A Cure for Lunaticks: The Earliest English Reports on Cannabis

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In the 17th century, even though hemp was one of the most important agricultural crops, planted widely in Europe or the USA, nobody knew about the potentially psychoactive effects of the cannabis plant. One of the reasons for this was that cannabis planted in colder regions usually produces much less THC. Another reason was that, until later centuries, the cannabis planted was exclusively Cannabis sativa, which, before more recent cross-breeding, also usually produces less THC (Duvall 2019:8). However, Cannabis indica, the variety most common in India, was generally much more psychoactively potent. A few intrepid European visitors—a third of the Europeans who went to India in those days died there from disease—witnessed locals eating and smoking cannabis and decided to try it themselves. These early reports are very interesting because they tell of the effects of cannabis, but without any prejudice or expectation of what to expect. These first reports in English, by a ship’s captain, Thomas Bowery, and by the great scientist Robert Hooke, are fascinating because some of the effects reported have only very recently been confirmed by medical science. Robert Hooke The earliest English reports on cannabis Captain Thomas Bowrey (1659–1713), who was to become a merchant and ship’s captain, sailed with his mother from London via several ports to Fort St. George (modern Chennai), in India. He arrived, aged nine, in 1669. After travelling and trading in India and other Asian countries in the East Indies (including Thailand and Sri Lanka), he returned to Britain, nineteen years later, in 1688 (Paul 2020:10). His extensive observations on the ways of life and the customs of India, particularly in the Bengal region, were recorded in his manuscript, A Geographical Account of Countries Round the Bay of Bengal, 1669 to 1679, which was eventually published in 1905. Bowery also…

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Source : A Cure for Lunaticks: The Earliest English Reports on Cannabis

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