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Full Review
Busted! Drug War Survival Skills
by M. Chris Fabricant
Reviewed by Midevil, 3/2/2006

An illustrated pocket-sized book on how to deal with being the underdog in the war on drugs in America, Busted provides tips on how to avoid cops, observations of a variety of situations with the law (most gone bad) and useful charts, such as how long you’ll do time if you’re caught with weed in Arizona as opposed to Michigan. Fabricant’s presentation is full of humour, with illustrations by cartoonist Robert Crumb.

Fabricant offers a list of Ten Commandments, which you will follow if you want to avoid getting nailed in the war. Sure, you can argue for legalization, but the truth of the matter is that the law and its enforcers (whether corrupt or not) have much more power than little old you and don’t forget it, just follow the Ten Commandments and did I already mention, follow the Ten Commandments? War is not pretty, fair, just or rational.

As somebody who knows absolutely nothing about American laws beyond what’s displayed in the mainstream media (hey, I’m Canadian), I found that the book did indeed clear up lots of issues. For example, state laws regarding drug possession are far from uniform. The punishment for first time possession of ecstasy in Oregon is a fine ($200,000) and 10 years, while in California, it’s $20,000 and 1 year. On a bit of a negative note, I’d like to see the “Dope Law Index” expanded from marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and meth to include substances like heroin, mushrooms, and acid.

While I often laughed out loud while reading this book, I was also enraged and disappointed at the other truths that are presented within its pages. Racial profiling, class discrimination, the “Us” (authority) versus the “Them” (anybody who isn’t a cop or rich or famous) mentality, and the iron force of the power that the other side holds in the war are too overwhelming to ignore. Funny anecdotes, comedic drawings, empathetic tips on how to survive, et al, just can’t dismiss the bleak reality that the war is far from over and, like it or not, legalization is a mirage that we’ll never reach.

One of the more pressing issues (besides avoiding drug busts, snitches, enemies, getting pulled over, and second offences) that Fabricant highlights is the quicksand of company drug testing. Sadly, drug testing for potential or current jobs is part of the reality of the American scene. The reader is given the low down on common sense behaviour within the work place, rights (or lack of), and of course, a nice little chart that gives “rough estimates” on how long a drug stays within your system. However, if you’re overly paranoid or saturated with said drug, maybe you’ll want to lengthen that estimate a bit.

I found Busted to be a very engaging read; it kept my interest and the humour within it made it a book that I couldn’t put down until I was finished. The fact that it is written in easy to read language, which purposely targets the unlawful audience, made the experience that much more enjoyable. The entertainment value of this book alone makes it a worthy buy—at a cheap price—however, the fact that you have it on your shelf at home or work might provide the authorities with reasonable cause to believe that you are involved in one or more aspects of the illegal drug scene. Buy it, read it, pass it on; education is power.

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