Cannabis Time Capsule, 1938: Pot Turns Addicts Into Killers!

Marijuana turns you into a killer and therefore is known as the “killer” drug. That’s the takeaway from the following article describing a November 28, 1938 Women’s Club meeting in Steamboat specifically on the use and abuse of drugs.

The club apparently was clueless about cannabis and invited a local physician to school them. Of course, it being the 1930s, the doctor himself was as clueless as the audience he was addressing.

The Steamboat Women’s Club was pretty obsessed with drugs. This marks the second time we’ve dug up a story on them and their talks about the dangers of pot. Our first story from 1939 talked about how the group was on the lookout for “men and women who loiter around” because they were probably drug users.

This week’s find takes us back about a year. According to the doctor, drugs like opium, morphine, heroin, alcohol, cocaine and marijuana have been a “great barrier to human achievement.” To his credit, though, the doctor didn’t advocate jailing addicts. Instead, he said he supported treatment for “victims of the drug scourge” and mentioned successful treatment centers in Kentucky and Texas.

But then the scary stuff starts. The doctor said that crime in the country was closely related to drug addiction and that “a large portion" of federal prison inmates were drug addicts. And while there are plenty of drugs that lead to true addiction – like heroin and cocaine – the doctor singled out weed as the number-one problem.

His quote: “The sale of marihuana, or Indian hemp, has become a national problem because its dispensers prey on children by placing the drug in cigarettes and candy.”

Apparently, cigarettes were seen as children’s things in the 1930s: “Users of the drug are stimulated to commit crimes when under its influence. It is one of the habit-forming drugs and very dangerous, Dr. Crawford said.”
Crawford’s solution? Require every high schooler to visit an asylum to witness first-hand the effects of drugs via a “Scared Straight”-like program: “The actual sight of these miserable persons will do more to educate the young people in regards to the results of bad habits than all the study and talk in the schools has done.”

Crawford’s talk was followed by a Mrs. Childress, then-director of the public welfare department of the state federation of clubs. Basically, she was the queen busybody of busybodies. She told the group that “the use of marihuana is increasing notably, especially among younger children in large cities.
“It is called the ‘killer’ drug because under its influence the addict often commits violent crimes and murder.”

Killer? Really? Maybe she overheard someone talking about how “killer” their stash was and got confused?

She then went on to conflate marijuana with “loco weed”, a group of plants not related to pot at all that grow wild in the Southwest and cause horses and cattle to go nuts when they eat it. Especially in Mexico — because, apparently, everyone is crazy in Mexico, including the Mexicans who grow and export the stuff to the U.S. Which brings up a recurring theme in our Cannabis Time Capsules: blaming Mexico for American’s use of pot.

“Almost all of the illicit narcotic drugs in America were manufactured in foreign nations and smuggled into this country,” Mrs. Childress said, ignoring the fact that pot was being grown right in her town.

And would continue to be grown right in her town well into the present day. Pot shops there do a pretty good business growing and selling their herb legally to locals and tourists.
Side note: We couldn’t find much about Dr. Crawford, though he seems to have been a well-known pillar of the community for decades; he started the first Lions summer camp for blind children in the state.  Not only that, but his son was known as a legend in the small town. Marvin Crawford was an Olympic skier and fourteen-time national champion ski jumper, racer and cross-country skier (not to mention supreme badass for taking on Howelsen Hill’s ninety-meter jump with a 200 meter leap at the age of twelve). He went on to become the first general manager for the fledgling Steamboat Ski Area in the 1960s.