Telenews - New York City Marijuana Bust (1948)

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Text and image retrieved from on April 17th, 2016.

Those caught using marijuana in small doses in New York City do not need worry as much as those in decades past, as the use of the drug has been decriminalised.

Those caught in the present-day with small amounts of cannabis escape prison sentences all together, and are instead only fined.

But for those caught smoking in the 1940s, fortune was not on their side.

Such is the case of this 1948 Telenews broadcast, which shows the NYPD breaking up a dangerous, giggling narcotics ring of five men and one woman, pointed out by Gothamist.

Five men and one woman were arrested for marijuana use.

The ‘narcotics ring at a New York hotel-apartment’ was infiltrated by the NYPD, and each of the six suspects were pictured – in various states of sobriety – on camera.

One bespectacled man in a beret clearly seems to have partaken of the drug, and is seen chuckling at the camera, apparently bemused at the crime proceedings.

They were all marched out to the black police van, where they were bussed off to their arraignment.

The reporter says that as they’re being taken away, ‘neighbours discuss a possible apartment vacancy.’
cording to a 1950 report from the Bureau of Narcotics and the United States Customs Service, there were 3,895 narcotics-related arrests in 1948.

The Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937, enabling heavy penalties and fines for those who chose to deal or carry.

In the 1950s, a first-offense marijuana possession carried a minimum sentence of 2-10 years with a fine of up to $20,000, called the Boggs Act.

Before the 1950s, there were not mandatory sentences, so this group of people was at the mercy of their judge.