‘Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy’ Summary & Analysis – Seeping Into The Cracks

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Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy, talk about that dark era in the history of the United States when a plague enveloped the whole country. The documentary directed by Stanley Nelson takes us through the inside stories of the very people who once were an integral part of the epidemic. 


The Entry of Cocaine

Cocaine was always considered to be a drug of the elite. It was often taken in these elite parties in the late seventies and early 80s. There were no stringent laws or actions taken by the authorities to regulate the usage of this drug. For the colored people of America taking Cocaine was not an option. They were themselves struggling each and every day of their life to procure basic necessities of life. Sometimes they were seen peddling the drug but still, there was no alarm raised. The problem arose when a different substance came into the market. This substance was called “crack.”


What is Crack?

Basically, crack and cocaine were the same substance constituents-wise. Both are hydrochloric salt. Cocaine is derived from the Cocoa plant and is generally in powdered form. When this powdered form of hydrochloric acid is mixed with water and baking soda then it takes a solid form. This solid form is often referred to as “Crack.” 

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Crack has to be smoked but Cocaine could be snorted, injected, or swallowed. It is said that because crack is smoked, it gets you high within a few seconds. Crack is considered to be more potent than Cocaine itself. 


Epidemic seeping into the “Cracks”

Crack was available at a much lesser price as compared to cocaine. Now the addiction started seeping into the insides of the cities. Even the impoverished black population could easily get it and afford it. Everybody either became a consumer or a dealer. There were cases where people sold their kids, houses, and everything they got, just to procure a day’s stash. There was a huge amount of money that was flowing in the country. Everybody wanted to become a dealer. Everybody wanted to have a lavish lifestyle without working too much. 

The late 80s saw an era of increased violence. There were bloodbaths all around the country. The situation was getting chaotic and out of hand. A police officer named Edward Byrne was shot to death in one of these bloodbaths. That changed everything. That one incident united the police forces and they started a war against anybody and everybody who was heard uttering the word crack. Surprisingly enough all of them were people belonging to the black community. 


An Unjust Law – Anti Drug Abuse Act

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The documentary film, Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy depicts the year, 1986. Elections were due in a month. And each and every member of the House of Representatives were up for reelection. The speaker of the house at that time was Tip O’ Neil. he wanted to pass a comprehensive anti-drug bill before elections i.e in less than 5 weeks. Generally, a bill takes years to pass. In such a short time detailed research cannot take place. A sound bill cannot be produced but a flawed one could be. So the book was thrown at the dope dealers. So according to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act 1986, if you had a gram of crack and 100 grams of cocaine, it would get you the same sentence. Experts said that it was not unjust federal law ever written. 

On one hand, the Raegan government launched a campaign called “Say no to drugs” but on the other hand, they were turning a blind eye to the cocaine smuggled in the United States. Central America was going through a civil war i.e Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc. A communist group called, Sandinista overthrew the government of Nicaragua and the United Nations waged a war against them. The U.S government started working with a band of Guerilla Forces known as Contra. Congress did not want to support the fight of Contras in Central America. So an illegal way was found to fund them. The profits from the weapons sold to Iran were now given to the Contras and thus fulfilling the vendetta of the government. 


But what did all of this have to do with the Cocaine problem?

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Nicaragua was the biggest exporter of cocaine to the United States. Now the Contras were handling the smuggling and it was said that the CIA was conspiring with them to do so. So one hand where stringent laws were made to send the dealers having minuscule amounts of coke to jail, the other side revealed that kilos of cocaine were being flown into the country. 

Post the bill the jails flooded with black populations but the real orchestrators of the whole epidemic were still outside, untouched and unhinged. It was also said by many users that they were never given a recourse where they could go to rehab and get freedom from their addiction. 


Crack: Cocaine, Conspiracy, and Corruption is streaming on Netflix. Do give it a watch if you are interested in knowing the politics and conspiracies that happen on the back of an innocent-looking move. 

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Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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