Own your ow legal marijuana business
Your guide to making money in the multi-billion dollar marijuana industry
Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
LaGuardia Committee Report on Marihuana - Table of Contents

The LaGuardia Committee Report on Marijuana

Marihuana and School Children


One of the most serious accusations leveled against marihuana by special feature writers has been that it is widely used by the school children of this nation. These authors have claimed that it has so detrimental an effect on development that it is a major factor in juvenile delinquency. This phase of the marihuana problem was deemed serious enough to merit primary consideration in our study of the marihuana problem in New York City -- specifically in the Borough of Manhattan. We decided to attack this aspect of the problem along the following lines:

  1. To observe schools in order to see if pupils bought marihuana cigarettes from any peddlers operating in the neighborhood.
  2. To investigate thoroughly complaints made by parents to school and police authorities relative to marihuana and its use by school children.
  3. To interview principals, assistant principals, and teachers of many of the schools in New York City with reference to our project.
  4. To gather relevant statistics from various city bureaus and private agencies.

Unknown to the school authorities, our investigators had under surveillance many of the schools in the Borough of Manhattan. They would observe a particular school for a number of consecutive days, watch loiterers and suspicious characters in the locality, and, under certain circumstances, follow some of the children. This procedure was repeated at varying intervals in different localities. From time to time the investigators would return to some of the schools which they previously had kept under surveillance. Attention was naturally concentrated upon those schools from which emanated the most numerous complaints and which were located in suspected neighborhoods. We must admit that it would have been possible for such sales to have taken place during the time that our investigators were not on duty, but we came to the conclusion that there was no organized traffic on the part of peddlers in selling marihuana cigarettes to the children of the schools we observed.

Certain of the school authorities deserve special commendation for their alertness in singling out suspicious characters loitering in the vicinity of their schools. While investigating one of the suspected schools, our investigators who were loitering in the neighborhood were suspected and treated as "suspicious characters" by the school authorities.

During the period of this survey the Police Department while engaged in an entirely separate criminal investigation received a lead indicating the sale of marihuana to children in a certain high school. As a result, one pupil was arrested and convicted for selling cigarettes to his classmates.

In the Harlem district we discovered a few places where school children gathered during and after school hours for the purpose of indulging in smoking ordinary cigarettes, drinking alcoholic beverages, and engaging in homosexual and heterosexual activities.

One of our investigators, having gained entrance to such a place, ostentatiously displayed marihuana cigarettes which he had with him. The madam of the place promptly cautioned him against using the "weed" and insisted that at no time did she permit any person to smoke it on her premises.

A surprising number of school children smoking ordinary cigarettes were noted. A checkup revealed that these cigarettes were being illicitly sold by men on the street and in candy stores in the "loose" form. It is possible that this trade in ordinary cigarettes is occasionally misinterpreted as trade in "reefers."

Interviews with school authorities were very significant, and it is of value to summarize briefly some of the statements actually made by them. The locations of the schools and the names of the persons quoted are in our official files.

  1. High School. Predominantly white. The principal stated, "The school has never had any connection with marihuana, not even a rumor."
  2. High School. Predominantly white. The principal at first appeared to be evasive and did not readily volunteer information, but after repeatedly being pressed with the question stated that the school "had not had any difficulty with the subject of marihuana."
  3. High School. Predominantly white. The principal emphatically stated, "I have had no trouble with marihuana in my school."
  4. A vocational school in the Borough of Queens. Mixed. "I have never heard the slightest thing about marihuana in connection with this school."
  5. High School. Queens. Mixed. "We never had the slightest connection with marihuana in any way."
  6. Junior High School. Harlem. Predominantly Negro and Latin-American. The principal stated that there had been a few marihuana cases among the boys about eighteen months ago. His assistant volunteered the information that there had been some boys in the school who had "reefers" in their possession. On other occasions some of the boys appeared to be intoxicated and when examined confessed to having smoked "reefers." He further stated, "It was difficult to be sure if sleepy, perspiring, pallid-looking boys were feeling the effects of marihuana or were just recovering from too much 'partying' or drinking." He volunteered the opinion that since marihuana was an acute problem among the adult population in that particular district, it could be assumed that marihuana could occasionally become a problem in the school.
  7. Junior High School. White and Latin-American. On the fringe of Harlem. Principal and assistant principal stated that they have never had the slightest difficulty arising from marihuana.
  8. Junior High School. White and Negro. Bordering on Harlem. The principal, because of his short tenure of office, was unable to express his opinion on the subject. The chief clerk stated that marihuana had never been a problem in the school. She was certain, however, that it was sold in the neighborhood.
  9. Junior High School. White, with a high percentage of Negro and Latin-American. The principal stated, "As yet we have had no contact with marihuana although, considering the neighborhood, it would not be unlikely."
  10. Junior High School. Latin-American, Negro, and some white. The principal stated, "We have had no trouble with marihuana." He was of the opinion that because of the locality it would be possible for some older boys to smoke it without anybody being cognizant of it. He added that he would let us know if any boys were detected smoking. During the period of the survey no such report was made.
  11. Junior High School. Latin-American predominating. The principal stated that she had not had any trouble with marihuana.
  12. Junior High School. White predominating. The principal stated, "I have had no contact with it." However, due to the location of the school, which was near Harlem, she stated she would notify the Juvenile Aid Bureau if such a problem arose. During the period of the survey no such report was received.
  13. Junior High School. White. The principal stated that no information concerning the use of any narcotics had ever come to his attention and was equally insistent that teachers would have reported any such information to him.
  14. Junior High School. White. The principal stated that she had never found anything to indicate the use of any drug in the school.
  15. Junior High School. White and mixed. The principal stated that last year he had suspected that a group of chronic truants were using marihuana but he was unable to obtain any direct evidence.
  16. Junior High School. White. The principal and his assistant stated that they had no real evidence of any marihuana problem in the school, and they do not believe that the drug is used to any extent.
  17. Junior High School. White. The principal stated that although she had no tangible evidence of marihuana smoking among the students, she has problem groups that gather in premises where she is inclined to think that marihuana could be obtained if they wished to get it. She is certain no marihuana is used in the school itself. We investigated thoroughly the suggestions made by the principal as to premises where marihuana might be sold but we were unable to gather any evidence of its sale.
  18. Junior High School. White. The acting principal and a teacher in the school who had been there for a number of years stated that there had never been any evidence of the use of marihuana or any other drugs in the school.
  19. Junior High School. White. The health director of this school stated that any evidence concerning the use of narcotics by pupils would have been called to his attention, but none had been.
  20. Junior High School. White. The authorities stated that there had been no traces of marihuana smoking.
  21. Junior High School. White. The authorities stated that there had never been the slightest suggestion of marihuana smoking in the school.
  22. Junior High School. White. The assistant principal stated that he knew of no marihuana problem in the school.
  23. Junior High School. White. The principal stated that because of the publicity given to marihuana smoking she had been on the alert to discover indications of its use in her school but had found no evidence of marihuana in the school or of anything that would lead her to believe that any one of her students used marihuana outside of the school.
  24. Junior High School. White. The principal stated that nothing pertaining to the use of narcotics had been reported to him in all the years he had been there.
  25. High School. Predominantly white. Authorities, including the medical department, stated that no student had ever been reported for being under the influence of marihuana.
  26. High School. Predominantly white. The principal stated, "There is no indication of a marihuana problem in the school."
  27. Grammar School. The principal stated that anonymous letters had been received from time to time from pupils in the school in reference to marihuana. One letter was actually signed by a pupil of the school, who reported the sale of marihuana in a candy store in the vicinity. The principal with held the name of the pupil but requested us to investigate the report. We kept this school, the immediate neighborhood, and all candy stores in the vicinity under strict surveillance, but were unable to gather any evidence which would indicate that the pupils of this school were obtaining marihuana.
  28. Junior High School. Negro. Queens. The assistant principal stated that he had never heard anything about marihuana being a problem in his school. We had received a complaint about this school and one of our investigators had an informal chat with one of the teachers of this school who, because of her interest in the school children, appeared to be more conversant than anyone else with general problems at the school. She stated that she was certain marihuana was used by some of the students. She elaborated on the subject and recalled that a few months prior to the interview she had sent home five students (three Negroes and two Italians) whom she had noticed acting "dopey" in the classroom after the noon recess. She was not positive they were under the influence of marihuana but was fairly certain that they were under the influence of some drug. A student had told her that these boys used "reefers" and, noticing their stupor, she had concluded that they were under the influence of marihuana. Superficial examination showed her that their condition was not due to drinking whisky or any alcoholic beverage. In this school it was not necessary to notify the principal if a student was sent home. The teacher did so on her own account, arriving at a diagnosis without informing the principal of the condition. There was no doctor or nurse to examine the students.
  29. Grammar School. Negro. The principal and the social worker attached to this school stated that some time prior to the interview they had heard that cigarettes were being sold to children in Harlem. We were told of a certain man who was suspected of selling them to the children. The social worker was certain that a year before the interview marihuana cigarettes were sold on a certain street in Harlem to school children, but she had no knowledge as to whether the condition existed at the time of our investigation. While working on another part of the survey, we interviewed a young Negress, approximately 20 years of age, who was a marihuana smoker. She stated that she and another girl started to smoke marihuana cigarettes while attending this particular school.
  30. High School. Mixed, predominantly white. The principal stated that he was positive that there was no marihuana problem in his school.
  31. High School. Predominantly white. A student was arrested for selling marihuana cigarettes to other pupils. We kept this school under surveillance after the arrest. Although we heard rumors that the sale of marihuana would start again, we were unable to gather any evidence of this. Our investigators attended the dance of the graduating class of this school at one of the hotels in the city. The dance was well conducted and had a large attendance. There was no evidence of smoking at this affair. The principal was cooperating with the Juvenile Aid Bureau of the Police Department in conducting the investigation of the marihuana problem in his school.
  32. High School. White and Negro. Although rumor is widespread that "reefer" smoking is common at this school, thorough investigation did not produce evidence of it at the time of our investigation. We did obtain information, which we consider authoritative, that in 1935 a man was offered the concession to sell marihuana cigarettes to the students of this school. He refused the offer. The principal of this school stated that there had never been any trouble as a result of marihuana smoking and he knew of no actual cases.
  33. High School. White, Negro, and Latin-American. The director of health education, who was conversant with the subject, stated that the school had no problem with regard to marihuana smoking on the premises but that a Puerto Rican student who lived in Harlem had informed him that he could obtain marihuana cigarettes in his locality.
  34. College. White, some Negroes and Latin-Americans. We did not interview the authorities. Observation of the be havior of and conversation with students did not reveal any marihuana problem.
  35. College. White, some Negroes and Latin-Americans. This college is located near one of the famous "tea-pads" of Harlem. Many of the students pass the house regularly. Continued observation did not reveal any student attendance.
  36. Junior High School. Negro. Most of the boys of this school were familiar with the subject of marihuana. The pupils of the school are incessant smokers of ordinary cigarettes. We were unable to obtain any information which would indicate that they used "reefers." Some students were observed entering a house in which there was a "tea-pad," but we never found any of the occupants of this "tea-pad" to be pupils of the school. The counselor at the school stated that during the previous term there were suspicions regarding the use of marihuana.
  37. Junior High School. Negro. The principal, who is considered qualified to discuss this subject, stated that for the three months prior to the interview there had been no marihuana problem. She ventured the opinion that a few cases do arise in the spring and summer. Observation of this school reveals that practically every day young boys between the ages of 18 and 20 loitered near the gates of the schoolyard at the close of the session. Some of these boys were known to our investigators as "reefer" smokers, and they associated with the girls of the school. Two young girls known by our investigators to be "reefer" smokers stated that they started to smoke marihuana while at that school.
  38. High School. White, many Negroes and Latin-Americans. Many students smoked ordinary tobacco cigarettes. Numerous complaints and rumors were associated with this school. The principal stated that in 1934 they had an acute marihuana problem but that at the present time they did not think it existed. They are constantly on guard, especially at the beginning of a term, because they get many new students from the Harlem district. We are of the opinion that there are definite signs indicating that there is some marihuana smoking in the school.
  39. High School. Negro and white. The principal of this school stated that they did not have a marihuana problem. We are certain, however, that this school does to some extent present an acute problem for we have observed a few students smoking "reefers" away from the school. We have reason to believe that some of them smoke it while at school. The girls attending this high school have a very low moral standard.

On the basis of the above statements and findings, we feel justified in concluding that although marihuana smoking may be indulged in by small numbers of students in certain schools of New York City, it is apparently not a widespread or largescale practice. In the belief that actual facts concerning the role played by marihuana in the production of juvenile delinquency could best be revealed in the records of the Children's Court of New York City, we interviewed the proper authorities on this subject. On the basis of the Children's Court records for 1939, marihuana is not an important factor in the development of delinquency.

Contents | Feedback | Search | DRCNet Home Page | Join DRCNet

DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library | Major Studies | LaGuardia Committee Report

Library Highlights

Drug Information Articles

Drug Rehab