In 1994, Eric Schlosser was eating breakfast at home when he received a phone call from the Editor-in-Chief of The Atlantic, Bill Whitworth.
“Eric,” Schlosser recalls Whitworth asking, “is there anyone in prison right now for marijuana?”
The call came as a surprise. It had only been a few months since the publication of Schlosser’s first Atlantic article—picked up from the slush pile—on the New York City Police Department Bomb Squad.
Whitworth told me that the idea...