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The First Man to get Arrested for Selling Marijuana

Marijuana Arrest

According to the FBI Data a total of 12,196,959 Americans were arrested in 2012. US News recently reported a story titled “Police Made One Marijuana Arrest Every 42 Seconds in 2012”.

History does repeat itself. Colorado is now one of only two states in the U.S. where weed is recreationally legal, but it also happens to be the first place in the nation where the first arrest for selling it took place in 1937. And irony doesn’t stop there — he wasn’t arrested for selling weed; he was arrested for not paying the sales tax on it. On October 2, 1937, Samuel R. Caldwell a 58-year-old unemployed laborer was in a Denver, Colo. hotel when the FBI and the local police raided that the hotel and arrested Caldwell for not paying the marijuana tax on the sale of two Marijuana Joints. The tax, which was enacted just a few days earlier, made Caldwell the first man ever arrested for selling marijuana. Although the sale of marijuana was legal if the buyer possessed a Marijuana Tax Stamp, the stamp was $1 and not available for sale.

Caldwell was arrested with another man, Moses Baca, 26, though they were convicted of separate charges. Moses was convicted of possession and was given an 18 month sentence. Caldwell was given a four year sentence and a $1,000 fine. Sadly, Caldwell passed away a year after his release. The “Marihuana Tax Act” was the brainchild of Harry J. Anslinger, the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962. He made his career enforcing alcohol prohibition, however, when that law was repealed in 1933, Anslinger found a new illegal drug to secure his job, and the substance was his new target, back when it was spelled “marihuana.”

BY HILARY WIDOM

Staff Writer

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