by Leslie Fish
Yes, there really is – or was – such an organization as the Midwestern Dope Dealers’ Association. I knew a few of its members back when I was in college, in Michigan. They were a mixture of students and ex-students who made their money by selling marijuana, hash, LSD and occasionally psilocybin – in other words, hallucinogens and “soft” drugs, all. They had nothing but contempt for the “hard” drugs – heroin, cocaine, PCP – and the people who pushed them.
Late in the spring semester of a certain year, they noticed that some of the Grass in town had nasty after-effects. Since the MDDA included some quite good chemists, they tested the Grass, and found that it had been laced with heroin. A few discreet questions revealed that this particular batch of Grass had been sold down at the town high school rather than the college campus.
From this information, the MDDA deduced that the Mafia was trying to move into the town’s drug business, which was very bad news. Organized crime, they knew, doesn’t like marijuana; the stuff is too cheap to make big profits, too bulky for safe transport, and not addictive enough to guarantee repeat business. However, it’s the most popular illegal drug in the country, and most kids have better sense than to have anything to do with heroin. Therefore the Mafia sells Grass laced with heroin to secretly get the kids addicted. From that point on, it’s easy to get the kids taking straight heroin – and the pushers have a permanent clientele.
Knowing this, the MDDA sat down and figured out a workable strategy to keep Mafia pushers out of their town. The only problem would be getting the police to cooperate, since whichever side got police protection would win. The Mafia’s usual trick is to find an ambitious young cop, become his informer and sic him on rival drug dealers. After the cop has made a name for himself, the Mafia agents get the cop to take money from them by some trick or other, and secretly film/photo the transaction. Then they reveal themselves, show him the pictures, and promise to ruin him if he doesn’t do as they say. And what they say is simple: arrest any and all rivals while leaving their dealers alone, and warn them if any special investigation comes up. That’s how the Mafia gets local police protection.
What the MDDA did was put together their strategy and make an appointment with the local police captain, who was known to be a reasonable man. They showed him their evidence, and their strategy, and promised to keep the Mafia out of town if the captain would do just one thing for them: order all his officers not to arrest anyone for drug-dealing or drug-possession, all through summer semester. By the time the fall semester started, the MDDA promised, they should have the problem licked. The captain looked over their evidence, and reluctantly agreed.
The first thing the MDDA did was post, and gossip, notices all around the town high school, warning the kids that the local Grass was poisoned, and to come buy clean stuff up in “campus town”. Next thing they did was to sell their products for a dollar less than the standard price, while keeping a close eye on the prices of tainted Grass down near the high school. The Mafia tried dropping their prices, so the MDDA dropped theirs lower.
In the absence of police drug-busts, they took to dealing in the campus student-union grill. I saw, once, a cop who was clearly annoyed with the no-bust policy come marching through the grill, glowering menacingly at the students – through Grass smoke as thick as fog. By the time he’d made one circuit of the tables, he’d breathed enough of the smoke that his steps were slower and his glower had turned into a silly grin. Finally he sat down at one of the tables and ordered a triple cheeseburger, with fries, and a super-size milkshake. So much for that.
And it wasn’t just Grass. On discovering that the Mafia was also trying to push LSD, one dealer, commonly called Big M, bought the base chemicals and made a good thousand hits. He sold the first 100 for a dollar less than the Mafia pushers. The Mafia tracked him down and sent some goons to beat him up. When he got out of the hospital, Big M sold the next 100 hits for two dollars less than the Mafia price, and fortified his house. The Mafia thugs threw a firebomb through his front window, but the firemen arrived in time to keep more than the front room from burning. Big M then gave away the remaining 800 hits for free – and left town and went into hiding.
Something similar happened with the hashish and psilocybin markets.
By the end of the summer, the Mafia gave up. Even with their cash reserves, they couldn’t keep up with these dedicated amateurs. They pulled back to Detroit and Ypsilanti, and quit trying to sell to the student crowd – thus concluding the one successful War On (Bad) Drugs ever fought in the US.
The MDDA, as promised, reported back to the police captain, who allowed his troops to start arresting for drugs again – but the MDDA had already passed the word, so students bought and consumed cautiously again.
The police captain, alas, didn’t fare so well. His superiors frowned upon his orders not to make any drug arrests for a whole summer, and demoted him. Never mind that he’d helped save his town from Mafia infiltration; he hadn’t arrested any Hippies! So he never rose to any higher rank, but retired with a full pension and benefits – and with at least the knowledge that he’d done the right thing.