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Reefer Madness: 50 years ago in Salford

While researching stories from Salford’s colourful past we came across this little item from July 1965 warning of the perils of ‘beat clubs’, and worse still, the threat of cannabis ‘reefers’ which surely can only end in madness.

The story tells how police raided The Cosmopolitan Beat Club on Cannon Street in Manchester, finding all sorts of iniquity within.

The officer in question PC Bettany told the court that he and his colleagues had paid the club a late-night visit – no doubt checking that all the regulars got home safely.

Smelling a rat, as it were, the police decided to search several men in the club.

They searched the owner Mr Malik Joiner, 53, and found a lump of hemp in his jacket pocket. He protested that the drug must have been planted there by persons unknown.

No doubt elated at this find the police searched the other customers and two men from Salford were found to be in possesion of ‘Indian hemp’.

Stanley Cassidy, 24, and doorman Edward Asare, 34, were also found to be holding hand-rolled cigarettes: the dreaded reefer.

In his defence Mr Cassidy said that he didn’t know how the spliff had got there, whilst Mr Asare said that someone else must have planted the drug in in his pocket.

The Manchester City Magistrate was having none of it.

He fined each man £50 each or else three months in jail.

To be honest I think that a fine of £50 was a bit steep, that was a lot of money in those days, at least £500 in today’s terms.

The other alternative of three months in Strangeways prison didn’t sound too inviting either.

Strangeways was then still a grim Victorian prison with little modern facilities, men were often locked up three to a cell for 23 hours a day, with one slopping out bowl between them.

The men if they had any sense would have paid their fine and left the court poorer but wiser men.

Despite the court’s strict view it didn’t deter a generation of youth from smoking the dreaded reefer, and let’s face it, it still goes on today.

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SalfordOnline.com's Local History Editor and Senior Reporter.