Appearing Thursday night on Current TV's "The Young Turks," filmmaker Ric Roman Waugh, behind the new film "Snitch," explained that his movie is based on true events brought about in part by Reagan-era drug laws.

The film features Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the father of a young man facing jail time over a drug charge, unless he can give up one of his co-conspirators. Johnson instead proposes that in exchange for his son's freedom, he go undercover in gangland to root out a distributor, and prosecutors agree.

"They signed off on this, that actually happened," Waugh said. "I've seen the documents where the U.S. Attorney signed off on it."

He added that as his work on the script progressed, he was "shocked" to see how incredibly common it is for small-time drug offenders to get thrown away for years because they had nobody else to turn over to authorities, while dealers who hold sway and resources often walk away with a plea deal, under rules set up by President Ronald Reagan's initiatives to get tough on drug crime.

"It just shows you that... this is right here in America," Waugh said. "It can reach any of us. It doesn't matter what class you come from, what ethnicity you're from, what your racial lines are. It can reach any of us."

Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, added that "if you're at the bottom of the list and you get caught, you don't have anybody to turn in. You may have been paid $100 to stand on a street corner by a guy named Jose, but you don't have any information that's valuable enough to the U.S. Attorney to cut a deal. It happens all the time and that's one of the reasons our prisons are so overflowing with drug offenders."

This video is from "The Young Turks," aired Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.