As with most of the material William Irish (aka Cornell Woolrich) wrote in hiscareer as a crime novelist (Night Has a Thousand Eyes, The Bride WoreBlack, etc.), the backdrop of Marihuana is as fictional and un-authentic asits characters. The plot of this novelette--one of a series of saddle-stitched10-cent Dell booklets "too short for popular reprint at a higher price"--issimple: chronically-depressed loser King Turner is introduced to the evil weedby some ne'er-do-well pals, hallucinates that he has killed someone (I wish thedope I got was that good), gets hold of a Luger and goes on a"hopped-up" killing spree. If only he had just said no.
The science-fictional details of the drug culture Irish dreams up areinteresting. The smoking occurs at a "weed ranch"--a sort of speakeasy with apay-one-price admission fee and all the reefer you can inhale (again, I wishmy neighborhood was so equipped). Apparently working with limited dataon the actual effects of marijuana (otherwise the story would never have beenwritten), Irish emphasizes that it distorts "the time sense" (a key factor inthe plot's apex) and makes sneering reference to the munchies ("The hempseeds[sic] create a false, insatiable appetite..."). Mary Jane also makes her mentrigger-happy, as Turner maniacally pops caps in the ass of anyone who crosseshis path--he just can't help himself. Written well after the unpopularLaGuardia Commission's report on how marijuana really wasn't any more harmfulto society (and indeed considerably less pernicious) than alcohol, this littleexercise in reefer madness is further proof that cultural attitudes-! -not empirical evidence--are what drives our current herbal prohibition.
P.S. While I was reading this fine literature I happened to bewalking around in the East Village where what should I see in some St. Mark'sboutique but a 100% cotton t-shirt silkscreened with the arresting cover art.Synchronicity, baby. --K.S.
(review date: 5/17/97)OP from Dell