How Cannabis Jumped from ‘Colonial Science’ to Western Medicine – in Calcutta

In 1833, a twenty-four-year-old Edinburgh graduate arrived in India, an Assistant Surgeon in the East India Company. He had failed to acquire a license under the London College of Physicians and Surgeons, but had already established himself as an exciting young medical researcher, authoring an important paper on cholera following an outbreak in Europe. This man was William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, an Irish physician who would – over the next few years working in India – make significant contributions to the history of research in electricity, telegraphy, pottery, and, his primary discipline, medicine

The colonial peripheries had no shortage of impressive polymaths, but what sets O’Shaughnessy apart is the manner in which, while conducting research in his many areas of interest, he not only tapped into elaborate local knowledge networks and structures but also rigorously documented them, thoroughly crediting his sources both bibliographic and human. O’Shaughnessy also stands out on

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