Samuel R. Caldwell

It is easier to earn fear than respect. That was what the US government relied on to enforce its Marijuana Tax Act. Samuel R. Caldwell was the unfortunate farmer that had to be sacrificed in order for the populace to abide by the 1937 Act. Caldwell was ill-fated enough to have his life ripped apart and never put back together just for a political agenda that served mainly narrow personal gains. Samuel R. Caldwell was the second person to be arrested according to the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. He was taken into custody the exact same day the Act was put into action.

Flash by NORML

The 3 Joints Incident

Claude Morgan, a Mexican immigrant to the United States, wished to smoke what is today known as a joint. Samuel R. Caldwell possessed some; therefore a wretched trade took place. On that day, October 2nd, Samuel R. Caldwell sold Claude Morgan three marijuana cigarettes, and although he did not know it at the time, that was the end of his life as he knew it. The United States government felt deplorably violated by the trade between Caldwell and Morgan, and believed that its sovereignty was threatened, the laws had been broken and the order disobeyed. Hence both the seller and buyer were arrested. Samuel R. Caldwell was sentenced to 4 years of hard labor at Leavenworth Penitentiary, in addition to owing to the US state a 1,000$ fine. Caldwell was incarcerated in 1937, at age 58, and released in 1940 at age 60. He died one year after his release.

Keeping Bad Guys off the Street

Yes, yes indeed, a serious threat was avoided. Bad guys were sent away, and the authorities were here to save the day. Is that really what happened? Another viewpoint would seem to be that a human life was disrupted for nothing. Rallies across the globe take place to avoid abortion of a life yet unborn; why waste a living one? Why waste Samuel R. Caldwell’s life?