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The Reefer Madness Collection
The Literary Digest - Oct 24, 1936 Pub. By Funk & Wagnalls Co. 354 Fourth Ave. New York

Topic of the day - FACTS AND fancies about marihuana It's Non-Habit-Forming and Gives Users Delusions of Grandeur



ANCIENT FABLE: Three men, one under the influence of alcohol, another steeped in opium, a third intoxicated by marihuana, arrived one night at the closed gates of a Persian city.

"Let us break down the gates!" roared the drunkard. "Nay," said the opium eater. "Let us rest until morning, when we may enter through the wide-flung portals." "You may do as you wish," was the decision of the omnipotent marihuana addict. "But I shall stroll through the keyhole."

MODERN FACT: Five tons Of Marihuana weed, pitchforked into a -police cell as legal evidence, sent dry, sweet fumes through the Dundalk, Maryland, station-house last week. Police and Federal agents who had raided a farm just over the Baltimore city line, said the crop was worth $1,000,000 oil the retail market. Along with two Mexicans, they garnered in 345 pounds of dried marihuana leaves worth about $20,000.

U. S. Addicts -- While newspaper head-lines barked, research workers dug into files giving some indication of the proportion of the world's 200,000,000 "weed" smokers in this country:

The Kansas City Star charges that marihuana is being smoked by students in the Kansas City high schools, and in the University of Kansas.

The Tulsa (Okla.) Tribune reports the home of a Mexican hot-tamale salesman, recently arrested, was a dope den for boys and girls of high-school age.

The New York Daily News says that twenty-three-year-old R D----, socially prominent, arrested on a Harlem corner acquired the marihuana habit at Amherst College.

The Chicago Daily News tells of seizure by cops of 40,000 marihuana cigarettes . . . intended for sale to schoolchildren, a fine trade having been worked up among these striplings.

The New York Times and other papers announce discovery of marihuana growing in San Quentin (Calif.) Prison yard. Some had been harvested and smoked by the convicts.

Confusion -- From files of magazines, police records and books on drugs, lurid stories tell of the horror that is marihuana; others point out that it is not enslaving, as are other drugs; that in India it is considered a gift from the gods and has been used in religious ceremonies for centuries. The high degree of misinformation regarding marihuana has left the general public in ignorance; even among officials, there is confusion:

Continual use is known to produce a violent type of insanity which has brought to it the name 'loco weed,'" wrote V. Lewitus in the July, 1936, issue of the American Journal of Nursing. "The subject suddenly will turn with murderous violence upon whomever is nearest him. He will run amuck with knife, ax, gun or anything that is at hand. . . . After the sudden outburst wears away, the memory is left blank, and the victim of these narcotic effects returns to normal."

[ A double exposed picture of a Negro. He appears to be on an acid trip] Caption reads -- "Have you ever seen that funny reefer man? He says he swam to China . . . " sings Cab Calloway - Bert Longworth in "U.S. Camera"

Investigation -- on the other hand, Dr. Walter Bromberg, senior psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital, New York, wrote: " where 2,216 criminals convicted of felonies were examined psychiatrically, not one case of confirmed marihuana addiction was noted. . . . Of the 361 individuals diagnose as psychopathic personalities in the routine examination, thirty-two (9 per cent.) were drug addicts, and of these, only seven bad smoked marihuana for any period of time.

"None of the assault cases could be said to have been committed under the drug's influence. Of the sexual crimes, there was none due to marihuana intoxication. . . . It is clear - from this study that in this region the drug is a breeder of crime only when used by psychopathic types in whom in the drug allows the emergence of aggressive, sexual or antisocial tendencies. . . . It is quite probable that alcohol is more responsible as an agent for crime than is marihuana."

The following facts stand out in social and medical reports: I. Marihuana is not a habit-forming drug, as is heroin or opium. 2. It prolongs sensations; it is in high favor as an aphrodisiac. 3. It is the most inexpensive of drugs; marihuana cigarettes usually selling at from three to twenty-five cents each.

Song and Story- The story of marihuana cigarettes - commonly called "mooties" or "reefers' --is unparalleled. Practically unheard of in this country a dozen years ago, they are today a byword at intimate Hollywood parties, in Bohemian-artistic hang-outs, in the hot -spots of New York's Harlem and along Chicago's South Wabash Avenue. It has become a factor in song and story.

Last year, the show "Flying Colors" introduced a song, "Smoking Reefers"; most sensuous of rhumbas is "Marawanna"; over the air via Cab Calloway any night may come the Harlem favorite: "That Funny Reefer Man."

"Any time he gets a notion, he can walk across the ocean," from one of the songs, is a fair approximation of the drug's effect, better, perhaps, than the voluminous accounts of the drug's therapeutic properties which appear in the ancient literature of the Chinese, on the clay tablets of the Assyrians, or in histories written by Romans and Greeks. For nearly all modern investigators declare that hemp (marihuana) intoxication is of a nature not suited to any known vocabulary; no two persons have ever recorded identical symptoms.

First Effects -- After smoking from one to three "reefers," if one has not been told what to expect, the first effects of the drug pass almost unnoticed -- nothing, perhaps, but a. slight twitching of muscles of the neck, back or legs. The mind remains calm and clear. Suddenly, without apparent cause, a chance remark -- "mootie" smoking is a social pastime -- sends the subject into a spasm of violent laughter.

Becoming calm again, while the drug continues to exert its weird effects, the smoker finds ideas crowding through his brain with bewildering rapidity; those around him become slow-dull. Nor is the language of his own tongue swift enough to keep pace with his lightning thoughts.

Soon the self-esteem of the smoker begins to grow in like proportion. He may be a petty clerk in a down-town office by day; but now be looks down with Olympian scorn on the doddering steps, the empty banalities of his boss of some eon long ago.

Teeming Thoughts -- Paradoxically, trifling discomforts become unbearable evils; the flare of a match near-by brings a resentment that is immediately transformed into an Overwhelming desire for revenge. But before the "reefer man" could possibly climb to his feet, or even reach a band for a gun or knife, new thoughts have come crowding in. Perhaps the most causal interest in one of the girls present has become passionate love.

Above all other distinguishing effects of marihuana intoxication is the fact that all normal conceptions of time and space are lost.

As in the split-second dream that seems to last the night through, time seems of interminable length; the clock stands still for days.

Fancies -- Vision, too takes on new concepts. Inconsiderable distances become tremendous; the smallest studio-room takes on proportions dwarfing those Hollywood exhibits in exaggeration of a millionaire's ballroom.

An ordinary man or woman becomes beautiful beyond compare.

Yet, throughout the intoxication, there fancies rushing though the mind are not natural, but purely the effects of the drug; unlike the opium-cater, he is acutely conscious of those about him. He has many of the sensations of the gay "drunk" at the ball.

Parties -- While whites often buy "reefers" in Negro night-clubs, planning to smoke them elsewhere, sometimes they manage to gain entrance to a mixed-color party. The most talked of "reefer" parties -- excluding those of Hollywood -- take place in Harlem. Early in the morning, when night-club singers, musicians and dancers are thought work, they gather informally -- these affaires apparently are never arranged -- and have a few drinks.

With their uncanny power for wheedling melody out of even the worst pianos, it isn't long before the crowd is humming, softly clapping hands or dancing in sensuous rhythms that have never been seen in night-clubs. There is little noise; windows are shut, keeping the smell of smoking weeds away from what might be curious nostrils.

Nor is there any of the yelling, dashing about, playing of crude jokes or physical violence that often accompany alcoholic parties; under the effects of marihuana, one has a dread of all these things. Sensuous pleasure is the beginning and the end"

"Let us enjoy pleasure while we can; pleasure is never long enough" -- as Propertius put it.

Facts About Marihuana --Known by many names -- hashish, Indian hemp, Indian hay moota and (incorrectly) loco weed, its scientific name is cannabis sativa.

The plant is a big, hardy weed which thrives with little cultivation in almost all temperate and tropical parts of the country.

Supposedly, it was introduced into the United States from Mexico.

In the United States it is cultivated for four purposes: (1) for the fiber out of which rope, twine, cloth and hats are made; (2) for the seed from which a rapidly-drying paint oil is made; (3) as a narcotic in pharmaceutical preparations; (4) as a constituent in commercial bird-seed.

No Federal law obstructs the raising and use of cannabis sative; but thirty-four States and the Territory of Hawaii have statutes regulating the cultivation, sale and possession of marihuana.

Principal consumers in the United States are Negroes, Mexican, Puerto Ricans, Spaniards, West Indians, East Indians. Some artists and writers use it -- maintain it gives them new concepts of color or plotting.

There price range, from three cents to as high (occasionally) as fifty cents, depends upon (1) the marihuana content of the cigarette; (2) what the traffic will bear.


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