Talk about a Brooklyn joint.
With the ongoing legislative battles over the legalization of marijuana, it’s almost too hard (or too easy) to believe that Brooklyn was once a mecca for marijuana growth.
Before the abundance of coffee shop-turned-night-bars and obscure music venues, Brooklyn was covered with fields of cannabis that stretched through Williamsburg, Cobble Hill and East New York, according to the Brooklyn Public Library.
In 1951, Brooklyn’s “marijuana plantations” grew approximately 17,200 pounds of the good stuff, amounting to a couple million dollars. In response, Sanitation Department Chief Inspector John. E. Gleason lead the White Wing Squad, named after their white duck cloth uniforms, which went through the lots in all New York’s boroughs and confiscated and destroyed the plants. Members were forbidden to enter saloons and use foul language, among other things.
Photos from the Brooklyn Public Library depict 10 foot long Cannabis satvia plants germinating from the sacred Brooklyn grounds and allow us to visit a curious time. But it’s good to know that “urban farming” has always meant “growing weed” in Brooklyn.