Cannabis, cannabin of 1907

Cannabis extract made by Parke, Davis & Co. circa 1910


" The dried flowering tops of the pistillate plants of Cannabis sativa Linne (Fain. Moracece), grown in the East Indies and gathered while the fruits are yet undeveloped, and carrying the whole of their natural resin." U. S. " The dried flowering or fruiting tops of the female plant of Cannabis sativa, Linn., grown in India; from which the resin has not been removed."

Cannabis sativa, Linn., Sp. Plant. 1457; Griffith, Med. Bot., p. 572; B. & T. 231.—Hemp is an annual plant, from four to eight feet or more in height, with an erect, branching, angular stem. The leaves are alternate or opposite, on long, lax footstalks, roughish, and digitate, with linear-lanceolate, serrated segments. The stipules are subulate. The flowers are axillary; the male in long, branched, drooping racemes; the female in erect, simple spikes. The stamens are five, with long pendulous anthers; the pistils two, with long, filiform, glandular stigmas. The fruit is ovate and one-seeded. The whole plant is covered with a fine pubescence, scarcely visible to the naked eye, and somewhat viscid to the touch. The hemp plant of India, from which the drug is derived, has been considered by some as a distinct species, and named Cannabis indica; but the most observant botanists, upon comparing it with our cultivated plant, have been unable to discover any specific difference. It is now, therefore, regarded merely as a variety, and is distinguished by the epithet indica. Pereira states that in the female plant the flowers are somewhat more crowded than in the common hemp, but that the male plants in the two varieties are in all respects the same.

C. sativa is a native of the Caucasus, Persia, and the hilly regions in Northern India. It s cultivated in many parts of Europe and Asia, and largely in our Western States. It is from the Indian variety exclusively that the medicine was formerly obtained, the heat of the climate in Hindostan apparently favoring the development of its active principle.2 H. C. Wood, having obtained a parcel of the male plant of C. americana (C. sativa) from Kentucky, made an alcoholic extract of the leaves and tops, and, upon trying it on the system, found it effective in less than a grain, and, having inadvertently taken too large a dose, experienced effects which left no doubt of the powers of the medicine, and of the identity of its influence with that of the Indian plant. How far the female tops might have the same effect is left uncertain; but if we are to judge from analogy with the Indian plant, they would be preferable to the male. (Proc. Am. Philos. Soc., vol. xi. p. 226.) The results obtained by H. C. Wood were so decisive that at the 1880 revision of our Pharmacopoeia the American plant was recognized; but in 1890 it was dropped as C. americana.

Cannabis indica from the North of France, also from Uganda, Africa, has appeared in London. According to W. E. Dixon, neither of the above varieties is nearly so active as is the Indian drug. (P. J., April, 1905.)

The seeds, though not now official, have been used in medicine. They are about the eighth of an inch long, roundish-ovate, somewhat compressed, of a shining ash-gray color, and of a disagreeable, oily, sweetish taste. They yield by expression about 20 per cent, of a fixed oil, which has the drying property, and is used in the arts. They contain also uncrystallizable sugar and albumen, and when rubbed with water form an emulsion, which may be used advantageously in inflammations of the mucous membrane, though without narcotic properties. The seeds are much used as food for birds, as they are fond of them. They are generally believed to be in no degree poisonous; but Michaud relates the case of a child in whom serious symptoms of narcotic poisoning occurred after taking a certain, quantity of them. It is probable that some of the fruit eaten by the child was unripe, as in this state it would be more likely to partake of the peculiar qualities of the plant. (Ann. Ther., 1860.)

In Hindostan, Persia, and other parts of the East, hemp has long been habitually employed .as an intoxicating agent. The parts are the tops of the plant, and a resinous product obtained from it. Bhang, is the selected, dried and powdered leaves. Ganjah or gunjah is the tops of cultivated female plants, cut directly after flowering, and formed into round or flat bundles from two to four feet long by three inches in diameter.1 It is stated that in the province of Bengal great care is taken to eradicate the male plants from the fields before fertilization of the female, and that thereby the yield and quality of the resin is greatly increased. In Bombay this matter is commonly neglected, so that Bengal ganjah is much superior to Bombay ganjah. It is recognized in India that ganjah rapidly deteriorates on keeping, that which is one year old being not more than one-quarter as potent as the fresh drug, while two year old ganjah is practically inert and is required by the Indian government to be burned in the presence of excise officers. It is probable, however, that much old ganjah finds its way into the markets of the world. All importations of ganjah or hemp from India should be made directly after the harvesting of the new crop in April or May, and the extract should be prepared at once and kept in hermetically sealed jars. There is on the surface of the plant a resinous exudation to which it owes its stickiness. Men clothed in leather or rawhides are said to run through the hemp fields, brushing forcibly against the plants, thus separating the resin, which is subsequently scraped from their dress and formed into balls. These balls, and also masses formed out of resin mechanically separated from gunjah bundles are called churrus. This is the hashish or hasheesh of the Arabs.

Hashish is also produced in considerable quantities in Persia by rolling and rubbing the flowers, stalks and leaves of hemp on rough woolen carpets and subsequently scraping off with a knife and making into balls or sticks the adherent resinous substance. The carpets are afterwards washed with water and the extract obtained by evaporation sold at a low price. The dose for smoking of the best hashish is said to be one-fourth to one grain (0.016 to 0.065 Gm.). The fanatics are affirmed to be generally hashish devotees.

The dealing in hashish in India is said to be a Government monopoly, and a very heavy license is required for the right to even purchase it in quantity. The importation of it into Egypt is so strongly interdicted that the mere possession of it is a penal offence; we found it, however, readily procurable. It is said to be brought into the country in pigs' bladders, in the Indo-European steamers, and thrown out at night during the passage into the Suez canal, to be picked up by the boats of confederates. Notwithstanding the Governmental interdiction, it is largeb^used by smoking in Egypt, as an intoxicant.^The statement of W. E. Dixon (B. M. J., Nov. 1899) that the inhalations of hemp smoke produces great exhilaration and causes muscular fatigue to disappear for the time being is undoubtedly correct, but his further belief that the habit is not apt to grow upon the hemp votary is more doubtful.

Momea or mimea is a hemp preparation said to be made in Thibet with human fat. From gunjah the Messrs. Smith of Edinburgh, obtained a purer resin by the following process. Bruised gunjah is digested, first in successive portions of warm water, until the expressed liquid comes away colorless; and afterwards for two days, with a moderate heat, in a solution of sodium carbonate, containing one part of the salt for two of the dried herb. It is then expressed, washed, dried, and exhausted by percolation with alcohol. The tincture, after being agitated with milk of lime containing one part of the earth for twelve of the gunjah used, is filtered; the lime is precipitated by sulphuric acid; the filtered liquor is agitated with animal charcoal, and again filtered; most of the alcohol is distilled off, and to the residue twice its weight of water is added; the liquor is then allowed to evaporate gradually; and, finally, the resin is washed with fresh water until it ceases to impart a sour or bitter taste to the liquid, and is then dried in thin layers. Thus obtained, it retains the odor and taste of the gunjah, which yields from 6 to 7 per cent, of it.
Properties.—Fresh hemp has a peculiar narcotic odor, which is said to be capable of producing vertigo, headache, and a species of intoxication. It is much less in the dried tops, which have a feeble bitterish taste. According to Royle, churrus is, when pure, of a blackish-gray, blackish-green, or dirty olive color, of a fragrant and narcotic odor, and a slightly warm, bitterish, and acrid taste. The Indian hemp is officially described as " in dark green or more or less brownish compressed masses, consisting of the densely paniculate branchlets, about 5 Cm. or more in length, and the inflorescence more or less agglutinated with a resinous exudation; commonly with a few undeveloped digitate leaves of one or more linear-lanceolate leaflets; clothed with numerous sheathing, pointed bracts, each containing two small mature but unfertilized pistillate flowers; odor agreeably narcotic; taste characteristic. In the powder few or no pollen grains or stone-cells should be present." U. S. " The fruit is one-seeded and supported by an ovate-lanceolate bract. Both leaves and bracts bear external oleo-resin glands and one-celled curved hairs, the bases of which are enlarged and contain. cystoliths." Br. For a histological description of the leaf by A. R. L. Dohme, see Proa. A. Ph. A., 1897, 569.

Indian churrus or hasheesh is a hard resinous mass of a greenish-gray color, containing much gritty earth, and, as it occurs in Egypt, of'a feeble, hemp-like odor and taste, Schlesinger found in the leaves a bitter substance, chlorophyll, green resinous extractive, coloring matter, gummy extract, extractive, albumen, lignin, and salts. The plant also contains volatile oil in very small proportion, which probably has narcotic properties. The resin obtained by T. & H. Smith of Edinburgh, in 1846, has been thought to be the active principle, and received the name of cannabin. By repeated distillation of the same portion of water from relatively large quantities of hemp renewed at each distillation, M. J. Personne obtained a volatile oil, of a stupefying odor, and an action on the system such as to dispose him to think that it was the active principle of the plant. As the water distilled was strongly alkaline, he supposed that his volatile principle might be a new alkaloid; but the alkaline reaction was found to depend on ammonia; and the liquid obtained proved to be a volatile oil, lighter than water, of a deep amber color, a strong odor of hemp, and composed of two distinct oils, one colorless, with the formula CisHao, the other a hydride of the first, CisH22, which was solid, and separates from alcohol in plate-like crystals. For the former Personne proposes the name of cannabene. It is affirmed that when this is inhaled, or taken into the stomach, a singular excitement is felt throughout the system, followed by a depression, sometimes amounting to syncope, with hallucinations which are generally disagreeable, but an action on the whole slighter and more fugitive than that of the resin. The various substances of alkaloidal nature that have been described by different investigators as found in Indian hemp are now recognized as due to decomposition products of choline, which was identified as present by Jahns (P. /. (3), 17, 1049). Cannabindon, is a dark red syrupy liquid obtained by Kobert (Cliem. Ztg., 1894, 741) from Cannabis Indica; it is soluble in alcohol, ether and oils; it is affirmed to be narcotic in doses of from half a grain to two grains (0.032 to 0.13 Gm.). As a result of a reinvestigation of charras (churrus) from Indian hemp, Wood, Spivey, and Easterfield (/. Chem. S., vol. Ixix. 539) have found the following principles: 1, a terpene, boiling between 150° and 180° C.; 2, a sesqui-terpene, boiling at 258° to 259° C.; 3, a crystalline paraffin of probable formula CasHeo, melting at 63.5° C.; and 4, a red oil, boiling at 265° to 270° C. under a pressure of 20 Mm., to which they give the name oannabinol, and the formula CisEfeiOa. This latter constituent they consider the only active ingredient. It is probably the same substance as the dark red syrup of Kobert, mentioned above under the name cannabindon. The authors found that cannabinol readily underwent superficial oxidation, at the same time losing its toxic activity. Famuleuer and Lyons (A. Pharm., 1904) believe that the only reliable preparation of Cannabis is a fluidextract made from the fresh drug. I. Roux (A. Pharm., 1887), has experimente upon extracts made by treating purified extract of hemp with petroleum benzin and ether. The ether extract produced insignificant results. The petroleum extract was excitant and convulsivant. The alcoholic extract was a feeble narcotic. At the present time (1905) no characteristic alkaloid is believed to be present; the volatile oil, found in small quantity, is not the active principle. The resin " cannabin " of which cannabinol is the chief constituent, appears to be active. Frankel (A. E. P. P., 1903, p. 266) claims to have isolated the active principle of hashish as a pure and chemically well defined body. It has the formula and is a phenol-aldehyde. It is of a pale yellow color and of a thick consistency. When heated it becomes quite fluid and distils at 215° C. under a pressure of 0.5 Mm. It oxidizes in the air, acquiring a brown tint. It responds to Millon's reaction, and can be acetylized, showing thus its phenol character. Frankel proposes that the name cannabinol be given to it and that the term pseudo-cannabinol be given to the inactive substance of Wood, Spivey and Easterfield.

Uses of Cannabis in 1907

Uses.—Extract of hemp is a powerful narcotic, causing- exhilaration, intoxication, delirious hallucinations, and, in its subsequent action, drowsiness and stupor, with little effect upon the circulation. It is asserted also to act as a decided aphrodisiac, to increase the appetite, and occasionally to induce the cataleptic state. In overdoses it may produce poisonous effects. In morbid states of the system it has been found to cause sleep, to allay spasm, to compose nervous disquietude, and to relieve pain. In these respects it resembles opium; but it differs from that narcotic in not diminishing the appetite, checking the secretions, or constipating the bowels. It is much less certain in its effects, but may sometimes be preferably employed, when opium is contraindicated by its nauseating or constipating effects, or its disposition to produce headache, and to check the bronchial secretion. The complaints in which it has been specially recommended are neuralgia, gout, rheumatism, tetanus, hydrophobia, epidemic cholera, convulsions, chorea, hysteria, mental depression, delirium tremens, insanity, and uterine hemorrhage. Alexander Christison of Edinburgh, affirms that it has the property of hastening and increasing the contractions of the uterus in delivery, and has employed it with advantage for this purpose. It acts very quickly, and without ansesthetic effect. It appears, however, to exert this influence only in a certain proportion of cases. (Ed. Month. Journ. of Med. Sci., xiii. 117; xv. 124.) According to C. E. Marshall (L. L., i., 1897; also J. A. M. A., Oct. 1898), cannabinol acts as a powerful hypnotic upon dogs and cats, producing also ataxia and other evidences of action upon the nerve centres. Its influence upon the circulation was found to be very feeble, though excessive doses reduced the pulse rate. In man, doses of from one and a half to two grains of cannabinol produced very active intoxication, with symptoms similar to those caused by cannabis indiea. The strength of the extract varies much as found in commerce, and therefore no definite dose can be fixed. When it is of .good quality, half a grain or a grain (0.032 to 0.065 Gm.),will affect the system,while some apparently good extracts are practically inert. The proper plan is to begin with one-quarter grain (0.016 Gin.), repeated at intervals of two, three, or four hours, and gradually increased until its influence is felt, and the strength of the parcel employed is thus ascertained. Afterwards the dose should be regulated by the ascertained strength; but, should a new parcel be employed, the same caution must be observed as to the commencing dose. The Br. tincture is prepared by dissolving an ounce of the extract in a pint (Imp. meas.) of alcohol. A dose of this, equivalent to a grain of the extract, is about twenty minims (1.3 Cc.), or forty drops. The inertness of much of the commercial extract Marshall believes to be due to the proneness of eannabinol to undergo oxidation. Of the terpenes of cannabis indiea, Marshall took as high as eight minims (0.5 Cc.) without effect.

Dosing of Cannabis in 1907


Dose, of Indian cannabis, one to two grains (0.065 to 0.13 Gm.).
Off. Prep.—Extraction Cannabis Indicse, U. S., Br.; Muidextractum Cannabis Indicse, U. S.; Tinctura Cannabis Indicae, V. S., Br.(from extract).