Cannabis indicaappear in the seeds, stalks, size, growth habits, and resin content. Cannabis sativa is the species classified by Linnaeus in 1753. Until quite recently Cannabis sativa was the main species spread throughout North America. It is a tall plant, generally between 8 and 12 feet, with long thin and light green leaves. The buds turn red as they mature in a warm environment. In cooler environments the buds may be slightly purplish. The plant emits a sweet and fruity odour and is a source of fibre for rope and other products. It produces generally not very much resin, although certain cultivars exude considerable amounts. Cannabis indica is widespread in the Mideast, India, Pakistan, and Central Asia, especially in Russian territory north of Afghanistan. It is much shorter than C. sativa, generally not growing higher than 6 feet, and has broad-fingered leaves. The leaves are dark green but sometimes are tinged with purple. It has an unpleasant, penetrating smell. Cannabis indica is the traditional source of hashish. Botanically the plant is commonly referred to as Cannabis sativa var. indica. The third variety, Cannabis ruderalis, is controversial. Found in Russia, Poland, and other eastern European countries, it is by some considered a separate species because of its large seeds, short weedy growth and a lower level of tetrahydrocannabinols.
Cannabis indica. Indian Hemp. N.O. Cannabaceae.
CLASSIFICATION The botanical classification of Cannabis is a story of reduction. Originally placed in the Urticaceae [48 genera], then in the Moraceae [37 genera], it is now included in the Cannabaceae, a family consisting of two genera - Cannabis and Humulus - which are native to temperate parts of central Asia, but now almost cosmopolitanly distributed. Debate continues as to whether there is more than one species of Cannabis. Some experts acknowledge only one species, others agree that there are at least three species.
SPECIES A growing number of botanists maintain that the genus Cannabis comprises two or three species. The most important differences among them
Cannabis indica. Indian Hemp. N.O. Cannabaceae.
CLASSIFICATION The botanical classification of Cannabis is a story of reduction. Originally placed in the Urticaceae [48 genera], then in the Moraceae [37 genera], it is now included in the Cannabaceae, a family consisting of two genera - Cannabis and Humulus - which are native to temperate parts of central Asia, but now almost cosmopolitanly distributed. Debate continues as to whether there is more than one species of Cannabis. Some experts acknowledge only one species, others agree that there are at least three species.
SPECIES A growing number of botanists maintain that the genus Cannabis comprises two or three species. The most important differences among them
NAME The origin of the name Cannabis is uncertain. It may stem from the Greek name for the plant, kannabis, which, perhaps, is related to Gr. kanna, a reed, in allusion to its appearance and hollow stems. Hemp stems from the Old English word henep, originally kennip, as a corruption of cannabis. The Arabian hashshashin, hashish-eaters, originally were members of an 11th-century Persian military and religious order, under the leadership of the 'Old Man of the Mountain'. For committing secret murders, the followers of the order were rewarded with a 'taste of paradise' through the use of Cannabis. Its use gave them fanatical courage. The French changed the Arabian word into assassin. Names such as 'leaf of delusion', 'increaser of pleasure', and 'cementer of friendship' allude to the exhilarating properties of Cannabis. The leaves and flowering tops of Cannabis are named marihuana or marijuana. Its origin is indistinct. It may be derived from the Mexican words for 'Mary Jane', or from the Portuguese marigu-ano, which means 'intoxicant'. Cigarette made from it are known as reefers, goof butts, and Mary Warners. Another theory claims that the name cannabis is of Scythian origin. From linguistic evidence the conclusion is drawn that cannabis was known in Old Testament times, probably for its aromatic properties, and that the word for it passed from the Semitic language to the Scythians. According to this theory, the holy anointing oil that God commands Moses to make [Exodus 30:23] contained cannabis. The ingredients of the oil include myrrh, sweet cinnamon, kaneh bosm, and kassia. The word kaneh bosm is also rendered in the traditional Hebrew as kannabos or kannabus; the root "kan" in this construction means "reed" or "hemp", while "bosm" means "aromatic". In the earliest Greek translations of the Old Testament "kan" was rendered as "reed", leading to such erroneous English translations as "sweet calamus" [Exodus 30:23], sweet cane [Isaiah 43:24; Jeremiah 6:20] and "calamus" [Ezekiel 27:19; Song of Songs 4:14].
HASHSHASHIN The 13th-century Venetian traveller Marco Polo probably knew of the existence of cannabis. He describes its consumption in the secret order of Hashshashin with the entire colour and splendour that Europeans associated with the East. "In the territory of the Assassins there were delicious walled gardens in which one can find everything that can satisfy the needs of the body and the caprices of the most exacting sensuality. Great banks of gorgeous flowers and bushes covered with fruit stand amongst crystal rivers of living water.... Trellises of roses and fragrant vines cover with their foliage pavilions of jade and porcelain furnished with Persian carpets and Grecian embroideries. Delicious drinks in vessels of gold or crystal are served by young boys or girls, whose dark unfathomable eyes cause them to resemble the Houris, divinities of that Paradise which the Prophet promised to believers. The sound of harps mingles with the cooing of doves, the murmur of soft voices blends with the sighing of the reeds. All is joy, pleasure, voluptuousness and enchantment. The Grand Master of the Assassins, whenever he discovers a young man resolute enough to belong to his murderous legions . . . invites the youth to his table and intoxicates him with the plant 'hashish'. Having been secretly transported to the pleasure gardens the young man imagines that he has entered the Paradise of Mahomet. The girls, lovely as Houris, contribute to the illusion. After he has enjoyed to satiety all the joys promised by the Prophet to his elect, he falls back to the presence of the Grand Master. Here he is informed that he can enjoy perpetually the delights he has just tasted if he will take part in the war of the Infidel as commanded by the Prophet."1 Marco Polo's tale has been exposed by scholars as being a myth. The story is commonly used to highlight the horrible effects of Cannabis.
CONSTITUENTS Isomeric tetrahydrocannabinols [THC], cannabinol, cannabidiol. Cannabinoids are present in the plant mainly as pharmacologically inactive carboxylic acids, that are transformed into the active phenols by heating through smoking or baking.
Structural similarities between tetrahydrocannabinol and thujone have led to the hypothesis that both substances have the same site of action in the brain. In 1963, two German scientists proved that thujone is identical to the tanecetone of Tansy [Tanacetum] and the salvanol of Sage [Salvia]. Thujone occurs in many plants belonging to the Coniferae, Umbelliferae, Labiatae and Compositae, most notably in Thuja, Juniperus sabina, Matricaria recutita [Chamomilla], and Artemisia absinthium. Thujone has a multitude of biological activities, including anthelminthic, abortifacient, epileptigenic, neurotoxic, cerebrodepressant, antispasmodic, and hallucinogenic. The similarities with the worldwide traditional and medical uses of cannabis are obvious. Interestingly, a study of the effect of THC on five institutionalized epileptic children in 1949 demonstrated clearly an anticonvulsant activity of tetrahydrocannabinol. This structural similarity also demonstrates the validity of the clinical homoeopathic observation of the relationship between Thuja, Sabina, and Cannabis in terms of the sycotic miasm. In this light, the active constituents of plants appear to be the carriers of specific energetic information patterns.
HISTORY Cannabis is amongst man's most ancient cultigens, dating back almost to the origin of agriculture in the Old World. It is known to have been valued by the Chinese some 8,500 years ago. The Assyrians used the drug in the 9th century BC in the form of incense. The Old Iranian Zend-Avesta first mentioned its intoxicating resin in 600 BC Herodotus wrote about 450 BC that the Scythians - nomadic horsemen who swept out of central Asia into Europe - burned its seeds in a kind of steam bath to produce a narcotic smoke. In Thebes, it was made into a drink said to possess opium-like properties. Galen recorded general use of hemp in cakes which, when eaten to excess, had intoxicating properties. Although the narcotic use of Cannabis harkens back thousands of years in India, the Near East, parts of Africa, and other areas of the Old World, its spread to nearly all inhabited parts of the globe has allowed its employment as an inebriant to increase recently in sophisticated societies, esp. in urban centres. 2
RELIGIOUS USE The religious use of cannabis in India is thought to have preceded its medical use. Its religious use is to help 'the user to free his mind from worldly distractions and to concentrate on the Supreme Being.' Besides using the drug as an aid to meditation, it is also used by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims to overcome hunger and thirst. Described as a sacred grass, cannabis was considered holy during the Vedic period in India. The Hindus considered it a 'heavenly guide' and the 'soother of grief'. Snyder cites a Hindu scripture as stating the following: "To the Hindu the hemp plant is holy. A guardian lives in bhang ... Bhang is the joy giver, the sky flier, the heavenly guide, the poor man's heaven, the soother of grief ... No god or man is as good as the religious drinker of Mang. The students of the scriptures of Benares are given bhang before they sit to study. At Benares, Ujjain and other holy places, yogis take deep draughts of Mang that they may centre their thoughts on the Eternal . . . By the help of Mang ascetics pass days without food or drink. The supporting power of Mang has brought many a Hindu family safe through the miseries of famine."3
FOLK MEDICINE Dr. R. N. Chopra reported in The Indian Medical Gazette, June1940, the following medicinal household uses of Indian Hemp: "The hemp drugs are popularly used as household remedies in the amelioration of many minor ailments. A mild beverage made from bhang leaves is believed to sharpen appetite and to help digestion. Indian hemp is commonly used as a smoke and as a drink for its supposed prophylactic value against malaria in malarious tracts. Bhang beverages form one of the popular household remedies for gonorrhoea and dysuria. On account of their mild diuretic and sedative properties these drinks probably give a certain amount of symptomatic relief. Likewise, the use of bhang for dysmenorrhoea, asthma, and other spasmodic conditions is not uncommon. A poultice made from fresh leaves is a common household remedy for painful affections of the eyes, conjunctivitis, swollen joints, orchitis, and other acute inflammatory conditions." In an article entitled "The Use of Cannabis Drugs in India", published in 1957, Chopra and Chopra conclude that: ." . . with regard to the use of cannabis in Indian indigenous medicine at the present time, it may be said that it was and still is fairly extensively used in both the Ayurvedic [Hindu] and Tibbi [Mohammedan] systems of medicine as an anodyne, hypnotic, analgesic and antispasmodic, and as a remedy for external application to piles. It is also used in the treatment of dysmennorhoea, rheumatism, chronic diarrhoea of the sprue type, gonorrhoea, malaria and mental diseases on the advice of itinerant practitioners of indigenous medicine as well as quacks who roam about the country. For medicinal purposes the drug is administered by mouth and hardly ever by smoking. The use of cannabis drugs in indigenous medicine has greatly declined during recent years for two reasons - firstly, because of the rapid deterioration of the potency of cannabis drugs in storage, the specimens available on the market being often inert and quite useless; secondly, because a number of potent and effective drugs of the type used in western medicine are now available on the market and are used quite extensively by the practitioners of indigenous medicine in place of cannabis, for the anodyne, sedative and hypnotic effects. In the rural areas of India, however, the practitioners of indigenous medicine still use cannabis quite extensively In their practice."4
MEDICAL USE Cannabis was introduced into European medicine shortly after the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon. Travellers and traders had carried knowledge of the drug to Persia and Arabia around the 5th century from China and India, where the properties of the drug had been known from very early times. In ancient Greece, cannabis was used as a remedy for earache, oedema, and inflammation. African tribes appreciated cannabis for its antiseptic uses and to restore appetite and to relieve pain of haemorrhoids. In Persia and Arabia the drug supposedly was first employed as an antiseptic and analgesic. In post-napoleonic France cannabis became widely accepted as a medicine for the same antiseptic and analgesic purposes.
FRANCE With the rise of the literary movement in France [1840-1860], cannabis had a minor vogue as an intoxicant among intellectuals such as Baudelaire, Dumas, Balzac, Flaubert, de Nerval, and Gautier. Gautier founded 'Le Club des Haschischins', whose members consumed small cakes containing cannabis extracts during their after-dinner sessions. The drugs were supplied by the physician Moreau de Tours who involved the members of 'Le Club' as 'provers' in his investigation of the nature of madness. All participants were required to keep notes. Notes of one of them, Théodore Gautier, have entered the homoeopathic materia medica, as source 28 in Allen's Encyclopedia. Moreau de Tours had observed the effects of cannabis preparations in Egypt and reported in 1858 several clinical cases of manic and depressive disorders treated with cannabis. Moreau discovered a correlation between the effects of increased dosages of hashish and the progressive stages of mental illness. Contrary to the current belief of his time that mental illness was a matter of physical damage to the brain, he considered mental illness to be chemical in nature.
USA In the United States medical interest in cannabis became aroused by a report on its therapeutic applications by the Committee on Cannabis Indica of the Ohio State Medical Society in 1860. The Committee reported that their respondents claimed cures of a diversity of ailments, including hysteria, mania, palsy, neuralgic pains, dysmenorrhoea, metrorrhagia, convulsions, asthma, gonorrhoea, nervous rheumatism, chronic bronchitis, muscular spasms, and appetite stimulation. Three years earlier, Bell, a physician from Boston, had pleaded for the use of cannabis in the treatment of mental and emotional disorders instead of the then common use of 'moral discipline'. Bell's report was one of the many articles that were published recommending the drug for various disorders. At the end of the 19th century medical interest declined with the introduction of other medications superior to cannabis in their effects and more easily controlled as to dose. Strong public reaction coupled with a campaign in the public press led to a federal anti-cannabis law in 1937 in the United States. In the early 70s cannabis was classified in the Narcotic Acts in countries all over the world as having no therapeutic benefit.
INDIA Despite the earlier concern in India about cannabis as a hallucinogen, which led to the establishment of the India Hemp Commission in 1893, the drug is still used extensively in the Ayurvedic and Tibbi systems of medicine in contemporary India and Pakistan as a sedative, hypnotic, analgesic, anti-spasmodic and anti-haemorrhoidal. 5
ENGLAND In England, the Herbal of John Gerard  recommended cannabis as it "consumeth wind and drieth up seed [i.e. semen]", and quoted Dioscorides as recommending it for easing the pain of earache and for the treatment of jaundice. Nicholas Culpeper, in his Herbal (1653), gave the same indications for the use of cannabis seeds, and also recommended the decoction of the roots, as this "allayeth inflammations, easeth the pain of gout, tumours or knots of joints, pain of hips..." Cannabis was reintroduced into British medicine in 1842 by Dr W. O'Shaughnessy, an army surgeon who had served in India. O'Shaughnessy reported excellent results with hashish tincture in the treatment of cholera, acute or chronic rheumatism, delirium tremens, and as an antidote to strychnine poisoning. He stated that in most cases of rheumatism "the pains ceased or lessened considerably. All patients developed a good appetite and became gay and of good cheer. The patients never became quarrelsome, nor did they ever feel bad after-effects." In Victorian times it was widely used for a variety of ailments, including muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, rheumatism, and the convulsions of tetanus, rabies and epilepsy; it was also used to promote uterine contractions in childbirth, and as a sedative to induce sleep. It is said to have been used by Queen Victoria against period pains: there is no actual proof of this at all, but Sir Robert Russell, for many years her personal physician, wrote extensively on cannabis, recommending it for use in dysmenorrhoea. It was administered by mouth, not by smoking, but usually in the form of a tincture. Cannabis extracts were also incorporated in many different proprietary medicines. 6
MODERN USES Cannabis was, and still is, widely used, illegally, by sufferers from multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and glaucoma. "A survey conducted by the newspaper Disability Now in 1997 among its disabled readers revealed, among 200 respondents, 40 people taking cannabis for MS, 40 for spinal injury, 35 for back pain, 27 for arthritis and 64 for other conditions. IDMU's surveys of 2,794 regular cannabis users have revealed 78 whose main reason for using it is medical. ... We have received written evidence [not included in the volume of printed evidence] from four patients suffering from MS who report that cannabis has a beneficial effect on their symptoms and call for a change in the law to permit the prescription of cannabis. Dr Fred Schon, a consultant neurologist, described the apparently dramatic improvement obtained by self-medication with smoked cannabis resin by an MS patient who had developed a severe and disabling abnormality of eye movements. We have also heard from people who have used cannabis against epilepsy, MS and pain, and as an anti-emetic after chemotherapy. ... Although cannabis itself is illegal, certain cannabinoids are in current use in UK medicine, within the law. Cannabinoids have anti-nausea effects, and have been used clinically to suppress the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy in cancer patients. This is the only medical indication for which adequate data from controlled clinical trials exist, mostly from studies in the 1970s with pure THC and the synthetic cannabinoid nabilone, an analogue of THC, which were found to be as effective as prochlorperazine and other anti-nausea agents available at the time. ... Cannabis has been advocated to treat anorexia, but the scientific basis of this remains unclear. In normal subjects cannabis intake is followed about three hours later by an increased appetite ["the munchies"], particularly for sweet foods. Regular users of cannabis, however, become tolerant to this effect and appetite may even be depressed. According to the BMA report clinical trials have failed to establish any beneficial effect of THC on appetite in patients with anorexia nervosa. However, in controlled clinical trials in patients with advanced AIDS-related illnesses, dronabinol significantly reduced nausea, prevented further weight loss and improved patients' mood. On the basis of such data the US Food and Drug Administration have licensed dronabinol for the treatment of anorexia associated with AIDS; Dr Robson sees this as 'the most compelling indication' for cannabis-based medicines."7
MODERN RESEARCH Despite the illegality of cannabis in the United States since 1937 and despite statements to discourage further investigation, research has continued. In 1972 cannabis was reported to reduce intraocular pressure, which may make the drug of possible therapeutic value in glaucoma. Antibiotic activity of cannabis in skin infections as well as in ear, nose and throat infections has been investigated and substantiated in several studies. Czechoslovakian scientists studying the effects of 2,000 herbs concluded that cannabis indica was the most promising in the realm of antibiotics. Noteworthy is the effect upon staphylococcus aureus strains, which are resistant to penicillin and to other antibiotics. The effect of cannabis as an appetite stimulant suggests its possible usefulness in the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. 8
SURVEY The Association for Cannabis as Medicine, in Cologne, Germany, conducted an anonymous standardized one-year survey of the medical use of cannabis and cannabis products of patients in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 170 subjects participated; 128 questionnaires were included in the evaluation. The most frequently mentioned indications for medicinal cannabis use were depression [12%], multiple sclerosis [10.8%], HIV-infection [9.0%], migraine [6.6%], asthma [6.0%], backache [5.4%], hepatitis C [4.8%], sleeping disorders [4.8%], epilepsy [3.6%], spasticity [3.6%], headache [3.6%], alcoholism [3.0%], glaucoma [3.0%], nausea [3.0%], disk prolapse [2.4%], and spinal cord injury [2.4%]. Much improvement was experienced by 72.2% of the patients; slight improvement by 23.4%; 4.8% experienced no change and 1.6% experienced an aggravation of their symptoms. 70.8% experienced no side effects, 26.4% described moderate and 3.3% strong side effects. In 84.1% of the patients there was no need for increasing the dose during the last 3 months in order to maintain the therapeutic effects. 9 In a postal survey of 112 MS patients self-medicating with cannabis in the UK and the USA, more than 90 per cent reported a beneficial effect on spasticity, and many also reported pain relief and improved urinary control. The conclusion of the report of the British Medical Association is very revealing from a homoeopathic point of view: "It is somewhat paradoxical that cannabinoids are reported to be of therapeutic value in neurological disorders ... since very similar symptoms can be caused by cannabis itself ... it is not clear how much of the reputed effects of cannabis in motor disorders are due to psychoactive or analgesic effects."
MOVEMENT DISORDERS Central cannabinoid receptors are densely located in the output nuclei of the basal ganglia, suggesting their involvement in the regulation of motor activity. "Most hyperkinetic and hypokinetic movement disorders are caused by a dysfunction of basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical loops. It has been suggested that an endogenous cannabinoid tone participates in the control of movements and, therefore, the central cannabinoid system might play a role in the pathophysiology of these diseases. During the last years in humans a limited number of clinical trials demonstrated that cannabinoids might be useful in the treatment of movement disorders. Despite the lack of controlled studies there is evidence that cannabinoids are of therapeutic value in the treatment of tics in Tourette syndrome, the reduction of levodopa-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson's disease and some forms of tremor and dystonia. It can be speculated that cannabinoid antagonists might be useful in the treatment of chorea in Huntington's disease and hypokinetic parkinsonian syndromes."10
PREPARATIONS Cannabis is used in three different preparations in India. The first is called bhang, comparable in potency to marihuana in the United States. It is made from the leaves and stems of uncultivated plants and blended into a pleasant tasting liquid concoction. The second is ganja, more potent than bhang, made from the tops of cultivated plants. The third and most potent preparation, charas, is similar to hashish or "hash" and is obtained by scraping the resin from the leaves of the cultivated plants. Hard blocks are pressed from this material, which are converted for smoking.
EFFECTS "Acute intoxication is frequently due to recreational use by ingestion or by inhalation of smoke. Various psychic responses have been described: impairment of attention and cognitive and psychomotor performance; euphoria, restlessness, confusion, disorientation, delirium, visual and auditory hallucinations, mood changes, drowsiness, dysphoria. In rare cases, elaborate paranoid delusions and severe emotional depression has persisted for days after acute intoxication. Physiological effects observed include elevation of resting heart rate, dry mouth, increased appetite for sweet foods, ataxia, tremor, hyperreflexia; less often headache, nausea, vomiting. Chronic use causes respiratory tract irritation and bronchoconstriction, and may be a cause of lung cancer."11 "Perhaps the most frequent characteristic is a dreamy state. Long forgotten events are often recalled and thoughts occur in unrelated sequences. Perception of time, and occasionally of space, is altered. Visual and auditory hallucinations follow the use of large doses. Euphoria, excitement, inner happiness - often with hilarity and laughter - are typical. In some cases, a final mood of depression may be experienced. While behaviour is sometimes impulsive, violence or aggression is seldom induced."12 The French pioneer with the medical use of cannabis, Moreau de Tours [1804-1884] gives an apt description of the characteristic features. "Taken moderately, hashish cheers a person's mind, and at most, perhaps, induces him to an untimely laughing. If larger doses are taken, producing the so-called fantasia, we are seized by a delightful sensation that accompanies all the activities of our mind. It is as if the sun was shining on every thought passing through our brain, and every movement of our body is a source of delight. The hashish eater is happy, not like the gourmand, or the hungry man satisfying his appetite, or the voluptuary in the gratification of his amative desires, but as one who hears tidings that fill him with joy, or like the miser counting his treasures, the gambler favoured by fortune, or the ambitious man intoxicated with success. Having taken hashish, we become the toys of impressions of every kind. Our train of thought may be broken by the slightest cause. We are blown, so to speak, by every wind. By a word or a gesture, our thoughts may be directed to a multitude of different subjects successively, with a rapidity and lucidity that are truly marvellous. Our mind becomes possessed with a feeling of pride that corresponds to the heightening of its faculties, and which, as it is conscious, has increased in energy and power. The slightest impulse carries it along. ... Having taken hashish, a person first feels a vague restlessness, or almost anxiety, which gives way to a gentle warmth spreading over his face; he is then seized by a hilarity that bursts into continuous laughing. Suddenly his senses get a supernatural, but extraordinary fineness, acuteness, and strength. Impregnated with the sweetest fragrances, the atmosphere resounds with perpetual harmonies. The limits of the possible and the measures of space and time become obliterated. One second seems a century and with one step one may leap over the globe."13
SMOKING CANNABIS The effects of smoking Cannabis are usually lighter than those of many other recreational psychoactive substances. People are generally capable of carrying out normal actions and activities while high. Positive effects include mood lift; relaxation; creative, philosophical or deep thinking; flow of ideas; increased awareness and deeper connection to music; increased awareness of senses [eating, drinking, smell]; change in experience of muscle fatigue; increase in body/mind connection; pain relief [headache, cramps]. Neutral effects include general change in consciousness; increased appetite; slowness in driving and talking; tiredness; blood shot eyes; dryness of mouth; interruption of linear memory. Negative effects are nausea; coughing, asthmatic respiration, problems of upper respiratory tract; disturbance of short term memory; arrhythmias; headaches; dizziness and confusion; paranoia. 14 The majority of all adverse responses to marijuana are panic reactions in which people begin to fear that they are dying or losing their minds. Smoking cannabis leads to a maximum THC concentration within minutes; psychotropic effects start within seconds to a few minutes, reach a maximum after 15-30 minutes, and slope down within 1-2 hours. In case of oral ingestion the effect sets in delayed after 30-90 minutes, reaches its maximum after 2-3 hours and lasts about 4-8 hours.
CANNABIS DEPENDENCE "Most of the claims regarding severe biologic impact are still uncertain; although many dangers of marijuana are frequently cited, there is still little evidence of biologic damage, even among relatively heavy users. This is true even in the areas intensively investigated, such as immunologic and reproductive function. However, high-dose users of marijuana may develop pulmonary damage in the absence of tobacco-cigarette use. Pregnant users may deliver children of lower birth weight than non-smokers. ... Cannabis produces a dreamy state of consciousness in which ideas seem disconnected, uncontrollable, and freely flowing. Time, colour, and spatial perceptions may be distorted and enhanced. In general, there is a feeling of well-being, exaltation, excitement, and inner joyousness that has been termed a 'high'. Many of the psychological effects seem to be related to the setting in which the drug is taken. An occasional panic reaction has occurred, particularly in naïve users, but these have become unusual as the culture has gained increasing familiarity with the drug. Communicative and motor abilities are decreased during the use of these drugs. Difficulty in depth perception and altered sense of timing, both of which are particularly hazardous during automobile driving, have been demonstrated."15 A Jamaican investigation of alcohol, cannabis and cocaine usage in 111 patients with trauma injuries showed that 50% and 55% of victims of road accidents and interpersonal violence, respectively, were positive for cannabis compared with 43% and 27% for alcohol, respectively. Other surveys do not support the Jamaican findings, however, and even come to the opposite conclusion that people intoxicated by cannabis appear to compensate for their impairment by taking fewer risks and driving more slowly.
AMOTIVATIONAL SYNDROME One of the charges against cannabis is that it makes users lazy and unmotivated, although scientific studies have seriously challenged this claim. Oppositely, in Eastern cultures and Jamaica cannabis is used to make people work harder. Baron Ernst von Bibra observed that "nothing was easier during the entire duration of the hashish effect than to come back at any moment to my natural state by a firm exertion of my will; ... I could become calm and serious whenever I wished." Yet, cannabis may prevent one from taking instant action, if von Bibra's next account is not too much embellished. "They make a small hole in some house or tent, and blow a certain smoke into it whereby the thieves enter through the door quite unconcerned. They find the inhabitants lying on cushions or slats, incapable of stirring, but in the best mood. Incessant laughter welcomes the intruders and accompanies their business of carefully packing all valuable objects and carrying them out. They are like hand and glove, and the more impudent the thief the more delight the master of the house seems to feel. A great generosity prevails indeed."16 Charles Baudelaire, in Les Paradis Artificiels , points out that by the use of cannabis "the willpower is attacked, and that is the most precious organ. No man who with a spoonful of conserve is able to procure instantly all the treasure of heaven and earth will bother to acquire the thousandth part of it by means of work."
ART Cannabis is mentioned by Scheherazade in A Thousand Nights and One Night and has been associated with the esoteric Sufi sect of 'whirling dervishes.' Inspired by cannabis use, a movement in visual art and literature termed surrealism arose in France around 1919. As a reaction to the destruction wrought by rationalism, culminating in World War I, the movement sought to resolve the contradictory conditions of dream and reality so that they would be joined into an absolute reality, a surreality. Some twenty years before, Aubrey Beardsley [1872-1898] had developed into the leading English illustrator of the 1890s and one of the main figures in the Aestheticism and Art Nouveau movements. His 'spiritual food', as he called it, consisted of 'Warner's Extract of Cannabis indica', at the time freely available from pharmacies. His work enjoyed a strong revival during the 1960s, the hippie decade. Picasso found that cannabis makes cheerful and stimulates the fantasy, whilst the Austrian graphic artist Alfred Kubin [1877-1959] experienced its effects particularly on an existential level. Kubin converted his cannabis-induced visions into the dreamlike, often demoniac drawings that have enhanced many an anthology of horror stories as well as books by such writers as Oscar Wilde and Dostoyevsky. Images of death and of bizarre animals are depicted in dim light against shadowy backgrounds, evoking a haunting expectation of some sinister turn of events. He wrote a novel, the fantasy classic entitled The Other Side . The novel tells of an artist who is invited by an immensely rich friend, Patera, to live in the Dream Kingdom, a sequestered city-state he has established in Asia. This place, familiar yet weirdly incomprehensible, is attacked by strange epidemics, culminating in an apocalyptic catastrophe, a graphically vivid orgy of subconscious symbols. Kubin illustrated the book himself, including some illustrations intended for Meyrink's Der Golem. Various types of music are either inspired by or typically performed under the influence of cannabis: classical Indian music; Jajouka, the Moroccan trance music; Rembetico, Greek folk music of the 1930s played in 'tekedes' [hash-cafés]; reggae. 17 "It seems very likely that cannabis is better suited to music than to words. Most people who have used cannabis report a higher sensitivity to sound. Many of the French Haschischins reported the phenomenon of synesthesia, the ability to 'hear' colours, 'see' sounds. ... The emphasis on music may be significant. Music and cannabis 'have the same frequency', according to some modern musicians. Part of the new music, the new frequencies that happened in the last 20 years, particularly in the so-called techno music, have been stimulated by smoking cannabis. Cannabis played an important role in the rise of jazz from its birthplace in New Orleans in the early years of the 20th century; in fact the first leading musician to have been arrested for cannabis use was the jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong [1901-1971], in 1930. ... Milton 'Mezz" Mezzrow, the bebopper whose name became a slang synonym for high-quality marijuana, insisted that pot 'puts a musician in a real masterly sphere, and that's why so many jazzmen have used it.'"18
DRUG OF TRAVEL For Fitz Hugh Ludlow cannabis was the ideal way to travel to far-off lands without physically having to go there. Lord Dunsany [1878-1957] travelled to imaginary lands with the help of cannabis. He followed the dictates of his fancy, writing about heroic and often ironic events in countries of the imagination. The cannabis-induced out-of-body experience is well described by Dunsany: "Cannabis takes one literally out of oneself. It is like wings. You swoop over distant countries and into other worlds. Once I found out the secret of the universe. I have forgotten what it was ... I have seen incredible things in fearful worlds ... Once out in the ether I met a battered, prowling spirit, that had belonged to a man whom drugs had killed a hundred years ago, and he led me into a region that I had never imagined, and we parted in anger beyond the Pleiades ... And somehow I imagined my way back, and only just in time, for my body was already stiffening in a chair in my room ... and I had to move each finger one by one, and there were pins and needles in them, and dreadful pains in the nails, which began to thaw; and at last I could move one arm ..."19
SUBSTITUTES In a diversity of cultures cannabis has been substituted by various herbs to obtain the same or similar effects. These herbal drugs include Argemone mexicana [leaves; Mexico], Artemisia mexicana [whole plant; Mexico], Capsicum frutescens [decayed fruits; USA], Cymbopogon densiflorus [Lemon Grass; Africa], Daucus carota [carrot; whole plant; USA], Helichrysum [whole plant; USA, Africa], Hieracium pilocella [whole plant; Denmark], Hydrangea [leaves; USA], Lactuca sativa [lettuce; leaves; USA]; Lactuca virosa [latex; USA], Mimosa spp. [whole plant; San Salvador], Musa [banana; peel; worldwide], Myristica fragrans [nutmeg; seeds; USA, Europe], Nepeta cataria [catmint; whole plant; worldwide], Petroselinum crispum [parsley; flowering plant; USA, Europe], Turnera diffusa [damiana; whole plant; worldwide]. 20
PROVINGS The extensive list comprises provings by the American Provers' Union, Pease ["experiments on self and some thirty friends, including two ladies"], Mure, Berridge, Gardner, and Pierce. Most experiments were done with the tincture. Among the sources mentioned by Allen are the French poet Gautier, founder of 'Le Club des Haschischins', and O'Shaughnessy, the physician who reintroduced cannabis into British medicine in 1842. A considerable part of the mind-symptoms of Cannabis indica is taken from sources 17 and 18. Source 17 refers to The Hashish Eater, published anonymously in 1857, as one of the first American accounts of the psychoactivity of cannabis. The author, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, started at the early age of sixteen to experiment with Cannabis indica tincture. A dose of the tincture, sold under the name 'Tilden's Extract', costed Ludlow six cents, an outlay amply compensated for, as is evident from symptom 150: "I had now a way of gratifying the former passion for travel, which comported both indolence and economy. The whole East, from Greece to farthest China, lay within the compass of a township. No outlay was necessary for the journey. For the humble sum of six cents I might purchase an excursion ticket over all the earth; ships and dromedaries, tents and hospices, were all contained in a box of Tilden's extract. Hashish I called the 'drug of travel', and I had only to direct my thoughts strongly towards a particular part of the world previously to swallowing my bolus, to make my whole fantasia in the strongest possible degree topographical."21 Source 18 derives from an extract of Bayard Taylor's novel The Lands of the Saracen, published in 1855, narrating Taylor's hashish experiences in Egypt. ]see Appendix]
 Geller and Boas, The Drug Beat.  Schultes, The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens. [3-5] Report of the National Commission of Marijuana and Drug Abuse [USA]. [6-7] Ninth Report of the Select Committeee on Science and Technology [UK]; House of Lords, Nov. 1998.  Report of the National Commission of Marijuana and Drug Abuse.  Schnelle et al, Results of a standardized survey on the medical use of cannabis products in the German-speaking area; Forschungen Komplementarmedizin, Oct. 1999; extract PubMed [website].  Müller-Vahl et al, Cannabis in movement disorders; Forschungen Komplementarmedizin, Oct. 1999; extract PubMed [website].  Merck Index.  Schultes and Hofmann, Plants of the Gods.  cited in von Bibra, Plant Intoxicants.  Erowid, Cannabis Effects; The Vaults of Erowid [website].  Merck Manual.  von Bibra, ibid.  Rätsch, Enzyklopädie der psychoaktiven Pflanzen.  Hughes, Altered States: Creativity under the Influence.  cited in Devereux, The Long Trip.  Rätsch, ibid.  Allen, Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 469, symptom 150.
EMOTIONS. MIND. Nerves. GENITO-URINARY ORGANS.
Worse: DARKNESS. Exertion. Coffee. Tobacco. Alcohol. Lying down quietly. During menses [backache]. Lying on right side. Morning. Music.
Better: OPEN AIR [mental symptoms]. Cold water. Rest. Deep breathing [> stitches in heart with oppression]. Walking about out of doors [mental symptoms].
M EXALTED IDEAS and PERCEPTION and MENTAL EXCITEMENT.
Quick, wandering thoughts; cannot follow their own thoughts.
Illusions of time and space [TIME PASSES TOO SLOWLY].
M MISTAKES in WRITING due to quickness of thoughts.
M c Disturbance of short- term memory.
CONFUSION of MIND; FORGETS what he intends to say, forgets last words and ideas; doesn't recognize well-known streets.
• "I also remembered in a bewildered way that some native friends were to visit me that day, and feeling that I could not see them, I rang the bell for the servant, to give him directions about them. After an apparent delay of a few weeks he came, but I could not remember why I summoned him, and only that I had done so; and moreover, I felt that if I spoke to him I should only repeat some nonsense over and over again, so I stared at him in silence. He naturally thought from my wild appearance - pupils were widely dilated - and my strange behaviour, that I was mad; he turned pale - that is, in an Indian, pale green - and stammered out a few words. I was immensely amused at his scared look, and laughed long and heartily, yet never losing for a moment the feeling of intense anxiety with which I awoke. At last I so far succeeded in collecting my scattered sense as to give him directions." [Hughes]
• "While arranging a few photographs, I found myself much puzzled at what I was doing, and got utterly bewildered among them. ... The symptoms ... were characterized by absolute forgetfulness of the thought, or speech, or act of the previous moment. I would, for example, be startled by hearing as it were the echo of the last words of a sentence I had spoken without knowing what it was about; or, having proposed to go for a walk, I would meet my companion at the street door and wonder why we were there. These symptoms came on in bouts, which lasted a few minutes, and were separated by periods fairly free from them - the intervals increasing in length. There was no unusual or unpleasant feeling in the head, or any exaltation of spirits, and, save for the blanks of forgetfulness, a perfectly clear mind, which rendered the symptoms none the less alarming. My conversation and behaviour seemed quite natural to others. At one time I tried lying down, but thought succeeded thought, only to be immediately blotted out, producing a most unpleasant effect and no inclination to sleep." [Hughes]
Headless sensation, head seems separated from body.
c Long-term memory activated. [6 provers!]
• "Tales of youth again charmed my existence; pictures and scenes long since forgotten were again for an instant as plain as if seen only a day before."
• "All his thoughts and actions since childhood seemed to recur to him."
• "Remembered events of childhood."
• "Saw, to my great satisfaction, all events of my life pass before me."
• "An entire series of reminiscences of childhood, the faces of friends and acquaintances, and the faces [known to me by portraits] of authors, savants, poets, politicians, etc. - all these became blended in my head, presenting a kind of phantasmagoria and the most variegated picture." [Hughes]
• "All the events of his past life, even those long forgotten, and those the most trivial, were thrown in symbols from a rapidly revolving wheel, each of which was recognized as an act of his life, and each came in the order of sequence the act it indicated occupied in history." [Allen]
M Overwhelm homeopath with information and very divergent stories and EXPLANATIONS [EXCESSIVE LOQUACITY, INCOHERENT TALK].
• "All the time he chattered continuously. But in spite of his talkativeness he felt that he could not express half what he felt."
• "Talked nonsense, knew it, but could not stop without effort of will, which he did not care to make." [Allen]
Try to RATIONALIZE and EXPLAIN everything.
This comes out of fear that the world one knows will dissolve, lose its reality; by explaining, rationalizing and communicating attempts are made to [re]connect to the real material world.
• "The uncertain aspect of things now increased, with the whole force of my reason seemingly unimpaired. I could not convince myself the furniture in the room had other than an ideal existence; this feeling was so oppressive that I determined to seek the rest of the family. But how could I reach them? I was in another sphere, I had journeyed to a world whose objects I could not realize, an uncertain world whose paths I did not know. ... I did not feel certain that I was even in the room with them, they all looked up and smiled and again resumed their former position without saying a word. This was agonizing, were these really only the phantoms of my friends that I had called up. 'Speak to me,' I cried, 'speak to me or I will go crazy, I think I see you here, I appear to be in the room with you, yet so uncertain does everything look that I cannot convince myself that it is so. Speak to me that I may be assured that at least I am not deceived in this.' Some one answered me, I heard the voice, it seemed familiar, yet it was the phantom that spoke, still all was unreal, I myself was unreal, even my voice did not seem my own. I tried to reassure myself by conversing with them. I saw they knew not how I felt, an irresistible desire to make them know how I felt now seized me, this I felt was impossible, they had no fellow feeling with me. I was alone, no earthly being could sympathize with me, I saw the impossibility of making them understand me, yet I must make the attempt; I told them all my feelings, they seemed to think it only imagination, and that I was only using symbols to represent them, my feelings were hurt and I almost wept, it seemed as though they doubted my word."1
FEAR of LOSING SELF-CONTROL.
M SENSE OF DUALITY.
c Sensation of separation of body and soul.
• "I must keep my soul in my body by force of will or perhaps it would never return, and I felt it was trying to wing itself away. ... I noticed the two parts of my being acting separately, my will or spiritual existence was separated from my bodily existence, and spurring it onwards, pushing it forwards and using it much as an artificer uses a tool, onward it forced my body, seeming to exult in its supremacy."2
• "The soul seemed to be separated from the body, and to look down upon it, and view all the motions of the vital processes, and to be able to pass and repass through the solid walls of the room, and to view the landscape beyond." [Allen]
c Sensation as if brain has split into a mad half and a sane half.
• "One of which was perfectly sane and the other in possession of the demon of hemp. I once more started for the train, my mad self thinking the most ridiculous thoughts, and continually urging my sane self to commit absurdities. I had an almost irresistible impulse to pull young ladies' hair, to shriek in old gentlemen's ears, or to bonnet young ones, all in the purest good nature. After battling in this way for about 2 or 3 h. I at last found myself sitting quietly, my mad half thinking endless absurdities and my sane half quietly enjoying the fun." [Hughes]
• "Had a feeling of duality. ... One of my minds would be thinking of something while the other would laugh at it; a quick transition of the ideas of one mind to the other." [Hughes]
• "His enjoyment of the visions was complete and absolute, undisturbed by the faintest doubts of their reality; while, in some other chamber of his brain, reason sat coolly watching them, and heaping the liveliest ridicule on their fantastic features." [Allen]
c Feeling of being double.
• "I felt the absurdity of my illusions. I was double, not 'swan and swallow' but rather Sphinx-like, human and beast." [Allen]
• "He seems possessed of a dual existence, one of which from a height watches the other, while it passes through the various phases of the Hashish delirium." [Allen]
M Stuck between two worlds.
• "Finding an identity. With this remedy, we are at the heart of the key issue of adolescence. Confronted with the complete incommunicability of everything they are experiencing, young Cannabis indica individuals cannot find their identity. Therefore, they join a group in which they think they will have a chance to 'find themselves.' ... In reality, Cannabis indica is in a borderline state, and is faced with a great temptation to cross the line and return to a primitive, fusional love, at the risk of becoming completely lost within it. This is the dilemma that may be behind the characteristic symptom of Cannabis indica, fear of drowning." [Grandgeorge]
• "The perceived weakness is actually an inadequacy in facing the threats, dangers and risks of the outside world. The Cannabis person feels unequipped to face them directly and hence observes the world from within the safe confines of a 'glass cage'. ... But behind the pleasant fantasies lie fears. Cannabis indica has never gone out of his glass house into the outside world. Hence when he goes out, it is terrifying for him since the outside world is too harsh for him, especially with his heightened sensitivity and perception. ... The inside bores him while the outside terrifies him, therefore he takes Cannabis inside the house to keep himself stimulated." [Sankaran]
M IMMODERATE LAUGHING about TRIFLES.
• "When you first begin smoking it you see things in a wonderful soothing, easygoing new light. All of a sudden the world is stripped of its dirty grey shrouds and becomes one big bellyful of giggles, a spherical laugh, bathed in brilliant, sparkling colours that hit you like a heat wave. Nothing leaves you cold any more; there's a humorous tickle and great meaning in the least little thing ..."3
M Music. Sensation of being carried by music.
• "At half past four I was sitting with the family, playing the guitar, when one of the tunes, a rather solemn one, seemed suddenly to assume a more melodious character; it gradually increased in grandeur bar after bar, sinking deep in my soul until I was wholly absorbed with it. The words died away and I still went on with the accompaniment, my mind carried the air and all surrounding objects faded; I lived wholly in the music, and a deep subdued joyous feeling, such as I never before felt, pervaded my whole being."4
• "Playing on the piano, performed by one of those present, produced a magical effect; it seemed as if the sounds were wafted from a great distance, that every sound had its peculiar life, a special fulness and expressiveness; the sounds seemed to come with fearful rapidity from an endless distance and to be reflected immediately in the ear - in a word, an ordinary performance seemed equal to that of some eminent pianist, and I thought myself a profound connoisseur, calmly enjoying the playing of some distinguished musician." [Hughes]
• "While listening to the piano, he loses consciousness, and is seemingly raised gently through the air to a great height, when the strains of music become perfectly celestial; on regaining consciousness, his head is bent forward, his neck is stiff, and there is a loud ringing in his ears." [Allen]
M FEAR of DARKNESS; great fear of leaving the body, esp. in the dark.
Delusion surrounded by entities, < darkness.
• "Felt as a third person looking at himself and friend. Felt he knew where he was and yet did not." [Allen]
M FEAR of INSANITY.
M Wonderful and strange hallucinations.
[Cann-i. is mentioned in more than 250 delusion rubrics, often as only remedy.]
All faculties benumbed except faculty of wonder.
M CLAIRVOYANCE; prophetic dreams.
M Sensation of floating, levitation.
G WEAKNESS from WALKING.
G [Pleasant] sensation of warmth, beginning in spine or face and extending all through body.
G Increased appetite.
• "Ravenous hunger, which is not decreased by eating enormously; he ceases eating only from fear of injuring himself." [Allen]
• "There are certain other readers who might laughingly shrug their shoulders at all these fancies, and consider it improper to publicly relate one's 'sentiments', esp. those made manifest by the hashish experience. For dietetic reasons those critics should by no means make such tests on themselves. For their benefit, however, I wish to mention another effect of hashish: it is an excellent appetizer. While watching the figures assume shape in my white cloth and my study extends itself in perspective, while listening to the corporeal notes of music and experiencing an enhanced love for my child, I ate an extremely large portion of cold cuts. Thus everything has two sides."5
G Desire for SWEETS.
G Increased sexual desire and hysteria during the menstrual period.
G > OPEN AIR.
G > Loosening clothing.
G Sensation of a BALL internally.
Sensation of swelling in the perineum, or near the anus, as if sitting on a ball [Sep.].
G Sensation of enlargement.
[objects; distances; body; head; eyes; nose; lower lip; hands]
P Sensation as if vertex is opening and shutting.
P Noises sound like a crash or explosion in head.
P DRYNESS of MOUTH.
P First stage of gonorrhoea.
And Frequent micturition with burning pain [passed drop by drop, with pain going backward], violent and painful erections.
[1-2] Gardiner, Cannabis Indica; American Hom. Review, March 1863.  Milton 'Mezz' Mezzrow, Really the Blues, cited in Pendell, Pharmako/Poeia.  Gardiner, ibid.  von Bibra, Plant Intoxicants.
Answering incoherently . Anxiety > open air . Confusion as to his identity, sense of duality . Delusions, about to sink into annihilation ; right half of body were enlarged [1*]; of being able to hear the sound of colour [1*]; sensation of flying ; fancies he hears music ; her own voice seemed strange ; exaggeration of time . Inaccurate judgement of distances . Wants to embrace everyone he meets [1*]. Fear, of apoplexy [1*], of dark . Forgetful, of words while speaking . Impulse to do absurd things [1; Cact.*]. Jesting, making puns . Laughing, constant , at trifles , at every word said [3/1]. Loquacity before headache [1/1]. Memory, active for past events [2*]; weakness of memory for what is about to say , for what is about to write . Sensation of being carried by music [1*]. Runs against people when walking . Talking of nothing but one subject . Theorizing . Thoughts, intrude and crowd upon each other ; vanishing on reading , while speaking , while writing .
Coffee > [1/1]. Sensation as if elevated . Rest > .
Constriction, occiput, as from a band . Pain, > coffee ; bursting, as if calvarium were lifted [3/1]; opening and shutting .
Sensation of enlargement, as if protruding from sockets [1*].
Objects seem distant . Trembling of objects .
Sounds seem distant ; voices seem distant ; own voice seems distant .
Sensation of swelling of nose [1; Bamb.; Cann-s.].
Discolouration, bluish, from laughing [3/1]. Sensation of swelling of lower lip [1; Glon.].
Tongue adheres to roof of mouth [1*].
Sensation as if intestines were loose .
Diarrhoea, yellow and painless [2*].
Pain, when laughing [2/1].
Sexual desire excessive , increased ; attacks of increased desire .
Coition, enjoyment absent . Sexual desire increased before menses .
Deep > . Difficult, when lying on left side .
As if drops were falling from the heart [1; Cann-s.].
Pain, < laughing , prevents talking [1/1], compelled to walking bent .
Numbness of soles of feet , spreading upward [1*]. Pain in soles of feet as if stepping on spikes [2/1].
Nightmares on falling asleep .
Clothing, loosening amel. . Faintness, music, on hearing [1; Sumb.].
* Repertory additions [Allen].
Aversion: : Water.
Desire: : Sweets. : Bread; cold drinks.
Worse: : Alcohol. : Coffee [vomiting of mucus]; pastry; tobacco.
Better: : Coffee [headache and vertigo]; lemonade [1*].
* Repertory addition [Allen].
Appendix cannabis indica
The American author James Bayard Taylor [1825-1878] became renowned as a modern Marco Polo for his travels to remote parts of the world, which he recounted in his The Land of the Saracen or Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily and Spain, published in 1855. In it is a chapter entitled The visions of Hashish, one of the earliest accounts of an American under the influence of this drug.
"Bayard Taylor was known also to his generation as a poet, novelist, translator of Goethe's Faust, one-time secretary of the American legation in St. Petersburg and, in 1878, the United States' Minister to Germany. There were others at the time who thought he was by way of being a bombast. In the opinion of the editor-in-chief of the New York Evening Post, Parke Godwin, Taylor had 'travelled more and seen less than any man living.' In 1938, editors of a dictionary of American authors gave this accolade: 'A life of Bayard Taylor is a history and an indictment of America in the mid-nineteenth century.' America's 'laureate of the gilded age' did, however, bring to a public, for the most part unable to go abroad, 'pictures' of all the far-off lands. His experiment with hashish took place in the city of Damascus, seat of the great Omayyad caliphate, for centuries crossroad of empires and commerce."1
A short extract of Bayard Taylor's Visions of Hashish is included as reference 18 in Allen's Encyclopedia. The following is the complete chapter.
The visions of hashish
During my stay in Damascus, that insatiable curiosity which leads me to prefer the acquisition of all lawful knowledge through the channels of my own personal experience, rather than in less satisfactory and less laborious ways, induced me to make a trial of the celebrated Hashish - that remarkable drug which supplies the luxurious Syrian with dreams more alluring and more gorgeous than the Chinese extracts from his darling opium pipe. The use of Hashish - which is a preparation of the dried leaves of the Cannabis indica - has been familiar to the East for many centuries. During the Crusades, it was frequently used by the Saracen warriors to stimulate them to the work of slaughter, and from the Arabic term of "Hashasheën", or Eaters of Hashish, as applied to them, the word "assassin" has been naturally derived. An infusion of the same plant gives to the drink called "bhang", which is in common use throughout India and Malaysia, its peculiar properties. Thus prepared, it is more fierce and fatal stimulant than the paste of sugar and spices which the Turk resorts, as the food of his voluptuous evening reveries. While its immediate effects seem to be more potent than those of opium, its habitual use, through attended with ultimate and permanent injury to the system, rarely results in such utter wreck of mind and body as that to which the votaries of the latter drug inevitably condemn themselves.
A previous experience of the effects of hashish - which I took once, and in a very mild form, while in Egypt - was so peculiar in its character, that my curiosity, instead of being satisfied, only prompted me the more to throw myself, for once, wholly under its influence. The sensations it then produced were those, physically, of exquisite lightness and airiness - mentally, of a wonderfully keen perception of the ludicrous, in the most simple and familiar objects. During the half hour in which it lasted, I was at no time so far under its control, that I could not, with the clearest perception, study the changes through which I passed. I noted, with careful attention, the fine sensation which spread throughout the whole tissue of my nervous fibre, each trill helping to divest my frame of its earthly and material nature, until my substance appeared to me no grosser than the vapours of the atmosphere, and while sitting in the calm of the Egyptian twilight, I expected to be lifted up and carried away by the first breeze that should ruffle the Nile. While this process was going on, the objects by which I was surrounded assumed a strange and whimsical expression. My pipe, the oars which my boatmen plied, the turban worn by the captain, the water-jars and culinary implements, became in themselves so inexpressibly absurd and comical, that I was provoked into a long fit of laughter. The hallucinations died away as gradually as it came, leaving me overcome with a soft and pleasant drowsiness from which I sank into a deep, refreshing sleep.
My companion and an English gentleman, who, with his wife, was also residing in Antonio's pleasant caravanserai- agreed to join me in the experiment. The dragoman of the latter was deputed to procure a sufficient quantity of the drug. He was a dark Egyptian, speaking only the lingua franca of the East, and asked me, as he took the money and departed on his mission, whether he should get hashish "per ridere, o per dormire?" [Is it for laughing or for sleeping?] "Oh, per ridere, of course," I answered; "and see that it will be strong and fresh". It is customary with the Syrians to take a small portion immediately before the evening meal, as it is thus diffused through the stomach and acts more gradually, as well as more gently, upon the system. As out dinner hour was at sunset, I proposed taking hashish at that time, but my friends, fearing that its operation might be more speedy upon fresh subjects, and thus betray them into some absurdity in the presence of the other travellers, preferred waiting until after the meal. It was then agreed that we should retire to our rooms, which, as it rose like a tower one story higher than the rest of the building, was in a manner isolated, and would screen us from observation.
We commenced by taking a teaspoonful each of the mixture which Abdullah had procured. This was about the quantity that I had taken in Egypt, and the effect then had been so slight, I judged that we ran no risk of an over-dose. The strength of the drug, however, must have been far greater in this instance, for whereas I could in the former case distinguish no flavour but that of sugar and rose leaves, I found the taste intensely bitter and repulsive to the palate. We allowed the paste to dissolve slowly on our tongues, and sat some time, quietly waiting the result. But, having been taken upon full stomach, its operation was hindered, and after the leaps of nearly one hour, we could not detect the least change in our feelings. My friends loudly expressed their conviction of the humbug of hashish, but I, unwilling to give up the experience at this point, proposed that we should take an additional half spoonful, and follow it with a cup of hot tea, which, if there were really any virtue in the preparation, could not fail to call it into action. This was done, though not without some misgivings, as we were all ignorant of the precise quantity which constituted a dose, and the limits within which the drug could be taken safely. It was now ten o'clock; the streets of Damascus were gradually becoming silent, and the fair city was bathed in the yellow lustre of the Syrian moon. Only in the marble courtyard below us, a few dragomen and mukkairee lingered under the lemon trees, and beside the fountain in the centre.
I was seated alone, nearly in the middle of the room, talking with friend, who were lounging upon a sofa placed in a sort of alcove, at the farther end, when the same nervous thrill, of which I have spoken, suddenly shot through me. But this time it was accompanied with a burning sensation at the pit of stomach; and, instead of growing upon me with the gradual pace of healthy slumber, and resolving me, as before, into air, it came with the intensity of a pang, and shot throbbing along the nerves to the extremities of my body. The sense of limitation - of the confinement of our senses within the bounds of our own flesh and blood - instantly fell away. The walls of my frame were burst outwards and tumbled into ruin; and, without thinking what form I wore- losing sight even of all idea of form - I felt that I existed throughout a vast extent of space. The blood, pulsed from my heart, sped through uncounted leagues before it reached my extremities, the air drawn into my lungs expanded into seas of limpid ether, and the arch of my skull was broader than the vault of heaven. Within the concave that held my brain, were fathomless deeps of blue; clouds floated there, and the winds of heaven rolled them together, and there shone the orb of the sun. It was - though I thought not of that at the time - like a revelation of the mystery of omnipresence. It is difficult to describe this sensation, or the rapidity with which it mastered me. In the state of mental exaltation in which I was then plunged, all sensations, as they rose, suggested more or less coherent images. They presented themselves to me in a double form: one physical, and therefore to a certain extent tangible; the other spiritual, and revealing itself in a succession of splendid metaphors. The physical feeling of extended being was accompanied by the image of an exploding meteor, not subsiding into darkness, but continuing to shoot from its centre or nucleus - which corresponded to the burning spot at the pit of my stomach - incessant adumbrations of light that finally lost themselves in the infinity of space. To my mind, even now, this image is still the best illustration of my sensations, as I recall them; but I greatly whether the reader will find it equally clear.
My curiosity was now in a way of being satisfied; the Spirit [demon, shall I not rather say?] of hashish had entire possession of me. I was cast upon the flood of his illusions, and drifted helplessly whithersoever they might choose to bear me. The trills which ran through my nervous system became more rapid and fierce, accompanied with sensations that steeped my whole being in unutterable rapture. I was encompassed by a sea of light, through which played the pure, harmonious colours that are born of light. While endeavouring, in broken expressions, to describe my feelings to my friends, who sat looking upon me incredulously - not yet being affected by the drug - I suddenly found myself at the foot of the great Pyramid of Cheops. The tapering courses of yellow limestone gleamed like gold in the sun, and the pile rose so high that it seemed to lean for support upon the blue arch of he sky. I wished to ascend it, and the wish alone placed me immediately upon its apex, lifted thousand of feet above the wheat-fields and palm-groves of Egypt. I cast my eyes downward, and to my astonishment, saw that it was built not of limestone, but of a huge square plugs of Cavendish tobacco! Words can not paint the overwhelming sense of the ludicrous which then I experienced. I writhed on my chair in an agony of laughter, which was only relieved by the vision melting away like a dissolving view; till, out of my confusion of indistinct images and fragment of images, another and more wonderful vision arose. The more vividly I recall the scene which followed, the more carefully I restore its different features, and separate the many threads of sensation which it wove into one gorgeous web, the more I despair of representing its exceeding glory. I was moving over the Desert, not upon the rocking dromedary, but seated in a barque made of mother-of -pearl and studded with jewels of surpassing lustre. The sand was grains of gold, and my keel slid through them without jar or sound. The air was radiant with excess of light, though no sun was to be seen. I inhaled the most delicious perfumes; and harmonies, such as Beethoven may have heard in dreams, but never wrote, floated around me. The atmosphere itself was light, odour, music; and each and all sublimated beyond anything the sober senses are capable of receiving. Before me- for thousand of leagues, as it seemed - stretched a vista of rainbows, whose colours gleamed with the splendour of gems - archers of living amethyst, sapphire, emerald, topaz, and ruby. By thousand and tens of thousands, they flew past me, as my dazzling barge sped down the magnificent arcade; yet the vista still stretched as far as ever before me. I revelled in a sensuous elysium, which was perfect, because no sense was left ungratified. But beyond all, my mind was filled with a boundless feeling of triumph. My journey was that of a conqueror - not of a conqueror who subdues his race, either by Love or by Will, for I forgot that man existed - but one victorious over the grandest as well as the subtlest forces of Nature.
The spirits of Light, Colour, Odour, Sound and Motion were my slaves; and, having these, I was master of the Universe.
Those who are endowed to any extent with the imaginative faculty must have at least once in their lives experienced the feeling which may give them a clue to the exalted sensuous raptures of my triumphal march. The view of a sublime mountain landscape, the hearing of a grand orchestral symphony, or of a choral upborne by the "full-voiced organ", or even the beauty and luxury of a cloudless summer day, suggests emotions similar in kind, if less intense. They took a warmth and glow from that pure animal joy which degrades not, but spiritualises an ennoble our material part, and which differs from cold, abstract, intellectual enjoyment, as the flaming diamond of the Orient differs from the icicle of the North. Those finer senses, which occupy a middle ground between our animal and intellectual appetites, were suddenly developed to a pitch beyond what I had ever dreamed, and being thus at one and the same time gratified to the fullest extent of their preternatural capacity, the result was a single harmonious sensation, to describe which human language has no epithet. Mahomet's Paradise, with its palaces of ruby and emerald, its air of musk and cassia, and its river colder then snow and sweeter than honey, would have been a poor and mean terminus of my arcade of rainbows. Yet in the character of this paradise, in the gorgeous fancies of the Arabian nights, in the glow and luxury of all Oriental poetry, I now recognise more or less of the agenda of hashish. The fullness of my rapture expanded the sense of time; and though the whole vision was probably not more then five minutes in passing through my mind, years seemed to have elapsed while I shot under the dazzling myriads of rainbow arches. By and by, the rainbows, the barque of pearl and jewels, and the desert of golden sand, vanished; and, still bathed in light and perfume, I found myself in a land of green and flowery lawns, dived by hills of gently undulating outline. But, although the vegetation was the richest of earth, there were neither streams nor fountains to be seen; and the people who came from the hills, with brilliant garments that shone in the sun, besought me to give them the blessing of water. Their hands were full of branches of the coral honeysuckle, in bloom. These I took; and, breaking off the flowers one by one setting them on Earth. The slender trumpet-like tubes immediately became shafts of masonry, and sank deep into the earth; the lip of the flower changed into a circular mouth of rose coloured marble, and the people, leaning over its brink, lowered their pitchers to the bottom with cords, and drew them up again, filled to the brim, and dripping with honey.
The most remarkable features of these illusions was, that at the time when I was completely under their influence, I knew myself to be seated in the tower of Antonio's hotel in Damascus, knew that I had taken hashish, and that the strange, gorgeous and ludicrous fancies which possessed me, were the effect of it. At the very same instant that I looked upon the valley of the Nile from the pyramid, slid over the desert, or created my marvellous wells in that beautiful pastoral country, I saw the furniture of my room, its mosaic pavement, the quaint Saracenic niches in the wall, the painted and gilded beams of the ceiling, and the couch in the recess before me, with my two companions watching me. Both sensations were simultaneous, and equally capable. While I was most given up to the magnificent delusion, I saw its cause and felt its absurdity most clearly. Metaphysicians say that the mind is incapable of performing two operations at the same time, and may attempt to explain this phenomenon by supposing a rapid and incessant vibration of the perceptions between the two states. This explanation, however, is not satisfactory for me; for not more clearly does a skilful musician with the same breath blow two distinct musical notes from a bugle, that I was conscious of two distinct conditions of being in the same moment. Yet, singular as it may seem, neither conflicted with the other. My enjoyment of the vision was complete and absolute, undisturbed by the faintest doubt of their reality; while, in some other chamber of my brain, Reason sat and coolly watching them, and heaping the liveliest ridicule on their fantastic features. One set of nerves was trilled with the bliss of the gods, while another was convulsed with unquenchable laughter at that very bliss. My highest ecstasies could not bear down and silence the weight of my ridicule, which, in its turn, was powerless to prevent me from running into other and more gorgeous absurdities. I was double, not "swan and shadow", but rather Sphinx-like, human and beast. A true Sphinx, I was a riddle and a mystery to myself.
The drug, which had been retarded in its operation on account of having been taken a meal, now began to make itself more powerfully felt. The visions were more grotesque than ever, but less agreeable; and there was a painful tension throughout my nervous system- the effect of over-stimulus. I was a mass of transparent jelly, and a confectioner poured me into a twisted mould. I threw my chair aside, and writhed and tortured myself for some time to force my loose substance into the mould. At last, when I had so far succeeded that only one foot remained outside, it was lifted off, and another mould, of still more crooked and intricate shape, substituted. I have no doubt that the contortions through which I went, to accomplish the end of my gelatinous destiny, would have been extremely ludicrous to a spectator, but to me they were painful and disagreeable. The sober half of me went into laughter over them, and through that laughter, my vision shifted into another scene. I had laughed until my eyes overflowed profusely. Every drop that fell, immediately became al large loaf of bread, and tumbled upon the shop-board of a baker in the bazaar of Damascus. The more I laughed, the faster the loaves fell, until such a pile was raised about the baker, that I could hardly see the top of his head. "The man will be suffocated," I cried, " but if he were to die, I cannot stop!" My perception became more dim and confused. I felt that I was in the grasp of some giant force; and, in the glimmering of my fading reason, grew earnest alarmed, for the terrible stress under which my frame laboured increased every moment. A fierce and furious heat radiated from my stomach throughout my system; my mouth and throat were dry and hard as if made of brass, and my tongue, it seemed to me, was a bar of rusty iron. I seized a pitcher of water, and drank long and deeply; but I might as well have drunk so much air, for not only did it impart no moisture, but my palate and throat gave me no intelligence of having drunk at all. I stood in the centre of the room, brandishing my arms convulsively, and heaving sighs that seemed to shatter my whole being. "Will no one" I cried in distress, "cast out this devil that has possession of me?" I no longer saw the room nor my friends, but I heard one of them saying. "It must be real; he could not counterfeit such an expression as that. But it don't look much like pleasure." Immediately afterwards there was a scream of the wildest laughter, and my countryman sprang upon the floor, exclaiming, "o, ye gods! I am a locomotive!" This was his ruling hallucination; and, for the space of two or three hours, he continued to pace to and fro with a measured stride, exhaling his breath in violent jets, and when he spoke, dividing his words into syllables, each of which he brought out with a jerk, at the same time turning his hands at his sides, as if they were cranks of imaginary wheels. The Englishman, as soon as he felt the dose beginning to take effect, prudently retreated to his own room, and what the nature of his vision was, we never learned, for he refused to tell, and, moreover, enjoined the strictest silence on his wife.
By this time it was nearly midnight. I had passed through the Paradise of hashish, and was plunged at once into its fiercest Hell. In my ignorance I had taken what, I have since learned, would have been a sufficient portion for six men, and was now paying a frightful penalty for my curiosity. The excited blood rushed through my frame with a sound like the roaring of mighty waters. It was projected into my eyes until I could no longer see; it beat thickly in my ears, and so throbbed in my heart, that I feared that the ribs would give away under its blows. I tore open my west, placed my hand over the spot, and tried to count the pulsations; but there were two hearts, one beating at the rate of a thousand beats a minute, and the other one with a slow, dull motion. My throat, I thought, was filled to the brim with blood, and streams of blood were pouring from my ears. I felt them gushing warm down my cheeks and neck. With a maddened, desperate feeling I fled from the room, and walked over the flat, terraced roof of the house. My body seemed to shrink and grow rigid as I wrestled with the demon, and my face to become wild, lean and haggard. Some lines which had struck me, years before, in reading Mrs Browning's "Rhyme of the Duchess May", flashed into my mind:-
"And the horse, in stark despair, with his front hoofs poised in air, On the last verge, rears amain; And he hangs, he rocks between - and his nostrils curdle in - And he shivers, head and hoof, and the flakes of foam falls off; And his face grows fierce and thin."
That picture of animal terror and agony was mine. I was the horse. Hanging poised on the verge of the giddy tower, the next moment to be borne sheer down to destruction. Involuntarily, I raised my hand to feel the leanness and sharpness of my face. Oh horror! The flesh had fallen from my bones, and it was a skeleton head that I carried on my shoulders! With one bound I sprang to the parapet, and looked down into the silent courtyard, then filled with the shadows thrown into it by the sinking moon. Shall I cast myself down headlong? Was the question I proposed to myself; but though the horror of that skeleton delusion was greater then my fear of death, there was an invisible hand at my breast which pushed me away from the brink.
I made my way back to the room, in a state of keenest suffering. My companion was still a locomotive, rushing to and fro, and jerking out his syllables with the disjointed accent peculiar to a steam engine. His mouth had turned to brass, like mine, and he raised the pitcher to his lips in attempt to moisten it, but before he had taken a mouthful, set the pitcher down again with a yell of laughter, crying out: " How can I take water into my boiler, while I am letting of steam?"
But I was now too far gone to feel the absurdity of this, or his other exclamations. I was sinking deeper and deeper into a pit of unutterable agony and despair. For, although I was not conscious of the real pain in any part of my body, the cruel tension to which my nerves had been subjected filled me through and through with a sensation of distress which was far more severe than pain itself. In addition to this, the remnant of will with which I struggled against the demon, became gradually weaker, and I felt I should soon be powerless in his hands. Every effort to preserve my reason was accompanied by a bang of mortal fear, lest what I experienced was insanity, and would hold mastery over me forever. The thought of death, which also haunted me, was far less bitter then this dread. I knew that in the struggle which was going on in my frame, I was borne fearfully near the dark gulf, and the thought that, at such a time, both reason and will were leaving my brain, filled me with agony, the depth and blackness of which I should vainly attempt to portray. I threw myself on my bed, with the excited blood still roaring wildly in my ears, my heart throbbing with a force that seemed to be rapidly wearing away my life, my throat dry as a potsherd, and my stiffened tongue cleaving the roof of my mouth - resting no longer, but awaiting my faith with the same apathy of despair. My companion now approaching the same condition, but as the effect of the drug on him had been less violent, so his stage of suffering was more clamorous. He cried out to me that he was dying, implored me to help him, and reproached me vehemently, because I lay there silent, motionless, and apparently careless of his danger. "Why will he disturb me?" I thought; "he thinks he is dying, but what is death to madness? Let him die; a thousand deaths were more easily borne than the pangs that I suffer." While I was sufficiently conscious to hear his exclamations, they only provoked my keen anger; but after a time, my senses became clouded, and I sank into stupor.
As near as I can judge, this must have been three o'clock in the morning, rather more than five hours after the hashish began to take effect. I lay thus all the following day and night, in a state of grey, blank oblivion, broken only by a single wandering gleam of consciousness. I recollect hearing Francois voice. He told me afterwards that I arose, attempted to dress myself, drank two cups of coffee, and then fell back into same death-like stupor: but all of this, I did not retain the least knowledge. On the morning of the second day, after a sleep of thirty hours, I awoke to the world, with a system utterly prostrate and unstrung, and a brain clouded with the lingering images of my visions. I knew where I was, and what had happened to me, but all that I saw still remained unreal and shadowy. There was no taste in what I ate, no refreshment in what I drank, and it required a painful effort to comprehend what was said to me and return a coherent answer. Will and Reason had come back, but they still sat unsteadily upon their thrones. My friend, who was much further advanced in his recovery, accompanied me to the adjoining bath, which I hoped would assist in restoring me. It was with great difficulty that I preserved the outward appearance of consciousness. In spite of myself, a veil now and then fell over my mind, and after wandering for years, as it seemed, in some distant world, I awoke with a shock, to find myself in the steamy halls of the bath, with a brown Syrian polishing my limbs. I suspect that my language must have been rambling and incoherent, and that the menials who had me in charge understood my condition, for as soon as I had stretched myself upon the couch which follows the bath, a glass of very acid sherbet was presented to me, and after drinking it I experienced instant relief. Still the spell was not wholly broken, and for two or three days I continued subject to frequent involuntary fits of absence, which made me insensible, for the time, to all that was passing around me. I walked the streets of Damascus with a strange consciousness that I was in some other place at the same time, and with a constant effort to reunite my divided perception. Previous to the experiment, we had decided on making a bargain with the sheikh for the journey to Palmyra. The state, however, in which we now found ourselves, obliged us to relinquish the plan. Perhaps the excitement of a forced march across the desert, and a conflict with the hostile Arabs, which was likely to happen, might have assisted us in throwing off the baneful effects of the drug; but the charm which lay in the name Palmyra and the romantic interest of the trip, was gone. I was without courage and without energy, and nothing remained for me but to leave Damascus.
Yet, fearful as my rash experiment proved to me, I did not regret having made it. It revealed to me deeps of rapture and of suffering which my natural faculties never could have sounded. It has taught me the majesty of the human reason and of human will, even in the weakest, and the awful peril of tampering with that which assails their integrity. I have here faithfully and fully written out my experience, on account of the lesson which it may convey to others. If I have unfortunately failed in my design, and have but awakened that restless curiosity which I have endeavoured to forestall, let me beg all who are thereby led to repeat the experiment upon themselves, that they be content to take the portion of hashish which is considered sufficient for one man, and not, like me, swallow enough for six.
 Ebin [ed.], The Drug Experience.