THE CURSE OF O'FERRALL (the narc)"
Much of the following is taken directly from our OTR (Old Time Radio) section:
Who was Chief F. J. O'Ferrall (the Narc)?
--- Chief Narc, State of California:
We are indebted to F. J. O'Ferrall, inspector in charge, Division of Narcotic Enforcement, State of California, for the facts contained in the next few paragraphs. Inasmuch as marijuana addiction in California is as bad as, or worse than in any other part of the country, and because Inspector O'Ferrall has been one of the outstanding leaders in the fight against the weed, he is eminently qualified to discuss the subject. . . "There appear to be three stages through which the user passes . . . "The third stage is the most progressed and dangerous: He really becomes a fiend with savage and tigerish tendencies; his sex desires are aroused, and some of the most horrible crimes result; he hears light and sees sound; to get away from it, he suddenly becomes violent and may kill. In fact, he has gone completely mad and may never recover. No crime known may escape him,-and while he is running amuck, he may kill his loved ones, his dearest friends, or total strangers." -- From Science Speaks to Young Men on Liquor, Tobacco, Narcotics and Marijuana," by George Thomason, M.D. (1938):
And this was just one of his "Golden Wonders." Throughout the early part of the Reefer Madness Era, he was constantly coming up with these wonders of wonders. The following is probably his most famous such wonder.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE – March 5, 1945 p11
Please recall that Mr. O’Ferrall had (at the time) the Badge of Authority. People thus believed what he was saying as being the truth; ----After all would our own police lie to us?
“SAN FRANCISCO By Robert O’Brien”
OF “HAYHEADS” AND “GREEN DRAGONS”; Recently we spent an afternoon with F. J. Ferrall, chief of the State division of Narcotics, and Lieutenant David Dodge, who was prying the chief loose from some background material for his new book which will be set in the Bay Area and based on the marijuana racket. It was an interesting afternoon. Nearly every time the chief opened his mouth, copy dropped out of it. Here are some of the facts he passed along---not that you will ever hit a “tea party,” but Dick Tracy might drop in on you some evening, and this will give you something to talk about:
The boys of Southern California’s juvenile gangs are called “pachucos.” They wear zoot suits, and shoes with soles one-and-one-half inches thick. Thus heavily shod, their feet are used as both offensive and defensive weapons. . . . The girls of the pachuco gangs are called “black widows,” because they wear short, black jackets over their dresses . . . Many of them are barbiturate addicts and refer to the barbiturate pills as “green dragons,” or “goof balls.” . . . . Persons under the influence of marijuana are much more dangerous than persons under the influence of opium. Opium is a depressant (it makes you violently ill the first time you try it), while marijuana, which is the same thing as hashish, is an excitant. . . .
Example: An automobile tore across the Bay Bridge one night at 85 miles an hour. The driver, a potential killer, refused to stop for pursuing State patrolmen. At great risk to themselves, they overtook him, cornered the car, forced him out. His first words to them were: “Boys, I feel like flying!” … But law enforcement officials are not always lucky enough to apprehend a person under the influence of the drug before he has committed a crime, and some of the most ghastly on record have been committed by persons who are “high on the hay.” “Hay” or “tea” is what addicts call marijuana, and narcotics men call addicts “hayheads” or “teaheads.” . . . . .An addict, issuing an invitation to a party, might say: Let’s get together and blow some hay.” . . . . Before the war, marijuana cigarettes were about as long as an ordinary cigarette, but slightly larger in circumference. They were then called “sticks,” and sold for 25 cents each. Now, they are thinner, and are called “splinter is $1. . . . Chief O’Ferrall, commenting on the increased price, said this was a break for prosecuting authorities. Now, in addition to possession of marijuana, they can file another charge---violation of the OPA price ceiling. But this may have been a gag. Before we could ask him whether he was serious, he was off on another topic, and later on we forgot to come back to it.
Until there was a can shortage peddlers always carried their marijuana in the small, Prince Albert tobacco cans, never in Edgeworth, Half and Half, or another kind of can. Chief O’Ferrall said neither he nor his men had ever been able to figure out why. Now, with cans harder to get, they use small brown paper bags. . . . The marijuana plant can be grown legally in every State in the United States except in California. It is used in the making of hemp . . . .
Under the new State administrative setup, the Division of Narcotics is a branch of the State Department of Justice, whose head is Attorney. General Kepny . . . . at current prices, 15,000 grains of marijuana can be bought in Mexico for $25. That’s slightly more than two pounds, and enough hay for 5000 splinters. (After an hour with the chief, you’re talking that way yourself.) so you can figure out why dope runners are going for the racket---no horse ever paid $5000 for $25. . . . .
In spite of the heavy transborder traffic caused by the curfew and the horse racing ban, California has the best record of narcotic enforcement in the Nation . . . .. The State’s great need, according to Chief O’Ferrall, is a special institution for the care and treatment of narcotic addicts. This, he feels, would be a great step toward the humane rehabilitation of those who are victims of the evil. And it might even go a long way toward stamping out the evil itself. . .
O'Ferrall (the Narc) FIRED FOR INSUBORDINATION AND INCOMPETENCE
The following is part of an e-mail sent out via the museum mailing list:
Subject: O’Ferrall FIRED.
No wonder Tahoe DARE founder Russ Potts didn’t want to apologize for (the Reefer Madness era, chief of Narcotics) F.J. O’Ferrall’s actions, and probably doesn’t want to touch him with a ten-foot pole. According to the San Francisco Chronicle [Oct. 19, ’47), F.J. O’Ferrall chief of the (California) State Division of Narcotics, was fired for “inefficiency and insubordination.” This occurred after a 6 month investigation by the then Attorney General, Fred N. Howser.
Chief narc O’Ferrall, (many of you recall) was a contemporary of Harry J. Anslinger and seem to be in a competition with him over who could tell the most lies about Medical Marihuana. Take the following, for example:
“Persons under the influence of marijuana are much more dangerous than persons under the influence of opium. Opium is a depressant, while marijuana, which is the same thing as hashish, is an excitant… Example: An automobile tore across the Bay Bridge one night at 85 miles an hour. The driver, a potential killer, refused to stop for pursuing State patrolmen. At great risk to themselves, they overtook him, cornered the car, forced him out. His first words to them were: “Boys, I feel like flying!” … But law enforcement officials are not always lucky enough to apprehend a person under the influence of the drug before he has committed a crime, and some of the most ghastly on record have been committed by persons who are “high on the hay.” “Hay” or “tea” is what addicts call marijuana.” - San Francisco Chronicle [Mar 5, ‘45]
In the words of Steve Kubby;
“Young people are intelligent -- when they discover that they’ve been given phony information to scare them… they lose respect for authority. …It undermines parents and all adults when they address any other important issue.”
NEWSPAPER ARTICLES OF INTEREST TO HISTORIANS:
SAN JOSE MERCURY: - CA
NOTE - Lots of date problems - warning --- lots of date problems
[e]- Jun 20 1934 - Anti-Narcotic League declared Racket. - J.F. O'Farrell + white cross
[ ]- Feb 26, 1939 - "Narcotic Trade Urged" - O'ferrell - 4 star - new date
[ ]- Place needed for treating Drug Addicts -An O'Ferrell article- May 11, 1944 - Date problem
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE - CA
[e]- March 5, 1945 page 11- San Francisco by Robert O’Brien
[e]- Oct. 10, 1947 page 28 - “F.J. O’Ferrall, State Narcotics Chief, Is Suspended”
(He was fired for inefficiency and insubordination)
[e]- Oct 19, 1947 “O’Ferrall Denies Incompetence in Suspension Case”
SAN FRANCISCO CALL BULLETIN - CA
[e]- Oct. 10, 1947 page B- “Narcotics Head Fights Ouster”
SAMPLE NEWSPAPER ACCOUNT
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE – Oct. 19, 1947
“O’Ferrall Denies Incompetency in Suspension Case”
Sacramento, Oct. 18 ---Arguing he is “ready, able and willing” to continue as Chief of the Division of Narcotic Enforcement in the State Justice Department, F. J. O’Ferrall today denied charges of incompetency which resulted in his suspension October 9.
The hearing was set for December 8, in San Francisco, before Bion R. Gregory, the board’s hearing officer, instead of before the entire board, which O’Ferral requested.
Attorney General Howser had charged O’Ferrall, division chief since April 1943, with “incompetency, inefficiency, inexcusable neglect of duty, insubordination, discourteous treatment of other employees, willful disobedience, failure of good behavior and acts which are incompatible with and inimical to the public service.”
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