Cannabis Time Capsule: Tripping on THC in New York City in 1893

This week's story comes from the July 6,1893 edition of the Leadville Herald-Democrat.

It's a tale of fiendish barbers, giant newsboys and getting so stoned your friends have to physically restrain you.

Bonus: This capsule comes with an illustration of terrifying (or hysterical, depending on your worldview) psychedelic hallucinations caused by THC.

An unnamed New York doctor, who the article matter-of-factly says experiments with various drugs as part of his profession, decided to try hash pills. After getting some from an unnamed source, he designated an afternoon to his experiment. That is to say, he ate some hash and waited around to see what happened next.

And like a lot of us have found out (the hard way) the first time we consumed edibles, the effect takes longer to come on than you think. So what did he do? What we all did before we knew better: He ate more.

By the time he was done, he had taken three hash pills and was further disappointed by the results -- until, that is, he left his apartment for his daily 6 p.m. shave at the barber. As the lather was being smeared on his stubble, our doctor friend began to freak the fuck out. "The walls were beginning to grow. The ceiling went up in the air at an astonishing rate. The door receded hundreds of feet in the distance. The barber increased in proportion to a colossus, and the razor became the size of a meat ax."

That's not all. The windows went dark, shaving mugs turned into bathtubs and he found himself drowning in shaving cream. So he did what anyone would do. He booked it out of the chair, lather still on his face, and raced into the New York City evening.

But that didn't help. Seeing even the smallest things turn huge indoors still couldn't have prepared our friend for the towering light poles and buildings that were literally scraping the clouds (at least, as literally as you want to take this clearly fantastical story). The tallest building in New York at the time was only 20 stories tall -- less than half the height of the Cash Register in downtown Denver. So when a newsboy showed up standing about 100 feet tall, you can imagine the brain explosion going on in the doctor's noggin'. Well, that explosion was nothing compared to the one going on before the doctor's eyes when he looked up the street. White light was spewing from its craterous core, but nobody around seemed to care. Everyone else just went about their business. The doctor ran, but the blocks started extending to miles in length. He finally made it home, where his friends were hanging out. But to his dismay, they were as big and scary as the newsboy.

That was the straw the broke the stoned camel's back. He went ape, and the only thing his friends could think of to save themselves was to get two mattresses, sandwich him in the middle, and sit on top until he calmed down.

When he finally fell asleep, he did so for several days. It wasn't until a physician brought him back to health that his "mind was restored to its normal condition."

Once again this raises a question we've posed before on Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule: Was the herb better back then? Or were people just lightweights?

For more historical cannabis tidbits, check out our Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule blog archive. For all of your current Colorado cannabis news, click over to the Latest Word.

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes

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