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New Orleans Medical & Surgical Journal

This article, while published in an obscure medical journal, was very widely quoted during the Reefer Madness Era.   Thus its influence reached far beyond its original audience.

The reader should be warned that most of the information contained here-in is erroneous and from a technical standpoint can simply be ignored.   However, at the start of the Reefer Madness era, it was believed to be true.

[WARNING – transcriber errors are possible, please make reference to original works if using for historical purposes.]

NEW ORLEANS MEDICAL AND SURGICAL JOURNAL – Vol 84 July, 1931 -to- June, 1932.   Published by the Louisiana State Medical Society.

(Read before the Louisiana State Medical Society)
New Orleans, April 14-16, 1931. A. E. Fossier, M.D., (page 247)

History tells us that about the year 1090 A. D., the military and religious order or sect of the Assassins was founded in Persia by Hassan ben Sabbat.

This diabolical, fanatical, cruel and murderous tribe, although isolated in the mountains of Lebanon, and in the valleys and glens of Persia and Syria became remarkable for its secret murders committed in blind obedience to the will of their chief, and the heinousness of its crimes was bruited the world over.   Their numerous acts of cruelty cast dire panic and consternation in the stoutest hearts not only in Asia but in Europe as well.   This branch of the shiite sect, known as Ismalites, was called Hashishan, derived from Hasish, a confection of hemp leaves, cannabis indica.   From the Arabic "hashishan" we have the English word "Assassin".

It was their custom that whenever the Sheik required the services of an assassin, a distinctive class, the "fedais" were intoxicated with the hashish.   When in this state they were introduced into the splendid gardens of the Sheik, and surrounded with every sensual pleasure.   Such a foretaste of paradise only to be granted by the supreme ruler, made them eager to obey his command.   With blind obedience to his slightest wish they willingly sacrificed their lives because of the belief, intensified by the influence of the weed, that the Holy Spirit resided in their chief, and that his wish was the will of God.

During the time of the Crusades, they resorted to every kind of violence.   Their utter disregard for death and the ruthlessness of their atrocities presented a formidable obstacle to the arms of the Christians, because under the influence of hashish those fanatics would madly rush at their enemies, and ruthlessly massacre every one within their grasp.   It was only about the year 1272 that they were conquered by the Sultan Bibars.

Although cannabis indica has been accused of exciting the basest and most criminal tendencies in the minds of its addicts, at the same time some of the most brilliant creations of the human intellect, especially erotic in character, have been conceived in brains under the influence of that nefarious weed.   This may also be said of nearly every intoxicant or narcotic.

It is claimed that the various tenets of the school of the philosopher Pythagoras were inspired by the influence of hashish.   This weed known to the Greeks as "nepenthe" was lauded in the immortal Odyssey as a drug to lull all pains and anger, and to bring forgetfulness to all sorrow.   And but comparatively recently it was praised by, and was a source of inspiration to many of its illustrious devotees, among whom must be noted the great Theophile Gautier and the renown poet Charles Baudelaire.

The manifold action of Indian hemp has been attested to in history and romance.   Under its addiction the most brutal and beastial crimes have been perpetrated, armies were transformed into fanatical hordes, dervishes have performed apparently impossible feats of human endurance, and intellectuals have soared to the heights of imagination; withal, nations and races in the grasp of its nefarious influence have degraded to the lowest plane of civilization.

Mariahuana, vulgarly called "muggles", is Cannabis sativa, derived from the flowering tops of the female plant of hemp grown in semi-tropical and temperate America.   It was once thought that only cannabis indica grown in the far east was active, although the German hemp is inert, the American specimen, mariahuana, is equal in potency to the best weed of India.

Whilst the intoxicating and narcotic properties of Indian hemp have been known and hashish has been in common use for time immemorial in the Orient, it was not until recently that this menace has assumed a formidable aspect in our Southland.   The facility with which it can be cultivated, because of the fertility of the soil, our semitropical climate and the ease with which seeds may be procured, make its prohibition practically impossible.   The muggles habit once firmly established in this community will never be eradicated, and will quickly spread over the length and breath of this country.   This weed has already been found in some of the back yards of this city, and we can only imagine the extent of its cultivation.   Despite all the police regulations and the state laws concerning its cultivation, use and possession' the traffic in muggles seems to be thriving here.   It is impossible to make even an approximate appraisement of the extent of its use in this community, but we can readily surmise the magnitude of this danger when we consider that it is estimated that over two hundred million people constantly indulge in it in some form or other.   In fact it has been said that what alcohol is to the Europeans, hashish and ganja is to the Indians and Egyptians.

This intoxicating weed can be taken in many ways, its preparation most commonly used is "ganja," an indian name for a mixture of the stems, leaves and flowering tops of the cultivated female plant.   Ganja is smoked in the form of cigarettes or with the pipe; its smell is typically offensive, and easily recognized by the initiated, It corresponds to what is locally known as muggles.   Bhang or Siddhi, are also Indian names for the mixture of these dry leaves and capsules without stems, whether female or male, cultivated or in its wild state.   It is the cheapest and the weakest of all the preparations of hashish, and it is taken as tea.   The resinous substance which exudes from the flowering head of the female plant is called "choras." It is either smoked or is taken in pills or in confections, or mixed with sugar or honey.

Locally its addiction is in the form of smoking.   When it is snuffed it is readily absorbed by the nasal mucosa and has a more profound effect than when it is smoked.

In many respects the action of cannabis sativa is similar to that of alcohol and morphine.   Its toxic effects are, ecstasy, merriment, uncontrollable laughter, self-satisfaction, bizarre ideas lacking in continuity, and its results are extreme hyperacidity with occasionally attacks of nausea and vomiting.   It has also been described as producing, in moderate doses, from mild intoxication to a dead drunk, drowsy and semi-comatose condition, lapsing in a dreamy state with a rapid flow of ideas of a sexual nature, and ending in a deep sleep interrupted by dreams.   On awakening there is a feeling of great dejection and prostration.   Large doses produce excitement, delusions, hallucinations, rapid flow of ideas, a high state of ecstasy, psychomotor activity with a tendency to willful damage and violence, and a temporary amnesia of all that has transpired.   In cases of prolonged addiction especially in the Malays, the somnolent action of cannabis indica is replaced with complete loss of judgment and of restraint, the same effect so frequently observed in alcoholic intoxication.

Captain Dhunjibhoy, Superintendent of the Indian Mental Hospital in Ranchi, says: "I shall not hesitate to believe any one who commits acts of violence under the influence of the drug and pleads complete amnesia of the crime on recovery."

From the same authoritative source the following is quoted: "I put this drug above alcohol, opium and cocaine, with regards to injurious tendencies in the causation of insanity in India." He states that hemp is a direct cerebral poison which causes the following types of insanity: 1, acute delirious mania; 2, chronic mania; 3, dementia.

He claims that the prognosis in these forms of insanity is as a rule hopeful, for in the acute state 90 per cent and in the chronic cases 40 per cent recover.

The underworld was quick to realize that mariahuana was an ideal drug to quickly cut off the inhibition, especially in the type of inadequate personality.   Under the influence of cannabis indica, these human derelicts are quickly subjugated by the will of the master mind.   The moral principles or training inculcated in the mind from infancy deter from committing willful theft, murder or rape, but this inhibition for crime may be destroyed by the addiction to mariahuana.   Kingman says that in the suggestibility resulting from hashish intoxication, the last vestige of man's artificially acquired restraint is swept away.   Thus it can be readily seen how many of these unfortunates with inadequate personalities, laggards in the struggle for existence, the majority of whom are the victim of pyschesthenia, become engulfed in the abyss of drug addiction, and end their miserable existence either on the gallows, or in penal institutions and insane asylums.   The moral and physical resistance to narcotics and alcohol is not only weakened but often destroyed in persons of stabilized personality, who are addicted, even to A moderate degree, to mariahuana.

I am indebted to Dr. George Roeling, coroner of the Parish of Orleans, for the following survey recently made in the parish prison of this city.   The histories of four hundred and fifty prisoners show one hundred and twenty-five confirmed mariahuana addicts, from 18 to 31 years of age.   Addiction was not found in any one beyond that age.   It is twice more frequent in the whites than in the negroes.

The records of the district attorney during the past year reveal that 17 out of 37 murderers, 13 out of 145 forgers, 36 out of 195 imprisoned for grand larceny, and 21 out of 115 detained for assault and robbery were addicts of muggles, and that 68 arrests were made for the sale and possession of mariahuana.

This survey shows that approximately one out of every four persons arrested in this city is addicted to mariahuana.   The sixty-eight arrests made last year for the violation of Act 41, 1924, relative to possession and sale of mariahuana, which is doubtless only a small percentage of those engaged in the traffic, attest quite a large consumption of the drug.

As far as it can be ascertained this addiction has assumed formidable proportions since the advent of that "noble experiment" that fiasco, prohibition.   In fact it is the offspring which bids fair to surpass its dissembling parent in destroying moral inhibition.   The lesser of the two evil is alcohol.   Whilst both induce a feeling of pleasure and contentment, moral degradation is the most salient feature of mariahuana, for the concomitant loss of social position because of a loose, irregular and frequently criminal existence, make these unfortunates a curse to their families and to their communities.

The debasing and baneful influence of hashish and opium is not restricted to individuals but has manifested itself in nations and races as well.   The dominant race and most enlightened countries are alcoholic, whilst the races and nations addicted to hemp and opium, some of which once attained to heights of culture and civilization have deteriorated both mentally and physically.

Whilst it is most unfortunate for humanity to be subjugated by intoxicants and narcotics of any kind, which at this stage of our civilization seems to be a necessary evil, the possible substitution of alcohol for a greater evil should be considered the greatest possible calamity that can befall nation.   It is not confined to the criminal class.

Mariahuana is a real menace to this community.   Despite every precaution school children of tender age, have been detected smoking muggles.   Dhunjibhoy states that indulgence in hashish is usually confined to males between the age of twenty and forty.   And here in our city jails, it was not found in any prisoner over thirty-one years of age.

Our city authorities are thoroughly aroused to the seriousness of the situation and are doing everything within their power to cope with this growing menace.   It is rapidly reaching beyond the city and state and now demands national control.   It behoves this society to give this matter its careful attention, and use every means in its power to induce the national government to include mariahuana in the Harrison Narcotic Act.

England has recognized the seriousness of the problem and in the year 1925 has included cannabis indica in its dangerous drug act.

The commissioner of public safety, Dr. Frank Gomila, has taken a deep interest in this subject and directed a great deal of time to its study.   I feel much indebted to him and to Miss M. Gomila, assistant city chemist, for their valuable assistance.

Dr. G. F. Roeling (New Orleans): I deem it a pleasure and privilege to be called upon to open discussion on so important a paper, and so timely and so ably presented as Dr. Fossier has presented here today.

Dr. Fossier has outlined to you the amount of menace mariahuana constitutes.   It may be well that I relate to you briefly my experience, and I think it will forcibly impress upon you the importance of the mariahuana situation in this section here which I deem largely due to the fact of our seaport facilities for getting the drug.

When I was elected coronor of the Parish Of Orleans and during the period of awaiting my induction into office, I surrounded myself with medico-legal problems and studied them from various angles and various standpoints.   I went into the study of every form imaginable that we would have to combat in safeguarding our people from crime producing individuals.   I went into the study of drug addiction, and into the study of mental diseases from the criminal aspect, but at no time did the subject of mariahuana come into my consideration.

Hardly had a few hours passed after my induction into office when specimen was sent to me for identification of the drug.   Individuals were sent to me for examination to determine whether they were mariahuana addicts or not.   Attorneys began to use this type of drug addiction as a means of defense for their clients in criminal court procedures.   This act was only originated in 1924 which made it a penalty to possess or sell mariahuana in the state of Louisiana.   My induction into office was in May, 1925, so you can readily see what a short period of time existed between the origination of the law and my induction into Office.

I immediately made a survey of the literature on the subject and found it to be nil.   The nearest I could get to a subject of any satisfactory point was that of the United States Dispensary, and that was obsolete in its formation.   I immediately called upon my old professor, Dr. A. L. Metz, who was about as limited in literature as I was but who had quite a bit of knowledge and experience because of his position in chemistry and otherwise in making a study of the drug.   But neither of us knew very much of the physiological action of the drug until we combined our efforts in studying the actual physiological effect of the drug.

Dr. Fossier, in his paper, brought out a few interesting points in regard to the physiological action of the drug.   We can consider the action of this drug upon the human mechanism as we would consider the acceleration of an automobile with the clutch out.   We feel that this mariahuana drug stimulates the cortical cerebral centers and inhibits the controlling sub-cortical centers of our mechanism which is responsible for this rapid flow of ideas, the immense visualization of these individuals, the bolstering up of their courage, and the various phenomena which will eventually give them courage and lead them into the most crime producing individuals that we have.

Dr. Fossier gives you a memorandum of 200,000,000 people in the world using mariahuana.   Dr. Fossier has brought out the striking statement that between the two evils, alcohol or mariahuana, the mariahuana is by far the greater menace.   I agree heartily with Dr. Fossier.

I readily realize---I believe we all do---that we have certain types of individuals who live in our communities who are of such mechanism that they need some form of stimulation in order that they may properly cope with their situation.   Whether that be alcohol or whether that be mariahuana, they are going to consume the one that is the easiest to be had and the cheapest and most accessible to their command.

Between the two, I would certainly much prefer having an alcoholic individual to contend with than I would a mariahuana individual.   Yet in handling the mariahuana addict you can confine him to the Parish prison and take him off the use of the drug without any ill effects except a certain amount of craving, but there is no physiological disturbance in his mechanism after he has been taken off the drug.

I certainly want to compliment Dr. Fossier for the thoroughness with which he has presented his paper, and the interest he has given to this subject because I feel that we as medical men, and particularly myself in the position I hold, are confronted with this very important factor in our daily lives.   I want to thank Dr. Fossier for presenting the subject.

Dr. F. R. Gomila (New Orleans): Mariahuana in our section is certainly beginning to give us a great deal of trouble.   I have instructed the Police Department to pick up all of the vendors of the drug and to go further into details in attempting to find the location of the existence of mariahuana in our city.   As you know, the Police Department is on edge attempting to destroy the sellers of the drug in the city.

Mariahuana, to my mind, should be put in the same class as heroin.   It serves very little medical purpose and should be removed from the market.   Before the conclusion of this session of the State Society I would like to have some definite action taken whereby the Society would go on record asking the Government to take cognizance of the situation as it is today.

Just outside of New Orleans on both the lower section and the upper section are vast fields of this weed that is growing, and unless something is done along the lines of gigantic enforcement (and I believe that could only be accomplished by the Government) mariahuana is going to continue to be a severe menace to our community and to these United States.

I want to say in conclusion that I will appreciate it if the Society will recognize the fact that mariahuana is in the same class with heroin and that an attempt should be made to remove it from the market.

Dr. F. F. Young (Covington): As the President has said, we are already over our time, I shall be brief.   I would not have made any remarks had I not been requested to do so, by my friend, Dr. Fossier.   It is not known apparently where the word marijuana or marihuana (both terms are correct) originated or its definitions---a letter from the botanical division of the Department of Agriculture of the U. S. Government states that they have been unable to find anything on the subject, in the literature, in their possession.   We must recognize that marijuana as grown in Mexico or Louisiana is in reality Cannabis sativa---Cannabis indica and the others are also Cannabis sativa.   This plant grows from Africa to Russia and from the Alps to Kentucky, from Kentucky to Louisiana, from Louisiana to Mexico---if there is a plant indigenous to every part of the world, I suppose this one comes as near filling it as any.   The lay term is hemp.   In Russia the plant grows very vigorous and ordinary hemp rope is made from it---the products from Cannabis Sativa grown in India, are those used entirely, almost, in medicine.   There, as we know, it is called Cannabis-Indica.   Fifty one years ago Dr. H, C. Wood, the author on a work on Materia Medica and Therapeutics, was invited from Philadelphia to Columbia University, New York, to describe his experiences upon himself, in the study of Cannabis Indica---I refer you to this work, if you wish to read something interesting and charmingly descriptive.   Major S. A. Billings, who was in the Medical Corps, with Pershing's Army, on the border of Mexico, when an attempt was made to arrest Villa, has stated to me, that certain individual types of soldiers took to smoking Marijuana like ducks take to water.   After smoking it, they would become hilarious and dangerous and had to be locked in cells until sobered up.   In the last thirty eight years, we have treated approximately seven thousand drug addicts and my classifications of this disease today would be quite different from then.   Thirty five years ago classifying addicts numerically morphine would have gone down first, cocaine second, chloral third, bromide fourth, with a small number from other drugs.   Today, I would be disposed to place at the head of the list, the barbatal group, marijuana second, etc.   Regarding marijuana addicts, from what we have seen and from what we have gathered from authorative sources, it is exclusively used by smoking.   All that such addicts we have seen were in young persons, under twenty five, who were defective in the brain and nervous structure before they began smoking this weed---they belong a type commonly called "moral imbaciles---they give a history of being incorrigable at home and at school and as they grow into manhood become criminally inclined--the marijuana addiction aggravates this very much.   From what we have seen, these smokers are criminals before they become addicted to the weed.   There is a peculiar laugh, of these addicts, that when once heard, can never be forgotten, I mean when they are on a drunk from its effects.   In conclusion I want to state that the flowers of the female plant once pollenized by the male pollen has no longer any medicinal virtue.   I enjoyed Dr. Fossier's paper very much---it is food for serious thought.   I thank you.

Dr. Fossier (closing): I want to thank very much those who have discussed my paper.

If over night, after the advent of prohibition, this nation became so adept in the brewing of beer, the making of wine and the distilling of alcohol, so much so that even children are adept in their manufacture, what will happen in the near future, with such a dangerous plant that, may grow in our very back yards.

Dr. Roeling is correct when he said that mariahuana is the accelerator to a criminal nature, especially when the inhibition of that individual is low.

I feel, gentlemen, that the Society should take an active part to eradicate this growing evil and it is for this reason that I am presenting a resolution to the House of Delegates, and I hope they will give this matter their kind attention.

AND NOTE this was written up BEFORE Harry Anslinger was truly in power.   Again as a warning to the reader, almost all of the information presented in this article is either mis-leading or out and out false.   Also of interest to the reader is the fact that previous articles (found in this same medical journal) which were quite supportive of the medicinal use of Medical Cannabis.   ?????

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