Cannabis Time Capsule, 1883-1921: Hash visions explained and more

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Every now and then on our searches for Cannabis Time Capsule artifacts, we find news briefs too short to post about on their own.

But they are too good to go unread, so we've compiled a handful of our favorites below.

Read on to find out the explanation for psychedelic hash visions, the daily routine of the shah of Persia, and why libraries and books will be the joyous death of us all.

Let's begin by taking a look at "Brain-Light and Dreams."

Last month, we brought you the 1904 story of an unnamed writer's psychedelic hashish visions, which he could conjure up on the back of his eyelids. Trippy, we know, but also explainable. Peep this item from six years earlier, in the February 4, 1899 edition of the Aspen Daily Times. The Hasheesh Eater was a very popular book, originally published in 1857. In it, Fitz Hugh Ludlow describes just how tore-up he got after eating a sizable amount of cannabis concentrates. Uncharacteristic of the time, Ludlow actually praises cannabis and cannabis users as people seeking a "broader being, deeper insight, grander views of Beauty, Truth and Good than she now gains through the chinks of her cell."

Ludlow's book is credited with popularizing cannabis use to the point that hash parlors started popping up in the UK and America around the time this 1912 brief was published in Telluride.

Apparently more than half of the patients in lunatic asylums in what is now Bangladesh and West Bengal were just perma-stoned. Of course, the writer also calls marijuana "poison," so you can imagine how accurate the rest of the blurb really is.

Continue for more from the Cannabis Time Capsule between 1883 and 1921. From the Aspen Daily Times, 1883.

The "shah" referred to above is Naser al-Din Shah Qajar, king of Iran from 1848 to 1896. He was the first Iranian king to visit Europe and had become widely known at the time of this article for handing over the Iranian tobacco industry to the British for his personal gain. By 1891, nearly all of Iran had stopped using tobacco in protest due to a fatwa from local religious leaders.

Painting him and all of Iran as crazy in Western media was probably in vogue at the time, and heavy hashish use definitely made one loony according to then-popular sentiment. (Not too different from today, eh?)

And finally, we have this little gem from the Fort Collins Courier circa December 16, 1921. Minus any context, it reads like the rantings of a crazy person who equates reading to being a drug addict and predicts libraries will soon suck us all into a lifeless oblivion. But it is actually a quote from The Adventures of the Soul by Anatole France, a famous French poet. The full quote is much more interesting, however: The complete quotation reads:

"According to Littré a book is a bound bundle of paper sheets whether hand-written or printed. That definition does not satisfy me. I would define a book as a work of magic whence escape all kinds of images to trouble the souls and change the hearts of men. Or, better still, a book is a little magic apparatus which transports us among the images of the past or amidst supernatural shades. Those who read many books are like the eaters of hashish. They live in a dream. The subtle poison that penetrates their brain renders them insensible to the real world and makes them the prey of terrible or delightful phantoms. Books are the opium of the Occident. They devour us. A day is coming on which we shall all be keepers of libraries, and that will be the end.

"Let us love books as the mistress of the poet loved her grief. Let us love them: they cost us dear enough. Yes, books kill us. You may believe me who adore them, who have long given myself to them without reserve. Books slay us."

More from our Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule archive: "1948, Sheriff saves county from "marijuana binge" and "1931: That $5,000 garden wasn't filled with veggies....."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.