A Marijuana Tale

The Ravendale Garage.

While the City of Susanville and the County of Lassen debate marijuana issues, lets take a look of some historic accounts from the 1920s. It was not until the late 1920s that marijuana appeared on the scene locally.  In November 1928, Sheriff Jim Leavitt conducted a raid on the Brunswick Pool Hall near the Susanville Depot.  Leavitt confiscated ten kegs of whiskey and ten pounds of marijuana and arrested Emma and Pete Ovalle on a narcotics charge for the possession of marijuana.

Marijuana was something new to the local residents. The local press described it as a Mexican tobacco that is smoked like a cigarette, and said it has an exhilarating and soothing effect for the smoker and can also make one feel “goofy.”

The next day officials conducted another search of the premises surrounding the pool hall and along Susan River found marijuana being grown.  It was deemed that this marijuana had no potency, that one would have to a smoke a ton of it, to get some kind of “kick.” This was good news for Ovalle’s and the charges against them were dropped.

The next person arrested for marijuana was not so fortunate as the Ovalles. On April 28, 1930,  Jim Lechuga was arrested in Ravendale with a suitcase that contained 360 tobacco tins of marijuana. He told the authorities it was for medicinal purposes. Roy Jones, State Narcotics Officer said that it was hogwash, that marijuana had no medicinal value. A jury trial was held and found Lechuga guilty and he was sentenced to six years at San Quentin. It was the first marijuana conviction in Lassen County.

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