Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Getting Lucky

The Legend: Some packs of Lucky Strike cigarettes contain a marijuana cigarette.

Status:  False


It's been said that every so often in a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes, the consumer would find a marijuana cigarette as a little bonus. In fact, they were called Lucky Strikes because the smoker would "strike it lucky" by finding this marijuana cigarette.

Rumors of the frequency vary. Were they stashed one per pack, one per every hundred, or one per carton? Lore also says that it was legal to do this since marijuana had not yet been criminalized.

In 1942, five years after marijuana was criminalized through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, Lucky Strike changed its packaging from green to red and white. They said that the green ink they were using required copper that was being diverted to the war effort. By discontinuing the green color they were supporting the war effort. The resulting white pack with the red circular logo was rumored to be in honor of the US bombing of Japan - a red circle on a white background being the pattern on the Japanese flag.  One variation of this rumor claimed that the marijuana cigarette was hidden in the Luckies as a boost for US soldiers during World War II.

As is often the case, there is a grain of truth to this rumor. In 1952, a seaman aboard the SS Hibueras, Maguel Angel Pina, was found in possession of a pack of Luckies that contained 18 hand-rolled cigarettes. Later analysis determined that they were all marijuana. Obviously this had nothing to do with Lucky Strike manufacturing protocol and was simply Seaman Pina's way of transporting his marijuana, a method still used with great frequency today.

Packs of Lucky Strike cigarettes do not contain a marijuana cigarette and never have. If this had ever been true we would be hearing this rumor from sources other than school kids and chat rooms. We'd be hearing about it from our fathers and grandfathers who served in World War II.