THE FIRST CRACKS BEGIN TO APPEAR
3.1 - The D.E.A.’s (aka the Federal Bureau of Narcotics) VERSION:
The DEA’s version of the story (while varying a bit over time), generally runs as follows:
. . . somehow obtained and smoked some Reefers (Marihuana cigarettes) . . . .
. . . that night, he started hallucinating . . .
. . . he imagined that his parents were attacking and cutting him up . . .
. . . thus he grabbed an axe and killed his parents, two brothers and a sister in their sleep . . .
. . . the next day, he could remember nothing of what happened . . . etc.
Looking back on it, it now seems incredible that the story could have held out for as long as it did (from the 1930’s up until the late 1960's) without being seriously challenged. Anyone doing even the most rudimentary research on the matter could have quickly noted the contradictions as well as the out and out falsehoods. However, it should be pointed out that back in the 1930’s the American people had an almost blind faith in their government. That whatever else, our very own Federal Government would never lie to the American people.
This blind faith in government seems to have lasted right on up until the Vietnam War, when it became obvious to just about everyone that this (if it ever was), was no longer the case.
In addition (and here we are not defending Anslinger, but simply pointing out the facts), that until the early part of 1936, the Bureau relied mostly on newspaper reports as their main source of information. It was only AFTER 1936 (when the first challenges to the Gore File came), that the Bureau started ACTUALLY checking up on its facts. Small wonder then that most of the more bestial Gore File cases (as well as many of the fabricated cases) made their way into the file before 1936 and relatively few thereafter.
The most famous Mug Shot from the Reefer Madness Era
QUESTION: How did this Mug Shot come to be so widely viewed?
ANSWER: While Anslinger had been Touting the Victor Licata case (as part of his gore file) for some time previously, it was not until January of 1937 that he received the following letter:
Click on Picture for Bigger View
Harry Anslinger kept the picture in his files as part of his gore file. And upon retirement he then donated it (along with large numbers of his personal papers) to Pen-State University. There it was located by researchers, photocopied and made widely available.
Which is a good thing as it contained his Arrest ID number, which in turn allowed us to locate much of the paperwork that we have on him.
3.2 - EARLE ROWELL TELLS A DIFFERENT VERSION OF THE STORY:
The following is taken directly from Mr. Rowell’s Book , “On the trail of Marihuana, the Weed of Madness.”
“VICTOR LICATA, aged nineteen, sat sobbing. He was in jail in Tampa, Florida, his home town; and, although he had been there half a day, his parents had not been near him. He wondered why they had forgotten or were neglecting him. This was why he was crying.
To our knowledge this is the first variation of the official story as offered by Anslinger’s D.E.A. (aka Bureau of Narcotics). Now instead of an innocent family we have:
“. . [the] police confided to us also that the father, who had been murdered, was by no means blameless, for he had been making these cigarettes and having his son Victor peddle them to the students at the high school he attended.”Thus a version of the story that varied slightly from the official version now made its appearance. And while this slight variation seems almost insignificant to us today, to Harry Anslinger, this was a great affront, one that would seal Mr. Rowell’s fate. Anslinger was not about to have his favorite Gore File case discredited by anyone for any reason.
3.3 - HARRY ANLSINGER’S D.E.A. GOES AFTER EARLE ROWELL:
Many of Harry Anslinger apologists would argue that he was “Just doing his Job.” That the country was in the great depression, and that it simply needed a strong hand to keep things going. Maybe so but by all accounts Anslinger was not a nice man. As stated previously, he was out and out Evil. The Earle Rowell situation provides a specific case in point. Now granted there were a lot of reasons why Anslinger hated Rowell. Probably the most important of which was that Rowell (who had quite a following in the 1930’s) felt that Drug addicts should be given maintenance drugs, while Anslinger felt the solution was to lock them up and that was it.
However, be that as it may, it is obvious that Rowell’s challenge of the Bureaus official version of the Victor Licata story was also high on that list. According to Alfred Lindesmith (who was also one of Anslingers targeted victims): [3A]
“Mr. Rowell came into disfavor with the Bureau of Narcotics around 1938 and this agency spent considerable energy and manpower in an attempt silence and discredit him . . . This may have been because of Mr. Rowell's view that opiate addiction is a disease, or perhaps because of his repeated allegations that the police were insufficiently diligent in destroying marihuana. . . “Elsewhere, he elaborated more on the subject. In his book “The Addict and the Law (1961)”, Lindesmith writes: [3B]
[Regarding his communications with Everett G. Hoffman, head of the World Narcotics Research Foundation, of Seattle Wa., who shared Mr. Lindesmiths’ views on drugs AND WHO like Rowell and Lindesmith was also targeted by Anslinger's Bureau of Narcotics for arrest]Once more Mr. Anslinger was not a nice man. And he was NOT ABOUT to have anyone challenge his Victor Licata story under any circumstances.
3.4 – MUSEUM CONCLUSIONS :
In all fairness to the reader, it should be pointed out the Earle Rowell was at one time the head of Northern California’s “White Cross Anti-Narcotics League”, whose views on narcotics addition are shared by many others and are as follows:
HOWEVER, In terms of Earle Rowell’s, conclusions regarding the Victor Licata affair. This author is of the belief that Mr. Rowell's logical mind might have been clouded by his emotions at the time. Perhaps an explanation is in order, and while not wishing to jump the gun on succeeding chapters, it is important to note that there might (most probably was) a serial axe murderer operating in the Tampa Florida area at the time. AND that one of the families that (just like the Licata family) had been struck was the ROWELL family. Thus it might not have been an accident that:
“On our tour of the states we arrived in Tampa a few months after this horrible crime took place.”And while we have no proof that Earle Rowell was very closely related to the three Rowell family members (plus others) who were killed by an axe murderer in (1926) Tampa Fla. Still we find it odd that:
“The police and district attorneys' staff who worked on the case told us the entire terrible and fantastic story, and took us to the house where the crime had been enacted. The police confided to us also that the father, who had been murdered, was by no means blameless, for he had been making these cigarettes and having his son Victor peddle them to the students at the high school he attended. In time, Victor sampled his own product. Then came the quintuple murder. ”QUESTION: Why would the police, the district attorneys office, etc., give Mr. Rowell (who was not even a Florida resident) a guided tour of a crime seen? Confide in him and give him so much (probably false) information about Victor? EXAMPLE:
“The police confided to us also that the father, . . had been making these cigarettes and having his son Victor peddle them to the students at the high school he attended.”PROBLEM: Victor was either 19 or 20 years of age at the time. In addition the police were falsely claiming that he was 21 years of age at the time. [3C] Which would have made it all but impossible for him to have been a high school student.
However, the guided tour could be explained away as an effort to get a new law against the use of Medical Marihuana in place. As Mr. Rowell stated in his book:
“This crime struck home to the hearts and minds of the inhabitants of Florida the terrific potency of marihuana. Many months later we found the memory of this atrocity to be very vivid; the whole state had become marihuana-conscious. A law with real teeth in it to prohibit peddlers was rushed through the state legislature. “CONCLUSIONS:
ALL FACTORS that (despite bringing out the criminal connection), would lead to the Legend of Victor being perpetrated by the narc’s for as long as it did.
[3A] - The Marijuana Papers – Chapter 2, The marihuana Problem: Myth or Reality? by Alfred Lindesmith
[3B] - The Addict and the Law By Alfred R. Lindesmith, Washington Post, 1961, Chapter 9, OBSTACLES TO REFORM - Copy can be found at:
[3D] - Note the date (Jan 1938), meaning that the harassment of Rowell had already began before he had even published his book, On the Trail of Marihuana" (1939).
[3C]- More about this subject in a later chapter
Reefer Madness - courtesy of Harry J. Anslinger
VICTOR LICATA - A RUSH TO JUDGEMENT
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