When reading about the historical perceptions of cannabis, especially those of the elite, cannabis is often said to cause insanity. I'm pretty sure there was a point when British elites were talking about the hashish insanity within Indian asylums. To give a concrete example of this being mentioned, here's a quote from Liat Kozma's article Cannabis Prohibition in Egypt, 1880–1939: From Local Ban to League of Nations Diplomacy

It was also colonial medical doctors’ reports regarding the connection between cannabis and insanity that convinced the Egyptians that hashish was indeed dangerous.

(page 444).

According to this same article, John Warnock's article Insanity from Hasheesh was a significant factor behind Egypt's prohibitionist policies and stance against hashish (page 450).

So my question is; what is the first mention of cannabis-related insanity, and what caused its ascription? Why and how did it catch on and become so popular?


Liat Kozma (2011): Cannabis Prohibition in Egypt, 1880–1939: From Local Ban to League of Nations Diplomacy, Middle Eastern Studies, 47:3, 443-460

  • I think your title has the (mythical) cause and effect reversed: it should be insanity attributed to cannabis use, a la "Reefer Madness".
    – jamesqf
    May 9, 2021 at 3:05
  • Can you include full citations for your sources, specifically publication dates since you are asking for a time frame. If you include links to your sources it will help those who might wish to research the subject.
    – justCal
    May 9, 2021 at 17:39
  • Have you looked at the etymology of ‘assassin’?
    – AllInOne
    May 9, 2021 at 22:29
  • @jamesqf As in, people weren't claiming that "smoking cannabis will make you insane", but rather that they assumed insane people had their insanity caused by cannabis? Because I would agree that often, the latter was the case. People admitted to hospitals for insanity would often be asked about whether they smoked cannabis, and if they said no, they'd sometimes assume they were lying. However, I do believe that the reverse happened a lot of the time as well; I'm pretty sure a lot of people believed and stated that smoking cannabis would most likely lead to insanity.
    – A. Kvåle
    May 10, 2021 at 7:46
  • I have seen cannabis associated with schizophrenia and other mental issues, and I have read an article from psychiatrist working in a drug addict treatment house, whose experience brought him to the same attitude that A. Kvale describes: among people with some definite kind of mental issues (don't remember the exact diagnosis) so many of them were cannabis addicts, that he just assumes that such kind of issue is due to cannabis. Time has shown him to be right most of the time (guys who just assume their drug problems months into the treatment, even the family did not know for sure, etc.)
    – Luiz
    May 10, 2021 at 18:50


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