SMOKING MARIHUANA UPHELD IN PANAMA


Supreme Court Rules Use of Indian Hemp Not Forbidden After Man Is Arrested.


Special Cable to The New York Times

BALBOA, Sept. 8. -- The smoking of Indian hemp (Cannabis indica), generally known as marihuana, is not forbidden in Panama, according to a decision of the Supreme Court of the republic in the case of Manuel Moranes. He was arrested for vagrancy and later charged with possession of a dangerous drug when marihuana leaves were found in his pockets, and he admitted smoking the hemp since childhood.

The law classing marihuana with such habit-forming drugs as cocaine, morphine and heron [sic.] was repealed by the National Assembly last year after experiments that did not substantiate the reputed effects of smoking the weed. A number of States in the United States class it with dangerous drugs and their statutes provide penalties similar to those for violations of the narcotic and drugs act.

An investigation of the effects of smoking marihuana was carried out by Colonel W. P. Chamberlain, chief health officer, several years ago when a law prohibiting its use and possession in the Canal Zone was proposed. After extensive experiments and study, the committee reported:

"The influence of this drug when used for smoking is uncertain and appears to have been greatly exaggerated. The reports seem to have little foundation in fact, and there is no medical evidence that it causes insanity. Teests [sic.] conducted by our local board confirm the evidence that the plant is not a habit-forming drug and no pleasurable sensation nor act of violence was observed."

The Indian hemp commission appointed by the British Government to investigate the smoking of this weed in India reported that "those who indulged in crime were driven to it by excessive use of this drug. Not a single medical witness could prove clearly that the habit gave rise to mental aberration."


New York Times 9 September 1929




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