1844 - 1849 CE
Dr. Moreau and "The Hashish Club"

The French physician Jacques Joseph Moreau is responsible for building the bridge between cannabis and the arts community. Moreau first used hashish (cannabis resin) while traveling through the Middle East in the 1830s. He found the intoxication paralleled some aspects of psychosis. These results led Moreau to search for volunteers who might take the drug while he observed from a less intoxicated, more objective state. The popular French novelist Pierre Jules Theophile Gautier assisted Moreau in this research. He not only participated himself, but he also recruited other members of France’s artistic community. This crew of experimenters donned the name "The Hashish Club" and met monthly in an old mansion in Paris.

Other famous members of The Hashish Club included Baudelaire, Balzac, Dumas, and Flaubert. Other than Gautier, Baudelaire is the only one who published accounts about using the drug. Both Gautier and Baudelaire report positive and negative experiences, including some paranoid, terrifying moments typical of extreme dosages. The impact of the drug on their creativity remains unknown. Moreau’s book based on this research appeared in 1846 and received an honorable mention in a scientific competition sponsored by the French Academy of Science.

Source: Earleywine, M. (2002). Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence. Oxford.

Drugs: Cannabis (marijuana)
Regions: France
Topics: Cultural factors (social, religious, ritual)