Cannabis Time Capsule, 1908: What were they smoking?

Big Tobacco was alive and well in 1908, promoting itself as the only thing that people should be putting in their pipes and lighting up. That's painfully clear in this 1908 article from the Telluride Daily Journal detailing substitutes for tobacco from around the world (notably in places inhabited by poor or ethnic peoples). Like, did you know that the "Indians" along the Alaskan coast smoked wood shavings with pepper after dinner? Neither did we, nor can we find anything about it online. The only thing they were smoking was probably salmon, and it wasn't in a pipe. Up next are farmers. These dumb yokels smoke tomato and potato leaves even though they're rather harmful and lead to insanity, suicide and terrible headaches, according to the piece. The headaches we believe; the rest is absurd. That is, unless they were already being driven to insanity, and smoking potato leaves wasn't the cause but a mere symptom of it. Less harmful, supposedly, are rhubarb, beet and sage -- all said to be pleasures of the rural farmer. Turns out there is some truth to this, as farmers knew that some tomato and potato plants contain nicotine, and they both made cheap alternatives in hard times.

But American farmers weren't the only cheapskates not buying tobacco. In England, "rustics" in rural country places apparently smoked coltsfoot -- herb believed to help with breathing issues, as well as skin problems. However, this article claimed that it caused injuries to the eyes, though the author noted that it "certainly does relieve difficult breathing." It was also found to be toxic to the liver in modern times.

Finally, we come to our favorite green, THC-laden plant: cannabis. "Ganjah," more specifically. We'll let you read it for yourself:

For those of you following our Time Capsule blog, this is the second article to attribute ganja to the Indian Rebellion of 1857. So not only will marijuana drive you crazy, but it can cause major international conflicts.

Actually, that last part remains true, as our War on Drugs causes major international conflicts every day.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

More from our Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule archive: "1917: Marijuana is made illegal in Colorado" and "1923: 'Drugs, Drugs, Who's Smuggling Drugs?'"

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes