In 1926, famed Beverly Hills doctor and national US newspaper columnist William A. Brady described his first encounter with“hasheesh”. As a young student, he had found himself alone while his roommate was out “gallivanting”. Bored, he became “what the novelists call intrigued with the therapeutic action of hasheesh” and “slipped over to the drug store and bought an ounce of fluid extract of cannabis indica.” He then “swallowed a full dose and sat down to wait for the grand double acting cerebral phenomenon.”
What seemed like several weeks passed, and he wondered if perhaps his roommate had left for a vacation… He tried picking up a book containing a possible antidote, but for some reason his hands could only grasp the textbook that had inspired him to try it in the first place. His complete report follows.
My First Shot of Hasheesh
By William A. Brady, M. D.
(Noted Physician and Author)
Lansing State Journal, February 19, 1926
Hasheesh (Indian hemp, cannabis indica) is a drug about which a good deal of romance has been woven. When I as a callow student I was what the novelists call intrigued with the therapeutic action of hasheesh as it was described in Hare. Hare has revised his textbook of therapeutics many times since then – and I’ll tell the world he ought to – but the thing that intrigued me was an assertion that hasheesh made the two lobes of the brain act separately, so that one under the effects of the drug would carry on one line of thought with one side of the brain and an entirely separate line with the other. This I felt certain could not be so. That sort of reaction has brought me no end of trouble in this world – but it has also brought me a lot of satisfaction.
Well, it being a long, quiet Sunday evening and my roommate out gallivanting, I concluded to settle the question in a practical way, and slipped over to the drug store and bought an ounce of fluid extract of cannabis indica. I swallowed a full dose and sat down to wait for the grand double acting cerebral phenomenon. It was about 9 p. m. when I sat down. After I had sat there about six weeks I looked at the time and it said it was about 10 p. m. – the same night. That seemed mighty strange and I began to wonder whether my roommate had gone off on a vacation or … and then I decided to get down Hare again and see whether he could account for the strange lapse of time, but while I could still pick Hare out of the bookshelf all right I seemed to … well, do you know, Hare no longer intrigued me.
I developed a keen interest in toxicology and tried to find our textbook on that subject – thought I might as well be looking up an antidote for cannabis indica while waiting – but I couldn’t put my hands on the toxicology book at all. It seemed that every time I went to the bookshelf I came back with old Hare, and each trip required about eight hours. It seemed I was in a curious dual dream state, both of me. I could get nothing but Hare down from the bookshelf. I could get Hare down about three times a day. I could keep Hare down – but about then I found I could keep nothing else down and next morning I was all right again.
I found later that Hare said a full dose of cannabis indica would start a man laughing and keep him in a wildly hilarious state for quite a while. If my dream self laughed my real self could not recall it. I found out still later that Hare said a number of things in one edition or another, which have a dreamlike quality. I remember how I bought Hare again, along about the tenth or twelfth edition, just to see how his brain was progressing, and in it he said alcohol depressed the heart, lowered the blood pressure and in short that its dominant action was depression of all the vital functions, yet he still recommended it for snake bite, shock, fainting, pneumonia, heart disease and everything.
I didn’t rush out to get some hasheesh this time; I asked Hare how come he thought so well of alcohol as a stimulant if it was a depressant as he taught and told me that was all tenth edition stuff, and it was then the eleventh edition. It is now the twentieth edition, I believe, and for all I know Hare may have quit using hasheesh altogether many editions ago.
The recent hokum pulled off by metropolitan police concerning an alleged hasheesh farm where the drug was being grown in America reminded me that the romance of cannabis indica is not quite dead yet. It is good enough for some publicity for the dilettant police commissioner, perhaps, but for real romancing today I choose iodin. Wait till I cut loose on iodin tomorrow.
About Dr. Brady (obituary from the Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY, March 19, 1972)
Dr. William Brady, a native of Canandaigua whose medical advice reached millions of Americans through a nationally syndicated newspaper column, is dead at the age of 91. Dr. Brady died of uremia Feb. 25 at his Beverly Hills, Calif., home, but no announcement of his death was made to the media until yesterday.
Dr. Brady was born March 26, 1880, in Canandaigua. He received his medical degree from the University of Buffalo Medical School in 1901, and began medical practice in Buffalo in the same year. In 1914, he began editing a health column that was syndicated in daily and Sunday newspapers throughout the United States and Canada.
After practicing medicine 11 years, he gave up his practice to write full time. Dr. Brady maintained that nutrition is the key to good health and urged the use of vitamins and minerals as a basic part of the daily diet. He considered alcohol a narcotic, and advised youth to refrain from smoking until the age of 21.