She is known as the grandmother of Europe… But was she a pot-smoking grandma? Queen Victoria is one of the most emblematic figures of the 1800s. Mention of her name conjures up images of a vast empire and extreme prudishness. Recent discoveries in the historical literature can now answer the question, “Did queen victoria smoke weed?”
Who Was She?
Born on May 24, 1819, she would ascend to the throne at the young age of 18. She would assume the lofty titles of Queen of England and Ireland as well as Empress of India. Not uncommon for monarchs at the time, the Queen would marry her first cousin Albert.
The two would go on to have 9 children. These children would intermarry into the all the prominent royal families of Europe with the exception of France and Spain. Her descendants would include Tsar Nicholas 1 and Kaiser Wilhelm, two pivotal figures in the First World War.
The Queen’s influence was said to have a stabilizing effect on foreign relations and through her policy of intermarriage, she aided in keeping her nation out of the violent continental wars of the 19th century.
Her 63-year reign was the second longest of any British monarch. She would oversee her empire through its greatest era of industrial and scientific advancement in the age of enlightenment. She also oversaw the territorial expansion of the British Empire to the greatest heights, leading to the moniker, the sun never sets on the British Empire.
Could someone so pivotal to history really have been a marijuana user? Historical sources say yes! Queen Victoria suffered from severe menstrual pain, her doctor J.R. Renolds had the solution… Cannabis!
The monarchs personal Physician stated in on of the most prominent medical journals of the age,
“When pure and administered carefully, [cannabis] is one of the most valuable medicines we possess”
Reynolds may have been a doctor far ahead of his time as recent studies have confirmed that Cannabis can be effective for the treatment of pain symptoms associated with menstruation. The uterus is full of cannabinoid receptors, a part of the endocannabinoid system through which marijuana acts.
Not much else is known about Queen Victorias cannabis use. Other than these few excerpts from Doctor Reynolds, little else is know. I was able to dig up this image from her college days, however… that Queen Elizabeth II has desperately tried to cover it up.
With all the recent science and discoveries surrounding cannabis’ medicinal properties, it may feel like we have struck an undiscovered gold mine. Was JR Reynolds privy to some secret knowledge or was cannabis commonly prescribed in the 1800s?
Believe it or not, cannabis has been used by countless cultures throughout history. Britain during the industrial revolution happened to be one of these. The substance saw widespread medical use throughout the 1800’s.
Weed was first brought to the British Isles by an Irish doctor named William Brooke O’Shaughnessy. He has studied the substance while serving as a medical officer with the East India company. He would bring marijuana back to his native country from Bengal, where it became the focus of medical study.
By the 1840’s British doctors believed they had discovered a medical wonder. Weed was commonly utilized for stomach ailments and lessening menstrual cramps as we saw with Queen Mother. However, experimentation during this period showed promise for treating hydrophobia, tetanus, cholera and convulsive disorders. Modern scientific experimentation has demonstrated that cannabis is a life-saving treatment for what we now refer to as epilepsy.
British doctors would even prescribe cannabis as a cure for various mental illnesses. This use of marijuana reflects an age of great scientific advancement. Keep in mind, not much earlier it was not in history that mental illness was being misdiagnosed as demonic possession and witches were burned alive.
How was it that such a promising medicinal plant as cannabis would become so vilified? The scientific data on the plant’s effectiveness didn’t simply vanish into thin air. However, an age-old myth that refuses to die would lead to some dangerous stereotypes. Marijuana would become incorrectly associated with mental illness.
The earliest of these claims reached the British House of Commons in the 1890’s with reports that,
“The Lunatic Asylums of India are filled with ganja smokers”
A formal investigation was launched. Referred to as the Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission in 1894-1895. The commission found that,
“The excessive use may certainly be accepted as very injurious, though it must be admitted that in many excessive consumers the injury is not clearly marked.”
Prohibition of the substance would soon follow, and in the 1920’s, cannabis would be outlawed in the United Kingdom. Over time, the scientific literature regarding the benefits of weed would be lost in the annals of history, and all that would remain would be the stigma.
As a result of our society’s historical blind spot and the overwhelming amount of negative propaganda that has been fed to us… It is easy to forget that cannabis has been a fundamental part of many societies. These cultures realized its benefit and exploited it to great effect. Would you smoke a joint with Queen Victoria? Let us know in the comments below.