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Mary Jane


It was announced around this date in 1967 that certain citizens of Bismarck were embracing a newly arrived guest to the Capitol city. This famous guest was known by many names: Mary Jane, grass, weed, hemp, pot ... all referring to marijuana.

Highly contested then, as it is now, the appearance of pot caused an uproar in the community. Possession was a federal offense, and ND state law prohibited growing, selling, trading or possessing [podcast]/media/dakotadatebook/2009/aug/06.mp3[/podcast]. Today, of course, its use is still prohibited throughout the United States. However, its first arrival was a sign of the rebellious times the whole country was going through. As characteristic as flower children, communes, war protests and other outcries against the establishment of the mid-1960s, pot-smoking had its place.

The newly introduced pot in Bismarck was not from North Dakota; it arrived through various channels, coming out of California, Canada and Minneapolis. It migrated via the college campuses to reach its biggest users-the college-age students, drop-outs, and recent grads.

According to anonymous interviews, pot parties in Bismarck were atypical in comparison to the drug orgies some people expected. Consisting of four to six people, they reportedly passed a marijuana cigarette back and forth until they became high. And there were only perhaps 20 to 25 users in the city, fairly evenly split between male and female.

Several pot users reported their psychedelic dabbling with the drug: one local smoker said pot made her feel more sensitive, "and that doesn't hurt anybody." When asked why she smoked, another smoker said, "Why do people drink? Why does a drink really taste good now and then? Marijuana has the same effect, only it's not as habit forming as alcohol."

Though medical authorities agreed that the drug was not as physically addictive, they worried that other drugs would become more enticing to the young crowd.

But for those North Dakotans who partied with Mary Jane, each seeking their own, separate states of euphoria, smoking pot was just one more way for them to feel connected in the disconnect of the sixties.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


Thursday, July 27, 1967, Minot Daily News, p.2