While Napoleon fought with the dominance of cannabis consumption in Egypt, new intellectual forces were awakening in Europe. Romanticism, orientalism and fascination with psychology and paranormal, combined with the well-established fashion of the upper classes for opium and its tincture – frankum – created a special climate in which the supposed charms of hashish could be explored by brave and alien souls. The greater difference between the legal and intellectual environment of taking psychoactive substances at the beginning of the XIX century from ours can hardly be imagined. Opium and hashish were substances not regulated by the state, and their consumption did not cause any denial. Tobacco and coffee have long been imported to Europe and have become an indispensable part of secular rituals of European civilization. It is therefore not surprisingthat extravagant traveler stories about drug enthusiasm and the prospect of transcendental ecstasy contributed to the experiments with cannabis.
In the early 40s of the last century, a group of French writers, among whom were Teofil Gautier, Baudelaire, Gerard de Nerval, Dumas and Balzac, as well as a number of sculptors, artists and other bohemian representatives, organized the famous “Hashishists Club”. The club arranged weekly meetings at the premises of the Hotel Luzan on the Ile Saint-Louis in Paris. At these meetings, the well-known traveler and psychiatrist J.-J. Moro de Tour supplied the audience with something of an Algerian hashish stuck in jelly called dawamesc. These meetings were a kind of private research conducted by successful and respected writers. However, only a few years later during the Paris uprising of 1848, troublemakers from the student’s environment marched through the streets with placards, demanding the free sale of cannabis and ether.
In 1842, the English doctor U.-B. 0’Shaughnessy was the first who in the book “Bengal Pharmacopoeia” introduced England to ganja , potent Indian hemp. Hemp has become an integral part of English medical practice and, therefore, has been included in the list of every English pharmacist.
The relationship between opium and hashish in shaping the European imagination is complex and synergistic. Opium has a much longer history of widespread consumption in the West than hemp. Opium has been known and used by doctors since at least the time of late Egypt and the Minoan period; he also played a big role in the late decadence phase of the Minoan religion. Hemp was imported to Europe later, and largely due to interest in altered states of consciousness, which was warmed up by opium enthusiasts.
Although hemp has been used in the East for many centuries, it is unlikely that anyone other than a handful of Europeans knew about its existence until Marco Polo made a sensational report around 1290. Despite the fact that the German doctor Johannus Weier mentioned the consumption of hashish by witch groups in the 16th century, cannabis-based psychoactive drugs were not present among alchemists and probably were not imported into Europe until O’Shaughnessy and his French contemporary Ober-Roche did not advocate the use of cannabis around 1840.
In 1845, J.-J. Moreau de Tours published his work. His detailed reports on the effect of hashish consumption ignited interest in both medical and literary circles and caused a whole wave of experimentation. And even then the interest in hashish did not go far beyond the Paris circles in which Moreau himself rotated. Hashish consumption did not become European fashion in the 19th century and was limited mainly to the Middle East.