While weed grew wild in 50s Brooklyn, NY judge told people to chill

brooklyn marijuana 1950s
Oh man, maybe the 50s were cool?

The 1950s are largely seen as a decade of uncool, right before the bubbling coolness under the surface of the country exploded into a kind of literal orgy of sex and drugs. Turns out though, that there was weed growing everywhere in Brooklyn, and not everyone was freaking out about it. WNYC, while going over the history of Brooklyn’s wild pot fields, found an old episode of Campus Press Conference in which State Supreme Court Justice John Murtagh discusses America’s drug problem and puts forward sane solutions like treatment as opposed to incarceration. Maybe the 50s were cool?

Over at WNYC, you can learn about the days when pot was growing wild in Brooklyn, and the city’s efforts to clear it all out with the Department of Sanitation. We’re talking fields with seven-foot high pot plants, the stuff dreams are made of. Of course, while those days are gone (for now), the views espoused by Judge Murtagh in an interview in 1951 are surprisingly modern.

It’s great, and a little weird, to hear statements supporting sane drug laws in a clipped 50s accent, from a judge no less. Murtagh spends his interview saying things like “There are many respectable scientists who maintain that the [cigarette] smoking habit is worse than the marijuana habit, and the evidence to a degree tends to bear them out” and “Through our own stupidity we have created the present condition where we have a considerable number of addicts,” when discussing the need for therapeutic rather than criminal responses to drug addiction. Anyway, head to WNYC and listen to the whole thing, it’s fascinating.

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