America?s Shadow Economy


| May 23, 2003


Sex, drugs and illegal labor have created a secret market accounting for as much as 10 percent of the American economy, reports Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser in his new book Reefer Madness: Sex Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. At a time when most industries are suffering, these illicit markets have reached unprecedented heights. In a recent review in the British newspaper The Guardian, Duncan Campbell points out that marijuana consumption has surpassed the use of cigarettes, while Americans spend more money in strip clubs than on ?Broadway, regional theaters, and orchestra performances combined.?

Marijuana has surpassed corn as America?s largest cash crop. According to Former DEA? Cannabis Eradication Program coordinator, Steve White, each year farmers produce $19 billion from corn, while marijuana crops have reached an estimated value of $25 billion. Despite legal penalties that are often stricter than murder sentences, drug cultivation and use is on the rise. Approximately 3 million Americans grow cannabis for private consumption, while an estimated 100,000?200,000 earn a living from marijuana production. Surveys indicate that one-third of all Americans over the age of 12 have used marijuana and 89 percent of all Jr. High and High School students have easy access to the drug.

California has become the epicenter for both the adult film industry and for illegal immigrant labor. Approximately 211 new films are produced in Los Angeles each week, thanks to increasing demand from video sales and the Internet. Of the 8 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., approximately 1 million are California farm workers.
?Erin Ferdinand

Go there>> With pot and porn outstripping corn, America?s black economy is flying high

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