Marijuana

Cannabis Time Capsule, 1938: "Muggle" Makes Men Into Killers, Not Muggles

Back in the day, a lot of marijuana paranoia was spread through newspaper wire services. Editors needing to fill room would find salacious stories of marijuana-mad maniacs running amok and killing people and reprint them (and the practice continues to this day).

This story out of New Orleans must have seemed especially scary to have wound up  in the July 22, 1938 Eagle Valley Enterprise in Eagle even though the term used for cannabis — "muggle" — will make modern readers think more about non-magical folks in Harry Potter stories than a violence-inducing drug.
The article is a standard paranoia-inspiring tale of criminals and foreigners introducing the white man to cannabis.

The story is based on a report from J. Skelly Wright, the then-assistant United States District Attorney who is interviewed about “muggle,” as he calls it.

The danger, according to Skelly, is that the “terrible effects” of pot are to make “a normal person into a raving maniac who obeys every impulse arising from current or previous suggestion.”


Wright apparently researched the history of the “marijuana weed” back to Asia and India some 3,000 years ago (which is somewhat accurate).

But the introduction to white folks like him came through the French sometime around 1845.

And then his “history” gets pretty sketchy.
Yes, that’s right folks: your reaction to marijuana was believed to be largely influenced by your race (to be fair, Wright was also a noted anti-segregationist in his time).

And those that don’t stop? They are doomed. DOOMED he says!
Interestingly, there's a link to today's pot paranoia and drug warriors: current U.S. Attorney for Colorado John Walsh was a clerk in Wright’s court.
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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes