The excruciatingly witty and multi-talented David Nessle has been alerted by his erudite father to a long enthusiastic article about cannabis in the classic Swedish 1909 dictionary Nordisk Familjebok (uggleupplagan). This dictionary was in every home with any pretentions to literacy and social respectability. A stoner among the dictionary’s contributors, pharmacology professor Oskar Teodor Sandahl (1829-1894), has clearly done a lot of pot to be able to report the way he does (note that he mentions the munchies), and the editorial board has then felt it proper to devote an entire page to the subject. I translate:
Hashish. 1. H a s h i s h (Arab. herb, especially hemp, being the foremost of all herbs, due to its pleasurable, anaesthetic and calming properties, and finally preparations made of this herb), pharm. […]
[Description of how to make cannabis extract using butter and rose-petal oil] 3-4 g of such extract is ingested, usually in a small cup of black coffee, when one wishes to attain a pleasurable intoxication.
[…] Truly wonderful are in many cases the effects of hashish, but they vary according to individual and dosage. After the ingestion one’s head always becomes heavy, sometimes with headache, a sensation of warmth is felt and vertigo and a ringing in the ears. One’s pupils dilate, and long-sightedness ensues. During hashish intoxication, many report that objects appear enormously elongated, as if they had no end: a road you wander seems endless, and your goal constantly slips away into the distance. Painted pictures appear stereoscopic or seem to take corporeal form and begin to move, so that they appear to free themselves living from the canvas. Sensoric acuity is dulled, while the poisoned person’s impressions appear exceptionally vivid. Usually a subjective sense of heightened intensity and power in one’s mental faculties is felt, along with a highly cheerful air, a considerable impulse to laughter, and indeed irrepressable eruptions of loud laughter, without apparent reason, but usually inspired by bizarre visions or more correctly illusions. Under the influence of a strongly heightened imagination, the shapes and colours of these illusions often become exceptionally sumptuous and engrossing. (Even more glorious colours are summoned by a poison in certain cacti, see C a c t a c a e). One’s consciousness is sometimes entirely intact, at other times more or less fogged, so that no memory of events during intoxication remains afterwards. One’s sense of time becomes highly skewed: everything appears hasty and fleeting, but minutes nevertheless feel like hours. The ground disappears under your feet, you experience a not unpleasant sense of floating in the air, and you fly through wide expanses of space. In many is seen, however, a great inertia in their movements, an uncertain gait and trembling hands, while others display an impetuous tendency to noisemaking, raving and destruction, everything under at least partial consciousness.
With time, a tendency to calm and sleepiness makes itself felt. Usually, however, the hashish intoxication does not cause sleep directly, but only makes the following night’s sleep uncommonly deep, with or without remarkable dreams. In everyone does hashish stimulate a considerable heightening of the appetite afterwards; otherwise there are no or no notable side effects. Hashish does not cause constipation.
[Stuff about fakirs and assassins, speculation about how the drug’s effects arise.]
People who use hashish often and in large doses can of course damage themselves seriously with it. Particularly, some are said to become insane, while death from hashish poisoning is very rare. Compared to opium, hashish is far less dangerous; in particular, it lacks opium’s damaging effects on the digestive tract and general state of nourishment.
Professor Sandahl’s article appears to have been re-printed with some revisions from the late-19th century edition of the dictionary. Sandahl was into altie treatments and ran a “Medico-Pneumatic Clinic” in Stockholm from 1860 to 1882, where patients sat in sheet-iron cupboards and breathed “condensed air” to cure their ailments. I wonder if the stoner professor sent medical marijuana smoke into those curative cupboards.
Funnily, I find that O.T. Sandahl owned a property on Baggensstäket’s Skogsö shore, not far from the battlefield of 1719 where I have helped with metal detecting. “Despite being for many years one of the capital’s most sought-after practicioners, the prominent and exceptionally friendly physician found time to write many dissertations, travel books etc. His beautiful plantations at Stäket were famous.”
[More blog entries about drugs, pot, cannabis, history, Sweden; knark, hasch, cannabis, historia, Stockholm.]