Cannabis sativa, L.
Ivor Hughes

The graceful and precise Botanic Art shown on the left is from K�hlers Medicinal Plants. The image is that of the male plant.

Before we proceed to more serious matters. The folk term '
Skunk Weed' is now common parlance for Cannabis, I feel that it should also be incorporated into monographs, as a folk name, and ranked  with 'Dracunalis', also known as skunk weed. Cannabis in all its many  preparations are being consumed in large quantities from peasants, to people in high places, in every part of the  globe. As a black economy it packs a hefty clout. New Zealanders have a wry way of seeing the world, e,g, Cannabis is said to be, the Province of Northlands major export. Most certainly the revenue it generates is considerable. To this economic activity we must allow the negative of the sheer cost in man power and enforcement measures must run into the millions of dollars.

The very act of enforcement drives up the street price because of the risks involved. Someone is always prepared to take the risk if the price is right. In that respect enforcement is no more than an escalating problem for the authorities. We do not have to travel the whole road of American Prohibition, and the machine guns to understand what will happen.

The demonising of cannabis or 'tea' began with the lifting of the  American Prohibition. The control of the alcohol profits, were wrested by the government, from the hands of the bootleggers, and given back to allowable commerce. Then came the notorious propaganda posters shouting 'Reefer  Madness' So the Government caved into the liquor industry and the  people were deprived of legitimate right to choose to either self medicate,  abuse or use cannabis as a recreational drug. As a medicinal plant it is invaluable.

The spurious concern about the safety of the plant is quickly dispelled  by studying the monographs on cannabis as they appeared in
USD  21st Edition 1926 and Martindales 24th. And which  appear below.

The plant has been allocated to the Mulberry family  (Moraceae) The growers have carried out many experiments with the  plants .... not the least was the grafting of a young cannabis root on to a  young hop shoot with some apparently interesting results. If the crop is legalised the growers will bring considerable expertise and knowledge into the mainstream.

The Botanic Monograph is taken from :


of Cultivated Plants
L.H. Bailey
and the Staff of the Bailey Hortorium
at Cornell University.

Monograph of the USD 21st Edition 1926.


Cannabis is the dried flowering tops of the pistillate plants of Cannabis sativa Linne.
(Fam. Moraceae). Cannabis, in the form of the fluid extract, administered by the mouth to dogs in doses not exceeding 0.1 cc. for each kilogram of body  weight of dog, produces a degree of incoordination equivalent to that caused by  the same dose of the standard fluid extract of cannabis, prepared as directed below.

It contains not more than 10 per cent. of its fruits, large foliage  leaves, stems over 3 mm in diameter, and not more than 2 per cent. of other foreign organic matter. It yields not more than 5 per cent. of acid-insoluble ash, and not less than 8 per cent. of alcohol-soluble extractive.

U S.: Indian Hemp consists of the dried flowering or fruiting tops of the pistillate plant of Cannabis sativa, Linn., grown in India; from which the resin has not been removed..

Cannabis Indicae, Br.:
Hemp, Indian Hemp: Guaza, Ganja,.Herba Cannabis Indicae;

chanvre, Chanvre de l'lnde, Fr, Indischer Hant, G.  Canamo, Sp.: Marihuana, Mex.

For many years the official cannabis was restricted to the drug which was used for centuries in India. The reason for this was that the Indian cannabis was more uniformly active. Recently the Indian Government has placed a high tax on every pound of the drug grown, The result has been that other markets have  been sought and the hemp plant has been grown in other parts of Asia, Africa and  America.

While, of course, much of this material is not equal to that grown in India yet the fact that it can be grown, as shown by experiments, in the United  States
(see Hamilton, J. .A. Ph. .A., 1913, ii;1915, iv, 389) of a very  high quality has caused the framers of the U. S, Pharmacopeia to permit the use of a cannabis, no matter where it may be grown, provided it comes up to the biological standard as  given in the definition.

Physiologically active cannabis is obtained at the present time not only  from. India, but Africa,
Turkey, Turkestan, Asia Minor, Italy, Spain and the United  States.

The cannabis sativa, or hemp plant, is a tall, rough annual, from four to sixteen feet or more in height, with erect, branching, angular stem. The  leaves are alternate or opposite, and palmately-compound, with five to seven linear lanceolate, coarsely serrated leaflets. The stipules are subulate. The flowers are axillary and  greenish; the staminate in long, branched, drooping panicles; the pistillate in erect, simple catkins. The stamens are five, with long pendulous anthers; the pistils two, with long, filiform, glandular stigmas, The fruit is an ovate achene.

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 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.

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. a. sativa is a native of the Caucasus, Persia, and  the hilly regions in Northern India. It is cultivated in many parts of Europe  and Asia, and largely in our Western States.

The most important commercial varieties of cannabis are the India,  American and African. Indian cannabis is obtained from plants grown in various  districts of India, chiefly north of Calcutta. The flowering tops are collected when they have taken on a brownish color, the fruits shaken out and the herbage allowed to wilt and then subjected to the rolling and treading process in order to work resinous matter from the stems into the inflorescences.

There are two commercial grades of Indian cannabis, viz.: round and  flat. The round is prepared by kneading each branch into a cylindrical or rounded mass. The flat grade is kneaded into a compressed flattened form. The  color is grayish-brown. The commercial supplies of this variety are imported into the United States from Bombay, India. American cannabis is yielded by Cannabis sativa plants cultivated in various sections of the United States. It occurs on the market in the form of broken segments of the inflorescences and  more or less crumpled and broken leaves, varying in color from brownish-green to  light brown.

African cannabis from Cannabis sativa plants growing in various districts of Africa, comes into the market as broken leaves and flowering tops of a greenish-brown  color.

The fruits
or " so-called " seeds, though not now official, have been used in medicine. They are from three to five millimeters long and about two millimeters broad,  roundish-ovate, somewhat compressed, of a shining ash-gray color, and of a  disagreeable, oily, sweetish taste. For a comprehensive monograph on the  morphology of cannabis fruits, as well as their history and chemical  composition, see Tschirch, II Handbuch der Pharmakognosie," p. 555. 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 no degree poisonous; but Michaud relates the case of a child in whom serious symptoms of narcotic poisoning occurred after taking a 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.

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. 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.

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 stems into the inflorescences.

Fresh hemp has a characteristic odor, which is much less in the dried  tops, which have a feeble bitterish taste.

Description and Physical Properties.

Unground Cannabis.-In separate tops or less agglutinated masses or  fragments, consisting of the short stems with their leaf-like bracts and  pistillate flowers or more or less developed fruits; color green to dark green or greenish brown ; odor agreeable, somewhat heavy narcotic; taste somewhat  acrid and pungent. Leaves digitately compound, usually broken. Leaflets when entire, linear-lanceolate, nearly sessile, margin deeply serrate. Bracts ovate,  pubescent, each enclosing lor 2 pistillate flowers or more or less developed  fruits. Calyx dark green, pubescent and somewhat folded around the ovary. Styles 2, filiform and pubescent. Ovary with a single campylotropous ovule. Stems  cylindrical, longitudinally furrowed, light green to light brown, strigosepubescent.

Structure of Stem.
Cortex composed of collenchyma and, in the larger stems, of numerous strands of more or less lignified bast.fibers; strongly lignified wood with medullary rays l-cell wide pith, often hollow; rosette aggregates of calcium  oxalate numerous.

Powdered Cannabis
Dark green; epidermis from lower surface of leaves with sinuate vertical walls and numerous oval stomata, from upper surface with straight walls and no stomata; non-glandular hairs numerous, unicellular, rigid, curved, with a very slender pointed apex and an enlarged base usually containing calcium carbonate  masses; glandular hairs of two kinds, one with a short l 1 celled stalk, the other with a long multicellular, tongue-shaped stalk, the head being globular and consisting of 8 to 16 cells; fragments of bracts and leaves showing  yellowish-brown laticiferous vessels, numerous rosette aggregates of calcium  oxalate, 0.005 to 0.030 mm. in diameter, and strands of spiral tracheal and  phloem; fragments of fruits with palisade-like, non-lignified cells with  yellowish-brown finely porous walls usually containing air; tissues of embryo  and endosperm with numerous oil globules and aleurone grains, the latter from  0.005 to 0.010 mm. in diameter and displaying crystalloids and globoids. Diluted  hydrochloric acid added to powdered Cannabis causes effervescence visible under  the microscope.
" U.S.

The British Pharmacopoeia
describes Indian cannabis as follows : " In compressed, rough, dusky-green masses, consisting of the branched upper part of the stem, bearing leaves and pistillate flowers or fruits, matted  together by a resinous secretion. Upper leaves simple, alternate, 1-3 partite; lower leaves opposite and digitate, consisting of five to seven  linear-lanceolate leaflets with distantly serrate margins. Fruit 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 crystoliths. Strong,  characteristic odor; taste slight. When a mixture of 10 grammes of finely powdered Indian Hemp and 100 millilitres of alcohol (90 per cent.) is shaken  occasionally during twenty-four hours and then filtered, 20 millilitres of the filtrate, evaporated in a flat-bottomed dish, yield a residue weighing, when  dried at 100 C., hot less than 0.250 gramme. Ash not more than 15 per cent." Br. 
For a histological description of the leaf by A. R. L. Dohme, see Proc.  A. Ph. .A., 1897, 569.

The cannabis of the market may consist of fruiting tops and stems and occasionally the staminate tops are admixed with it. William Beam in Bulletin  No. 4 of the chemical Section of the Welcome Tropical Research Laboratories,  Khartoum, has discovered a specific color reaction which may be used for the detection of Cannabis indica and its preparations. A petrolum ether extract of  the suspected material is prepared and evaporated to dryness in a test tube. To  this is added a few cc. of a reagent prepared by saturating absolute alcohol with dry hydrogen chloride gas. In the presence of cannabis the liquid assumes a  bright cherry red color which is destroyed upon the addition of water or alcohol. Constituents.

The activity of hemp undoubtedly resides in its resin, but the chemical  nature of the active principle is unsettled. 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.

This oil was lighter than
water, of a deep amber color, a strong odor of hemp, and composed of two distinct oils, one colorless, with the formula C12H20,  the other a hydride of the first, C12H22, which was solid, and separated 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.

Cannabindon, C
2H12O, is a dark red syrupy liquid obtained by Robert ( Chem. 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 - 0.13 Gm. ) .As a result of a reinvestigation of charras (churrus) from  Indian hemp, Wood, Spivey, and Easterfield (J. Chem. S., vol. Ixix, 539) have  found the following principles: 1, a terpene; boiling between 150 and 180 C ; 2,  a sesquiterpene, boiling at 258 to 259 C.;3, a crystalline paraffin of  probable formula C29H60, melting at 63.5 C. ; and 4, a red oil, boiling at 265 C  to 270 C. under a pressure of 20 mm., to which they give the name cannabinol,  and the formula C18H2402..

This latter constituent they consider the only active ingredient. It is  probably the same substance as the dark red syrup of Robert, mentioned above under the name of cannlibindon. The authors found that cannabinol readily underwent superficial oxidation, at the same time losing its toxic activity. It  is stated that cannabinol exhibits much more Powerful effects when dissolved in a bland oil such' as olive oil.

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 C21H30O2, 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 mill. 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 substance of Wood, Spivey and Easterfield which Frankel asserts is inert.


Hooper (P;J. 1909,lxxxi, p. 80) describes a method for the chemical standardization of cannabis based upon its iodine value. He finds that the alcoholic extract of old samples has a lower iodine value than that from  repeated distillation of the same portion of water from relatively large quantities of hemp recent specimens, and there is more or less constancy of relation between the age and the iodine value.

The U. S. Pharmacopeia,
gives a physiological test for the standardization of Cannabis indica. Up  to the present no means have been suggested for determining, with even approximate accuracy, the relative potency of different samples of Cannabis indica,  the physiological test simply demonstrating that the drug possesses a  certain indefinite amount of physiological action. The official test is based on the degree of incoordination produce in the dog in comparison with that produced  by a standard preparation.

It is advisable to use the same animal for repeated tests, because the  individual susceptibility of the dog varies so greatly, and the experimenter  gradually learns the degree of reaction to be expected from a certain dog. It is convenient to employ two dogs ( fox terriers usually react well ) to one of  which will be given the standard and to the other the drug to be tested. Three  days later the test should be repeated in reverse order, that is the dog which at the first test received the standard, at the second test should receive the  unknown and vice versa.

A fluid extract of the specimen to be tested is either evaporated into a soft extract and given in the form of a pill or mixed with an inert absorbing  powder and enclosed in a capsule; it must not be given hypodermically. The symptoms caused by Cannabis indica in the dog recall those of alcoholism in the human being. There is at first a slight loss of control in the hind legs so that the animal staggers as he walks, later the ataxia becomes so marked that the dog  is unable to stand up without leaning against some object, and about this time begins to show distinct drowsiness, and may eventually pass into a heavy  sleep.

Use, adult dogs which weigh less than 15 kilogrammes and  which are susceptible to the action of Cannabis. The dogs must not be fed for  twelve hours before being used and observations should be made within one hour  after administration The same animal must not be used for testing purposes at  shorter intervals than three days. Administer the fluidextract in gelatin  capsules by the mouth. U.S.

Standard Fluid extract of Cannabis.
In order to obviate the inaccuracies due to variations in susceptibility of the dogs, the present Pharmacopeia directs a comparison  to be made with a standard fluid extract of cannabis. This is directed to be prepared as follows :" Prepare a composite fluid extract, representing at least ten different lots of Cannabis, conforming to the official
botanical description, and administer this fluidextract in gelatin capsules to dogs by the mouth. This standard fluid extract must be so adjusted that it will produce incoordination in dogs  which have been found to be susceptible to the action of Cannabis when  administered in doses of 0.03 cc. for each kilogramme of body weight of dog." 

The Bureau of Chemistry, U. S. Department of Agriculture, has indicated  its willingness to supply such a standard fluidextract of cannabis for the use of those who  desire to make bio-logical assays of this drug. It has generally been believed that cannabis  deteriorates rapidly, but Eckler and Miller(J. .A.Ph.A., 1917, vi, p. 872) found  that the crude drug showed practically no change after a year's storage but that  after two years it had lost about half of its potency; Hamilton (J. .A. Ph.  A.,1918, vii, p. 117) believes that the loss must be usually much slower because  he found a sample fourteen years old to be 70 per cent. of standard, and an  extract, which had been constantly used for assay purposes for nine years, has  shown no appreciable change.

Aside from a slight local irritant effect the action of cannabis seems to  be limited almost exclusively to the higher nerve centers. In man this is first manifested  by a peculiar delirium which is accompanied with exaltation of the imaginative function and  later by a remarkable loss of the sense of time. The delirium is often accompanied with motor weakness and diminished reflexes and generally followed by drowsiness. In the dog the  earliest manifestation of equilibrium and later weakness of the legs and drowsiness.

Cannabis is used in medicine to relieve pain, to encourage sleep, and to  soothe restlessness. Its action upon the nerve centers resembles opium, although much less certain, but it does not have the deleterious effect on the secretions. As a somnifacient it is rarely sufficient by itself, but may at times aid the hypnotic effect of other drugs. For its analgesic action it is used especially in pains of neuralgic origin, such as migraine, but is occasionally of service in other types. As a general nerve sedative it is useful in hysteria, mental depression, neurasthenia, and the like. It has also been used in a number of other conditions, such as  tetanus and uterine hemorrhage, but with less evidence of benefit. One of the great  hindrances to the wider use of this drug is its extreme variability. We are inclined to the opinion that one of the important reasons for the lack of confidence in this drug has been insufficiency in  dosage. Because of the great variability in the potency of different samples of cannabis it is well nigh impossible to approximate the proper dose of any individual sample except by  clinical trial. Because of occasional unpleasant symptoms from unusually potent preparations,  physicians have generally been overcautious in the quantities administered. While the  inclusion of a physiological assay in the Pharmacopoeia has some what improved  the quality of drug upon the market it must be remembered that the present  method of standardisation is not quantitatively accurate; all that can be hoped from this assay is the exclusion of inert samples.

The only way of determining the dose of an individual preparation is to give it in ascending quantities until some effect is produced. The fluid extract is perhaps as useful a preparation as any; one may start with two or three minims of this three times a day, increasing one minim every dose until some  effect is produced.

According to C. R. Marshall (L. L., 1897, i, also J.A.M.A., Oct., 1898)  the deterioration of cannabis is due to the oxidation of cannabinol, which he  has found to act upon dogs and cats as the crude drug.

Dose, of cannabis, one to three grains (0.06 - 0.2  gm.).
Off. Prep.-Extractum Cannabis, U. S. (Br.) ;Fluidextractum  Cannabis, U. S.;
Tinctura Cannabis (from Extract), Br.; Collodium Salicylici Composita 
(from Fluid extract), N.F. Mistura Chlorali et Potassii Bromidi  Composita
(from Extract), N. F.; Mistura Chloroformi et MorphinreComposita (from  Tincture), N.F.

The Cannabis Monograph of Martindales Extra Pharmacopoeia.  24th Edition.


Indian hemp and resins obtained from Indian hemp and all  preparations (except extract and tincture of Indian hemp) of which such resins form  the base.

Any extract or tincture of Indian hemp. Any preparation, not being a  preparation capable of external use only, made from extract or tincture of  Indian hemp.'

Cannabis (the dried flowering or fruiting tops of Cannabis sativa (Linn.)  the resin of cannabis; extracts of cannabis; tinctures of cannabis. cannabin  tannate.

Rule 10 of the Poisons Rules, 1952, exempts from the First Schedule  provisions all corn paints in which the only poison is a poison included in the  Poisons List under the heading of Cannabis

Cannabis (B.P.C.1949). Cannab.; Cannabis Indica; Indian  Hemp; Ganja; Guaza; Chanvre Indien; Hanfkraut; Marihuana; Cafiamo  indiano.
Foreign Pharmacopcsias: In Belg., Egyp., Fr., Inti., Span., and Swiss.

The dried flowering or fruiting tops of the pistillate plant of Cannabis  sativa (Cannabinacere). Protect from light. The active principle of the drug is contained in the resin (cannabinone) which contain, cannabinol. C21H26O2 which resinifies on exposure to air  and become, Inactive, though even long storage of whole cannabis does not entirely destroy its activity.

The masses obtained in European commerce are called Guaza. Bhang consist of specially dried leave, and flowering shoots of both male and female plants.  wild or cultivated. Ganja consists of dried flowering top, of the cultivated hemp plant which become coated with a resinous exudation.

Charras is the name given to the resinous matter collected from the leave, and flowering top of the plant. and constitutes the active principle of hemp; the best quality and the maximum amount of resin is obtained from plants grown in Yark and in Chinese Turkestan. and the major part of the charas  produced in Chinese Turkestan finds its way into India. In S. Africa it is smoked under the name of dagga.

Toxic Effect.
Toxic doses cause vertigo and collapse but serious Poisoning is rare and  fatalities unknown since the margin between the effective and the fatal dose is  wide. Addiction does not give rise to serious physical consequence, and, except  in severe cases. withdrawal symptom, are insignificant. Continued use of the drug may lead to mental deterioration but insanity is a rare sequel.

The physiological activity of the hemp plant varies with the locality in  which it is grown. The minimum fatal dose by the mouth of charras, ganjah and  bhang, work out at 2 g, 8g. and 10 g. per kg. body weight respectively.
R N.  Chop'a and G. S. Chopra, Ind Med Res. Mem No.31, 1939, pp. 1-119

A case of cannabis intoxication from the smoking of cigarettes, made  from the dried leaves and tops of plant grown in England. E. T. Baker - Bates  Lancet, i/1935. 811.

Addiction among marihuana users is unlike addiction among the users of  morphine or heroin With the latter the victim must have the drug to feel normal.  But with marihuana the addict wants to recapture the euphoric state into which  the drug lifts him. 1t is more of a psychological condition, there is no marked  physiological disturbance on withdrawal of the drug. After long usage however a  dull state supervenes in which the victim is for all practical purposes an addict, and in which ethical and intellectual deterioration and apathy are the outstanding factors.
W. Bromberg.
Med Rec N.Y. 1935.142.309.
Marihuana a  psychlogic study. W. Bromberg
J. Am. med. Ass. 1939.113, 4

Uses: Dose, of 2 grain, or more, whether ingested or smoked, cause euphoria, mental confusion. hallucination, and motor excitement. The initial phase of inebriation is succeeded by irritability and somnolence, and after some hours by a comatose sleep. Cannabis was formerly employed in mania  and nervous disorders, as a cerebral. sedative or narcotic but. owing to the uncertainty of its action it is now seldom used. It has occasionally  been used for the relief of migraine and of headache due to  hypertension.

HERPES ZO'STER. Administration of the extract in pill form.0.25  to 0.5 grain according to age 3 times a day, quickly relieves the pain C. E. Matthews, Brit med J ii/1939,431.

Ext. Cannab. (BPC. 1949) Extract of Cannabis. A soft extract prepared by percolation with alcohol (90%) Protect from moisture

Dose :
16 to 60 mg ( 0.24 to 1 grain) It is usually given in pill form with Iycopodium.

Mist Cannab. Indic. (Formerly Chelsea Hosp for Women) Tincture of cannabis 10 ml . spirit of nitrous ether 30 ml. dilute solution of ammonium acetate 60ml mucilage q.s., camphor water to 1 fl.oz.

Tinct Cannib. (BP.C. 1949. Ind P.). Tincture of Cannabis. Extract of cannabis 5g Alcohol (90%) to 100 ml. When dispensed in  mixture, mucilage must be added to suspend the resin

Dose: 0.3 to 1 ml. (5 to 15 minim,) Belg P. Fr.P. and Span. P. 1 in 10.