Marijuana: Medical Papers, 1839-1972

Cannabis: Collected Clinical Papers, Volume One

Tod H. Mikuriya, M.D.

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As a full-time research consultant at the N.I.M.H. Center of Narcotics and Drug Abuse Studies, Dr. Tod Mikuriya discovered just how much the English and American medical profession has known about cannabis for the past 130 years. Having access to priceless original documents, he has compiled this authoritative and fascinating collection of medical papers on marijuana. From 1839, when the herb was first introduced into the Western pharmacopoeia, to present research with THC, the anthology offers rich insights into the whole social history of medicine.

The studies published herein convey a wide variety of critical information, ranging from laboratory tests performed on animals and human subjects, to anthropological descriptions of marijuana use by African women during labor. A number of unusual and seldom-seen illustrations--from pharmaceutical catalogues in the days when Parke Davis and others marketed legal marijuana as a cure for coughs and corns--are both instructive and entertaining. In the section of clinical and pharmacological studies, a deep look is taken at the range of therapeutic effects attributed to a plant which has had prescribed medical uses for more than 2700 years, and is currently used by an estimated 250 million people.

If not always conclusive, these studies nonetheless dramatically show that marijuana has potentially great medical value. The impressive accumulation of information regarding it has been unfortunately relegated to the dust bin for decades by puritanical legislators and medical practitioners ignorant or unheeding of existing scholarship in the field. The final chapter analyzes the reasons behind the 1937 Tax Act which outlawed the use of marijuana, driving it underground, and offers some disturbing conclusions based on hitherto unpublished official hearings and interviews with former government officials.

Amidst the marijuana referendums, judicial challenges, and states vs. federal legislation, Marijuana: Medical Papers provides essential information--most of it never before available except in scarce, out-of-print medical journals--on a topic of tremendous current interest.


"Dr. Mikuriya collected and brought out in Marijuana Medical Papers material that the medical schools should have been teaching. The reader Dr. Mikuriya had in mind for MMP was a colleague who realized that he'd learned nothing about cannabis in medical school." Fred Gardner, editor, O'Shaughnessy's, Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group

"Dr Tod was the undisputed father of the modern Medical Cannabis Movement. Now it's our turn to follow his lead." Andrew Glazier, activist, owner

"I first read this book in 1973 and have read it over and over and over again all my life. I still love this book--it has changed my life. Anyone interested in the subject of cannabis should read this book." Jack Herer, author, The Emperor Wears No Clothes

"Marijuana: Medical Papers makes a valuable contribution in documenting the early medical history of marijuana. It is a collection that will be referred to for generations to come." Ed Rosenthal, marijuana researcher and writer

"The pre-1900 'I;ll-try-it-on-myself-and-describe-what-happens' reports in this book not only abound with descriptive techniques that should still be copied, but they are truly entertaining." Journal of the American Medical Association

"This is probably the best compendium available of the major studies and observations that have been made on marijuana and its derivatives during the past 135 years." Dana L. Farnsworth, M.D., American Journal of Psychiatry

"This treasure trove of shrewd clinical observation ... should fascinate physicians interested in the history of their craft...." Edward M. Brecher, Medical World News

"The papers ... are absolutely fascinating, and so many of them first-rate that they should obviously be available to members of the profession.... I must say I approached this without very much enthusiasm.... I am, however, bound to change my opinion.... It should be a valuable, and probably today, indispensable book." Humphrey Osmond, Director, New Jersey Bureau of Research, Neurology & Psychiatry

"Dr. Tod Mikuriya has compiled a fascinating collection of scientific papers tracing marijuana's long and diverse history in Western medicine. For persons unaware of the many therapeutic uses of marijuana before its Prohibition, this anthology will be an eye-opener. Amidst the current debate surrounding marijuana, Dr. Mikuriya's volume is a sobering reminder of the tragedy of those laws which seek to stamp out its use, not only as a popular recreational drug, but also as a unique and valuable medicine." Gordon S. Brownell, West Coast Coordinator, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

"Informative and thorough." High Times

"The entire volume is warmly recommended." Indian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy


Fascinating and Enlightening
By Todd C. Reich on July 9, 2011

First off, it needs to be emphasized that this is not really a book aimed at the casual reader (though it is accessibly-written); it does not offer simple statistics or glib summaries. This book is literally primarily a collection of medical research papers, which are generally written with those relatively well-versed in medicine in mind. However, that does not necessarily render them boring or clinical. The older papers are fun to read if for no other reason than the fact that the anachronistic language relative to today makes you feel like you're reading a story, which is amplified by the apparent tendency of the authors of the time to frame their papers primarily in narrative form. Very little of the book is overly dry and clinical and "jargon"-y; the sections that are the most so are the chemical analysis that start appearing in the most recent papers. The vast majority of the book is actually very readable, and the recorded patient interviews in some of the papers are entertaining enough for some folks who have no interest in the medical aspects of cannabis or cannabis in general. The book is very informative and, though very wordy, effectively provides diagrams and charts to aid in comprehension when suitable.

Mikuriya's book is, in my opinion, a must-have addition to the library of anyone interested in medicine of any sort, particularly those not shy to accept uses of natural medicine as potentially valid in certain contexts. Those curious about the properties of this fascinating plant seeking to be better informed, or anyone who has an opinion on "the drug war" or prohibition would benefit much from reading this collection of clinical papers. I can't recommend it enough. So long as you're not expecting a "shopping list fact book" of some sort, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Table of Contents


On the Preparation of the Indian Hemp or Gunja, W. B. O'Shaughnessy, M.D. (1839)

On the Haschisch or Cannabis Indica, J. Bell, M.D. (1857)
Cannabis Indica Poisoning, J. C. O'Day, M.D. (1899)
Two Cases of Poisoning by Cannabis Indica, J. Foulis, M.D., F.R.C.P.Ed. (1900)
Letter from L. M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
The Physiological Activity of Cannabis Sativa, H. C. Hamilton, M.S., et al. (1913)
Description of the Hashish Experience, R. P. Walton, M.D. (1938)

Report of the Ohio State Medical Committee on Cannabis Indica (1860)
The Use of Indian Hemp in the Treatment of Chronic Chloral and Chronic Opium Poisoning, E. A. Birch, M.D. (1889)
Therapeutical Uses and Toxic Effects of Cannabis Indica, J. R. Reynolds, M.D. (1890)
Cannabis Indica as an Anodyne and Hypnotic, J. B. Mattison, M.D. (1891)
Marihuana: Therapeutic Application, R. P. Walton, M.D. (1938)
Antiepileptic Action of Marihuana Active Substances, J. P. Davis, M.D., and H. H. Ramsey, M.D. (1949)
Cannabis Substitution as an Adjunctive Therapeutic Tactic in the Treatment of Alcoholism, T. H. Mikuriya, M.D. (1969)

"La Guardia Report": Medical Aspects, S. Allentuck, M.D. (1944)
A Clinical and Metabolic Study of Acute Intoxication with Cannabis Sativa and Its Role in the Model Psychosis, F. Ames, M.D. (1958)
Clinical and Psychological Effects of Marijuana in Man, A. T. Weil, M.D., et al. (1968)
Comparison of the Effects of Marijuana and Alcohol on Simulated Driving Performance, A. Crancer, Ph.D., et al. (1969)

Clinical and Physiological Notes on the Action of Cannabis Indica, H. A. Hare, M.D. (1887)
A Contribution to the Pharmacology of Cannabis Indica, C. R. Marshall, M.D. (1898)
Dispensatory of the United States of America, 20th Ed.: Cannabis Indica, J. P. Remington, Ph.M., F.C.S., et al. (1918)
Marihuana, R. Adams, Ph.D. (1942)
The Active Principles of Cannabis and the Pharmacology of the Cannabinols, S. Loewe, Ph.D. (1940)
Recent Developments in Cannabis Chemistry, A. T. Shulgin, Ph.D. (1972)

The 1937 Marihuana Tax Act, D. Musto, M.D. (1971)

Conversion Tables
Biographical Notes
Author Index
Subject Index



The orientation of this book is primarily medical. The described uses of marijuana were for healing or scientific purposes. Save for historical aspects of the prohibitory Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, social use is described in a minority of the papers and only in passing.

This diverse collection of papers represents some of the better professional journal articles concerning the medicinal applications and scientific properties of marijuana products.

The scope of topics included in this collection of papers culled from medical and scientific sources is necessarily wide. The study of a drug with complex pharmacological effects in concert with the diversity of human circumstance produces a wide spectrum of data.

Some of the papers suffer from lack of documentation and difficult, archaic, or colloquial language. In order to understand some of the chemical and pharmacological papers, understanding of biochemistry is needed.

As a psychiatrist, I was tempted to include material from influential and colorful literary origins. Descriptive experiential use started with Dr. Francois Rabelais's "The Herb Pantagruelion" in about 1530; it was re-introduced into European literature through the studies of J. J. Moreau de Tours in the early 1840s; it was popularized by Bayard Taylor, Theophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, and Fitz Hugh Ludlow in the 1850s and '60s. Dr. Victor Robinson carried this romantic ,intellectual tradition into the mid-1940s.

To attempt to include the lesser known but important literary works not published elsewhere would swell this anthology to an unwieldy size and detract from its usefulness as a medical reference.

The introspective accounts of practitioners' and scientists' personal use were influenced by contemporary literary figures who appear in a large proportion, especially in the earlier papers. Personal experimentation and description were once held to be an integral part of drug research.

The accounts of the adventures of the researcher, col¬league, and patient serve to remind the reader of the constancy of the human psyche over the years. In the research lab, at the bedside, or at the controls of a locomotive, thoughtful scientists and clinicians describe their experiences and observations.

Despite the advent of technology, these intelligent observations articulately described in the past must not be forgotten. Failure to heed previous insights results in superfluous repe¬tition, stupidity through ignorance and resultant failure.

Browsing through the book one cannot help but be struck by the fact that, although scientific tools have become more sophisticated, human nature has not. Ingenuity and clarity of thinking shine beyond the years, making us more humble in the realization that what is contemporary is not necessarily the best or uniquely innovative.

Berkeley, California 1973

Symposium Publishing, 2007

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