Every one of us needs tender, loving care more than anything else when we’re badly hurt, or severely sick, or grieving deeply, or very old, or caught in any of life’s other painful, terrifying traps. While we all need loving care at some time in our lives, unfortunately caring for others seems to be a rare natural resource, a quality of the heart, mind and soul possessed by relatively few people. And yet tens of millions of us are growing older and will inevitably need care. Whether that “care” is institutional, custodial care that is little more than prison, or it is loving, attentive care from a Caregiver who is giving freely, is really a matter of economic opportunity as much as it is motivation. Our society desperately needs to invent ways for Caregivers to be able to stay home and care for those who need their constant care. I believe that the natural Cannabis medicine revolution and the accompanying regulatory structures may finally offer Caregivers such an economic opportunity.
Not Our Job!
The problem with getting love and care when you need them most is they aren’t actually a part of the job description of the so-called caring professions – medicine, nursing, rehabilitation etc. For the most past we are only truly cared for when an individual chooses to give it to us out of their heart’s kindness, not because it’s part of their job.
Of course there are professionals with large personal reserves of caring in the medical industry, but most people who have dealt with hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and the like would probably agree that caring is generally absent at most levels in these places most of the time. This is critically unfortunate, because without caring all the medical skills and technology in the world give small, cold comfort at best to people living their days in pain, fear and sickness, or who are confused and feeble, or those who have been broken and disabled.
It’s All Yours! Long Hours, No Pay.
Throughout history in all cultures giving love and care has been the role of women and slaves, which all societies have considered a domestic duty with little economic value, rather than being treated as a valuable resource. This deliberate pretense has robbed those with immense stores of love and care of their economic birthright, because the truth is that they possess what is ultimately most valuable, and most needed by almost every person on earth no matter how rich and powerful or poor and impotent.
Interestingly enough, a quick look at any group of health care industry messages reveals that most of them compete on the basis of caring about you personally – yet who actually delivers that caring if it gets delivered at all? The objective answer is that when caring is given in medical settings it is given disproportionately by women. It’s a tragic continuation of history’s irony that the people who own and control this most critical factor in competitiveness in the health care industry tend to be the lowest paid and most exploited workers in that industry.
Who You Gonna Call?
Increasing numbers of people have to face the rest of their life with severe illness and disability, dependent only upon whatever insurance and social services payments may provide and whatever network of family, friends and social services they may have available. There are 43 million homes in America where someone, usually an older person, is being cared for by someone who loves them and has taken on the responsibility – usually a daughter but increasingly, a loving son. People in this situation often have no other financial income resources than insurance and social security payments, and normally can’t work in any way to supplement their income. If the person is institutionalized the institution typically gathers in all available income and other assets in return for the care and treatment being provided – too often a cruel joke. If the person lives independently the health care services provided at home typically eat up all available cash flow leaving little left for quality of life support.
Any one of us not in need of loving care at this moment could, before the sun rises again, find our entire life changed with our independence and abilities gone forever. It happens every day to thousands of people worldwide. It comes as a diagnosis like cancer or AIDS, or it comes as an event like a stroke or an accident, or it comes on gradually as we simply age until one day we’re on our back or our backside forever. Yet when such a terrible thing happens most of us behave like animals struck dumb with terror by a nameless shadow dropping from the sky. We are paralyzed with fear, praying that the dark shadow isn’t heading straight for us but we know that it is. When it strikes, we are helpless, and for far too many people that moment is only the beginning of helplessness.
A Tale Of Two Worlds
During Wiley Johnson’s final life experience the only other people he saw regularly, other than his family and a few friends, were two hospital staff people named Ernest and Betty. Ernest was an orderly and Betty was a nurse’s assistant, and both were in their fifties. Betty was an African-American woman from Oak Cliff, and Ernest was a Latin American man originally from Sonora, now from East Dallas. They became Wiley’s friends, saw him every day, fussed over him, joked with him, and listened to him. They cared for Wiley physically and personally, cleaning and grooming him, doing small kindnesses for him, and most of all, treating him like a person.
In the month he spent in the hospital Wiley was attended to by a steady stream of high priced specialists. Although many of them were professionally pleasant and “caring”, they were each very busy, and they never listened very well as Wiley kept complaining of a pain in his stomach. Both Ernest and Betty took Wiley seriously enough to express concern to the family, and we made inquiries to the doctors as they zipped in and out. Finally, to deal with Wiley’s complaints and the family’s concerns a “heart man” was brought in and, sure enough, he announced that Wiley had a heart problem. But he’s never had a heart problem, we protested, and received the standard “doctor knows best” routine. Despite our objections Wiley was started on an intravenous blood thinner drip. Within 24 hours a massive undiagnosed clotted ulcer deep in his bowel let go, and after nearly six weeks of suffering and loss of dignity and nearly a hundred thousand dollars worth of professional medical “care”, Wiley quickly died of his stomach pains.
As my wife, her mother and I left the hospital garage after Wiley’s death, we noticed the expensive foreign car ahead of us being driven by Wiley’s heart specialist and remarked on the irony of his life-style and our situation at this moment. Then as we pulled out into the early evening streets, we saw another person, standing at the bus stop, holding a lunchbox. It was Betty, waiting for the bus to Oak Cliff, which pulled up just as we came around the corner so she never saw us. So one small family went home without its husband and father, the heart man went home in his expensive foreign car, and Betty and, no doubt Ernest, took the bus home to whatever home they could afford on their meager salaries.
This story may seem to be about hospitals, and doctors who sometimes heal and who sometimes kill – but it isn’t, it’s about a system of care-giving turned upside-down, where people who give the thing of greatest value, who give care, attention, friendship and sometimes love to lonely, frightened people in pain, rarely benefit in economic terms from their personal expenditure of this precious human capital, although it is exploited to their enormous benefit by institutional employers. Those who because of character, nature and culture possess the two principal forms of human capital – care and love – are rarely in a position to benefit from the exploitation of those rich sources of economic benefit.
Adam Smith wrote in “Wealth Of Nations”:
“The word value, it is to be observed, has two different meanings, and sometimes expresses the utility of some particular object, and sometimes the power of purchasing other goods which the possession of that object conveys. The one may be called “value in use”; the other, “value in exchange”. The things which have the greatest value in use have frequently little or no value in exchange; and, on the contrary, those which have the greatest value in exchange have frequently little or no value in use.”
He goes on to point out that salt is essential for health, and water is essential for survival, but that they have little value in exchange – except, of course, in arid regions of places like the American west where water rights are a distinct separate form of property rights.
Ladies! Get To Work!
For many generations, love and caring have been little valued and poorly rewarded, and at the same time they have been both demanded and coerced from those who possess these resources in greatest concentration. There has been no “value in exchange” for love and care, and instead there has been a vast pretension that these two resources are worthless. There has been very little “value in use” because love and caring were treated largely as domestic, wifely, or household tasks rather than core economic activities in the public domain.
For endless generations what little love and care there was in the world was delivered primarily by women in their roles as mother, wife, big sister, nursemaid, nanny, teacher, nurse, laborer, prostitute, and slave to their children, men, and family, and to their exploiters, owners, and employers. In return for this love and caring women have historically been paid little or nothing, and for most of history it has simply been expected of women by males and their institutions, and women have had no choice but to go along with this elaborate, degrading, and ultimately destructive pretense.
It’s About Time
However, the wheels of history turn, and circumstances are now right for millions of naturally gifted caregivers, primarily women but increasing also caring men, to take advantage of a revolution in need that is coming rapidly and predictably. Quite simply, the revolution is coming because there is a rapidly growing acute demand for the human capital resources of love and care in our society.
The medical Cannabis laws in increasing numbers of states offer independent Caregivers not only the opportunity to grow a small crop of medical Cannabis for the person who they are caring for, and for themselves if they also have the right paperwork, but in many states a Caregiver can grow medical Cannabis for a limited number of other patients who qualify for medical Cannabis. This offers a tremendous opportunity for Caregivers to generate welcome additional income from legal sale of medical Cannabis to patients in addition to the person they are caring for.
This is also an area where the huge numbers of Caregivers & Patients can have a dramatic impact on Cannabis laws. Caregivers who are sacrificing their ability to earn an income in order to take care of a loved one should be able to have a license to cultivate as much Medical Cannabis as they can grow, and the freedom to give or sell that Cannabis to any other legal patient and also to medical Cannabis dispensaries. With over 40 million Caregivers in the US caring for over 40 million patients, none of whom have the ability to earn an income because of the 24/7 nature of Caregiving, legalized home cultivation of Cannabis could be a powerful source of economic liberation for a huge number of Americans who have no other possibility of earning a decent income.
Hey! What About The Guys?
It’s not news to anyone that it is almost exclusively men, and male-dominated institutions in every culture which make war, exploit people, create suffering and pain, rape, desecrate, pollute and destroy, and promote anger, vengeance, hatred and cruelty. While there is little room in this tough, mean male world for men who express love and caring, it is expected, demanded, and coerced with little or no compensation from all women. In every major world culture deeply ingrained male institutions assure that the benefits of love and caring are available essentially for free to men from childhood onwards – on demand, so to speak.
It’s All Changing
I believe that we are entering a period in the early 21st Century when this can change in ways that can also revolutionize the harsh, male-dominated society that now rules, and Cannabis consciousness can be a key breakthrough factor in this revolution. And I believe that women and their enlightened male counterparts who are caregivers to the sick and elderly can lead the way forward.
I believe that for the first time in history it is possible to design workable ways for people who have an abundance of the human capital resources of love and caring to organize and put these resources to work for their own economic and social benefit. Medical Cannabis can be the center of a new home-based economic revolution.
I believe that groups of Caregivers working within religious and non-profit institutions, will be able to leverage the medical Cannabis laws to enable them to compete effectively with the so-called health care industry for the Trillion-dollar residential long term care market about to be created by the aging baby boomers and their parents.
And I believe that the economic opportunities offered by legal medical Cannabis are going to be the foundation of a new, home-centered, patient-centered, natural medicine revolution in how old, sick and damaged people can be cared for by those who love them.
Getting dizzy by spinning around and around until we all fall down is great fun for almost everybody when we are children. As babies we get bounced and then spun around by loving adults, and we all laugh and have great fun, and we find ways to spin ourselves into dizziness whenever possible thereafter. Our playgrounds are full of great ways to get dizzy. We spin and drop and then watch the sky go round and round.
And then at some point in life we discover that sexual orgasm is the best way EVER to get dizzy! It starts with masturbation and proceeds in numerous directions. We all try to have sex as much as possible in order to get dizzy in different, exciting ways. Sexual dizziness is where we are at our most inventive.
Life is full of ways to get dizzy, and people have long ago found all of them. Religious rituals are a fave. Occasionally a new way to get dizzy comes along, and it is popular for a while. Dance crazes always incorporate new movements that make you dizzy in fun, different ways. Long before Rock ‘n Roll became White kids music it was how Black people talked about getting dizzy from sex. That’s why those gyrating Elvis hips stirred the beast in so many super-straight White folks.
Although none of the ways of getting dizzy last, while it does last being dizzy is fun. Unless it’s something disgusting like head in the toilet drunk dizzy … but let’s all just forget about the nasty stuff and think nice dizzy, fun dizzy, non-barfing dizzy.
My point – almost everyone, as a child, learns to love being dizzy. But then most children grow up adhering closely to sanctioned form of dizziness, and as adults we often deny that dizziness is what we’re seeking. “I just like a little taste of (wine, beer, margaritas). And I only drink with meals.” Sure. And by the way kids, you can’t get dizzy this way until you are mature and responsible adults. If you do, you’ll be punished.
There are many substances are adored by many around the world and hated by others because they create pleasurable states of dizziness. Cannabis. Opium. Cocaine. Meth. Alcohol. Some kinds of pleasure states are sanctioned by authorities, and some are banned. Some will cost you your life.
Who these authorities are, and where their authority comes from isn’t ever really clear, but they always seem to have the means to enforce their ban on whatever way of getting dizzy offends them. And of course they have their own, exclusive ways of getting dizzy – torturing prisoners, droning weddings, stealing elections, humiliating helpless victims. On and on, endlessly.
Doing evil shit that you get away because you have power and wealth with is a MAJOR dizzy. Making others suffer is very dizzying for plenty of people.
Still, we all know, even the anti-dizziness enforcers secretly know, that getting dizzy using simple, traditional methods like sex and drugs is and always will be one of the most personal, most delightful human experiences.
Which is why so many of us love Cannabis Flowers- because they are a very, very nice Dizzy. And those pretty little flowers can also be a very potent dizzy. And unlike alcohol drinkers, no Cannabis smoker pretends that getting high is secondary to the taste or aroma. And very few wind up with their heads in the toilet.
Sooooo, although anyone prone to falling down and going boom who still wants to get dizzy with Cannabis or anything else needs to find somewhere safe while they make themselves nice and dizzy, anyone who can still Boogie on while dizzy is free to go and have yourselves a very fine Dizzy day.
It’s just so human to enjoy being dizzy and high, isn’t it?
People in the Cannabis business know that people over 65 are perhaps the largest untapped market for their Cannabis goods and services, and the resistance of many of these Seniors is legendary, even in states where Cannabis is legal for all of their medical, spiritual, creative, and sensual needs. All over the US adults are trying to convince their aging parents to try Cannabis for some of the simple but terrible ills that plague their lives, but without success. It’s fear that is holding them back, and they have been made afraid deliberately.
Whether you’re in the Cannabis business, or you’re a concerned son or daughter, or maybe both, here’s why I think it is going to be hard to reach many of these older people with conventional thinking. Please leave a comment or send me an email with your thoughts and experiences.
People in their late 40s/early 50’s today were toddlers just as the War On Drugs machine went into action. People who are in their 60s/70s today were those kid’s parents. They suffered the WOD propaganda machine running full bore through their psyche.
The War On Drugs worked through the schools by design, so parents and children in the 1970s were continuously subjected to the best behavior modification and propaganda techniques that tax money could buy, which continues quite pathetically today. And speaking of schools, who can forget Nancy Reagan and her screeching “Just Say No” contribution to the WOD of the 1980s. Those poor kids! Those poor parents!
The fear messages proved so effective in the 70s that they have been continually updated decade by decade ever since. Who can forget Crack in the Ghettos? Meth in the Hollers? And now, ta da, Heroin In The Burbs!
But wait! There’s something brand new that will really scare the shit out of you if drugs in the streets don’t do the job. Now we’re giving you Terrorism and Security to worry about. So just like parents in the 70s and 80s and onward permitted – no, insisted – on body searches and blood tests for drugs to keep their kids safe, they are now insisting on total surveillance of every school, to keep the kids safe.
Is the War on Terror any different than the War On Drugs? Well, the actual number of kids per year being killed by strangers, much less terrorists, in schools around the country has never ever been even close to the number of kids killed at home, nor in car wrecks. But using exactly the same “Assassin of Youth” fear tactics that proved so successful in terrorizing people for the War On Drugs, the War On Terror now has bombers and shooters lurking everywhere, and enough crazies are rising to the occasion, that American parents are in full-on fear. They are demanding universal surveillance and armed police in every school. And who can deny them – obviously America is under attack from obscure outside forces who will stop at nothing to destroy the American way of life. So giving up huge chunks of the American way of life in order to protect it from terrorists has once again been sold to the gullible public. And of course American entrepreneurs are ready and able to rise to the challenge of providing 100% security for everyone, and especially for the children.
So, with all this manipulation at every level for decades of their lives, is it any wonder that so many Seniors are, shall we say, leery of Cannabis?
Their raw numbers are huge, any way you cut it. Even segments of the potential, but non-responsive over-65 market for Cannabis products & services are huge. 43 million people live at home with full-time caretakers. That’s some 86 million people in 43 million households living with intense health issues hands-on, day after day.
Many of the things making life most difficult for these 43 million old, sick people and their 43 million caregivers, could be alleviated and even cured in some cases by judicious use of the right Cannabis strains, whether used as beverages, tonics, and foods or as medications, but often best taken by a puff or two of a beautiful Cannabis flower.
My wife and I cared for both our Mothers Laurie and Elizabeth for many years in our home, and we held Elizabeth’s hands when she died. I was also a single parent of a toddler son for years, so I understand what it takes to give care to another person. But I also had to learn to respect the personhood that remains strong even in someone who is growing older and sicker and further from life day after day, over many years, and not to make them feel helpless with my caregiving. Caregiving can be easily consumed with tasks that must be performed by all caregivers, many of them associated with small breakdowns of the body. For so many millions of older people at least some of these little but vastly debilitating health issues like sleep, appetite and mood, don’t have to happen as long as the caregivers, and those cared for, are able to understand the truth about Cannabis as a natural medicine, and equally important, if they understand the healing power of sensual pleasure and how this aspect of Cannabis can give crucially important parts of life back to them. Too many younger people simply assume that old, sick people have forgotten about, and don’t need, sensual pleasures in their lives.
So why don’t Seniors accept what Cannabis can offer them? Why are people over 65 the age group that is most resistant to using Cannabis for healing medicine, let alone for healing pleasure.
We all also know that almost all people over 65 have some level of daily pain, some trouble sleeping, some gut issues, and other conditions that copious amounts of pharmaceuticals aren’t helping, and in the Cannabis industry we know that the right strain of Cannabis used in the right way could treat and even help heal older people suffering in these ways.
The really short answer is – fear. But that fear is many-sided, and can’t be dismissed, or made illegitimate, or over-ridden, or even reasoned with or cleverly avoided by Cannabis growers and manufacturers that want to reach a nice-sized segment of these 100 Million and more fearful Seniors.
As we all know fear gets expressed in a lot of ways, but here are some of the most common ways that millions of Seniors express their fear of Cannabis.
My doctor will think I’m crazy for asking and might turn me in
The federal government still forbids it
It is against my religious beliefs. God forbids it
I don’t know anything about medical marijuana and I don’t want to look foolish
I’m afraid I’ll become addicted
My doctor will find out when they test my blood
I’m afraid I’ll fall
Only addicts and criminals use marijuana
I’m not convinced about marijuana’s medical usefulness
Each of these fears, and all the others so carefully planted and nurtured over decades, can best be addressed with love, compassion and careful questioning and listening. If you are in the Cannabis business, you will have to also address fears like these effectively in order to be successful with seniors. That will also require love, compassion and careful listening on the part of your company if you want to understand and address the largely unrecognized needs of this diverse, suffering group of people.
But if an older person who you love lives near you, and you live where medical Cannabis is legal, and if they are resistant, why not spend a little extra time thinking about why they are fearful. As you know, older people express fear in different ways. Think of what you can do to help them overcome that fear, which only they can do for themselves but which is a lot easier if you have someone you love helping and caring. It may be that one of the finest gifts you can offer to an older person you love would be to help them decide to bring pure, natural Cannabis Flowers into their life, to share a place alongside aspirin in the medicine chest and organic Tea in the pantry.
Some effective pain relief, at least a little better appetite, a little better sleep for sure, more fun listening to music, and more vivid dreams and memories.
From a simple flower? A gift.
The consciousness that Cannabis is a powerful natural medicine was well-developed in Europe of the 1800s. Knowledge of the medical uses of Cannabis, Coca Leaf and Opium came to Europe from the Andes and Asia first through explorers and traders of the 1600s and 1700s, then increasingly through travelers, writers, adventurers, scholars and missionaries in the 1800s.
Of course Cannabis also came to Europe as Hashish at the same time as it arrived as dried, pressed flowers, so Europeans had a Cannabis concentrate to work with from the earliest days. In the beginning there was some confusion over whether Cannabis flowers and Hashish were the same thing – a confusion soon to be mirrored with Coca Leaf transmuted into Cocaine, and Opium Sap transmuted into Morphine and Heroin.
Americans who find the history of Cannabis fascinating will enjoy browsing the following essay, which I discovered in a public domain EU document. The entire document is mostly about drug control in Europe, but this essay which is intended as background for discussions of control happens to be the best concise history of early medical use of Cannabis in Europe that I have read, and so I’m happy to share it with you here on Panacea Chronicles.
Cannabis as medicine in Europe in the 19th century
As in the previous centuries, hemp was predominantly used in the 19th century as a fibre material. Herbal cannabis played a marginal role as a medicinal plant, although its seeds were used medicinally, mostly in the form of pressed oils or hemp milk as medicine against gonorrhoea or cystitis. In tandem with prevailing interest in plants, products and culture from the Orient, medicinal use of cannabis arrived in Europe from the East during the 18th century.
Much has been written on the historical knowledge in Europe of the psychoactive properties of hemp prior to the 18th century: among readers of Herodotus’ description of Scythian cannabis-incensed burial rites; by alchemists, in particular the herb Pantagruelion lauded by author François Rabelais; via knowledge of Islamic medicine via al-Andalus, and elsewhere (Bennett et al., 1995; Booth, 2003; Mercuri et al., 2002).
However, widespread scientific writings on its psychoactive properties came later. For example, Gmelin wrote in 1777 of the Eastern use of bhang for stupefying (‘etwas Betaeubendes’), mind-clouding (‘Benebelung des Verstandes’) and intoxicating effects (Fankhauser, 2002); and in 1786 the Comte d’Angiviller thanked a certain Boulogne for his sending of Indian hemp plants with the prophetic words ‘Cette plante sera peut- être un présent intéressant pour l’Europe’.
At the end of the 18th century, the French naturalist Sonnerat informed Lamarck’s 1873 Encyclopédique de botanique of Cannabis indica (Emboden, 1974) and brought Indian hemp home to France after a journey to the Orient. Napoleonic campaigns in Egypt and the Near East introduced colonial troops — notably the scientists Silvestre de Sacy, Rouyer and Desgenettes — to hashish (Abel, 1980; Booth, 2003).
European interest in this ‘new’, or rather rediscovered, plant grew only hesitantly. The first comprehensive description of the medical usefulness of Indian hemp in Europe was written in 1830 by the German pharmacist and botanist Friedrich Ludwig Nees von Esenbeck. Until that point in time, use of hemp for medical purposes had remained at a low level.
This situation changed significantly prior to the middle of the 19th century. William B. O’Shaughnessy (1809–1889/90), an Irish medical doctor stationed in Calcutta, India, published in 1839 a comprehensive study on Indian hemp. Thanks mainly to his On the Preparations of the Indian Hemp or Gunjah, Cannabis indica now also became recognised within European-school medicine. O’Shaugnessy used various hemp compounds in his investigations, partly with great success, against the following indications: rheumatism, rabies, cholera, tetanus, convulsions and delirium tremens.
With hashish he had found a well-suited medicine to give his patients relief, and in the case of cramps, even total disappearance of symptoms. For concluding remarks, he wrote: ‘The presented cases are a summary of my experience with cannabis indica, and I believe that this medicine is an anticonvulsivum of great value’ (O’Shaughnessy, 1839).
Europe reacted promptly to this new knowledge from India. This is not surprising as until then no adequate treatment existed against recognised diseases such as rabies, cholera or tetanus. Great hopes were based on O’Shaughnessy’s results. The French were the first to engage themselves intensively with the plant. As early as 1840, the French medical doctor Louis Aubert-Roche (1809–1874), who resided in Egypt, used hashish seemingly successfully against pestilence (Hirsch, 1884–1886). Nearly simultaneously, his compatriot and friend, the psychiatrist Jaques Joseph Moreau de Tours (1804–1884), began to experiment with hashish. He started out with experimenting upon doves and hares, giving them large doses of hashish extracts with their fodder. Then he tested hashish on friends, colleagues, patients and himself. He was convinced that hashish was the supreme medicament for use in psychiatry. His book, Du Hachich et de l’aliénation mentale (1845), caused a great sensation at the time, and is still understood as the origin of experimental psychiatry and psychopharmacology (Weber, 1971).
The works of Moreau de Tours had an impact not only in medical circles, but also among writers and artists. The poet Théophile Gauthier (1811–1872), for instance, received hashish samples from Moreau de Tours. In 1843 he described extensively a self-experienced hashish intoxication in the Paris newspaper La Presse under the title ‘Le Club des Hachichins’. The club of hashish eaters, of which Gauthier was one of the founders, had regular meetings in Hôtel Pimodan on the Seine island of St Louis.
He and Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867) shared a penthouse in the hotel for several years. Other prominent club members were Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870) and Honoré Daumier (1808–1879) (Moreau, 1904). Further well-known contemporaries such as Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) and Victor Hugo (1802–1885) participated occasionally (Behr, 1982).
Inspired by Moreau de Tours and later by pharmacy professor Eugène Soubeiran (1797–1859), the pharmacist Edmond de Courtive published in 1848 his widely noted dissertation, Haschish. In addition to chemical analysis, he carried out self-experiments with miscellaneous hashish compounds and gave exact descriptions of their physical and psychic effects (De Courtive, 1848).
Many medical doctors took advantage of the promising results of the pioneers O’Shaughnessy, Aubert-Roche and Moreau de Tours and used these new drugs for therapeutic purposes. Initially, primarily doctors from the colonial powers of England and France showed interest in the use of compounds made of Indian hemp. The necessary commodities or compounds were imported in great quantities to Europe from the colonies, especially from India (Smith and Smith, 1847). Hemp was in this period sold to Europe primarily in three commercial variations:
Ganjah: consists solely of the blooming tips of the female, carefully cultivated plant. Mostly 24 blooming tips are bundled in a length of approximately 1 m, and 11 cm thickness.
Charras: consists of the resin, which is extracted foremost from the blossom, but also from leaves and stalks of the female plant. Today, the extracted resin is called hashish.
Bhang: extracted from the leafless stalks of the female hemp plant. Bhang was predominantly exported to Europe in powder form.
In Europe ganjah was the first to be pharmaceutically exploited. Initially, the fields of application known to O’Shaughnessy were adopted. Later on, the therapeutic application of hashish was considerably extended. In particular, the English and French medics applied this new wonder drug against tetanus (Martius, 1844). Encouraged by many positive reports, especially from England, the Bulgarian medic Basilus Beron intensively engaged in this problem in a dissertation. His work concludes:
I was so contented that, after having used almost all known antitetanic drugs without result, the sick person that had been assigned to me was totally cured after use of the Indian hemp (…) wherefore the Indian hemp is strongly recommended against tetanus. (Beron, 1852)
Homeopathy, founded by Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843) and rapidly advancing in this period, was also quick to include Indian hemp in its medical catalogue. Towards the middle of the 19th century, in addition to the illnesses already mentioned, Indian hemp was mainly used against neuralgia and other pains, chorea, hysteria, insanity, haemorrhage and insomnia. Since prepared products did not yet exist, cannabis extracts and tinctures were mostly used.
The real success story of cannabis as a medicine began in the second half of the 19th century after the publication of Beron’s dissertation in 1852. In the same year, Franz von Kobylanski published a dissertation on the effect of cannabis as an oxytocic (1852). Four years later, the German Georg Martius wrote his comprehensive work Pharmakognostisch-chemische Studien über den Hanf, which attracted much attention.
Interest was also aroused by the experiments of the Viennese Carl Damian Ritter von Schroff (1802–1887). Martius was among the few who did not deem cannabis compounds as harmless. He wrote that:
the Indian hemp and all its compounds show great diversity concerning the degree and type of effect according to individual differences in healthy as well as in pathological conditions. It therefore belongs to the unsafe agents, and the medic should under all circumstances use it with great care.
(Von Schorff, 1858)
At the same time, Ernst Freiherr von Bibra (1806–1878) published his standard work, Die narkotischen Genussmittel und der Mensch. Here, he discussed hashish for over 30 pages. In addition to experiences of others, he describes a self-experiment with hashish. His concluding judgement was as follows: ‘Recent experiments and experiences made on the medical effect of the hemp plant and its compounds very much point to their advantage’ (von Bibra, 1855).
In this period, most European countries, as well as the USA, included Indian hemp in their national pharmacopoeia. The monographs Herba Cannabis indicae, Tinctura Cannabis indicae and Extractum Cannabis indicae enjoyed increased prominence,
whereas Semen/Fructus Cannabis and Oleum Cannabis became more and more rare. It was first of all France and England, and to a lesser extent the USA, that significantly contributed to the definitive breakthrough of the drug into Western medicine.
The study of Indian hemp was even pursued in Germany. A comprehensive work of Bernhard Fronmüller, written in 1869, is frequently cited. He had studied the qualities of the hemp plant for a long time, and carried out cannabis experiments within the framework of ‘clinical studies on the euthanising effect of the narcotic drugs’ with exactly 1 000 test patients. These test patients suffered from heavy insomnia due to various illnesses. The results of his investigation were positive. Thus, he concluded in his work: ‘The Indian hemp is, among the known anaesthetic drugs, the narcosis which most perfectly achieves a replacement of natural sleep, without particular repression of expulsions, without bad repercussions, without paralyses’ (Fronmüller, 1869).
Well-known medical experts or pharmacologists of the time wrote more-or-less comprehensive essays on Cannabis indica. Some of these articles criticise the unreliability of hemp compounds. Indeed, the standardisation problem continued to be an issue for cannabis compounds until they disappeared. Kobert is one of very few who discussed the dangers of long-term consumption: ‘The habitual consumption of any effective hemp compound deprives the human being and brings him to a mental institution’ (Kobert, 1897).
The period 1880 to 1900 can be considered a peak in the medical use of cannabis. The use of hashish compounds had become commonplace in almost all European countries and in the USA. Nonetheless, it was still scientists from England, France, Germany and the USA who persistently continued cannabis research. It is, therefore, not a coincidence that most of the products on the market (‘specialities’) originated in these
countries. It is first of all through the contribution of the company E. Merck of Darmstadt, Germany, that cannabis compounds became more widely used in Europe towards the end of the 19th century. One of the preferred source materials in the production of cannabis compounds in this period was Cannabinum tannicum Merck. In addition, the company Burroughs, Wellcome & Co. in England produced cannabis compounds. In the USA, cannabis compounds were manufactured by Squibb and sons in New York (‘Chlorodyne and Corn Collodium’), and, later, Parke-Davis & Co. in Detroit (‘Utroval’ and ‘Casadein’) and Eli Lilly (‘Dr Brown’s Sedative Tablets’, ‘Neurosine’ and ‘The One Day Cough Cure’). These companies delivered sufficient quantities of high-quality raw materials and produced compounds for the market.
Probably the most-used hemp compound was the sleeping pill Bromidia, of the American company Battle & Co. This was a combined drug, that is, in addition to cannabis extract it contained bromine potassium, chloral hydrate and henbane. While single compounds dominated during the 19th century, combination compounds were preferred in the 20th century. Most cannabis drugs were for internal use, but there existed topical compounds, for instance, creams or the common clavus tinctures.
In the meantime, France continued its 50-year tradition and honoured medical doctors and pharmacists with doctoral degrees based upon works on hashish. In 1891 Georges Meurisse (born 1864) published his work Le Haschich, and five years later Le chanvre indien by Hastings Burroughs (born 1853) appeared. The latter is strongly based on Villard’s work, but also upon his own therapeutic experiments. He summarises: ‘In therapeutic doses, the Indian hemp is safe and would deserve to be more frequently used’ (Burroughs, 1896).
In Germany, the PhD students H. Zeitler (‘On Cannabis indica’, 1885) and M. Starck (‘How to apply the new cannabis compounds’, 1887) first wrote their graduation dissertations, before the pharmacist Leib Lapin in 1894 published his dissertation, ‘A contribution to the knowledge of Cannabis indica’, under the guidance of the leading figures Johan Georg Dragendorff (1836–1898) and Rudolf Kobert (1854–1918). In the first part of his work, he gives an overview of ‘common, manufactured and officinal hemp compounds’ in use at the time. In the second part he describes the pharmacology of ‘cannabindon’, a cannabis derivate first studied by him. In the preamble of his investigation, he makes a remark which shows the uncertainty that existed regarding the medical safety of Indian hemp:
Had it been so simple to solve the hashish question, it would certainly have been solved by one of the numerous previous investigators. I believe that I have contributed to the definitive resolution, and this belief gives me the courage to publish the following as a dissertation.
A scientific contribution of extraordinary importance within the cannabis research of the 19th century was the so-called Indian Hemp Report of 1894. This census, carried out by Great Britain in its colony India, primarily studied the extraction of drugs from cannabis, the trade in these drugs and the implications for the total population. Additionally, the study set out to clarify whether prohibition of the compounds might be justified, and an expert commission was established for this purpose. Its report impressively shows the significance of the stimulant and drug cannabis in India towards the end of the 19th century. The main conclusion of the commission was: ‘Based upon the effects of the hemp drugs, the commission does not find it necessary to forbid the growing of hemp, nor the production of hemp drugs and their distribution’ (Leonhardt, 1970).
Towards the 20th century, Indian hemp enjoyed an important position in the materia medica of Western medicine. Evidence of misuse of cannabis compounds was practically non-existent until then. Kunkel writes:
The chronical misuse of cannabis compounds — cannabism — is believed to be widespread in Asia and Africa. It results in chronic, heavy disruption of the entire organism, especially mental disorder — attacks of raving madness and a subsequent condition of weakness. It is not observed in Europe, Indian doctors report however daily frequent cases of this disease.
To sum up, hashish played a significant role as a medicine in Europe and in the USA towards the end of the 19th century. The most important applications were against pain, especially migraine and dysmenorrhoea, pertussis, asthma and insomnia. Additionally, hashish was relatively frequently used as an additive in clavus supplements. Rare applications were stomach ache, depressions, diarrhoea, diminished appetite, pruritus, haemorrhage, Basedow syndrome and malaria. Cannabis compounds were also used in numerous single cases, partly with good results. These were, however, of smaller significance.
Typically, doctors who worked intensively with cannabis drugs for years would classify them as valuable medicines. Others criticised them, and frequently looked upon them as worthless or even dangerous. However, both groups agreed on the unpredictable effect of cannabis compounds.
After keen use of cannabis compounds around the turn of the century, they disappeared completely in the middle of the 20th century. The main reasons for the disappearance of hashish medicaments are medical developments. Even before the 20th century, new, specific medicines were introduced for all main applications of cannabis compounds.
Vaccines were developed for the treatment of infectious diseases (cholera, tetanus, etc.), which not only fought the symptoms as cannabis did, but also gave protection against infections. Other bacterial illnesses, such as gonorrhoea, that were frequently treated with cannabis could somewhat later be treated successfully with chemotherapeutica.
Cannabis indica received competition as a sleeping and tranquillising drug in the form of chemical substances such as chloral hydrate or barbiturate. Contrary to the numerous opium drugs, cannabis compounds were also replaced as analgesics by chemical substances. In this area, aspirin achieved great importance shortly after its introduction in 1899.
Another reason for the decline of cannabis as medicine was pharmaceutical instability. The varying effectiveness of the hashish compounds has often been noted. Very different factors, such as origin, age, storage and galenic preparation, affected effectiveness of the medicine. Unlike, for instance, alkaloid drugs such as opium, the isolation of active ingredients was not successful until the middle of the 20th century. This resulted in standardisation problems. There were also legal constraints. The use of cannabis compounds became more and more restricted in international and national law.
Hashish compounds were defined as anaesthetics sometime in the 20th century. This complicated their use enormously, until finally a general ban made it impossible to apply them.
Finally, economic aspects contributed to the decline in use of medical cannabis. Import into Europe of high-quality Indian hemp became more and more difficult due to constraints in the producing countries (mainly India) and the influences of the two world wars. Laws of supply and demand also applied to cannabis, resulting in a massive price increase for raw materials (e.g. herba Cannabis indicae) as well as for compounds (e.g. extractum Cannabis indicae).