Modern-Day Reefer Madness: How the Ferguson Police Department Used Michael Brown\'s Cannabis Use to Cheapen His Life

Police investigators repeatedly stressed Michael Brown\’s Cannabis use prior to his death at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson displayed a stunning mastery of nineteenth-century racist rhetoric when he described Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager he shot and killed, as a \”demon\” whose freakish strength mirroredContinue reading “Modern-Day Reefer Madness: How the Ferguson Police Department Used Michael Brown\'s Cannabis Use to Cheapen His Life”

"A little reefer by the woodstove:" A Short History of Marijuana in Alaska

Courtesy of CannabisCulture magazine. In last week\’s midterm elections, Alaskans approved Ballot Measure 2 by a margin of 52 to 48 percent, making theirs the fourth US state in two years to legalize recreational cannabis use. Oregon became the third earlier Tuesday night, joining Colorado and Washington, states that legalized in 2012. Add in marijuana\’sContinue reading “"A little reefer by the woodstove:" A Short History of Marijuana in Alaska”

On Cannabis, Drug Plants, and World Societies

Moments of radical drug-policy change, like the one in Colorado in 2012, inspire scholars to think differently about \”controversial\” topics like drug plants. (Image: warondrugs101.com) Like so many projects, this one was inspired by a question raised in the context of what I once understood to be an unlikely and wholly surprising event: the voter-approvedContinue reading “On Cannabis, Drug Plants, and World Societies”

"Justifiable homicide": Cannabis & Tragedy in Humboldt County, 1970

The Eel River in Humboldt County, CA, was the site of a tragic cannabis-related shooting in October 1970. Everything seemed to be looking up for Patrick John Berti in the fall of 1970. The 23-year-old native of Ferndale, California graduated near the top of his class at Chicago State University the previous fall, and hadContinue reading “"Justifiable homicide": Cannabis & Tragedy in Humboldt County, 1970”

California\'s Nascent Marijuana Industry, 1960-63

California\’s famous marijuana-growing region, the \”Emerald Triangle,\” shown in green.  In 1954, the Ukiah, California Kiwanis club invited Reno Bartolomie, a special investigator for the DA in Mendocino County,to speak at one of their weekly dinners. Bartolomie, who would later be elected sheriff of Mendocino County, discussed the state\’s growing concern with drugs and toldContinue reading “California\'s Nascent Marijuana Industry, 1960-63”

PHOTO: Marines "burn down" in Chicago, 1957

The caption from this syndicated photo in Eureka, California\’s Humboldt Standard in August 1957 pretty much says it all. An article in the Hayward Daily Review four days earlier noted that the Cook County sheriff was withholding the exact location of the patch. My guess is most residents could have simply followed the smoke andContinue reading “PHOTO: Marines "burn down" in Chicago, 1957”

California, 1956: Honey, what IS this bush?

In 1955 in Hayward, California, Mary Andrade purchased a small plot of land next to her property on Willow Avenue and discovered some \”nice looking\” plants there. She decided they would look nice around Aldina Conto\’s house, and so moved the plants to her neighbor\’s property. A year later, police were knocking on Mrs. Conto\’s door with a subpeona. Police identifiedContinue reading “California, 1956: Honey, what IS this bush?”

Beaumont, Texas, 1958: A Perfect Microcosm of the Drug War

In 1958, in Beaumont, Texas, a sheriff found out just how voracious and stubborn cannabis can be. Dang nabbit, if that mari-ja-wana ain\’t gon\’ go away, I might jest have ta SHEWT IT!! YEEEEHAW!! No, not him. But that image might not be too far off. In a wire story I found while combing pastContinue reading “Beaumont, Texas, 1958: A Perfect Microcosm of the Drug War”

Cannabis and the Environment: J.R. McNeill shows how it\'s done

(Ed. note – Since this post was published I have found books on cannabis by two other historians, one Canadian and one British. The work of both, however, is social-political history. As discussed below, McNeill is the only historian I have found to take an environmental approach to cannabis history.) Thank you, John Robert McNeill, for making me eat my words. SinceContinue reading “Cannabis and the Environment: J.R. McNeill shows how it\'s done”

Listen, panty raids aren\'t so bad – at least they weren\'t smoking pot!

Apparently because there was nothing more important to comment about on November 17, 1967, Helena\’s Independent Record began its editorial: Some of the young men attending Eastern Montana College in Billings staged a panty raid a few nights ago.   SAY CHEESE, BOYS – WE GOT \’EM! What news! Surely a stalwart establishment paper likeContinue reading “Listen, panty raids aren\'t so bad – at least they weren\'t smoking pot!”