was fine as far as it went (and I don't know that I'll ever buy strawberries again). I was expecting a more broad description of the labor "underground" - and perhaps hoping for a further exploration of the illegal labor market in house cleaning and yards. Those are the places that regular Americans most encounter illegals and I think would have been mor ...more
Jul 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hypocrites
Shelves: booksofthepast
This book proves how bloody hypocritical the American government is (as if anyone doubted it already). An in-depth look at three of the US's most productive underground industries (pornography, illegal immigrant labor, and the marijuana trade), "Reefer Madness" details the ridiculousness with which the US government approaches the processes that make up ten percent of the country's total business. Judging by sales, Americans love pot and porn, but live in a country that has law about them that a ...more
Jun 27, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those researching migrant labor and immigration
Shelves: nonfiction
Like others who have read Fast Food Nation, I picked this up with great hope. Like others who have read this book, I was sorely disappointed.
It is what it is: a gussied up textbook version of marijuana, porn, and migrant labor statistics that feels as sterile as a World Book encyclopedia. I would have been completely disinterested if the book was not peppered with personal accounts. Still, in pages where these stories were absent, reading became unbearable, as if I was in high school again and b
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
(written 6-03)

This was a collection of three essays, one about marijuana law, one about immigrant strawberry pickers, and one about the porn industry. I had already read the first one, found it on the internet, and liked it. The other two were just as insightful and I agree with Schlosser on all points - that the black market is too large to be ignored, that marijuana should be decriminalized, that corporations need to be regulated and the market cannot be trusted to serve the best interests of
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Reefer Madness, investigative journalist Eric Schlosser exposes three of America's biggest black markets--pot, porn and illegal immigrants. These shadow economies bring in billions of dollars that remain off the books. The author's research brings to light how each of these industries has experienced unbelievable growth even as the government has instituted stricter laws and harsher penalties to keep them out of society or out of our borders.

Vince Darcangelo
This review originally appeared in the BOULDER WEEKLY

Notes from the Underground Nation
Through pot, produce and peep shows, Eric Schlosser explores America’s shadow economy.

by Vince Darcangelo
- - - - - - - - - - - -

A poor Midwestern farmer serves time in Leavenworth for growing pot. Migrant farm workers from labor camps sleep in parked cars in Southern California. A comic-book salesman in Cleveland builds a pornography empire and turns the modern porn indu
Dennis Littrell
May 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Schlosser, Eric. Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market (2003) *****
Journalism as social criticism--or vice versa

There are three long, but very well-written essays in this book, portions of which previously appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone and the US News and World Report.

The first, the title essay, is on the marijuana business in the United States with a concentration on the "killer weed's" legal history, its economics and how it is cultivated to
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic history of marijuana and migrant farm workers. The theme of the book is the underground industries where people are paid "under the table". The 3 themes are the marijuana market, migrant farm workers, and the porn industry. Eric Schlosser has done some great research and has presented enough facts and data to make strong conclusions on these topics. The writer states his own beliefs and the end of each section but the facts are so compelling that the reader can figure it out on their o ...more
Oct 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Reefer Madness is not so much a collective novel as much as it is a collection of three essays with a unifying theme. The unifying theme is meant to be the undermining and corruptive “black market” of marijuana, illegal immigrant workers and the porn industry. While each essay has its strengths, the theme as a whole does not really work.

The theme is weak in part because the “black market” aspects of each topic are corruptive in completely different ways. The first essay is the most effective and
Oct 03, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
Reefer madness is a look at the underground economy. Schlosser uses three aspects of the underground economy as a lens; the cultivation of marijuana, the hiring of illegal migrant workers (specifically California agriculture), and the production and distribution of pornography.

Scholosser is very much sympathetic towards the participants in these industries. He paints marijuana growers as small time farmers who are trying to make ends meet, and who are caught in the war on drugs by outsiders who
Ryan Williams
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating triptych of articles from the author of Fast Food Nation. Schlosser has an enviable way of braiding facts, meticulous research, reportage and anecdotes into a speedy, punchy read.

The three long articles making up the meat of the text deal with migrant labour, pot and pornography. Schlosser's appetite for particulars regularly up-ends received wisdom. Of the largest mail-order sex shop in America, the headquarters is 'high-tech and impressive but surreal. Dainty, white-haired souther
Lee Ellen
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this is far better than I imagined. Don't let the name fool you - this is no apologia for sitting around and toking up. It is instead a well-researched and highly informative trio of essays about those that exist in the underbelly of American culture.
The first and eponymous essay concerns marijuana trafficking and the societal costs, the second is about migrant workers in the strawberry fields of California, and the closing essay is about the rise of the s
Nov 12, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I wouldn't
Well written, but overall badly done....don't bother. This follows Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, which was an excellent, well-researched piece of journalism. But this book is very disappointing.

It is supposed to investigate three illegal markets...marijuana, illegal immigrants, and pornography. The section on illegal immigration is less than 35 pages, which is pathetic and doesn't even skim the surface. (He confines his discussion to agricultural workers, leaving our all other categories of ill
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: masochists, supervillains, unshakable optimists
Shelves: from_work, sociology
although by this point, a lot of the statistics are pretty old & some stuff is surely outdated, this is still a very good introductory examination of not only the concept of the black market, but some of the ways society feels its impact. i'm not quite done yet, but there seems to be a dearth of focus on the internet in the porn section, considering that this was written in like 01 or 02...

update: okay, so he did talk more about the internet in the final chapters. the whole thing still just
Oct 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another book on CD I listened to on the way to work - it was really fascinating... lots and lots of info on the taboo topics of the US underground trades of drugs, sex and illegal workers. I liked how the main focus was on the economic and legal impact of each of these issues and not so much on the morality surrounding it (although the laws are often impacted by that!). The author spent a lot of time on the drug trade (almost exclusively about marijuana use/sale) and way too much time on the sex ...more
Mar 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is divided into 3 parts, the common link being black market economics, politics and social implications of weed, farm labor and porn. The porn section was by far the most interesting, covering the fascinating life of porn kind Reuben Sturman, the Godfather of American porn long before the emergence of Playboy and today's current incarnations. Incredibly well-researched, and a fascinating study of a man who started from nothing, from when "porn" barely existed up to the modern era when ...more
Mar 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: consumers, pornographers
Many of the themes in "Fast Food Nation" return here, particularly in the section on migrant labor: Reading it, you quickly become aware of the corner into which our economy has backed itself. As is the case with the fast-food industry, the low costs we take for granted are only possible at the expense of the workers who produce these products. The section on pot is particularly disturbing as well; among other things, it's yet another reminder of what a disaster mandatory minimum sentencing laws ...more
Michael Hildrum
I normally really like books written with views that strongly correlate to my views. However this one was just mediocre.

It is really a collection of three essays by Schlosser.

Marijuana, illegal migrant workers, and pornography are the topics.

Marijuana is the best, as it presents some sort of viewpoint about marijuana laws and punishments. Pornography is the worst, as it jumps around in time and subject from one porn guy to another, and basically just seemed like a jumbled biography of Reuben St
Jeff Flotta
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another well documented book from Schlosser. This one shines light on three taboos in the American culture: marijuana, pornography, and illegal labor. Who is keeping marijuana out of the marketplace and why? Where did pornography get it's start and who profits from it? Would our agriculture industry and economy collapse without illegal immigrants breaking their backs in the fields? Schlosser uncovers the answers to all of the madness in... Reefer Madness.
Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone that can tolerate non-fiction
All so true...
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dad's clinic is in the chapter about porn.
Mark Geise
“Reefer Madness” was interesting, but I wouldn’t say that I loved it. The book is composed of three distinct long essays that are brought together by the introduction and conclusion. The general focus of the book is the black market in America. The first essay deals with marijuana illegality, the second explores migrant labor in California’s strawberry industry, and the third and longest discusses the history of pornography in America. There is a lot of well-sourced information here, but I think ...more
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market
310 pages
© 2003 Eric Schlosser

What do pornography, marijuana, and migrant labor have in common? They're all factors in an underground economy, a vast web of cash-heavy transactions barred (or limited) by laws and social mores, but which generate substantial wealth for those willing to risk criminality. Reefer Madness contains thre seperate exposes on these subjects by the author of Fast Food Nation, followed by a conclusion
Kater Cheek
Schlosser wrote FAST FOOD NATION, which I felt was well researched but lacked consistent writing. I figured he might be a better writer by now, so I picked up REEFER MADNESS, the unfortunately named book that is not strictly about marijuana so much as it's about underground economies.

The book is divided into three sections, the first of which deals with marijuana. You could write a book entirely about marijuana cultivation in the US, and many people have. Schlosser touches a little on the absurd
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about Marijuana policy embedded into the context of the history and mainstream emergence/tolerance of Pornography and immigrant labor issues, specifically within the realm of Cali strawberry farms. Or, perhaps, it’s an equal and parallel treatment of all three issues. Either way this was a quite interesting read.

Schlosser, of Fast Food and meat industry shenanigans exposé fame, provides an overview of these three areas - with their Black Market machinations - in an attempt to expo
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Eric Schlosser is an award-winning American journalist and author known for investigative journalism. A number of critics have compared his work to that of Upton Sinclair.

Schlosser was born in Manhattan, New York; he spent his childhood there and in Los Angeles, California. His father, Herbert Schlosser, a former Wall Street lawyer who turned to broadcasting later in his career, eventually became
“A public outcry usually masks a private obsession.” 11 likes
“Today approximately three-quarters of all $100 bills circulate outside the United States.” 0 likes
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