Oscar-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone, director of such films as Platoon, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, and JFK, is a man of many opinions, more than a few of which find their way into his movies and raise eyebrows and the antennae of chattering classes the world over. His new film Savages deals with the four decades long war on drugs, a war that has spanned eight U.S. presidential administrations and cost American taxpayers more than $1 trillion. The film, which stars John Travolta, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Uma Thurman, and Benicio del Toro, is due in theaters on 06 July 2012 and focuses on a couple of American cannabis farmers who confront a Mexican drug cartel responsible for kidnapping their mutual girlfriend, played by Lively.
“California has a big, growing industry in medical marijuana, and we have the best weed in the world. I’m telling you that from my own experience of 40 years,” Stone told Gavin Newsom on Newsom’s interview show, which airs on Current TV. “We started with Vietnamese weed, Thai weed, Jamaican weed, Sudanese weed, it was all great stuff. But now, because Americans are so technically minded—like mad chemists— they’ve taken Afghan seeds from the Afghan War, which is the hypothesis of the movie, brought them to California, rededicated themselves, and made the finest seeds in the world, the finest grass you can smoke.”
Newsom observed that drugs had played a significant role in many of Stone’s films. The central character in Midnight Express, for which Stone won his first Oscar, was imprisoned on drug charges; the central character in Salvador is a photojournalist with a fondness for drugs and alcohol; the crime drama Year of the Dragon explored the drug trade in New York’s Chinatown; Best Picture winner Platoon showcased drug use among infantrymen during the Vietnam war; and the 1990 biopic The Doors centers around drug-addled rock über-god and member of the infamous 27 Club, Jim Morrison. “I’m attracted to that narrative,” said Stone, who is pictured smoking a marijuana joint on the cover of August 2012 issue of High Times magazine. “You know, I’m from the Timothy Leary generation, I’m all screwed up from that era, and I feel that it’s part of your liberation.”
Stone believes that the war on drugs, initiated by President Richard Nixon in 1971, has failed because “On a large, big picture basis, we cannot tell people what to do. And we keep doing that. We go to Afghanistan and we go to Iraq and we go to Vietnam and we try to impose our values on other people. It just doesn’t seem to work. And it’s doubly ironic because our values are corrupted by the fact that our citizenry wants the drugs. We’ll pay for grass, we’ll pay for cocaine, and we’ll pay heavily for prescription drugs, so we have to come to terms with the fact that we have drives as human beings and the government seems to want to [impose its will]. It’s like Prohibition in 1919. It didn’t work with alcohol and it’s not gonna work with drugs. And it never will.”
- Gupta, Vanita. “End the 40-Year War on Drugs.” ACLU. 01 June 2011. Web. 15 June 2012.
- “Oliver Stone Talks Marijuana With Gavin Newsom: ‘California Has The Best Weed In The World’.” The Huffington Post. 12 June 2012. Web. 15 June 2012.
- Schou, Nicholas. “Oliver Stone, Smoking Joint on High Times Cover, Talks Up Laguna Beach Film and California Weed.” OC Weekly Blogs. 14 June 2012. Web. 15 June 2012.
“Timeline: America’s War on Drugs.” NPR. 02 April 2007. Web. 15 June 2012.
By Greg L.