Marijuana, The New Prohibition
By John Kaplan
World Publishing Company edition
Published June, 1970
Pages 97-99, Bibliography p. 142, references 5-14

Note: Reference and text corrections are highlighted in bold text and under lined. Besides John Kaplan’s reference mistakes, he also made a few quotation errors suggesting researchers use the corrected text below, or better yet, obtain all 7 articles to correctly retell the Victor Licata story as presented in his book, “Marijuana, The New Prohibition”.

Kaplan Bibliography Kaplan Text Titles
Article Corrections

5. Tampa Times
Oct. 18, 1933
p. 1
“Crazed Youth Kills Five of Family with AX in Tampa”
p. 98
“Crazed Youth Kills Five of Family With AX in Tampa Home“, Tampa Morning Tribune, Oct. 18, 1933
pp. 1 & 8
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.

8. Ibid. “to war on marijuana traffic here”
p. 98
Logan To War on Marijuana Traffic Here”, Tampa Morning Tribune, Oct. 18, 1933, p. 8
9. Ibid.

10. Tampa Times
Oct. 20, 1933
p. 11.
“Stop This Murderous Smoke”
p. 98
“Stop This Murderous Smoke ”, Tampa Morning Tribune,
Oct. 20, 1933, p. 6

11. Tampa Times
Oct. 31, 1933
p. 1
p.99 “Report Shows AX Slayer of Family Insane”, Tampa Morning Tribune, Oct. 31, 1933, p. 1

11.5. No reference Dr. H. Mason Smith
p. 99
Alienist Says Licata Insane”, Tampa Daily Times,
Nov. 2, 1933, p. 5

12. St. Petersburg Evening Independent
Oct. 18, 1933
p. 12
p. 99 “Son Held In Tampa Slayings”, The Evening Independent
St. Petersburg, Florida, Oct. 18, 1933, p. 1

13. Tampa Times
Nov. 3, 1933
p. 7
p. 99 “Order Commits Slayer Licata”, Tampa Daily Times,
Nov. 3, 1933, p. 5

14. p. 99

Letter from Dr. C. A Rich, Florida State Hospital Dec. 30, 1968

Marijuana, The New Prohibition
By John Kaplan
Pages 97-99


The Licata Case

Lengthy lists of cases where marijuana use has supposedly produced violent criminal outbursts have probably provided the major support for the connection between marijuana and violent crime. Very little attention, however, has been given to tracking down, in any detail, the facts of any of the specific cases cited.  For instance, probably the most celebrated marijuana crime is the killing by one Victor Licata of his mother, father, two brother, and a sister in Tampa, Florida, on


October 17, 1933. The Day after the killings, the Tampa Times Morning Tribune carried the story beneath a page-one headline, “Crazed Youth Kills Five of Family with Ax in Tampa Home,” and reported that the slayer “dazed and staring wild-eyed was arrested at the scene as officers broke into the home.” [5] According to the Times Morning Tribune, “Licata was crouched in a chair in the bathroom and offered no resistance as officers searched him for weapons. He mumbled incoherently when asked about the crime.”[6] “We found the boy seated in the bathroom with the door closed,” Bell said. “I asked him “what’s the matter, Victor?” He only looked at me wildly. Made no effort to answer” [6] The marijuana connection was that

W. D. Bush, city detective chief, said he had made an investigation prior to the crime and learned the slayer had been addicted to smoking marijuana cigarettes for more than six months. This, he said, had unbalanced his mind,at least temporarily. A similar statement was made by Frank S. Caston, state drug and narcotics inspector, who said he had aided Bush in the investigation, and was prepared to make charges against the youth when he heard of the ax slatings. He had also heard learnedof several places where Licata bought the doped cigarettes. [7]

The same day’s paper, announced that the police chief was “Logan To War On Marijuana Traffic Here”[8]:

Police Chief Logan said yesterday after he had been informed that the weed, used as a cigarette,had been indirectly to blame for the wholesale murder of the Michael Licata family…Maybe the weed only had a small indirect part in the alleged insanity of the youth,” …”but I am declaring now for all time that the increasing use of this narcotic must stop and will be stopped.”[9]

The same attitude was expressed two days later in the Times’ lead a Tampa Morning Tribune editorial, which also fist admitted uncertainty as to the casual connection between the marijuana and the killing, but then went on to assume that the causality was established. Under the heading, “Stop This Murderous Smoke,” the editorial stated that

…it “It may or may not be wholly true that the pernicious marijuana cigarette is responsible for the murderous mania of a Tampa young man in exterminating all the members of


his family within his reach-but whether or not the poisonous, mind-wrecking weed is mainly accountable for the tragedy, its sale should not be and should never have been permitted here or elsewhere…It required 5 five murders to impress the Tampa public and Tampa officials with the serious effects of the habit.[10]

The next mention of the Licata case in the Tampa newspapers occurred some eleven days later when the Times Tampa Morning Tribune reported that a psychiatric examination of Victor Licata had revealed that he was criminally insane.[11] The psychiatric report described Licata’s condition as “acute and chronic,” and asserted that he was “subject to hallucinations, accompanied by homicidal impulses and occasional periods of excitement.” [11]According to the examining psychiatrist, Dr. H. Mason Smith, Licata’s insanity was very probably inherited. Licata’s parents were first cousins, his paternal granduncle and two paternal cousins had been committed to insane asylums, and his younger brother Philip, one of his victims, had been diagnosed a year earlier as suffering from dementia praecox. [11.5] Moreover, it turned out that the police, the year before, had filled a lunacy petition seeking to have Licata himself committed but withdrew it when the youth’s parents maintained that they could take better care of him at home.[12] As a result of this information, Licata was adjudged insane and committed to the state mental hospital.[13]

Nor does Licata’s story end there: his subsequent history provides a strong inclination that his crime resulted from a long-lasting psychosis rather than from any drug effect. Licata was diagnosed twice at the Florida State Mental Hospital, first as suffering from “Dementia PrecoxPraecox with Homicidal Tendencies” and than, upon recapture after an escape, as still suffering from “Dementia Precox Praecox with Homicidal Tendencies.” In addition, from his arrival at the hospital until December 4, 1950, when he hanged himself, Licata‘s behavior was “overly psychotic.” “was behaving in a psychotic manner.”Over all this time, however, the mental-hospital records did not blame either Licata’s crime or his mental illness on marijuana; in fact, they did not even mention his use of the drug.[14]….


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