England’s longest ruling monarch, Queen Victoria, is one of the most well known medicinal cannabis consumers of the 19th century.
Although the medicinal benefits of cannabis have been known for thousands of years in China, there was virtually no information or understanding about the plant in Europe during Queen Victoria’s reign.
Dr. William Brooke O’Shaughnessy was one of the first folks to validate the medicinal properties of cannabis in England. Recommending cannabis use for a variety of ailments, Dr. O’Shaughnessy published the first papers on the medical applications of cannabis while he was a member of the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta.
Dr. O’Shaughnessy would go on to run the first scientific trials of medicinal cannabis, where his work drew praise from fellow englishman, J. Russell Reynolds, the personal physician to the queen. J. Russell Reynolds would later prescribe cannabis for Queen Victoria stating in 1890, “When pure and administered carefully, [cannabis] is one of the most valuable medicines we possess.”
After providing a cannabis tincture to Queen Victoria to help relieve menstrual pains, the queen was so pleased with Dr O’Shaughnessy that she elected him a fellow of the Royal Society in 1843.