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Prey on Children with New "Killer Weed" - Boston Herald: - Feb 28 1937

Conscienceless Racketeers Ply Trade Near Schools Selling to Youth a Narcotic Called Marihuana By Virginia Vaughan

Police Commissioner Joseph F. Timilty, in addressing a group of women's clubs recently, said that a man had been arrested for selling marihuana cigarettes near a local high school.

And this made marihuana a local news story.

There has been gossip round town for some time that marihuana cigarettes, familiarly known as "reefers," are what makes the orchestra boys make hot swing. There have been rumors that the cigarettes were for sale at dance halls in some parts of town. There have been some reports that a dope peddler was offering the loosely rolled brown paper cigarettes for sale as low as 10 cents apiece on the Common.

Things are beginning to get into print, too, about the effects of smoking dope cigarettes. A recent Literary Digest says they "give the user delusions of grandeur - a feeling of joy and well-being," but goes on to say, "the reaction depends on the disposition of the consumer."

In his new book, "Here's to Crime." Courtney Riley cooper goes further in his charge against this most recently publicized form of dope. He emplifies the story of Commissioner Timilty by stating: "It might be interesting to know that one of the main selling places of marihuana in this country is in the vicinity of high schools. This is no attempt to become sensational. My facts come from the federal bureau of narcotics. It is the most dangerous, the most insidious and quick acting harmful drug that has come to the attention of the enforcement men for years."

Mrs. William dick Sporborg of Port Chester, N.Y. , legislative chairman of the Genera Federation o Women's Clubs, who has made a study of the disastrous way the marihuana or "Killer Weed" is being used thoughout the country, told the 1200 clubwomen of Massachusetts at their mid-winter legislative meeting at the Hotel Bradford last Friday that one of the most viscious methods of getting children to become addicts to mix marihuana weed with honey and sugar and sell it as a confection.


Mr. Cooper goes on to relate that he himself was actually present at a marihuana "orgy." For the smoking of two or three of the cigarettes are supposed to be enough to break down inhibitions and send the smoker completely berserk. He concludes his warning with, "There is only one end for the confirmed marihuana smoker, and that is insanity!"

The local investigation of the marihuana story obviously began at the police commissioner's office. It didn't take a minute to learn that every dope peddler in town has found out to his cost in the last few months --- Commissioner Timilty is death on drugs. He believes that dope and crime are practically synonyms.

One of his first steps after being appointed was to establish a Boston police department narcotic squad. And their first instructions were to co-operate fully with the federal force. The commissioner says the drive against drugs has been so vigorous in Boston in the last weeks that there has been only one case of marihuana cigarettes sold near a high school. The peddler was arrested and sentenced to a year and that proved sufficient warning - the others have been scared off.

Commissioner Timilty suggested that a visit to the federal narcotic headquarter might throw some light on how the stuff was smuggled into this country. But the federal agents pointed out at once that they have no jurisdiction over marihuana. It is not covered by the federal drug act; laws against the sale of the cigarettes come from the state.

And the reason for this is that marihuana is only the Mexican name for a weed that grows in all parts of the country.

Tobacco used to be called "that filthy weed," but marihuana deserves the title. That marihuana was much like hasish - the ancient Oriental drug - was another suggestion made at federal headquarters.


For while the federal squad had fascinating stories about raids uncovering thousands of dollars worth of dope in the opium traffic, they didn't know very much about marihuana and said when they came across a case of cigarette smuggling they turned it over to the city narcotic department. Peddlers are small time guys and that is one reason they prey on high school kids.

Sergt. Frank Sliney, Inspectors Daniel Curran and Francis Sweeney are the Boston officers who are working as Boston narcotic squad with the federal agents to rid the city of dope. And Sergt. Sliney says that "with the boys all awaking together and getting excellent cooperation in the bouris that the panic is on." Which means to the outsider, the dope peddlers have been run into court or out of town to such an extent that there is a panic not only among the drug sellers but also with the addicts.

The city squad have some marihuana cigarettes and some of the dried weed in its safe. The cigarettes are small and loosely rolled in heavy brown paper, turned in at each end. They are "cut" with driod orange peel to improve the flavor and also merease the profit on the drug.

The weed itself looks and smells not unlike cat-nip. Have you ever seen the family cat under the influence of cat-nip? Well that is somewhat the effect the cigarettes are supposed to have on people.

The city force reported that they had only come across peddling of the dope cigarettes in Boston in the last six months. But the weed has been known in the Negro districts for years. Colored people (call it respectfully "Mary Warners." Since the clean up in town, the use of the cigarette has been limited again to its colored addicts.

The city squad also know more about the nature of the weed. It is more stimulating than alcohol - one cigarette might give a jag to a young person not used to stimulants or drugs. But it is not habit forming like opium: no more habit forming than any stimulant becomes. However even the police had never seen any one under the influence of marihuana and could not confirm some of the more sensational stories about it.


Sergt. Sliney said it was a form of hemp and said that hemp workers in prison and the like had been known for years to chew it for its effect. He also told how a prisoner would often ask if he might keep a canary. And when the warden was touched by his loneliness and let the man have a bird and some bird seed to feed it the prisoner would throw a handful of seed into the yard at exercise time. When the seeds grew, there he had his own private stock of hem from the hemp seeds in the ordinary commercial bird food.

But the Boston officers said that most of the ground up weed used in cigarettes here was brought in from outside-- man on a boat was the source of the specimens they confiscated. They, too had such interesting stories on the dope traffic and on how heroin was the drug of the hour, that the marihuana investigation almost got sidetracked.

For the questions as to just what the weed looked like and just what its real effects were, the officers suggested a trip to the botanic department at Harvard for a scientific wind up of the story. The Harvard department has been doing investigations on marihuana in the last months and been in touch with the city narcotic squad.

So the story ends in the botanic museum Marihuana is nothing but a foreign ghas for hemp-or cannabis sativa to the botanist. Or cannabis indica, first recorded as a stimulant about 486 BC. Smoked in water pipes in Arabia in 1378. And hasish is just another name - hasish coming from the word hashishins, or herb eaters, from which we get our word assassins. To show you what the weed can do.

There is a specimen in the Harvard museum that was grown in Forest Hills. It is the curled up leaves of the female plant that cause the stimulating effects. A lot more could be written along analogous lines right here.


Suffice it to say that it is the female inflorescence that is ground up to make marihuana cigarettes and that the male plant is entirely inconspicuous. Not many plants are so definitely male and female or have such a bad reputation either.

But there is more to be said for hemp than that its flowers give a jag. The reason the wiping out of marihuana cigarettes presents real problem is because the same hemp is used in the manufacture of cloth, rope and oil. It is not the weed's fault that man is not satisfied in only making the useful things.

As to the scientific estimate of the effects of "weeds," a Victor Robinson M.D. has a book in the Harvard Botanical Library that is to the smoking of hasish what DeQuincys book is to the opium smoker. And a German professor Louis Lewin in his book on narcotic and stimulating drugs, calls it a "hallucinating substance." But even over at Harvard, no one had ever seen any one under the influence of marihuana.

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