Odd Fellows and Reefer Madness in 1843

Reading back issues of old Odd Fellows magazines from the early 19th century can result in a severe case of bulging eyes. Here’s an article from The Symbol and Odd Fellows Magazine, in 1843. See link below.


There has been recently discovered in India, by accident in the first place we believe, a most curious narcotic, the produce of the Indian hemp; differing from the hemp of more northern countries only in the presence of this narcotic stimulant. A state of intoxication may be produced which will last for the space of three hours or more.

This drug was first discovered by the English in India. Men clad in leather dresses ran through the fields brushing through the plant with great violence; the soft resin adheres to the leather and is subsequently scraped off and kneaded into balls. In Nepal, the leather attire is dispensed with and the resin is gathered upon the skins of the naked natives.

There are several preparations of it– one for smoking, one for sweetmeats, and others for beverages and medical compounds; the effects are, with slight difference, the same. From the beverage, intoxication ensues in about half an hour. The inebriation is of the most pleasant kind causing the person to sing and dance and eat food with the greatest relish. In its effects upon the system it is perfectly harmless; nausea sickness of the stomach or headache is not the result of the use of this drug; a pleasant sleep is all the inconvenience (if inconvenience it can be called) which results from its use.

Much interesting matter in relation to the above may be found in a reprint from the Transactions of the Medical Society of Calcutta written by an eminent surgeon of the Bengal army who is now living. We shall have occasion to speak of this curious drug and the peculiar phenomena attending the use of it more definitely hereafter.

(VIDEO BELOW NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK because of language. Still good though!)

Taken from The Symbol and Odd Fellows Magazine, Volume 1, page 260, 1843




Scott Moye is an award-winning history educator and collector of Arkansas folklore. He grew up on a cotton farm and is currently a museum worker. Hobbies include: old house restoration, writing, amateur radio, Irish traditional music, archery, craft beer, old spooky movies, and street performance.  He is a member of Marshall Lodge #1, in Marshall, Arkansas, and a founder of Heart In Hand Blog. Email him at drumthrower1819@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s