4

Cannabis Time Capsule, 1914: Talks of Prohibition and Shades of Bigotry

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

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

This article from the May 1914 Summit County Journal gives a good idea of the official national temperament toward drugs at the time with a summary of the 1914 Harrison Narcotic Tax Act.

But it's the accompanying cartoon that tells the real story.

See also: Cannabis Time Capsule, 1893: Horses Thrive on Weed

A refresher: The Harrison Narcotic Tax Act was the federal law that -- for the first time in the country's history -- regulated drugs like opiates and cocaine. But interestingly, the law didn't include marijuana despite a growing movement at the time out West to discredit the plant.

The feds didn't end up making pot illegal until 1937, but Colorado and states like Wyoming, Utah and Nevada had laws against the cultivation, use and sales of pot by 1917.

But we've been over all that before. A few times, actually.

Instead, we've selected this article because it highlights our ongoing theme of racism's role in demonizing marijuana (and drug use in general) by equating it with dark, sinister minorities.

See that black, borderline-racist Sambo-looking demon devil on the left in the cartoon accompanying the article? That's drugs. The old white Republican-looking guy with the gun and the sword? That's Uncle "Law and Order" Sam chasing drugs down to kill it.

Thank goodness the war on drugs the Harrison Narcotic Tax Act kicked off eventually ended all that.

Oh, wait. No, it didn't.

In case you haven't noticed, parts of our society are still trying to vilify cannabis users by depicting the substance as something crazy, wild-eyed minorities use that should be stamped out at all costs.

And it is an approach that is still failing miserably, 100 years later.

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.