– In early 2022, The French legislature lit the green light Cultivation of cannabis within French territory to provide the country with an ongoing pilot program in medical marijuana. Clinical trials were launched in March 2021 using cannabis supplied from abroad and were supervised by the country’s Food and Drug Office, the National Agency for Medical Security, or the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products.
This two-year pilot program consists of 3,000 patients in France who use medicinal cannabis, which has been banned since 1953.
While the agency praised the pilot for its pioneering efforts to produce “the first French data on the efficacy and safety” of cannabis for medical treatments to treat cancers, nerve damage and epilepsy, the trial isn’t the nation’s first foray into the medical field. hemp industry. far from it.
“A drug that should not be neglected”
I am a historian of cannabis and colonialism in modern France. my research He found that in the mid-1800s, Paris served as the center of an international movement to medicalize cannabis, a THC-rich intoxicant made from the pressed resin of the cannabis plant.
Many pharmacists and doctors working in France at the time believed that cannabis was a dangerous intoxicant and alien from the “Orient” – the Arab-Muslim world – could be tamed pharmaceutical sciences And make it safe and useful against the most terrifying diseases of the age.
Beginning in the late 1830s, some of these pharmacists and physicians began preparing and selling cannabis-infused staples and subsequent lozenges and tinctures—cannabis-infused alcohol—and even “medical cigarettes” for asthma in pharmacies across the country.
Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, dozens of French pharmacists staked their careers on cannabis, publishing theses, studies, and peer-reviewed articles on its medicinal and scientific benefits.
The French epidemiologist Louis Remy Hubert Roche published a Thesis in 1840 He argued that cannabis, given as a small edible packet called a dawamsk taken with coffee, successfully cured the plague in seven of the 11 patients he treated in Alexandria and Cairo hospitals during the epidemic of 1834-1835. Albert Roche was an anti-infection in the era before germ theory – the idea that microbes could lead to disease – became a scientific dogma. He, like most physicians at the time, believed that plague was a non-transmissible disease of the central nervous system that spreads to humans by “miyaza,” or bad air, in unsanitary and poorly ventilated areas.
Thus, Obert Roche, mistaken for symptom relief and luck as a cure, believed that cannabis poisoning excites the central nervous system and counteracts the effects of the plague. He wrote: “Plague is a disease of the nerves. Cannabis is a substance that affects the nervous system that has given me the best results. So I think it is a drug that should not be neglected.”
Doctor Jacques Joseph Moreau de Tour, organizer of the famous Hachichins Club in Paris during the 1840s, Bushra dawamesk As a homeopathic wonder drug for treating mental illness. Moreau believes that the insanity is caused by lesions in the brain, and also believes that cannabis counteracts the effects.
Moreau reported in his 1845 work, “Du Hachisch et l’aliénation mentale” (“On Cannabis and Mental Illness”), that between 1840 and 1843, he treated seven mentally ill patients at the Hôpital Bicêtre in central Paris with cannabis. Moreau wasn’t completely off base; Today, cannabis-containing drugs are prescribed For depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.
Although doctors in France and abroad described Dawamsek as a miracle cure, they also complained about the inability to standardize dosages due to the difference in the potency of different cannabis plants. They also wrote about the challenges posed by the common adulteration of damask, which has been exported from North Africa and is often linked to other psychoactive plant extracts.
In the early thirties of the nineteenth century, many doctors and pharmacists appeared in the British Empire Try to solve these problems by dissolving cannabis in alcohol to produce a tincture. By the middle of the decade, French practitioners followed suit. They developed and marketed their own cannabis tinctures to French patients. A pharmacist in Paris, Edmond de Cortefe, described his product as “Hachischine” after the infamous Muslim killers Cannabis is often associated with French culture.
The popularity of cannabis tincture grew rapidly in France during the late 1840s, peaking in 1848. That was when the aforementioned pharmacist Joseph Bernard Justiniel and de Cortefe got involved in a legal battle over the patent – then known as the “right of priority” – of the tincture It is manufactured by a certain distillation method. “L’Affaire Gastinel”, as the press called it, or The Gastinel Affair, caused An uproar in French medical circles And occupied the pages of magazines and newspapers in Paris for most of that fall.
To defend his patent, Justinel sent two of his colleagues to plead his case at the Academy of Medicine in October 1848. One, a physician called Willemine, claim That Justinel not only devised the method of instilling the tincture in question, but that his tincture provided a treatment for cholera, which is also thought to be a nerve disease.
Although Willemine could not convince the Justinel Academy of the right of priority, he persuaded doctors in Paris to adopt cannabis tincture as a treatment against cholera.
Doctors in Paris didn’t have to wait long to test Willemin’s theory. A cholera epidemic broke out on the outskirts of the city just months later. But when cannabis tincture failed to cure the nearly 7,000 Parisians who died of the “blue death,” doctors said The loss of faith increases In a wonderful medicine.
In the following decades, the reputation of cannabis tincture declined as the medical theories of infection control that underpinned the use of the drug against plague and cholera gave way to germ theory and thus a new understanding of epidemic diseases and their treatment. During the same period, physicians in French Algeria increasingly cited cannabis use as a major cause of insanity and criminality among indigenous Muslims, a diagnosis they called “foli haschischique,” or cannabis-induced psychosis. It was advertised as a wonder drug only decades ago, and by the end of the 19th century it was Renamed “Oriental Poison”.
In my view, these earlier efforts to medicalize cannabis in France in the nineteenth century offer physicians, public health officials, and policy makers nowadays many important insights as they work to bring cannabis-containing drugs back onto the French market.
First, they should aim to separate the intoxicants and medicines of cannabis from the colonial notions of “oriental” otherness and Islamic violence that ironically underpinned the rise and fall of cannabis as medicine in France during the nineteenth century. as a scientist Dorothy Roberts argued cleverly In a 2015 TED Talk, “Ethnic medicine is bad medicine, poor science, and a misinterpretation of humanity.”
As I see it, doctors and patients should also temper their expectations about the benefits of medicinal cannabis and not over-promise and then deliver lackluster results, as was done with cannabis tincture during the cholera outbreak of 1848-1849.
And they should keep in mind that medical knowledge is historically unfolding and that piling the new profession of cannabis as medicine on contested theories could link the drug’s success to the wrong horse, as happened with cannabis after the obsolescence of infection control in the 1860s.
But if France is to engage its colonial past, reform its taboo policies and continue to open up a legal room for medical and recreational cannabis, I think perhaps it can once again become a world leader in the new medical marijuana movement.