This documentary sheds light on the war on drugs and exposes how federal grants incentivize local law enforcement to prioritize drug arrests, often targeting vulnerable members of their communities to meet quotas and secure funding.

One striking example is “Operation Glass House,” an undercover sting conducted in three Temecula, California high schools, including Chaparral High School. Here, Deputy Daniel Zipperstein posed as a teenager named Daniel Briggs to befriend students like Jesse Snodgrass and procure drugs from them. Despite Temecula’s reputation as one of the safest cities in America, Jesse, who has Asperger’s syndrome, fell victim to this operation, charged with felony counts for selling a small amount of marijuana to maintain his friendship with Daniel.

Jesse’s parents, Doug and Catherine, share their son’s story, highlighting his struggles with autism spectrum disorder and his desperate attempts to connect with others. They emphasize Jesse’s innocence and empathetic intentions, portraying his actions as a misunderstood effort to forge friendships.

Through emotional interviews with Jesse’s parents and other students affected by Operation Glass House, the documentary explores the history of such undercover operations, initiated by the LAPD in 1974. While the LAPD discontinued these practices due to evidence of disproportionate targeting of marginalized students with minimal impact on drug trafficking, similar operations persist in other counties.

Participants in the film condemn the war on drugs, citing firsthand experiences of ruined lives and the disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. Despite growing momentum toward marijuana legalization, law enforcement continues to wage this ineffective battle, ultimately harming youth—a stark realization encapsulated in the film’s title.

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