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July 17, 1904: San Quentin's war on 'mariguana'

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History, Crime Updated: June 20, 2014 - 3:33 PM
 
You won’t find the word “marijuana” in the Minneapolis Tribune in the paper’s first 55 years. An alternate spelling, “mariguana,” appeared just once: in this somewhat confusing story about the war on the “deadly” weed at California’s San Quentin prison.

You might be surprised how many times the word “opium” appeared in the Tribune in that span: 6,399.
 

CANARY BIRD’S FOOD
IS CONVICT’S DOPE

 
UNWILLING GUESTS IN CALIFORNIA PRISON HAVE ANOTHER BRAIN DISTURBER – RIVALS DEADLY MARIGUANA.
 
SAN FRANCISCO, Cal., July 16. – The prison officials at San Quentin will war on the deadly mariguana weed. Warden Tompkins has instructed Captain Harrison to detail guards and trusty Indian prisoners, who are familiar with the weed, to go over the prison grounds, inside and out, and dig out every weed found.
 
San Quentin is used to surprises, but the story of the growth of the plant within the prison limits, and its enjoyment by the convicts, caused a stir in the official atmosphere of the institution that the convicts will have to surrender their canary birds, as it is feared that the wily convict is turning the Indian hemp seed diet of his pet into a powerful narcotic. Mariguana and Indian hemp seed must leave the prison. Both are rivals to opium.
 
Mariguana is worse than opium or its preparations. It is made into cigarettes and a few strong puffs are inhaled into the lungs. If its use stops here the smoker is mildly intoxicated. If he goes further with the smoking, he becomes really drunk, and a few additional puffs overthrows his mind and he becomes a lunatic. He will run backward, imagining that all sorts of beasts are pursuing him. His condition becomes similar to delirium tremens.
 

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