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Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite
When we talk about drug use in America, it is always in terms of big cartel busts, gangland shootings, and stop and frisk laws. What we rarely hear about are the people and the lives that are touched by drug use and that is what LeRon Barton presents to us in Straight Dope - an unedited look at the economy of drugs from several different perspectives. What stands out about this story, compared to the normal drug rhetoric, is that each of these individuals made a choice — good or bad — and the consequences of their actions have shaped their viewpoints. Straight Dope is not a story of statistics or drug laws, but rather of the way drugs and this drug culture has infiltrated the lives of all of us in one way or another.
LeRon Barton’s book reads more like a documentary and that’s okay because we get to hear from the addict, the dealer, the families of both, and those involved in legitimate marijuana businesses. This is the only intelligent way to discuss drugs and the impact they have on society. With the input of those entrenched in the world of drugs, can we find honest and effective ways to treat drug addiction? Straight Dope says it seeks to answer the question why are drugs so entrenched in American culture, but there is no answer to that question. Some will tell you the laws make drugs more appealing and strengthen the black market economy, but the truth is that it does not matter why: all that matters is what we do about it as a society.
Straight Dope offers a raw and compelling look inside the world of drugs from many different perspectives, although the input of a sociologist or addiction expert would have given this book added depth since we rarely see both parts side by side. Barton gives the addict and the dealer a voice in this book and that’s what separates it from most books about drugs and the alleged war on drugs.