Imagine having a load of marijuana growing in your yard and not even knowing it. Apparently, that’s the way it was just a few decades ago.
Brooklyn Public Librarian Ben Gocker recently discovered that in the early 1950s, Cannabis sativa plants grew as tall as Christmas trees in empty lots throughout Brooklyn, from Avenue X here in Sheepshead Bay to the banks of Newton Creek and the Gowanus Canal.
According to New York Magazine’s Daily Intel blog, “The fifties was a more innocent time.” Most people at the time were a bunch of squares, totally un-hip to the groovy beings of later eras, and were unaware of what was growing on their premises.
But the city caught on. Wary of kids smoking this stuff and murdering their parents with an ax, officials warned Brooklyn residents, “If you spot these leaves in your back yard, growing in a tall, erect stalk, you have a budding marijuana crop on tap and the Sanitation Department would like to know about it,” the article says.
And just like that, in the summer of 1951, Sanitation workers dug up and incinerated 41,000 pounds of marijuana from 274 lots around New York.
After that, nothing ever threatened the children of New York City again, and they’ve remain safe, smart and healthy.