February 17, 1935
by KENNETH CLARK
Chief Washington Correspondent of Universal Service
Shocking crimes of violence are increasing.
Murders, slaughterings, cruel mutilations, maimings, done in cold blood, as if some hideous monster was amok in the land.
Alarmed Federal and State authorities attribute much of this violence to the “killer drug”.
That’s what experts call marihuana. It is another name for hashish. It’s a derivative of Indian hemp, a roadside weed in almost every State in the Union. It is especially prevalent in the Southwest.
Marijuana is generally smoked mixed with tobacco in a cigarette. Sometimes it’s chewed and sometimes mixed in alcoholic drinks to increase the “kick”.
Those addicted to marihuana, after an early feeling of exhilaration, soon lose all restraints all inhibitions. They become bestial demoniacs, filled with the mad just to kill.
The effects of marihuana addiction are often more disastrous than those of any other kind of dope. Habitual users go insane.
Thousands of new addicts are being recruited by brutal traffickers. Marihuana cigarettes are sold to school children, to young boys and girls. At first they turn to the dope “for a thrill”. Soon they sink to the depths of degradation.
In older days Oriental despots used to load their dupes with hashish (marihuana) and send them out to kill. Today the underworld has turned to this drug to subjugate the will of human derelicts. The criminal, before undertaking a crime, will smoke a few marihuana cigarettes to remove any natural sense of restraint and to whip up false courage.
The stuff is cheap. Marihuana cigarettes usually sell for ten cents apiece, or three for a quarter. The trafficker makes seven cents profit on each cigarette.
Dope addicts who find it difficult to obtain other narcotics are using marihuana to satisfy their cravings and their vice. Here is the result, in the words of a noted expert. “Those who are habitually accustomed to the drug frequently develop a delirious rage during which they are, temporarily at least, irresponsible and liable to commit violent crimes. The prolonged use produces mental deterioration and eventual insanity.”
Down in Georgia a depraved boy sold his last pair of shoes to buy marihuana. In cities everywhere, boys and girls are secretly smoking the stuff, easy prey of the peddlers.
According to an eminent authority, here’s the end that awaits them:
“Marihuana produces first an exaltation with more or less a feeling of well-being; a happy jovial mood usually; an increased feeling of physical strength and power. Accompanying this exaltation is a stimulation of the imagination , followed by a delirious state characterized by vivid kaleidoscopic visions, sometimes of a pleasing, sensual kind, but more often a gruesome nature.”
“While the delirium is one of degree it gradually merges, if the dose is sufficient, into a state of general motor weakness, fatigue, drowsiness and sleep. In cases of prolonged addiction, the somnolent action is replaced by psychomotor activity, with a tenancy to willful violence, accompanied by complete loss of judgment and of restraint. It is significant that marihuana acts quickly and effectively to cut off inhibitions. ”
Mothers and fathers of America, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? Do you want this fate for your sons, your daughters? Two things need to be done at once:
- Federal law must be broadened and strengthened to bring this dope under control, to smash this hideous menace.
- The states must pass uniform narcotic drug acts that will outlaw marihuana, as well as all other dope, and provide drastic punishment for the offenders.
Do you know that the Federal Government has no authority to arrest and imprison traffickers in death-dealing marihuana?
Unfortunately, it’s true. Uncle Sam can deal with opium, heroin, morphine, cocaine, but the production and use of marihuana within the United States are NOT PROHIBITED BY FEDERAL LAW. Strange, isn’t it?
Only in comparatively recent times has marihuana addiction become so serious and so widespread. It is a vice imported from Mexico. Down there it is called mariajuana, or, translated into English, “Mary Jane”. Mexican workers in beet sugar fields are believed to have first introduced the habit to the United States. From the Southwest it spread over the nation.
States have been lax about marihuana. The laws of some 34 States and the territory of Hawaii control, either the cultivation, sale or possession of this drug, but these State laws are not uniform. Penalties in most States are negligible, hardly more than a small fine or perhaps a work-house sentence.
New York City is a centre of the illicit traffic. Over in Brooklyn last October authorities discovered an acre field of the stuff, almost in sight of Brooklyn Bridge. The traffickers had been selling the dope to U.S. soldiers stationed on Governor’s Island. Sales amounted to about 700 cigarettes a day.