Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cannabis in the Comics: Kalispell Daily InterLake, 1955

Today, while slogging through NewspaperArchive.com's stash of articles from Montana, I found perhaps the most "illustrative" summary of the public attitude toward marijuana in the 1950s:

 
The detective strip called "Kerry Drake" ran this marijuana-themed storyline from July 11 to at least September 1, 1955, in the Kalispell Daily InterLake. 

In 1950s Montana and other Western states, most upper- and middle-class white Americans considered marijuana to be an abomination. The way they saw it, ganja was an evil drug that depraved addict-criminals pushed onto their youth, turning them into lifelong addicts and criminals. Marijuana was thought to make men into murderous brutes, and women into either prostitutes or victims of violence, sexual and otherwise. For these reasons and others - including racial prejudice and the war on communism - law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels made the breakup of marijuana rackets and the punishment of possessors, dealers, and growers a top priority.

The 1955 "Kerry Drake" comics perfectly and dramatically showcase all of the contemporary assumptions about marijuana: The "hero" detective arrests a crazed "addict," who he interrogates in order to break up the operation of a greedy, conniving kingpin who abuses his subservient girlfriend (who has the hilarious, quintessential fifties name of "Cozy Caresse"). In this strip, the dope dealer is wealthy and white, indicating that marijuana, once exclusively associated with poor Mexican immigrants, had by 1955 eaked its way into mainstream American culture.

Enough of my rambling analysis. Enjoy the rest of the strips!






Parts 6-10 after the jump!










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