Marijuana

Cannabis Time Capsule, 1951: Early drug warrior warns of reefer-peddling teens

In the early 1950s, a U.S. senator from Tennessee named Estes Kefauver wanted to make a name for himself. The guy had high aspirations, after all, and fancied himself presidential material.

And what better way to do that than to scare the living crap out of the American public with tales of gambling and dope addicts, using the relatively new medium of TV news, then turning around and being the guy who fixes everything.

By 1951, Kefauver saw a major problem in drugs and crime and he began a string of Senate hearings that were among the first live broadcasts of government in action in the United States. He dragged in mob bosses, politicians and even wrecked the lives of former governors of New York and New Jersey. Some credit the senator with introducing what we know today as the "mafia" to our common collective knowledge. Kefauver was a honey badger, he didn't give a fuck.

He became a hotshot celebrity by appealing to the American public as a white knight of clean livin' and, in many ways, was the forerunner to the U.S. drug policies that followed and led to the War on Drugs as we know it.

Which is probably why a column about the guy appeared in this February 8, 1951 edition of the Steamboat Pilot. Now, Kefauver's anti-gambling and anti-pot stance isn't anything new, but we couldn't resist sharing this awesomely old-timey 1950s vernacular:

It's safe to say -- with legal gambling in twenty states and "dope" being sold legally to adults in medical and recreational states across the country today -- that Kefauver wouldn't be a very happy old man if he were still around.

For more historic cannabis stories from classic Colorado newspaper articles, check out our Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule archives.

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes