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Our Home Hasheesh Crop


Literary Digest, April 23, 1926

The hemp plant, the source of the drug hasheesh, is one of the commonest weeds in the country; but there is little danger that it will seriously promote the drug habit. This is the opinion of government plant-scientists given in response to an inquiry from Science Service. Fear of its abuse has been expressed in various localities where the plant has been discovered growing. Hemp has been in this country for many years, having been introduced as a plant grown for fiber or oil and afterward having escaped and become thoroughly naturalized. Says the Service's Daily Science News Bulletin (Washington):

"There is no reason to get excited about a sporadic outbreak of hashish addiction," Dr. D. W. Stockberger of the Bureau of Plant Industry stated to the Science Service. "Hemp has been cultivated as a fiber plant in Kentucky and other states for many years, and wild hemp is found in rich bottomlands all the way from the Atlantic Coast to the Western Plains. While these hemp plants are not rich in the resins from which hasheesh is made, they do produce at times at least a little of them, which the drug firms buy up to make into veterinary medicine. Yet tho (sic) they have ample opportunity, workers in the hemp fields have never become addicts."

"The hash-producing varieties of hemp were introduced extensively into American culture a few years ago through the Department of Agriculture," Dr. Stockberger continued, "for cannabis has a large and legitimate use in veterinary medicine. The cultivation of the drug hemp was carried on mainly in South Carolina. Large numbers of negro laborers were employed in the business, yet no cases of hasheesh addiction were reported.

"It made me smile a little when I first saw the reports that a young Mexican was `concealing' his patch of hemp plants in a New York park. The plant grows from six to ten feet tall and requires plenty of open sunlight; concealment would not have been easy.

"Recent reports of the smuggling and use of the Mexican hemp derivative `marijuana' or `marihuana' were news to us," Dr. Stockberger stated. "We have had correspondence with El Paso and other border cities in Texas for a good many years about this situation. The reported effects of the drug on Mexicans, making them want to `clean up the town,' do not jibe very well with the effects of cannabis, which so far as we have reports, simply causes temporary elation, followed by depression and heavy sleep. I suspect that the Mexican bravo doesn't take his marijuana straight, but mixes it with something else, possibly cocaine, or a couple of shots of mescal or bad whisky. That combination could easily bring on fighting madness."

E. P. Killip, of the U.S. National Herbarium, stated that all various names of the hasheesh plant that are being bandied about should by rights be reduced to a single one. "Cannabis sativa" is the accepted title now, according to Mr. Killip. "Indica" and "Americana" were once in use, he stated, but are now no longer accepted in botanical circles.