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Cannabis Time Capsule, 1893: Marijuana Stops Cannibalism in Africa, Germans Say

Hermann Von Wissmann and an African security detail.
Hermann Von Wissmann and an African security detail.

We're not really sure what the point of this August 10, 1893 pitch from the Greeley Tribune on "Hasheesh smokers" is all about. It starts out like something out of the SAFER playbook but then devolves into a complete hash fable loaded with half-truths.

See also: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Review: Mile High Dispensary in Lakewood

"Alcohol, opium and cocaine are the cause of endless woe to humanity," the article starts, before adding: "What if something could be found which could be substituted for these poisons and at the same time have a pleasing and beneficial influence on man, and instead of making him wild would quiet him as did the lyre of Orpheus?"

Cannabis Time Capsule, 1893: Marijuana Stops Cannibalism in Africa, Germans Say

The column describes the African explorer Hermann Wissmann, who served under King Leopold II of Belgium.

The monarch was trying to establish his own kingdom in Africa in what we now know as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the piece talks about how Wissmann apparently watched as the "Lubuku" people went from being savage cannibals to peaceful hippies who wouldn't even kill an animal after smoking "riambo", or as the natives called it, "bashilange." You guessed it: They were getting high.

"These people, who before had been aggressive leaders in wars are now living in peace," Wissmann wrote about the Lubuku and their herb-smoking.

We can't find anything on the Lubuku, but have to assume that much of what really transpired was lost to translation. Though, idealistically, we'd like to think that smoking herb actually did make an entire group of people give up violence and killing. And it wasn't just the cannibalistic Africans, either. See, the author of this piece attributes the peacefulness of the Lubuku to the same thing that gives India its "characteristic feature:" hasheesh.

Cannabis Time Capsule, 1893: Marijuana Stops Cannibalism in Africa, Germans Say

It goes on like so: "When fully efficient, it produces the feeling of pleased intoxiaction and the most agreeable and pleasurable thoughts. Thereupon follows sleep, deep and dreamless, and on the following morning pleasant visions are still real and present."

Not only that, but the author goes into one of the greatest benefits of cannabis use, enhanced musical appreciation.

Not a bad article, right? But this wouldn't be a true Cannabis Time Capsule without at least a little old-fashioned racism. And this gem is most certainly not lacking in the xenophobia. For example: "The effect of the [hash] chewing on the negro is wonderfully quieting."

Hermann Von Wissmann..
Hermann Von Wissmann..

Yeah, they actually wrote that. It was 1893, after all. The report goes on to say that weed was "firmly introduced" by Wissmann, who used it as a way to sublimate the folks who likely wanted his German ass off their land. He also apparently (and proudly) used weed as a truth serum and would make two people accusing each of crimes smoke as much weed as it took for one to break down and admit to the real truth.

The piece then skips back to India, where the author says that despite his earlier assertions, marijuana doesn't make all Indians into stoned-out gurus. Of course, his story is based on complete fabrications of another German nobleman named Von Bibra:

Cannabis Time Capsule, 1893: Marijuana Stops Cannibalism in Africa, Germans Say

So, the real takeaway from this article is that pot is a great alternative for opium, alcohol and cocaine and it cures cannibalism. Just don't go to India or stoners'll rob you.


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