Cannabis Time Capsule: "Anti-symbol Hippie Ponders Future in Jail"
In doing research for our feature on the history of cannabis in Colorado, we came across some amazing old news stories in 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 September 17, 1968: "Anti-symbol Hippie Ponders Future in Jail."
By the mid- to late-1960s, it was dudes like 33-year-old Ronal Ward who had caught the attention of law enforcement and the establishment in Colorado. Scores of hippies like Ward were taking over, living in the deteriorating old mansions in Denver's Cap Hill area and up in the hippie haven of Boulder. The best way to keep them in check? Go after those crazy, loudmouth hippies for the wacky weed they smoked.
Hippies like Ronald E. Ward and his groovy trip. This cat is all "anti-establishment" and smokes a lot of grass. He doesn't believe in words ("they're not real man, just symbols" and even refuses to have a lawyer represent him because, like, nobody can represent someone else man.
Ward found himself featured in this September 1967 Denver Post article after refusing to show up for court on charges of possessing marijuana and pornography. The incident stemmed from a friend who had purchased LSD from Ward; the friend was busted later that day, and to keep from getting a harder sentence, he turned narc on Ward. So the cops showed up at Ward's house and busted him with a few joints and mason jars full of pot, along with the porn.
Actually, refusing to show up isn't exactly accurate; Ward decided not to go based on on his "words are just symbols" argument. "Each individual interprets those symbols in his own subjective manner," he told the Rocky Mountain News reporter.
Hippie Ronald Ward.
Ward went on: "Realizing words are not real, I didn't go [to court] - Just sat home waiting for the good detectives to pick me up." Which they did about two hours later and escorted Ward to the jail. Ward, using his non-word words, called jail "the cages."
And his excuse for the weed and the porn? A study for the University of Colorado at Boulder, of course. "I'm working them all together and I've come up with a lot of answers." But likely not ones that can be expressed in words.
The next day in court, Ward presented his argument to the judge -- using words. He didn't plead guilty or not guilty, explaining that he didn't feel like he was either. The judge, no doubt an uptight prig freaked out by the longhair, assigned a public defender to Ward. But he objected to that: "No man knows what I am, yet they insist I have another symbol represent me."
That lawyer had scheduling conflicts that kept Ward locked up for over a month, not that it bothered Ward much. "I don't plan on anything because I found out that planning things - using words for planning for a future that is nonexistent - is never real."
The article was written before Ward was sentenced, and it's unclear whether he spent much more time in jail or "the cages" -- or whatever word Ward chose to use.
More from our Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule archive: "Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule, 1937: 'School Children Buy Drug'" and "Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule, 1937: 'A growing social menace.'"