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 Police Close In on Dope Traffic Here - Girl's Story reveals big Marijuana Trade Among Children of city. San Francisco Chronicle Nov. 18, 1935

By Curtice Clark

Amazing revelations of a 21-year old former San Francisco high school girl last night started the closing of a police net on the operations of a marijuana ring whose victims number hundreds of boys and girls of -school age.

One arrest was made and several others were imminent last night as police prepared to seek revocation of permits of a number of taxicab drivers before the Police Commission. The man in custody, James Stevens, 23, was held on charges of possession and sale of marijuana cigarettes. Six other suspects were questioned.


Identity of the girl whose statement to police, checked and confirmed in many details, drew aside a curtain hiding astounding vice conditions, was withheld pending a round up of two known "big shots" and their underlings.

Here are highlights-of the revelations of the girl, who three months ago became a marijuana addict after leaving her parents' home and obtaining employment in one of the city's "hot spot" night clubs:

[1] Marijuana cigarettes are peddled from the sidewalks, in various hotels and beer taverns. Investigators purchased cigarettes from peddlers on Market street, between Fourth and Sixth streets. Peddlers ply a thriving trade also along Ellis and O'Farrell streets and in the tenderloin sections.

[2] Owner of a two-cab taxicab service is identified by the girl as having delivered the narcotic cigarettes to a hotel party. He denies his guilt but admits his employe driver of another cab and who has a police record, is a marijuana smoker. This man is being sought. He is declared to have shared a marijuana cigarette with the girl in his taxicab.

[3] Marijuana smoking parties are nightly occurrences in some half a dozen smaller down town hotels. To them, in response to a telephone call, are delivered the "weeds" or "sticks" as the cigarettes are called.

[4]-"Recruits," or new addicts, are enlisted on sidewalks and in night, resorts. New victims are usually hardly more than children. Agents of the ring strike up acquaintance with likely looking subjects, an invitation to smoke a cigarette is innocently accepted and a new source of revenue is created. From marijuana the next step is generally to opium, morphine, cocaine.

[5] One enterprising marijuana dealer has organized boat rides for his patrons. The pursuers of mad pleasure, tour the bay in a cabin cruiser. The owner of the boat has hit upon this means of avoiding detection brought about by the heavy fumes that for days hang over rooms where smoking parties are held.


Inspectors Bernard Reichling and Alvin Corrassa delved into the girl's story and this reporter personally bought marijuana cigarettes on down town corners and "raided" with the police spots where suspected smokers had gathered. The officers expressed amazement at what they found.

As for the girl-Three months of smoking the weed have not spoiled entirely her beauty. She is still attractive, but her glazed eyes, her deathly pale face and her restless fingers are visible aspects of her degradation. A few quickly sucked pulls at a marijuana weed, and her eyes sparkle, her tongue is unloosed and for a little while she is the vivacious girl her years entitle her to be.


To Inspectors Reichling and Corrassa, last night, in the presence of a Chronicle reporter, she told her story:

"I am a graduate of a San Francisco high school. My parents are separated. Until three months ago I lived with one of or the other of them. I began going out nights-to the night clubs, to the beer parlors and in one of the night clubs I got a job.

Someone gave me a marijuana cigarette. I went to marijuana parties. I went to opium smoking parties too, but I haven't smoked opium-not yet. I've been high-that means under the influence-any number of times smoking marijuana.


I pay 50 cents for a marijuana cigarette delivered. I pay 15 cents for a cigarette bought from a peddler on the street. The girl rang up in the presence of the reporter, a number of dealers and arranged for the delivery of cigarettes. And the reporter, given the password, himself purchased cigarettes from loiterers on Market street. Her talk with a dealer over the phone was something like this; I am very miserable. I must have help, I'm going on a hay ride and can't get the sticks.

There are a number of hotels in San Francisco where the management or clerks cater to persons holding marijuana parties-also opium parties.

This reporter was a witness to the delivery of marijuana cigarettes to the informant. Twenty minutes after she had phoned to the dealer, in his presence they were delivered to her.


Under instructions he also bought some of the "sticks" himself. He spoke to a man standing on the sidewalk not far from Fifth and Market street. The man vanished and an instant later another man appeared. After he had walked a few feet he was told to hand him the money-15 cents for each cigarette. After taking the money the man walked on a few more steps, slipped the brown-paper roiled cigarettes into the writer's hand and instantly vanished.

The marijuana ring has wide ramifications, according to the information given police and checked by this reporter.

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