The history of cannabis in Colorado...or how the state went to pot

See also: William Breathes looks back on three years as the country's first pot critic

The history of cannabis in Colorado...or how the state went to pot
Craig LaRotonda

In the beginning, it grew wild. But at some point nearly 10,000 years ago — and most likely in Southeast Asia, although it soon spread through much of the world — it became a domesticated plant, with different varieties bred for fiber, medicine...and recreation.

Cannabis eventually reached the Americas through the slave trade. In Brazil in the 1500s, slaves were allowed to grow small amounts in the cornfields they tended and smoke it during work; their Portuguese masters reported that it made the slaves more complacent. As cannabis crossed into Central America, indigenous tribes regarded it as a medicinal and spiritual plant, similar to the native peyote. Soon it evolved into a healing herb that soothed the hardships of peasant life in general. Soldiers in the Mexican revolution reportedly loved it, as noted in the folk song "La Cucaracha": "The cockroach/can't walk anymore/because it doesn't have/because it is lacking/marijuana to smoke."

See also: William Breathes looks back on three years as the country's first pot critic

Mason Tvert started with SAFER, then moved to Amendment 64.
Mason Tvert started with SAFER, then moved to Amendment 64.
Attorney Brian Vicente has helped define marijuana in Colorado — legally.
Anthony Camera
Attorney Brian Vicente has helped define marijuana in Colorado — legally.

Further north, though, people were more interested in more fibrous strains of the plant, which came to be known as hemp, cultivating them for fiber to make ropes and sails for ships. By the time of the American Revolution, hemp was grown all over North America — including on the plantations of founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. "Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, sow it everywhere," Washington pronounced. Colonists paid taxes with hemp, and in mid-1700s Virginia, refusing to grow it was punishable by jail time. But while hemp and cannabis today are still similar plants, commercial varieties of hemp have been bred to contain little to none of the psychoactive ingredient THC found in cannabis; hemp is prized primarily for its fibers.

When Colorado became a state, in 1876, both hemp and cannabis were legal — and they stayed that way for decades. By the late 1800s, cannabis oil was a common ingredient in medical tinctures, and Asian-style hashish dens had become fashionable in cities like New York and San Francisco. That increased popularity led to concerns that hashish would lead to mass addiction, and in 1906 the federal government imposed the first regulation on cannabis intended for consumption: A product simply had to be labeled if it contained the herb.

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But in the Southwest, cannabis was gaining a darker reputation. The plant was associated with the migrant workers flooding the area for low-paying field work: brown-skinned people who made light-skinned people uncomfortable by eschewing liquor in favor of the crazy herbs they brought with them from Mexico or the Far East. Officials and the media began calling the herb "marijuana" rather than the traditional "cannabis," because it sounded more like Spanish and was therefore scarier to whites. California became the first state to outlaw marijuana; the law, passed in 1913, had another name for it: "loco weed." Between 1915 and 1917, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada all banned cannabis.

In March 1917, Colorado legislators made the use and cultivation of cannabis a misdemeanor; those who broke the law were subject to a fine of between $10 and $100 and up to a month in jail. The bill was sponsored by Andres Lucero of Las Animas; given his Hispanic surname and the fact that, later that same year, he also sponsored a measure outlawing cocaine and opium distribution, it's likely that Mexican immigrants were not the target of the bill. Instead, it might have been part of the growing national temperance movement that led to Prohibition in 1920.

But in 1929, when the Colorado Legislature passed a law making the sale, possession and distribution of marijuana a felony in Colorado, minorities were clearly the focus of the measure. A Mexican immigrant who'd murdered his stepdaughter in Denver that year was reportedly under the influence of cannabis; sensational newspaper stories played up both the drug and his origins. Val Higgins, a Denver chaplain, told the Rocky Mountain News that the new, stricter legislation was necessary to control the growing Mexican population. "The use of marijuana came into the state with the Mexicans migrating here for agricultural work," he said. "Its use is growing because of the increasing number of Mexicans and the ease with which most of them have been able to avoid penalties."

News reports in the early 1930s continued to push the perception that marijuana was a scourge of minorities. Articles detailed raids on Hispanic homes and busts in traditionally Hispanic neighborhoods. A News story in August 1937 titled "Marijuana in Denver? Sure, Plenty of the Stuff" detailed the writer's excursion to then-seedy Larimer Street to deal with "dark faced men" who were dealing herb bundled into "deuces, and aces" and selling two joints for a quarter. Another piece talked about how beet workers — traditionally migrants from Mexico — brought the marijuana into Denver regularly to "augment their scanty income."

Other accounts were more blatantly racist, describing fields of marijuana being grown by Mexicans who "corrupt" local youth. In August 1937, a Denver Post article reported that two Mexican nationals arrested for selling marijuana to high-school students had been jailed for ninety days, as well as fined for narcotics violations and vagrancy; the men had reportedly bragged to police that marijuana was growing wild along the Platte. The story was no doubt as sensational then as it would be today, since cannabis is not native to the Denver area, nor does it grow feral here as it does in other parts of the Midwest that cultivated legal hemp during World War II.

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120 comments
homersimpson
homersimpson

i can't believe it's not butter and cookie dough.

IcePick
IcePick

I'm gonna call it, Aaron... it's just you and me here....

 

Obama wins the Presidency and A64 wins too.

 

Congratulations.

IcePick
IcePick

Who is Donkey Hotay? 

 

Here's the answer:

 

Donkey Hotay  [ Show all posts ]

Email:asawyer@us.ibm.com

Real Name:Aaron (Sawyer)

Posts: 1,396

Registered: 12/19/2005 06:25PM

Last Activity: 11/28/2007 05:38PM 

 

And to see proof that this is the same Donkey Hotay, here are the highlights:

1) he works at IBM, who has a plant in Boulder on Diagonal Blvd

2) he is a rockies fan

3) he writes like a lawyer 

 

Read his posts for yourself, you will quickly see that Aaron Sawyer IS Donkey Hotay. 

 

Profile:

http://forums.macresource.com/profile.php?1,404 

 

Forum Posts in the "  'Friendly' Political Ranting" section:

http://forums.macresource.com/search.php?1,author=404,match_type=USER_ID 

 

Here are posts from another forum by Aaron "the idiot Donkey Hotay" Sawyer:http://tinyurl.com/cldyphk

wstott
wstott

Who would expect a  journalism award quality article from the pot columnist of a free weekly. Could this be journalism? There is that word again! Breathes give us the Information and background, overviews of the stakeholders, and the story as of today, The reader comes away better informed and with more depth. This is the job of journalists. The malleable message of the 30 second sound bite and the two minute news story does not an informed electorate make. We need every issue covered this way. How good is this article? If you are pro or con on the issue, you still come away with facts and history to defend your position.   

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator editortopcommenter

just a reminder that we'd love to publish some of these comments in our print letters to the editor section....ideally with the author's real name/town (we don't publish e-mail addresses). Or feel free to submit a fresh letter to patricia.calhoun@westword.

 

C'mon,  Kevin, Ice pick, weib999x -- and dare I say it, donkeyhotay? Any takers?

kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt

 @patricia.calhoun Patricia, it's obvious that the presence of the Donkey increases site traffic, because arguing with them is addictive.

 

What do you think of the Donkey's debate style?

kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt

 @patricia.calhoun When you get donkeyhotay to reveal their real name, please let us know.  That is currently the $10,000 question.

IcePick
IcePick

 @DonkeyHotay  @nemopunk15 

"Gotta love R Lee Ermey"  Yea, you know who he reminds me of? Aaron Sawyer, though Ermey appears much smarter.

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator editortopcommenter

 @DonkeyHotayThe value of a person willing to sign his/her real name to an opinion is priceless...still, readers do it every day, and I encourage anyone willing to stand up for his/her thoughts to do so!

kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt

@IcePick

Could it be too good to be true?  I don't want to jinx it.

 

 

The Rocky Mountain High just got a whole lot higher. On Tuesday night, Amendment 64 -- the measure which sought the legalization of marijuana for recreational use by adults -- was passed by Colorado voters, making Colorado the first state to end marijuana prohibition in the United States.

With about 36 percent of precincts reporting at the time of publishing, 9News and Fox31 report that Amendment 64 has passed.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/amendment-64-passes-in-co_n_2079899.html?utm_source=Alert-blogger&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Email%2BNotifications

 

kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt

 @IcePick Donkey = a Continuation of Criminal Prohibition against Marijuana Users and Growers and an endorsement of Reefer Madness hysteria regarding the HARMS and DANGERS of marijuana.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @IcePick You're lying again, scumbag. Pay attention. Look it up.

IcePick
IcePick

 @DonkeyHotay You didn't answer.  Where did you answer?  What was the answer?  

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @IcePick  -- asked and answered you pig-ignorant drooling retard.

IcePick
IcePick

 @DonkeyHotay 

You know damn well you who are, Aaron Sawyer... employee of IBM.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @IcePick  Who is Aaron Sawyer and why are you so infatuated with him ?

IcePick
IcePick

 @sfsailor  @DonkeyHotay 

While he may seem to be Corey Donahue, he is not.  His name is Aaron Sawyer and he worked for a fortune 500 company in Boulder who many call 'big blue'.

sfsailor
sfsailor

 @DonkeyHotaySo you are denying you fled to avoid serving your prison sentence/s? I am the person who told you, Corey, almost years ago while we were walking near the Capital, that you have no critical thinking skills, and that I was shocked at this as you claim to have a Master's degree. hth. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @sfsailor "You are clearly Corey "Nut-tap" Donahue - the convicted sexual offender who fled to Boliva [sic] to avoid serving his jail time."

 

You = clearly a clueless imbecile

 

hth

sfsailor
sfsailor

 @DonkeyHotay  Your online name, DonkeyHotay; is a play on the way "Don Quixote"  sounds.  Your previous posts from 1-2 years ago, on Disgus, gave away your living place as near Boulder (which turned out to be your sisters apartment). Your posting as DonkeyHotay all but died out in September and October - the same time you fled to Boliva. Your postings started right back up after you where apparently (no one has checked this) granted asylum.You are clearly Corey "Nut-tap" Donahue - the convicted sexual offender who fled to Boliva to avoid serving his jail time. When you fled from America, you also forfeited all of the bonds your acquaintances had to put up to bail you out of jail all those times from your stint terrorizing the Denver Occupy movement... In the end, when you fled, the people who bailed you out must have  lost over $10k.So, Corey, what gives you the right to chime in on anything in Colorado? You fled from here physically.... And why is Westword letting you, a known, fleeing and fleecing felon have a soapbox? If WW is not going to have any standards here- what's next??? Is WW going to have a forum where pedophilies can come and taunt their victims? Seems like sound Corey Donahue style logic to me...

 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @IcePick  @kevin_hunt  

 

Says the Village Idiot who's also claimed I was Laura Kriho, Kathleen Chippi, two different guys from Wyoming, and whatever current delusional nonsense he happens to entertain in his schizophrenic mind.

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator editortopcommenter

 @DonkeyHotay irony is never lost on me. It's one of my favorite things. But the simple fact is that, unlike a food critic who can write under her real name and make reservations under a fake one, an MMJ reviewer must do the reverse: Use the real name to get into the place, and so a fake one for the reviews.

 

what's your explanation.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @patricia.calhoun 

 

And the irony of this on a blog written by "William Breathes" is lost on you, Patty?

 

 
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