Florida

Weed, speed and the road ahead

In the Smoked podcast, the Miami Herald explores the nation’s new appetite for marijuana and what the legalization drive means for people like race car driver-turned smuggler Randy Lanier, who spent decades behind bars and emerged in a new world of legal weed.

In the Just Say No ’80s, Randy Lanier shot to stardom as a race car driver — while secretly funding his racing as a pot smuggling kingpin. But the world he’s in now, after nearly 30 years behind bars, is much friendlier to the plant that he was imprisoned for trafficking. This podcast explores the nation’s changing relationship with marijuana and what life is like for people like Randy, convicted in one era and freed in the next.

Randy Lanier is a star on the rise with his race team, Blue Thunder, during the heyday of the pot smuggling culture of South Florida. But his growing fame hides a secret life.

As the peace-and-love ‘60s give way to the ‘70s, black market pot is flowing from Colombia to the United States. Florida’s daring drug smugglers are reaping the riches, Lanier among them.

Federal law enforcement crackdown aggressively targets drug-trafficking operations from Key West to Everglades City, while Lanier’s racing and drug-smuggling careers both come to a head.

In the “Just Say No” era, Florida’s pot-smuggling business falls apart and Lanier’s world also comes crashing down. He’s arrested and ultimately given a “natural death sentence” for drug smuggling.

Pot goes through a national rebranding, and Florida’s path to legal weed takes shape. After decades behind bars, Lanier also finds ways to change his view of the world.

A new day dawns for pot in Florida and across the country as legalization efforts expand, and Lanier becomes a free man who seeks ways to help others through his experiences.

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