Americans Abroad: The Jail Scene

Coming into Los Angeles Bringing in a coupla keys Don't touch my bag, if you please, Mr. Customs man.

—an Arlo Guthrie song, 1970

Guthrie's lyrics celebrate a popular underground myth: that the U.S. is a tough drug scene compared with countries abroad, where the laws are loose and the hash is cheap. Though it is true that a "key" (kilo) of hashish may cost as little as $10 or $20 in Lebanon or Morocco, the price for many young American smugglers turns out to be almost unbearably high. All along the...

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