Cannabis Time Capsule, 1952: Feds Called on "Mexican" Kids With Six Ounces of Pot

We admit that two minors of any ethnicity might be facing jail time -- or at least some heavy fines and probation -- if something like this 1952 story from the Douglas County News happened today, even in Colorado. But local police calling the feds for two youths with six ounces of pot? It would be unnecessarily harsh -- and today, the feds would likely laugh off the request as a waste of time and resources.

But it's what happened to Anthony Chavez an David Valdez after getting popped with a half-dozen lids of grass in Castle Rock, then a town of about 750 residents and at least two cops.

See also: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Golden Meds in North Denver

This brief article doesn't have any follow up that we've found. What we know is that Chavez and Valdez were arrested for speeding in Castle Rock (or, possibly, for simply being brown in Castle Rock). But the story goes back further.

The two Keystone Castle Rock cops, H.V. Short and Charles Weekly, happened to know the two Denver boys already, as they'd been arrested in the then-tiny town earlier that fall for driving without a license.

And here's where the tale gets odd. After going to "Arlie Gordon's J.P. court" for this offense, either Chavez or Valdez (or nobody) allegedly dropped a "hypodermic kit" out of the car. The podunk cops then apparently sent the needle off to the narcotics bureau for testing; the results aren't mentioned in the article.

Fast forward a few weeks to October 19. After arresting the boys, Short called Wheatley to ask if they had appeared in court for "the previous summons." Talk about a lack of communication. Wheatley said they had, we assume, but he also remembered the car was the same one involved with the "hypodermic kit."

It sounds like Wheatley then joined Short and the two cops searched the car, finding six ounces of pot. And what did they do with the boys? Put them in tiny Castle Rock jail? Send them to the pen in Cañon City? No. They handed them over to the federal narcotics bureau in Denver. Again, no follow up on the boys after that, although it's noted that Wheatley dug up their records and both had priors in Englewood for narcotics and car theft, respectively. (Also worth pointing out, the reporter calls Chavez "Sanchez" at the end of the article.)

At the time, a first-time offense for pot possession at the federal level was anywhere from two to ten years, with fines up to $20,000 -- the equivalent of about $180,000 in 2014. We're guessing the judge wasn't al to lenient on two "Mexicans" with priors, either.

Today, the most Chavez and Valdez would have faced federally (according to NORML) is a year for a first offense and $1,000 in fines for possession -- the offense for which they were charged back then.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes

Latest Stories