50 Years Ago, Johnny Cash's Crew Accidentally Snuck Hash Into Folsom Prison

50 years ago, Johnny Cash played a legendary set at Folsom Prison in California. And one member of his crew almost became a resident of the penitentiary after he accidentally snuck hash into the prison.

"I had a couple of little balls of hash in my camera bag that I'd forgot about," rock photographer Jim Marshall - who shot the concert - later confessed. "They didn't find it, obviously. But can you imagine going into a prison with some drugs on you?"

If the guards had found his stash, Marshall would've blended right in with the convicts given the outfit he wore to the show.

"God! I had Levi's jeans on, and they said, 'You can't come in with Levi's because [you’ll blend in with] the prisoners in their blue jeans,'" he added. "They had to get a pair of khakis for me."

And he wasn't the only one that risked becoming a permanent fixture at Folsom because of his luggage. Cash's bassist Marshall Grant nearly got in trouble for accidentally sneaking a firearm into the facility.

"I carried this gun into Folsom, which was a real gun that we used as part of a gag on stage," Grant recalled. "You pulled the trigger and it would smoke. It was loud, and it was so funny that people just absolutely loved it on the show. Well, I carried it in my bass case. I didn't think anything about it. But when I went to get my bass out and I saw the gun in the bass case, I said, 'Oh my God, I'm in Folsom Prison with a gun! I probably will spend the rest of my life here.'"

So Grant decided to turn the gun in and hope the guards would understand.

"I very quietly went over to a security guard who was stationed on the stage and I explained to him exactly what it was all about, and I said, 'I don't want no problems.' He said, 'Well, don't worry about it. I will get a couple of security guards to go with me and we'll take it and explain it to the warden and we'll lock it up until you get ready to go.'”

So at least two members of the crew came close to finishing the show with not only a platinum record but criminal records as well.


Proponents of the War on Drugs often claim that it's about keeping communities safe. But US drug laws are based less on public health and more on social control, according to Diane Goldstein—Chair of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP). "I think what's critically important is that most Americans recognize that, inherently, our drug laws have never been about public health," Goldstein told Civilized.