So you wanna learn more about the history of cannabis, do ya? Well, we can’t blame you - it really is quite interesting.
Last time around we learned about some mythical Chinese emperor who thought cannabis helped him talk to the Gods, how hemp helped European sailors travel further than ever before, and ended with a borderline-mediocre joke about peer pressure.
I WONDER WHAT KIND OF FUN WE’LL HAVE THIS TIME.
While the Greeks had long thrown cannabis onto hot coals in spas to relax, Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy (“Billy Brooke” for short) becomes the first European to throw cannabis into rigorous medical testing during the 19th century.
Good ole Dr. Billy finds that cannabis has great value as a sedative and an anti-convulsive; relieving the pain of rheumatism, stopping convulsions and quelling muscle spasms. Validating Indian folk uses of cannabis through a medical lens, O’Shaughnessy popularizes cannabis’ therapeutic uses in medical papers.
By the early 20th century, 2000 different cannabis medicines are being produced by close to 300 manufacturers in the West.
Unregulated patent medicines - some of which are dangerous - are advertised with unsubstantiated and often fraudulent claims about their efficacy.
In plain English, this basically just means that old eccentrics travelled by horse and buggy to sell these magic “elixirs” and “potions” that were great for steadying your shot and making you a better squaredancer.
This catches the ire of American authorities who implement the Pure Food and Drug Act at the start of the 20th century, an action believed to set cannabis on the course to criminalization.
- In Canada, racism, propaganda and scare-tactic journalism combine to influence the criminalization of cannabis, which is added to the schedule of Schedule of Restricted Drugs in 1923 under the Narcotics Drug Act Amendment Bill.
… and this seems like a good place to leave off. Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion of HISTORY OF CANNABIS, when we’ll uncover all the answers to your questions so far, like:
1) How did people react to the criminalization of cannabis?
2) How did the authorities react to cannabis’ rapid increase in popularity?
3) Who will get voted off the island this week?
All this and more in CANNABIS HISTORY: PART 3. It’s gonna be good.