In 2014, the Brooklyn DA is fighting against the state just to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. It's hard to believe, but up until about 1951, Brooklyn was a veritable marijuana mecca where cannabis grew all over Williamsburg, East New York and Cobble Hill.
As you can see in the photos above, via the Brooklyn Public Library, there were literally 10 foot tall Cannabis sativa plants sprouting in Brooklyn back then. In 1951, there was a major crackdown on the plants, with a Sanitation division called the "White Wing Squad" confiscated and destroyed 41,000 pounds of the plant, led by Sanitation Department Chief Inspector John E. Gleason. Brooklyn alone accounted for about 17,200 pounds.
This White Wing Squad, so named after their white duck cloth uniforms, were held to strict moral standards by Gleason. Among other things, they were barred from entering saloons, using foul language, and neglecting horses.
To give some perspective: in the summer of 1951, the Brooklyn Eagle reported on some "daring marijuana farmers" who had established a "farm" in a lot at the heart of Brooklyn's projected Civic Center. When the White Wing Squad busted them, the Eagle estimated that about $6 million worth of marijuana had been incinerated in Brooklyn up to that point! Check out WNYC for more, and some audio from their archives.