Cannabis Time Capsule, 1901: German tourist encounters Egyptian "hasheesh" den

Categories: Marijuana

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Here's a great example of people trying to making cannabis sound foreign and scary through news reports, when the reality of the situation is much more benign -- just a few people getting stoned and enjoying a laugh.

This 1901 story, published in the Glenwood (Springs) Post, talks about a German doctor's trip to Cairo, where he was shown a hash den by his guide: a porter boy who could speak a spot of German.

From the way it's described, the hash den sounds more like a hangout or a club, although it was likely on the seedier end of the spectrum. The boy led the doctor down a "dark and dirty" alley towards the light pouring out of a distant, smoky doorway. Once there, the boy and the tourist shuffled past a bunch of dudes playing dominoes in a front room into a hazy back room.

The room was filled with more dudes sitting around a corner stove smoking bubblers and looking at Arabic inscriptions and posters of "European beauties" on the walls.

"Here we were welcomed like old acquaintances," zee German wrote. "The aromatic odor and the smokers were in a very happy mood."

Sounds about right.

Before the German knew it, he was part of the communal process of smoking a bowl of hash -- which was quite the group effort. One guy handed him a clay pipe, another gave him a pinch of tobacco, while a third dude "bit off little pieces of brown hasheesh [sp] and laid them down on the tobacco."

After the German was set up, a fourth guy grabbed the bowl and put it in what sounds like a small hookah (called a narghile), setting a few coals from the fire on top of the packed bowl of hash to get things started.

"The pipe passed from mouth to mouth, each man taking a few whiffs and expelling the smoke from nose to mouth," he wrote. "All of the smokers talked and laughed incessantly. Most of them were young or middle-aged men."

But when it came his turn, our dour German friend passed on the puff-puff. Instead he ordered coffee -- the more socially acceptable buzz between the two substances even then -- and watched his newfound friends get ripped. Especially an old man the German hadn't noticed before:

The passage reads: "Suddenly an elderly man rose to his feet and stood staring at the floor, with a vacuous smile. He was a hasheesh wreck, an imbecile. 'He is a philosopher' said one of the others, and a general laugh followed."

An imbecile or a philosopher: You be the judge.

More from our Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule archive: "Cannabis Time Capsule, 1876: Marijuana as a medicine for a 'remarkable invalid.'"

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"Here's a great example of people trying to making cannabis sound foreign and scary......."  sounds like whoever wrote and edited this article was trying to making themselves sound sober lol

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Where o' where were the puerile pot punks of yesteryear?

Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@rockiesfever No, it sounds like Westword doesn't have "editors" who edit. I've criticized poor editing before and been told "there's no time" or "there's no budget" for editing, but really? If I ran a publication, every single article would be at least read by one other human being than the writer before being published. There's a reason for this. There are certain mistakes--particularly on a late draft--that writers tend to make which they themselves will not catch.

One of those is a last-minute change, where the writer probably wrote something like "Here's a great example of people making cannabis sound ..." and intended to change it to "Here's a great example of people trying to make cannabis sound ..." but simply fumbled the ball. As most writers, I probably butcher the language, but if I'm getting paid, I work hard to produce material free of bonehead errors. Beyond that, I try to get someone else to take a look before publishing, because I know I'll miss some of my own mistakes.

I'm pretty sure the "editors" at Westword read each others' stuff, so why can't they peer-review them?


@DonkeyHotay from the history reports I have researched, I believe those PPP's were at your great grandmother's house, running a train. You are like a cold sore on the lips of this newspaper. As a non-smoker who lives out of the area but reads this publication from time to time, I come back less and less a little more every time I see your hackneyed garbage vomited at the bottom of every story. No doubt you will have some banal retort that will cause you to break your arm while patting yourself on the back. Perhaps you are just a Westword staffer who is paid to be a shill? That would make sense, otherwise, why would somebody in their right mind consistently (daily) read a publication they despise? 

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident ... there can be only ONE "top commenter" ... 

... to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee ...

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@GhostofMachebeuf ... so who's forcing you to read my posts ... the ones you purportedly despise?

Be specific, and show your work.

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