Director Oliver Stone is on a press tour, and that means he's spending some time inserting his foot into his mouth.
Stone, whose new film "Savages" opens Friday, is currently extolling the wonders of weed for willing press outlets. The topic keeps coming up because "Savages" deals with a fictional drug war saga starring Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek, Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson.
But Stone also has a serious message to share. Illegal marijuana laws have a detrimental effect on society. Just how detrimental? Take it away, Oliver.
Still, the film offers a fictional portrait of violence among a Mexican drug cartel and California pot growers that makes legalizing marijuana seem like a sane option.
"That would be my personal solution, but as a politician, I would fight for decriminalization first, because that is the immediate by-product of this mess that we got ourselves into. It's very hard to pull out of a $40 billion-a-year industry, which is the prison industry. It's probably more than $40 billion. But they will fight you tooth and nail to keep these prisons as big as they are," Stone said.
"It's worse than slavery, per capita. In the black community, it is a form of slavery, this drug war, because it imprisons a huge portion of people, destroys their lives, coarsens our culture. And why? Marijuana is much less harmful than tobacco and prescription drugs in many cases and certainly alcohol. This puritanical strain got started with Nixon. It was a political issue for him, and it's gotten worse. It's like the Pentagon. You can't stop it."
But to those who say Stone is a consistently anti-American voice, think again. Stone thinks U.S.-based pot growers are the best in the world.
"There's good weed everywhere in the world, but my God, these Americans are brilliant," said Stone, 65, who sees only benefits from legalizing marijuana.