In doing research for our feature on the history of cannabis in Colorado, we came across some amazing old news stories from local papers about marijuana arrests and more. We'll share the most memorable of them in our quasi-regular feature, Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule. Today's item, from December 20, 1934: "Marijuana Growing Wild in Denver's Front Yards."
Here's a Rocky Mountain News gem from December of 1934, warning Denver residents of the menace growing right under their noses (gasp!). The story stems from the arrest of a Mexican national, Miguel Chavez, who was charged with importing marijuana and marijuana seeds into Colorado "and planting them." A regular Juan Appleseed, according to officials.
Chavez was arrested after selling joints to high school kids near 17th and Larimer, but he denied that he had imported the ganja. While in court one day, Chavez allegedly boasted to the judge that he didn't need to import it, since it was already growing wild all around Denver. "I can get it any time I want from the banks of the Platte River and I've picked it from the front yards of houses along Federal Boulevard," the Rocky quotes Chavez as saying.
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And while the Rocky might have bought this claim (calling Chavez's confession a "revelation"), Municipal Judge Alvin H. Pickens didn't. According to the article, two detectives -- both named Ed -- spent a few days following Chavez around and found plenty of "dens" where "marijuana smoke was heavy," but never came upon any huge herb stashes or anything growing along the river. In other words: There was nothing to substantiate the sensational headline other than the words of someone trying to get out of a harsher smuggling charge.
Not that people might not have planted a few clandestine crops in their yards -- and some industrious person certainly might have planted a few stalks along the Platte for easy water access. But marijuana was most certainly not growing wild along the Platte, and it's highly doubtful that wind-blown seeds were randomly sprouting in the front yards of bungalows on Federal.
A judge found Chavez and another man guilty of Denver's narcotics laws and sentenced both men to ninety days in county jail. Chavez was also hit with a $125 in fines for vagrancy and the pot. Chavez was then detained for federal agents after his stay in county.