Cannabis Time Capsule, 1937: "A growing social menace"

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Editor's note: William Breathes is on assignment -- which gives us the perfect excuse to flash back to his very first Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule.

By the 1930s, cannabis was considered a growing menace in Denver society. The drug of choice for minorities (mostly Hispanic natives and immigrants who worked the farm fields surrounding the town), it apparently wasn't too hard to find.

At some point in the summer of 1937, two enterprising (and unnamed) Rocky Mountain News reporters delved into the depths of Denver's marijuana scene by spending a night out on Larimer Street for an article titled "Marijuana in Denver? Sure, Plenty of the Stuff." And it was far from objective. In it, the reporters constantly make mention of the skin color and education of the people they encounter, quoting their broken English and ridiculing the Hispanic revelers out for a night of relaxation with friends.

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Rocky Mountain News.
Nowadays, Larminer Street is known for it's tony clothing boutiques and expensive restaurants. But back in the '30s, it was more like East Colfax, and everyone knew that a trip to Larimer Street meant a night out with a more seedy Denver crowd. As the headline reads: "Darkest dives in town sell Dream Stuff." And that pretty much sets the tone for the blatantly biased article that follows.

The reporters start out by saying that marijuana can be found easily, especially after dark. They detail their encounter with a loud, dark-skinned, drunk man who sobs to them that while he's not a Mexican, he's "no good" and has been drinking away his wife's $17-per-week salary. The reporters -- posing as musicians from Nebraska -- buy the guy a few drinks, then hit the poor drunk up for some weed. The man says he doesn't smoke anymore because he's so broke, but turns to the crowd at the bar and points out a woman who is apparently high and can help the reporters score.

At that point, the reporters move over to the woman, take a seat in the booth she is in, and buy a round of beers for everyone before asking where they can score some "hay." No doubt they felt they were being slick, but even now, the reporters sound like fish out of water in this bar -- and probably came across as narcs judging by the woman's reaction.

Continue to read more of this week's Colorado Cannabis Time Capsule.



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