CANNABIS CULTURE – “Wasting of the muscles, sallowness of the skin, hebetude of the mind, interference with coordination, failure of the appetite, convulsive seizures, loss of strength, and idiotic offspring, seem, from all accounts, to be the uniform result of the long-continued use of this drug.”                                                 

– Dr. H. H. Kane, concerning “The Hashisch Habit”, from “Drugs That Enslave”, 1881, p. 218

Just a few weeks in the past I had obtained an e mail from my good friend and fellow drug historian Michael Horowitz. He included an attachment of an outdated copy of “The Marijuana Review” from 1971 – the similar 12 months I used to be born.

The Marijuana Review was a clipping zine that Michael Aldrich – the first particular person in the United States to get a level in marijuana historical past – would use to flow into fascinating historic information about hashish and different medication. This specific subject was dedicated to reprinting an article from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, from their November 1883 version – “A Hashish House in New York – The Curious Adventures of an Individual Who Indulged in a Few Pipefuls of the Narcotic Hemp” . The Harper’s article was fascinating for 2 causes: 1) it contained a uncommon, detailed description of the inside workings of a cannabis smoking parlor from New York City in 1883, and 2) it talked about that the parlor served different medication together with coca tea. This caught my consideration instantly, as I had simply begun working at Dana Larsen’s “Coca Leaf Café” on Hastings Street in Vancouver, and we serve coca tea there, amongst different issues. (1)

The photocopy of the Harper’s article in the Marijuana Review zine was onerous to learn in spots and lacking a web page, so I regarded on-line to see if I may purchase a duplicate of the real article. It seems it was out there, and so, every week or so glided by and it arrived in the mail. I instantly learn it and was enthralled by each the description of the magnificent décor and the method wherein the coca tea was served:

“Not an inharmonious detail marred the symmetry of the whole. Beneath, my feet sank almost ankle-deep into a velvety carpet – a sea of subdued colors. Looked at closely, I found that the design was that of a garden: beds of luxurious flowers, stars and crescents, squares and diamond-shaped plots, made up of thousands of rate exotics and richly colored leaves. Here a brook, edged with damp verdure, from beneath which peeped coy violets and tiny bluebells: there a serpentine graveled walk that wound in and out amongst the exquisite plants, and everywhere a thousand shrubs in bloom or bud. Above, a magnificent chandelier, consisting of six dragons of beaten gold, from whose eyes and throats sprang flames, the light from which, striking against a series of curiously set prisms, fell shattered and scintillating into a thousand glancing beams that illuminated every corner of the room. The rows of prisms being of clear and variously colored glass, and the dragons slowly revolving, a weird and ever-changing hue was given to every object in the room. … Pulling a tasseled cord that hung above our heads, my friend spoke a few words to gaudily turbaned colored servant who came noiselessly into the room in answer to his summons, disappeared again, and in a moment returned bearing a tray, which he placed between us. Upon it was a small lamp of silver filigree-work, two globe-like bowls, of silver also, from which protruded a long silver tube and a spoon-like instrument. The latter, I soon learned, was used to clean and fill the pipes. Placing the bronze jar of hashish on the tray, by friend bade me lay my pipe beside it, and suck up the fluid in the silver cup through the long tube. I did so, and found it delicious. ‘That,’ said he, ‘is tea made from the genuine coca leaf. The cup is the real mate and the tube a real bombilla from Peru. Now let us smoke. The dried shrub here is known as gunjeh, and is the dried tops of the hemp plant. Take a little tobacco from that jar and mix with it, else it will be found difficult to keep it alight. These lozenges here are made from the finest Nepaul resin of the hemp, mixed with butter, sugar, honey, flour, pounded datura seeds, some opium, and a little henbane, or hyoscyamus. I prefer taking these to smoking, but, to keep you company, I will also smoke to-night. Have no fear. Smoke four of five pipe-fuls of the gunjeh, and enjoy the effect. I will see that no harm befalls you.’”

Image from “Keef” by T.W. Coakley, 1897

Even although the creator, Dr. Harry Hubbell Kane, had not taken the lozenges (cautious with that datura and henbane, children, as they’re very poisonous and doubtlessly lethal) and restricted himself to a couple pipefuls of “gunjeh”, he tripped balls (or pretended to), a lot as one would if one had eaten a heroic dose of cannabis, as American Fitz Hugh Ludlow did in his 1857 e-book “The Hashish Eater”. After an prolonged and fanciful journey, Dr. Kane was swallowed up by the earth and appeared inside a “deep cavern” excessive above a “sea of fire” – in different phrases, he had gone to hell:

“Issuing from this mist, a thousand anguished faces rose toward me on scorched and broken wings, shrieking and moaning as they came. ‘Who in Heaven’s name are these poor things?’ ‘These,’ said a voice at my side, ‘are the spirits, still incarnate, of individuals who, during life, sought happiness in the various narcotics. Here, after death, far beneath, they live a life of torture most exquisite, for it is their fate, every suffering for want of moisture, to be obliged to yield day by day their life-blood to form the juice of the poppy and resin of hemp in order that their dreams, joys, hopes, pleasures, pains, and anguish of past and present may again be tasted by mortals.’”

I think Dr. Kane had exaggerated the results of the pot so as to moralize about the evils of hash smoking, as he was a prolific anti-drug author in addition to being a practitioner of “modern” medication. The whole article is obtainable to learn free of charge, on-line, in case anybody is . (2)

As nicely as translating a e-book about France into English in 1902, Dr. Kane was liable for many drug books throughout his lifetime: “The Hypodermic Injection of Morphia: Its History, Advantages and Dangers” (1880), “Drugs That Enslave” (1881), “Opium-Smoking In America and China” (1882) – every of which is obtainable to learn free of charge on-line. (3)

In “Drugs That Enslave”, Dr. Kane did his greatest to place cannabis intoxication in a nasty mild: 

“There are those who use hashisch steadily the year-round, as many of our countrymen use alcohol; but this is due more to moral depravity than to any special morbid craving for the substance used. Were we able to procure a thoroughly reliable extract of hemp in this country, and did physicians use it as freely, as carelessly, and in as large doses, as they are using opium, morphine, and chloral, hashisch takers would be more common.” (p. 207)

What kind of man was Dr. Harry Hubbell Kane? A search of his identify in reveals over 2000 mentions – largely concerning his affiliation with horseback driving and car racing golf equipment. But I used to be lucky sufficient to return throughout an commercial for medical service of his – a “Positive and Lasting Cure of VARICOCELE, HYDROCELE, INFLAMED BLADDER, and ENLARGED PROSTATE GLAND”. 

Here’s his commercial, full together with his portrait, from The World, a New York City newspaper, from the 17th of November, 1897:

Apparently, curing swollen testicles was a profitable enterprise, as Dr. Kane lived in a really good Four story condo in Greenwich Village, which I positioned on Google Maps: 

As nicely as being interested by Dr. Kane, I puzzled what I may discover out about the cannabis smoking parlors of New York City. 

In Harper’s, Dr. Kane described taking a “Broadway car up-town, left it at Forty-second Street, and walked rapidly toward the North River” – in different phrases, they bought off the trolley at Times Square, walked up 42nd Street west in the direction of the Hudson River, and entered the Manhattan neighborhood of “Hell’s Kitchen”. 

The Wikipedia entry for “Hell’s Kitchen” gives many explanations for the peculiar identify. This one seems to be the greatest of them: 

“(Hell’s Kitchen) first appeared in print on September 22, 1881, when a New York Times reporter went to the West 30s with a police guide to get details of a multiple murder there. He referred to a particularly infamous tenement at 39th Street and Tenth Avenue as ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ and said that the entire section was ‘probably the lowest and filthiest in the city.’ According to this version, 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues became known as Hell’s Kitchen and the name was later expanded to the surrounding streets. Another version ascribes the name’s origins to a German restaurant in the area known as Heil’s Kitchen, after its proprietors. But the most common version traces it to the story of ‘Dutch Fred the Cop’, a veteran policeman, who with his rookie partner, was watching a small riot on West 39th Street near Tenth Avenue. The rookie is supposed to have said, ‘This place is hell itself,’ to which Fred replied, ‘Hell’s a mild climate. This is Hell’s Kitchen.’”

Wikipedia provided a picture of the neighborhood, circa 1890:

Hell’s Kitchen and Sebastopol, c. 1890, photographed by Jacob Riis

A quantity of raids of New York “smoking parlors” seem in the information in 1895. Hashish was authorized, however, apparently, maintaining a parlor the place you promote it was not, and one may very well be charged with an all-encompassing offense that additionally coated maintaining brothels and playing dens: “maintaining a disorderly house”. 

The New York Times, June 22nd, 1895, p. 1

There was multiple raid on a New York City “Turkish smoking parlor”, and the addresses reveal that these parlors had been positioned in multiple New York City neighborhood. 225 West 25th St. is positioned in “Chelsea”, and 86 Fourth Ave. is in the Ukrainian Village. 

The Evening World, July 12th, 1895, p. 3

But what, precisely, had been they smoking in these smoking parlors? Newspaper protection of a raid on one Turkish smoking parlor on the southern edge of Midtown Manhattan reveals the reply. A “Chibouk”, by the means, is a sort of Turkish smoking pipe, and, I infer, additionally a spot to smoke such a pipe. The handle was obtained in a single newspaper clipping: 

Fort Worth Daily Gazette, July seventh, 1895, p. 15

And the particulars had been obtained in one other:

Chickasaw Chieftain, Ardmore, Oklahoma, August 22nd, 1895, p. 1


Just in case you might be questioning, as I puzzled, what a “danse du ventre” was, it’s the French time period for “Belly Dancing”. As for “hash-heesh”, there have been some ways to spell cannabis again in the 1800s, and that was one of them. I had a glance on Google Maps for 1210 Broadway, and the closest I may place it was the present location of the “A1 Watches and Jewelry” store, positioned at 1212 1B Broadway, subsequent to “Cleopatra Hair”, positioned at 1212 A Broadway. The constructing seems to be historic, and is sandwiched between two different outdated buildings, which leads me to consider this constructing was round in 1895:

As for what it may need regarded like inside whereas in use as a Turkish Smoking Parlor, we have now a couple of clues. There was an illustration from the Illustrated Police News from 1876, captioned as a “secret dissipation of New York belles: Interior of a Hasheesh Hell on Fifth Avenue”. There’s that hellish description once more – though the picture doesn’t look all that hellish in any respect: 

Image from

Regarding the picture immediately above, Michael Horowitz wrote in an e mail; 

“Very few ladies had been even smoking tobacco in the late 19th-century (the author George Sand is famous as the first to smoke a cigarette in public (Paris c. 1860). But right here they’re, a robust presence in Persian apparel in the American cannabis parlours of the 1870s and 1880s.  This was a mere 35 years after the Parisian Hashish Club. The outbreak of anti-Asian racism we see right this moment had its roots in the opium dens of the late 19th century to which Caucasian ladies had been attracted.  The cannabis parlours didn’t increase the similar sort of alarms, maybe as a result of they had been festive occasions in comparison with the oblivion seekers of the o-dens.

Speaking of NYC, whereas visiting New York City, Cindy and I stayed in an condo simply off Gramercy Park. On the different aspect of the small park was a beautiful 19th century brownstone the place James Harper, co-founder of Harper Bros. lived and had his workplace—Fitz Hugh Ludow’s writer.  We think about Fitz Hugh strolling up the stone steps to knock on the door to drop off his newest piece of writing.   We additionally went to an handle additional downtown on Livingston St. (overlook the actual avenue quantity however it’s identified exactly). The home is now a constructing that serves as a sort of small hospital.  But in entrance is a wrought iron gate that positively is mid-19th century—the gate Fitz Hugh recurrently opened.  Our last cease was the web site of Pfaff’s restaurant and saloon on decrease Broadway the place the Gotham writers and journalists like Ludlow and his buddies who appeared in the pages of Harper’s frolicked.  Walt Whitman was an everyday and kind of held courtroom there.” 

Then I discovered a picture of a bunch of males in a French music band named “The Tam-Tam Bollenois” smoking a home made hookah in 1884 – only one 12 months after the Harper’s article got here out. This picture got here from web site – maintained by one of my Supreme Court of Canada co-appellants, Chris Clay – on a web page entitled “Lost in Exquisite Intoxication, 1884”:

Image from

Last however not least, there was a picture from New York from 1895 – the 12 months of the raids on the Turkish Smoking Parlors – from Jack Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes: 

Image from

These “hash-heesh” smoking parlors had been little doubt closed down attributable to the demonization and stigmatization from the likes of Dr. Kane and others, who started their marketing campaign of lies at round this time. 

An analogous tract got here from an 1885 pamphlet titled “A WEED THAT BEWITCHES”, from the National Temperance Society, additionally positioned in New York. The pamphlet is generally about tobacco, however has sections on opium and “hasheesh”. We are advised that; 

“Whole nations have been stimulated, narcotized, and made imbecile with this accursed hasheesh. The visions kindled by that drug are said to be gorgeous and magnificent beyond all description, but it finally takes down body, mind, and soul in horrible death.”

“A WEED THAT BEWITCHES”, National Temperance Society, 1885


In 1885, a poet named Thomas Bailey Aldrich printed a e-book of poems, one of which was referred to as “HASCHEESH”. It appears doubtless a poem impressed by a cannabis overdose. The final bars go like this: 

“A terror seized upon me… a imprecise sense

Of close to calamity. “O, lead me hence!”

I shrieked, and lo! from out a darkling gap

That opened at my toes, crawled after me,

Up the broad staircase, creatures of large measurement,

Fanged, warty monsters, with their lips and eyes

Hung with slim leeches sucking hungrily.—

Away, vile drug! I’ll keep away from thy spell,

Honey of Paradise, black dew of Hell!” (4)

Also in 1885, the time period “ganja”– the Hindi time period for “sensimillia” or “seedless cannabis flowers” (5) – begins to look in newspapers, and not for the first time. But this time, the demonization, prejudice, bigotry and white supremacism is utilized to the hashish person in a giant means:

“A ganja eater is a criminal of which we have no counterpart in this country. He is an Asiatic monster. We hear, no doubt, of men being ‘mad with drink;’ but their frenzy differs both in degree and kind from that which results from indulgence in the juice of the hemp. For ganja is a preparation of this herb, and, though its prediction is punishable by the laws in India, is unfortunately so easy to procure that crime from this cause is constantly occurring. Thus in the latest Indian papers we find a case of a man, brutalized by its use, stabbing right and left in a Bombay bazar, and note that the magistrate, when passing sentence, deplored the increase in this ‘most dangerous class,’ the ‘ganja eating people.’ … The opium eater is an innocuous and harmless person. He injures no one but himself; he sins, perhaps, by omission, but not by commission. The ganja eater, on the other hand, is invariably a law breaker. He becomes at once a criminal. The villainous decoction seems to have the strange power of bringing to the surface all that is vicious and bad in its most violent form. Of such men murderers and assassins are made. In the Ghazi villages it is ‘ganja’ or ‘bang,’ as the different preparations of hemp are called, which is used for the stimulation of the fanatics, who are then sent out into the world to ‘run a-muck’ and to kill and be killed ‘for the faith.’” (6)

Apart from the occasional disparaging point out in articles reprinted from overseas newspapers, and an ordinance handed in Kentucky towards any one that “has, by the habitual or excessive use of opium, arsenic, hasheesh, or any drug, become incompetent to manage themselves or estates with ordinary prudence and discretion” (7), Dr. Kane’s assault on cannabis – first in his e-book “Drugs That Enslave” and then in his article in Harper’s – mark the starting of the anti-cannabis motion in the United States. 

Whether this was the outcome of a real mis-identifying acute poisonous results of hashish as continual circumstances ensuing from hashish use mixed with the sensationalism that sells books and magazines, or if it was simply one other instance of the demonization and scapegoating that goes hand in hand with the divide and conquor ways apparently inherent in the state, just isn’t as necessary a query to reply as is the query of the best way to educate the common public about the true nature of the fraud that underlies the demonization of hashish. For the injustices that include raids on hashish smoking parlors (8) – in addition to the killings from botched raids, the mass incarcerations, the damaged households, the destroyed lives and the many different black-market-related injustices – proceed to at the present time. 




3)The Hypodermic Injection of Morphia, Its History, Advantages, and Dangers, Based on Experience of 360 Physicians

Drugs That Enslave page/n11/mode/2up

Opium-Smoking in America and China


The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1885;view=fulltext

5) “History of Cannabis as a Medicine”, Ethan Russo, from The Medicinal Uses of Cannabis and Cannabinoids, 2004, Geoffrey W. Guy, Brian A Whittle, Philip J. Robson, editors, Pharmaceutical Press, London, p.9

6) “The Ganja Eater”, The Daily Republican, Aug. 24, 1885, p.3

7) The Baltimore Sun, March 26, 1872, p. 2

8) Relax is a component of a community of medical hashish clinics that present sealed, ventilated house for folks to eat the drug. The lounge additionally sells snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Last summer time, it was the goal of suspected arson. Quebec regulation permits companies similar to eating places, shisha bars, and cigar lounges to permit indoor tobacco consumption in sealed, ventilated areas of the institution. But relating to indoor hashish consumption, the provincial Cannabis Regulation Act makes provisions just for areas similar to long-term care amenities, seniors’ residences, and palliative care hospitals. The house owners of Relax declare to have obtained a cigar lounge-type allow that permits them to function and at the moment are planning to contest the bust in courtroom. “We think that this was a witchhunt and the amount of effort and money that was put into it to degrade us, to put us down, was really ridiculous,” Vargas advised CTV News. “I hope that this does not repeat itself because the way they came in at us was like a gang of criminals.”

‘This was a witch hunt’: Police raid hashish lounge in Quebec, Emma Spears, Mar 04, 2020


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