Muggle Madness

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In the 1930s, a number of cautionary films about the evils of marijuana (or "marihuana") use were produced. Reefer Madness (1936) is the most famous, due to its popularity as a midnight movie during the 1960s and 1970s, but Marihuana (1936) and Assassin of Youth (1937) also depicted the purported horrors that awaited young people who dared to try "Mary Warner" or "muggles."

The Times-Picayune ran an interview in 1938 with U.S. Attorney J. Skelly Wright about the drug that had "preyed on human minds" for "centuries," according to reporter George J. Martin. Martin pointed out that Louisiana was among the first states to criminalize the drug and said that while marijuana was not an addictive substance like opium, "continued smoking of 'muggles,' does, however, produce a craving not unlike that of a cigarette smoker for tobacco."

Among Wright's other observations:

"The effect seems to depend upon the racial, physiological and emotional background of the subject."

"The person under influence of marihuana is infinitely more dangerous at the wheel of an automobile than even a wildly drunken person."

"The dockets of criminal courts in this country are replete with heinous crimes charged to marihuana."

"The drug, attacking as it does only the high nerve centers, is capable of transforming an ordinarily docile individual into a homicidal maniac within 30 minutes."

"While in this condition of emotional disturbance, the subject is likely to commit violent and irresponsible acts. During this stage the subject obeys its every impulse arising from previous or current suggestion. Afflicted with hallucinations of terrifying extent, he is liable to run amok, leaving a trail of crime — even murder — in his wake."



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