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Cannabis Time Capsule 1923: "Mexican Dope Ring Operating in Denver"

The headline pretty much says it all in this November 24, 1923 article off the front pages of the Aspen Democrat-Times.

Despite the fact that he was likely an American, Tony -- the man in question -- happens to have a Hispanic surname (though, honestly, we can't figure out exactly what it is due to the smudgy print). Therefore: Mexican. Not only was he a Mexican, but he was selling to boys and girls in school! No evidence of that is presented, but whatever. The fearmongering was way more important.

The article itself is a bit fuzzy (we assume the man's name could be "Tony Planta," though we're probably just wanting to see that), but we did our best to transcribe it below:

Cannabis Time Capsule 1923: "Mexican Dope Ring Operating in Denver"
A Mexican dope ring believed operating among high school boys and girls in Denver has been broken up thru [sic] the arrest of Tony Planta, alleged leader, police believe.

Planta was arrested today, when detectives bought a quantity of marijuana from him. Marijuana is rolled into cigarettes and smoked, causing a condition resembling alcoholic intoxication. The user becomes an addict [possibly "idiot"] in a short time.

Marijuana is a weed that grows in Medico and southwestern states and is easily obtainable at a low price. It is difficult to stop the sale of this weed as it is not included in the Harrison narcotic act under which other drug peddlers are prosecuted by the federal government.

On top of offering insight into Denver's view of marijuana in 1923, the story also shows the disconnect between the western states, which were already busy demonizing marijuana and passing laws against it (while hassling brown-skinned people for using it), and federal officials out east who, in 1914, passed the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act that regulated coke and opiates, but not weed. It wasn't until 1937 that the feds eventually passed the Marihuana Tax Act .

Denver in 1937, full of Mexican dope rings!
Denver in 1937, full of Mexican dope rings!

For more Colorado cannabis history, check out our Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule archive.


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