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Sin City NorthSex, Drugs, and Citizenship in the Detroit-Windsor Borderland$
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Holly M. Karibo

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469625201

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625201.001.0001

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Mainlining along the Line

Mainlining along the Line

Building a Transnational Drug Market

(p.71) 3 Mainlining along the Line
Sin City North

Holly M. Karibo

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the heroin economy that developed during the late-1940s and 1950s. Americans and Canadians bought and sold narcotics, and mingled with other users in the border cities' bars, clubs, and rooming houses. Those engaged in these illicit transactions built an alternative urban subculture based on the consumption of illicit substances. Taking drugs could provide access to an emerging hipster culture, one that ran counter to images of 'clean' suburban living. The drug market also provided an important source of income in neighborhoods increasingly facing economic decline. Yet, divides within the illicit economy itself—which usually left poor, working-class, and black residents working at the least-profitable levels—show how drug use became embedded in the larger structural forces shaping the region. If participating in the illegal drug economy provided moments of social mobility and a sense of community belonging, it often did so unevenly and at very high costs.

Keywords:   Heroin, Marijuana, Narcotics, Organized crime, Urban decline

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