1951: New York wipes out wild cannabis plants

1951: New York wipes out wild cannabis plants

Ben Gocker, a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library, discovered that in Brooklyn, in the early fifties, cannabis plants grew tall enough to hang ornaments on for the holidays.

Residents even got this official notice: “If you spot these leaves in your backyard, growing in a tall, erect stalk, you have a budding marijuana crop on tap, and the Sanitation Department would like to know about it.”

Sanitation workers destroyed 41,000 pounds of pot from city lots in the summer of 1951.

“We can’t hope to wipe it out entirely,” a city official told the New Yorker back then. “A lot of it is planted, but the weed grows freely here, and most of the marijuana in the city is probably in the backyards of people who don’t know what it is and therefore don’t report it. Each plant bears clusters of seeds that are blown away by the wind and sprout elsewhere.”


Photo: Brooklyn Public Library.

Research and text © Hempshopper Amsterdam.