Cannabis Time Capsule, 1913: Pulp fiction meets hash fables

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

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

Ever wonder what fictional American millionaire playboys did for kicks 100 years ago (aside from Gatsby)? Us neither. But cannabis is a funny thing, and once again our digging has dusted off a gem of marijuana writing from Colorado's past about American millionaire Paul Lane and his romantic adventures from the Wet Mountain Tribune.

On tap for Halloween night, 1913? Another wild tale of Paul Lane, this time in far away Delhi for "The Misplaced Dream."

An excerpt reads: "Paul Lane stood on the heights above Delhi, looking down upon a city of tents. The ancient capital of the Moguls stretched away beneath him, mile after mile of mean and squalid buildings, relieved here and there by the splendid orb of temple or marble minaret."

Sounds awesome, right? Mysterious. Clearly this is the dude that men wanted to be and women wanted to be with (or easily the other way around; we aren't judgy here at Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule).

Only it's not.

It may have been a good story at the time, but frankly, this piece of uber-pulpy pulp fiction has so many unanswered story lines and characters that we assume it only makes sense to regular readers of the column. But still, it contains this amazing passage whereby an Indian mystic tells Paul Lane about a plan to use hashish to murder the king and establish the Jam as the ruler of India:

"Drugged!" exclaimed Paul Lane. "But ahow can a drugged man play so important a part?"

"You have heard of hashish?" asked Ramchundra Sing.


"It is a very mysterious drug, especially when blended with certain other narcotics, the knowledge of which is confined to some of the Indian practitioners. For half an hour after swallowing it, one feels no effects at all (Editor's note: like Dr. J's edibles?); after that, when given in certain quantities and combinations, it possesses the peculiar property of destroying the perception of time. For instance, to the man under hashish, a thousand years may pass or seem to pass in a moment, conversely also. This is by the way. The most important effect of the drugs which the astrologer is to administer is that one under their effects is able to go about his business apparently in full possession of his senses. Actually, his is an automation. He is like one hypnotized' he obeys all orders unquestioningly. For the inhibition of the process of ratiocination leaves the mind in a state to carry out the one idea which has been been placed in it. You understand me? Good! Well, then his highness the Jam when under the influence of this drug , will be told exactly what he is to do and will set about to do it. He will conquer an empire in a dream and awake to find himself an emperor."

The text was accompanied by this amazing drawing of a stoned-looking Paul Lane with a pot of hash-laced coffee and a hookah in front of him. That's really the best part of this piece, as the story itself seems to fall apart, with the reader finally learning that it was all a weird dream inside Paul Lane's hazy mind. Very Twilight Zone-esque, but nowhere near as creepy.

In all, the story doesn't treat cannabis as a scourge of the lower class like a lot of actual news stories from this era tend to do. But it does seem to play into the cannabis mystic and fear of the East, especially when it's being used to topple a democratic government.

Side note: the author, H.M. Egbert is actually Victor Rousseau Emanuel, a small-time writer probably best known for pulp fiction and early science fiction writing before the latter was really a genre all its own.

Check out more Colorado cannabis history told through the pages of newspapers from around the state at our Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule blog.

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.