Description from TIFF 2012 catalog by Thom Powers:
Stylishly shot and cheekily framed as a subversive educational film, How to Make Money Selling Drugs takes a satirical look at a serious subject. Blending authentic reportage with pop culture references and a video game — like progression from level to level, the film illustrates step-by-step how to create a drug empire, from dealing on the corner to running a major cartel. Slyly, director Matthew Cooke builds a powerful case that drug policy needs rethinking, as current laws foster a violent criminal underworld reminiscent of the Prohibition era.
Recalling the hit Cocaine Cowboys, How to Make Money Selling Drugs offers expert testimony from a number of real-life outlaws, including Mike Walzman, who became the go-to dealer in Beverly Hills private schools, and “Freeway” Rick Ross, who recalls his invention of crack cocaine as if it were a fast-food innovation. We also hear from such familiar faces as Adrian Grenier, who was raised by a pot-dealing single mother; rapper Curtis Jackson, a.k.a. 50 Cent, who started dealing at age twelve; Susan Sarandon, who attests to the benefits of some illicit substances; Eminem, who talks about his struggles with legal prescription drugs; and Russell Simmons, who has dedicated himself to overturning punitive drug laws. Their testimony reflects the way in which drugs permeate all levels of society — and how, when it comes to drug law enforcement, punishment is disproportionately doled out to those who are dark-skinned and poor.
Watching this film against the backdrop of the current U.S. presidential campaign is a reminder of how rigid the discourse around drugs continues to be, and how the demonization of drug use by politicians only further commits society to an unwinnable “war.” For meaningful change to ever occur, people need to put down their bong pipes and get organized. Beneath its snarky sheen, this film is a passionate incitement for action.