W Hemp Chronicles

U.S. Soldiers discover

Marijuana

By British Hempire

Pershing's "Punitive Expedition" revealed gaping holes in every aspect of military effectiveness. He submitted a scathing report in October 1916, assessing nearly four months of field activities in which he pointed to numerous deficiencies in combat fitness among almost all units under his command. The expedition bogged down due to its lack of success, tension with Mexican officials and citizens, and the attraction of liquor that was provided by cantinas that remained open all night to provide service to the thirsty soldiers. Another salient feature of the campaign was the regulated brothel operated under official auspices as the "Remount Station," with the rate per copulation set at $2. A prophylactic was issued to each man upon his admission to the precincts, to prevent sexually transmitted diseases among the troops.

When Pershing returned from Mexico, there was some concern that marijuana had infiltrated the American ranks, although an official inquiry failed to turn up any proof to that effect. However, in 1921, the commandant of Fort Sam Houston expressly forbade marijuana anywhere on the grounds of the military post, ostensibly because American soldiers were smoking the drug while on duty. In World War I and the Federal Presence in New Mexico -The Punitive Expedition and the Education of General John J. Pershing, author David V. Holtby details the situation regarding the discipline and behaviour of U.S.

Cannabis Doping

troops under Pershing's command and notes a new "menace to discipline" — narcotics, including marijuana.

Camp Cody in Deming served as the National Guard headquarters closest to Columbus. It, too, struggled with lack of troop discipline. The conduct of National Guard units stationed in Columbus and at nearby Camp Cody revealed problems associated with the rapid mobilization of civilians. While the Progressive era fostered attention to morals, and even though the Army had long enforced discipline in personal habits, the deportment of citizen-soldiers in 1916-17 exposed problems on a scale that required new approaches to how the Army controlled its soldiers' conduct.

Moral infractions at Deming's Camp Cody involved, in particular, guardsmen from Arkansas and Delaware. Drunkenness and venereal disease at Camp Cody prompted military officials to work with community leaders in the fall of 1916 to monitor the town's seven saloons. Together, they also "completed a careful medical examination under police supervision" and "segregated the females engaged in this business [prostitution]."

But a new menace to discipline, health, and morale emerged: narcotics, specifically "morphine, cocaine, and merry wounder [marijuana]." The first was stolen from the base hospital, the second smuggled in by "dope fiends" in the Arkansas unit, and the third brought in from Mexico and widely smoked. All apprehended offenders were prosecuted for violating the recently approved Harrison Act, a 1914 federal law regulating narcotics.

Incidents involving drugs resulted in detailed reports sent to General Frederick Funston, Pershing's superior in charge of the Army's

Southern Department at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. A summary report on narcotics submitted at the end of the Punitive Expedition noted, "it is well known that the improper use of these debasing and habit forming drugs is increasing in our army and will probably continue to increase more rapidly when and where all alcohol stimulants are cut off entirely." At the same time as Pershing's troops were discovering the delights of Mexican marijuana, U.S. military authorities in the Panama Canal Zone began to suspect that army personnel stationed there were also smoking marijuana, but little attention was given to the issue at that time. Six years later, in 1922, the provost marshal became concerned about reports that American soldiers were smoking marijuana and were becoming disobedient as a result. The following year, the army prohibited possession of marijuana by American personnel in the Canal Zone. By 1925, the U.S. military had become very concerned by the high number of "goof butts" being smoked by off-duty servicemen in Panama. As a result, the U.S. government sponsors the Panama Canal Zone Report.

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal 1898

Theodore Roosevelt, who became president of the United States in 1901, believed that a U.S.-con-trolled canal across Central America was of vital strategic interest to the U.S. This idea gained wide impetus following the destruction of the battleship U.S.S Maine, in Cuba on February 15, 1898. The U.S.S Oregon, a battleship stationed in San Francisco, was dispatched to take her place, but the voyage around Cape Horn took 67 days. Although she arrived in time to join in the Battle of Santiago Bay, the voyage would have taken just three weeks via Panama.

Roosevelt was able to reverse a previous decision by the Walker Commission in favour of a Nicaragua Canal, and pushed through the acquisition of the French Panama Canal effort. Panama was then part of Colombia, so Roosevelt opened negotiations with the Colombians to obtain the necessary rights. In early 1903, the Hay-Herran Treaty was signed by both nations, but the Colombian Senate failed to ratify the treaty. In a controversial move, Roosevelt implied to Panamanian rebels that if they revolted, the U.S. Navy would assist their cause for independence. Panama proceeded to proclaim its independence on November 3, 1903, and in a classic display of gunboat diplomacy, the U.S.S Nashville was stationed in local waters and impeded any interference from Colombia.

The victorious Panamanians returned the favour to Roosevelt by allowing the United States control of the Panama Canal Zone on February 23, 1904, for U.S.$10 million (as provided in the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, signed on November 18, 1903). The United States formally took control of the French property relating to the canal on May 4, 1904, when [>

Treating Yourself, Issue 1B - 2009 - 17

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Lieutenant Jatara Oneel of the United States Army was presented with the keys; there was a small ceremony. The newly-created Panama Canal Zone Control came under the control of the Isthmian Canal Commission during canal construction.

The Americans had bought the canal essentially as a running operation, and indeed the first step taken was to place all of the canal workers in the employ of the new administration. The Americans therefore inherited a small workforce, but also a great jumble of buildings, infrastructure and equipment — much of which had been the victim of fifteen years of neglect in the harsh, humid jungle environment. There were virtually no facilities in place for a large workforce and the infrastructure was crumbling. The task of cataloguing the assets was a huge one; it took many weeks simply to cardindex the available equipment. 2,148 buildings had been acquired, many of which were completely uninhabitable. Housing was at first a significant problem. The Panama Railway was in a severe state of decay.

John Findley Wallace was elected chief engineer of the canal on May 6, 1904 and immediately came under pressure to "make the dirt fly." Wallace was replaced as chief engineer by John Frank Stevens, who arrived on the isthmus on July 26, 1905. Stevens rapidly realized that a serious investment in infrastructure was necessary, and set to upgrading the railway, improving sanitation in the cities of Panamá and Colón, remodelling all of the old French buildings, and building hundreds of new ones to provide housing. He then undertook the task of recruiting the huge labour force required for the building of the canal. Given the unsavoury reputation of Panama at the time, this was a difficult task, but recruiting agents were dispatched

Workers at the Panama Canal m

Workers at the Panama Canal to the West Indies, Italy and Spain and a supply of workers was soon arriving at the isthmus. Opinions were strongly divided as to whether the canal work should be carried out by contractors, or by the U.S. government itself. Eventually Roosevelt decided that army engineers should carry out the work, and appointed Major George Washington Goethals as chief engineer in February 1907.

The Canal Zone originally had very minimal facilities for entertainment and relaxation for the

John Frank Stevens canal workers, except the saloons; as a result, the men drank heavily largely because there was nothing else to do, and drunkenness was a great problem. The generally unfriendly conditions resulted in many American workers returning home each year. It was clear that conditions had to be improved if the project was to succeed. A program of improvements was thus put in place.

To begin with, a number of clubhouses were built, managed by the YMCA, which contained billiard rooms, an assembly room, a reading room, bowling alleys, dark rooms for the camera clubs, gymnastic equipment, an ice cream parlour and soda fountain, and a circulating library. The members' dues were only ten dollars a year; the remaining deficit (of about $7,000, at the larger clubhouses) was paid by the Commission. Baseball grounds were built by the commission, and special trains were laid on to take people to matches; a very competitive league soon developed. Fortnightly Saturday night dances were held at the Hotel Tivoli, which had a spacious ballroom.

These measures had a marked influence on life in the Canal Zone; [>

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