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JANESVILLE DAILY GAZETTE - (Janesville Wisconsin) [ ]- Feb 9, 1938 Pg 1 -
Local "Reliefer" Held for Selling Marihuana - Police Call U.S. Agents Mexican-Born Alien Admits Narcotic Work - Has Been making, Selling Loco Weed Cigarets for Year, Says confession.
[Picture of a dirty looking Mexican smoking a cigarette ] Caption: Thomas Gomez 43, of 963 South Jackson street, is shown as he appeared in the office of Chief of Police William H. Ford Tuesday night when confessing he manufactured and sold marihuana or "loco weed" cigarets in Janesville. Gomez, a Mexican is on relief. He pleaded guilty Wednesday to a state charge but federal charges also may brought against him under the narcotics act.
The preparation and sale in Janesville of the dread narcotic marihuana in tobacco and cigarets was confessed at the police station here last nigh by Thomas Gomez 43, Mexican-born alien and a recipient of county relief.
Gomez, who the past few days has been employed with other relief workers washing walls at the city hall, was arrested by the police on a downtown street Tuesday afternoon. His confessions, obtained piece by piece under questioning during the afternoon and night by Chief of Police William Ford, other officers, and Acting Dist. Atty., Cleland Fisher, revealed his activities in preparing and selling the drug, which is properly and popularly called loco weed, have covered the last year at least.
Arraigned in municipal court Wednesday morning on a state charge of possessing preparations for smoking loco weed, Gomez pleaded guilty but pronouncement of sentence was deferred to Feb. 16 by Judge Ernest P. Agnew. Cleland Fisher, acting district attorney, said he had notified the Chicago office of the federal narcotics division of Gomez' activities and that a federal agent would be sent here. Conviction on the state charge as a first offender would make Gomez liable to a fine of $200 or three months in jail, or both.
Gomez led officers to his home at 963 South Jackson street, where he kept a supply of marihuana. Police are holding as evidence 10 marihuana cigarets Gomez confessed making himself, four factory-made cigarets, and two tins of the ground raw weed in bulk. Police expressed the belief that more may be obtained on further search of his home.
Chief Ford said he may ask prosecution of Gomez by federal authorities under the federal marihuana act of 1937, although state laws also cover the offense. Inasmuch as Gomez is admittedly an alien and on relief, his deportation to Mexico may be sought.
Has 10 Customers
Arrest of Gomez came on the very afternoon that one local user of the marihuana weed was taken to the state hospital at Mendota for observation. Henry Ahrbecker, Jr., 23 Janesville, arrested Saturday night told police he has been smoking marihuana for about a (continued on Page 3, Col. 1) year, and a supply of mixed tobacco and the narcotic was taken from him.
Gomez' signed confession reads as follows: "I Thomas, Gomez, an alien, not an American citizen, live on the county, and the county pays my rent at 963 South Jackson street. I gathered marijuana (federal officials spell it marihuana) or loco weed and prepared it for the purpose of selling it.
I sold these cigarets for 15 cents apiece, most always two or three to a customer. I have been selling these marijuana cigarets for about a year to make a little extra money.
I have about 10 different parties to whom I sell these cigarets. I give this information of my own free will."
Gomez' memory seemed remarkably vague when he was questioned about the names and descriptions of the customers. he said he understands he has some competition in the sale of the narcotic but his memory was as conveniently vague when he was asked who they were.
Operates in Taverns
Gomez said he has been "hanging around taverns" to sell his doped cigarets, and named specifically the Uptown tavern, where he said he made sales a year ago, and the West End tavern, where he said he made sales last New Year's eve. His method of salesmanship is to loiter about the tavern until someone approaches him, asking for cigarets. Then he beckons to them to enter the toilet room, and there the sale is completed, he said.
The marihuana or loco weed which is similar to wild hemp and grows to a height of four or five feet with many leaves, is found growing wild along the railroad tracks near Janesville, Gomez said. He picks it up, getting a "couple of handfuls" at a time, takes it home and refines it. There he takes the seeds off, screens it, and rolls it into cigarets. The weed is ripe for this use only in the fall of the year, he said.
Gomez said he learned to prepare marihuana from "Chicago fellows". He kept his supply of the weed and the prepared cigarets at his home, taking it out only two or three cigarets at a time in regular cigaret packages. He sells only at night, he said.
Admits Using It Himself
Gomez at first denied he ever smoked the weed himself, but later admitted he had used it. "One cigaret gives a good Jag" he said, and admitted no one could smoke two or three without going wild. He explained his possession of the factory-made marihuana cigarets by saying "a kid found em at the Eastern avenue dump" and gave them to him.
Police told Gomez they thought he was lying.
Gomez was fingerprinted at the police station Tuesday and a report on his record, if any, is awaited from the bureau of identification at Washington, D.C. He has no local police record.
Gomez said he was born in Mexico and came to this country in 1916. "I just walked over the international bridge and never went back:, he said.
He said he worked in Pennsylvania, in Ohio coal mines, in Detroit, Gary, Ind., South Chicago, Fond du Lac, and Waukesha before coming to Janesville in 1926. His employment has always been that of a laborer, in coal mines, foundries, sugar beet fields, and on railroad track crews. He is not married.
Not Widespread Here
Police said that Gomez' story, as much of it as he has told, would indicated that the sale and use of marihuana is not very widespread in Janesville, but that they want to make a complete investigation of the matter. The use of marihuana in Janesville has been rumored and reported from time to time, but local police have never been able to strike a blow at the evil before.
Gomez said the "Chicago fellows" he knows smoke the cigarets and some of them gather the weed about Janesville and take it back to to Chicago to sell it. There they receive 25 cents a cigaret for it. He decided to cut prices locally, however, and charged 15, he said.
Has Disastrous Effects
The serious effects of the drug marihuana are explained in the Feb. 1 issue of the Federal Bureau of Investigation law enforcement bulletin, which Janesville police have on hand.
H.J. Anslinger., U.S. commissioner of narcotics, has the following to say:
"The drug is adhering to its old world traditions of murder, assault, rape, physical demoralization and mental breakdown. A study of the effects of marihuana shows clearly that it is a dangerous drug, and bureau records prove that its use is associated with insanity and crime. Therefore, from the standpoint of police work, it is a more dangerous drug than heroin or cocaine.
Here is a drug which according to Dr. Moreau, who is the outstanding authority on its effects causes seven phenomena and three illusions:
1. Feeling of unaccountable hilarity. 2. Excitation and disassociation of ideas; the weakening of power to direct thoughts. 3. Errors in time and space. 4. Intensification of auditory sensibilities causing profound dejection or mad gayety 5. Fixed ideas; delirious conviction. This is a type of intellectual injury so frequent in mental alienation. The user imagines the most unbelievable things, giving way to monstrous extravagances. 6. Emotional disturbance during which the user is powerless to direct his thoughts, lose the power to resist emotion and may commit violence which knows no bounds when disorders of the intellect have reached a point of incoherence. During this dangerous phenomenon evil instincts are brought to the surface and cause a fury to rage within the user. 7. Irresistible impulses which may result in suicide. The illusions are those of sight, hearing and sense. The mind loses all idea of space and extent, and tends to exaggeration in all things; the slightest impulse or suggestion carries it away.
Narcotic effects are good or bad. Marihuana effects run in one direction only, and that is bad. Marihuana weakens the will.
Federal Offense Since Oct. 1
All of the 48 states have legislation controlling marihuana. Since Oct. 1 1937, when the marihuana tax act of 1937 came into effect the federal government, in cooperation with local and state enforcement officers, has arrested a number of traffickers and seized large quantities of the drug.
Judge J. Foster Symes, Denver Colo., sentenced Sam Caldwell four year in the penitentiary on Oct. 8, 1937, for violation of the marihuana act. This was the first conviction in the United States under the new federal marihuana legislation. In sentencing Caldwell the judge said:
"I consider marihuana the worst of all narcotics--far worse than the use of morphine or cocaine. Under its influence men become beasts…Marihuana destroys life itself. I have no sympathy with those who sell this weed."
Schaffer Library of Drug Policy
Major Studies of Drug and Drug Policy
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - The Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
Licit and Illicit Drugs
Short History of the Marijuana Laws
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Congressional Transcripts of the Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
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Let Us Pay Taxes
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Reefer Madness Collection
Medical Marijuana Throughout History
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Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years
DEA Ruling on Medical Marijuana
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GAO Documents on Drugs
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