Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule, 1939: "Marijuana ring is broken by arrest of five at Longmont"

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 November 24, 1939: "Marijuana Ring is Broken by Arrest of Five at Longmont"

MEXICANS ARE SELLING WEED TO YOUR WHITE CHILD! That might as well have been the headline on this gem of a sensational Denver Post article from 73 years ago, almost to the day. The story, quite literally filed under "crime never pays," is about how a "dope ring" of five Mexicans corrupted local youth and sold marijuana to boys.

Two men (identified as Mexican tenants on a farm "northeast of here") were given six months in jail after being busted in the act of selling by the then-Boulder County sheriff George Richart. The other three men, residents of Pueblo between the ages of 22 and 40, were given three months' suspended sentences, with the condition that they leave the country. It's almost surprising the judge didn't order them tarred and feathered

The article frames the sellers as having forced "young boys" in the community into growing the marijuana for them in the middle of an alfalfa field. Young boys, mind you, between the ages of 17 and 25 -- so, not really young boys at all. Also, note that one of the accused Mexican sellers was only 22 but was not grouped in with the so-called victims.

For their part in the crime, the "young boys" were sent to the state reformatory (then outside of Buena Vista) for six months. There, they blamed their criminal behavior on the use of "the highly-intoxicating" drug.

The boys apparently weren't too shabby at farming herb, either. The story talks about how the sheriff found about fifteen pounds of herb at the time of the arrest. They valued the haul at $7,275, which adjusted to today's dollar would be more than $121,000. Keep in mind that they based that on joints selling for a nickel a pop and a cigar tin selling for about $1.

And just like today, the police back then loved to tout their busts as being more important than they really were. From the article: "The conviction of the marijuana-selling trio will help do away with a great deal of crime which has prevailed in Longmont and vicinity during the last year, according to authorities."

More from our Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule: "Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule, 1937: "School Children Buy Drug""; "Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule, 1937: "A growing social menace""

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