Cannabis Time Capsule, 1909: Marijuana the "deadliest vegetable" known to Texas

With a headline like "To Farm Insanity Plant," we were hoping to find a grow guide of sorts from 1909. But alas, that wasn't the case.

Instead, this article from the March 5, 1909 Yampa Leader was just more of the usual anti-marijuana propaganda connecting cannabis with the feared brown-skinned Mexicans that gave white America such terrors at the turn of the 1900s.

Who are we kidding? That's still going on.

The article actually seems like a pretty cool story at first. It follows the tale of Ernest Lovo, a botanist in Texas studying the cannabis plant. He apparently went down to Mexico and, with permission from Texas, brought back ten pounds of cannabis seeds to Austin so he could study the crops.

That's where the paper starts freaking out.

Marijuana was labeled the "deadliest vegetable known to be introduced to Texas," which is a pretty misleading claim, since cannabis isn't deadly whatsoever. The writer also presumes that this researcher is the first person to actually "introduce" the plant into Texas from Mexico.

A quote: "The weed is known as the most harmful of narcotic drugs. It's leaves, when smoked in the form of cigarettes, produces a species of insanity which frequently ends in horrible death."

The piece even connects the death of Mexican Empress Carlotta with cannabis, saying someone spiked her coffee with weed and that's what drover her to insanity. We've been over this before, but that likely wasn't the case at all; her very real breakdown is more likely attributable to the crazy amount of inbreeding within the royal family at the time.

"It is said that it is so seductive in its effects that to smoke one cigarette made of it will addict one to it's use," the story goes on to say. "Notwithstanding the stringent Mexican laws, it is a common practice for cigarettes made of it to be smuggled to the soldiers in the barracks, producing more than one dangerous riot."

What's interesting, though, is that the good doctor does make mention of the medical properties of cannabis and the writer actually included it in the story. Notably, there is reference that it can "cure" asthma. While cannabis won't truly cure asthma, it has been proven to help manage attacks and daily symptoms, and pharmaceutical asthma drugs have been made using cannabis as a base. Peter Tosh wasn't lying.

More from our Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule archive: "Cannabis Time Capsule, 1937-1949: The Ballad of Steamboat's Frank Valdez."

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes