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"Marijuana" By Dr. Arthur La Roe - President American Narcotic Defense
HEALTH - Oct. 1938
DOPE in its various forms---morphine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, et cetera---is one of the most serious menaces facing civilization today. Many, of course, will feel that the threat of war that fills our newspapers is the most deadly; but those who believe that have never had any experience with narcotic addiction, and, even if they had, they would feel that the narcotic habit is too remote from them or any member of their family even to consider it as a possible source of personal danger. They would perhaps think that it is a vice limited to the drifters, to the shiftless wanderers, and to those who spend their lives in haunts with which they are not familiar. What an illuminating picture this article will present to such persons, who, alas, in their lack of actual knowledge, believe themselves and their children safe from this scourge of humanity!
Dope is older than recorded history, and it has always been the cause of great unhappiness to its addicts, their families, and their friends. It has brought slow, lingering, agonizing mental torture to its victims, until they have finally been released by death, which often is a violent one.
In this article let us single out one narcotic-marijuana. The weed producing the drug is cultivated in practically every continent in the world, and in many sections it grows in a wild state. While not indigenous to the United States, it is to be found growing practically everywhere. In many states it flourishes as a roadside weed. In I936, in New York City alone, the police destroyed some 37,000 pounds of marijuana plants, and no one could hazard a guess at the quantity that was grown without their knowledge. So point number one against marijuana is its ready availability.
Marijuana is the Mexican name for Indian hemp, the fiber of which is used in the manufacture of rope and twine, cloth and hats. Its seed forms a part of the birdseed you may buy for your feathered pets. A drying oil is obtained from the seed too, which may either be used as a substitute for linseed oil or for special oil in artists' supplies. The pistil of the flower has a very distinct use in pharmaceutical preparations. Marijuana, therefore, has a number of commercial uses. This is point number two against it, for it would be difficult to legislate effectively against its cultivation for such legitimate purposes; therefore it could always be shipped for such use, and be diverted to form a source of supply for dope peddlers and their victims.
As a drug or dope, marijuana may be either smoked as a cigarette or in a pipe; it may be chewed; it may be mixed with candy; or it may be dissolved in an alcoholic beverage. That is the third point against it, for a drug that can so easily be mixed and consumed in such a wide variety of "blinds" is easy to circulate under a number of guises. The most favored form, though, in which marijuana is used in this country is as a cigarette, and, as such, it has many sobriquets: reefers, muggles, Mary Warner, grifo, moota, and mooters; some even call it a joy stick.
REEFERs are not difficult to obtain. Just recently in a large Eastern city, a girl of fifteen went out from school at lunch time to buy some fruit from a peddler standing in front of the building. She was offered a "nice new kind of cigarette, which gives a different thrill, at two for a quarter." Her father, well-informed parent that he was, had previously told his children about narcotics and narcotic peddling. As a result of his foresight, three fruit peddlers handling reefers as a side line---or as a main part of their business outside schools were arrested and convicted.
But what of the effect of marijuana? In the files is a case of an eighteen-year-old boy in Georgia, which shows the case with which reefers may be obtained and the early effects of smoking them. In the boy's own words the report reads: "While walking around the vegetable curb market in Atlanta, I passed the stand of the hot tamale man, who asked me: 'Do you want any hot tamales?' I said, 'Don't you have anything stronger?' He said yes, and sold me two marijuana cigarettes for twenty-five cents. I had never seen this kind of cigarette before. I smoked one of them, and it gave me a headache. Then I smoked the other one, and began to feel it. My mind changed in a queer sort of way. I craved some more of the cigarettes, and, not having any money, I pawned my shoes for a dollar, and bought a bag of dried leaves to roll my own. After a couple more cigarettes, I began to feel as if I were on top of the world. I would walk up to anyone and ask for anything without hesitancy. Then I felt as if I would do something desperate. However, I was very tired, and fell asleep. I stayed asleep for two whole days and nights."
This is, in one sense, a mild case history to quote. The usual procedure is that after the school child gets beyond his financial depth to supply his craving he voluntarily turns to theft, or it is suggested by the peddlers. The thieving may be confined to the boy's own home, or it may take the form of stealing tires and parts from cars, riffing slot machines, burglary, holdup, and, not infrequently, murder, so strong does the need become for this stimulant. Often, too, marijuana is the introduction to the hypodermic needle and stronger narcotics.
MARIJUANA is not a drug with which to fool or to take any chances. If you are ever offered it, and it is quite possible that you will be, summon all your will power to refuse this chance for "a new thrill." It would be a "thrill" that must inevitably carry shame and degradation to you, and in but a short space of time criminal tendencies would be aroused to such an extent that the electric chair would loom as the answer to that innocent first desire for a new thrill."
Here are three just such authentic cases:
It happened in Florida. A young boy marijuana addict, while still under the influence of marijuana, believed that a number of persons were trying to cut off his arms and legs; so he seized an ax and killed his father, mother, two brothers, and a sister.
It happened in Colorado. In August, 1936, in Colorado a sex-mad degenerate brutally attacked a young girl. He was convicted of assault with intent to rape, and was sentenced to ten to fourteen years in the state penitentiary. Police officers knew definitely that the man was (Please turn to page 25) under the influence of marijuana. It was stated by a resident at the time that this was one case in hundreds of murders, rapes, petty crimes, and insanity that have occurred in southern Colorado in recent years because of marijuana.
It happened in California. A man under the influence of marijuana actually decapitated his best friend. Then, coming out from the effects of the drug, he was as horrified as anyone could be at what he had done.
The marijuana vice is not one to sidestep. Reefers are sold by peddlers to customers in poolrooms, dance halls, and the like; but their sale is by no means limited to such places. It is no respecter of persons or caste, and newsboys and the children of the wealthy are all liable to be victims to some smooth-tongued peddler or "friend."
The dope addict, no matter to what narcotic he or she may be a slave, is not a victim of habit, as is so generally thought to be the case. Instead, such a person has a very definite disease. His body chemistry, his glandular functions, and his mental processes are different. Because of these differences, he comes to require the drug in much the same manner that we may require water, milk, or the stimulation of coffee.
Laws have not been devised to cope with the situation in its true status. Dope addicts are arrested, held in jail, or, if their condition is serious, they are sent to a hospital. There they are given a few shots, and are released. There is one hospital maintained by the Government for drug addicts, with a large waiting list, and a second one is in the process of construction. These hospitals, though, are mainly to keep addicts under observation, for there is no such thing as a cure for a dope victim. He or she is doomed to a life of misery, a life of desire for the drug, and to lucid periods of intense anguish for the crimes committed while under its influence.
The dope addict is considered an outcast; his family is disgraced whether or not he has started on his career of crime. It is a doleful picture, due to the that the law and the individual user have a wrong concept of the real status of the dope victim. He is a sick man; his real disease is little understood. Dope will create weird cravings that, sooner or later, he will find unconquerable, and then he will go to any lengths to get the drug of his addiction. He will sink lower and lower in the social structure until finally he will go insane, or will commit some crime, such as murder or rape, while under its spell.
In this country alone there are hundreds of thousands of marijuana addicts. Tomorrow it may be your child who will unwittingly enter the ranks. Beyond cautioning anyone against marijuana there is little that can be done. Commissioner H. J. Anslinger, Chief of the Bureau of Narcotics under the Treasury Department, has some two hundred fifty men on his staff. This is a mere handful to cope with such a major problem, especially when one considers that these men are supposed to prevent all dope from entering our seaports or from coming in across our borders, and that they are expected to be able to cover the entire continental United States and all its possessions in the search for home-grown marijuana and the home-made marijuana cigarettes.
A new Federal law became effective October 1, 1937, regulating marijuana in much the same way as the heavier drugs are regulated by the Harrison Act. In addition to this each of the states has a law covering the use of marijuana. Therefore, so far as legislation is concerned, the country is well covered; but eternal vigilance has to be maintained against illicit traffic in narcotics.
HEALTH - Pub. By Pacific Press Publishing Association Mountain View, Ca.
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
The Drug Hang-Up
Congressional Transcripts of the Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
Frequently Asked Questions About Drugs
Basic Facts About the Drug War
Charts and Graphs about Drugs
Information on Alcohol
Guide to Heroin - Frequently Asked Questions About Heroin
LSD, Mescaline, and Psychedelics
Drugs and Driving
Children and Drugs
Drug Abuse Treatment Resource List
American Society for Action on Pain
Let Us Pay Taxes
Marijuana Business News
Reefer Madness Collection
Medical Marijuana Throughout History
Drug Legalization Debate
Legal History of American Marijuana Prohibition
Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years
DEA Ruling on Medical Marijuana
Legal References on Drugs
GAO Documents on Drugs
Response to the Drug Enforcement Agency
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