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1681: The first description of cannabis in English is presented to the Royal Society

Robert Hooke (1635–1703) was an English natural philosopher, architect and polymath who played an important role in the scientific revolution. He was a prominent member (Fellow) of the Royal Society in London.


Shortly after 1681 Hooke befriended Robert Knox, an English writer and sea captain in the service of the British East India Company. Knox became a close friend and collaborator of Robert Hooke, for whom he frequently brought back gifts from his travels. In return, Hooke took Knox to the local coffeehouses for chocolate and tobacco, then considered luxuries.[2]

On one occasion, Knox presented Hooke with samples of "a strange intoxicating herb like hemp" which he dubbed "Indian hemp" or "Bangue"; it is better known today as cannabis indica, a variety of hemp which was little known at the time in Europe. Hooke gave an address to the Society in December 1689 in which he provided what was the first detailed description of cannabis in English, commending its possible curative properties and noting that Knox "has so often experimented it himself, that there is no Cause of Fear, tho' possibly there may be of Laughter".[2]


1.Jardine, Lisa. 2005.The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man who Measured London, p. 238. HarperCollins.
2. Bennet, Jim. London's Leonardo. 2003. The Life and Work of Robert Hooke, pp. 205-206. Oxford University Press.
Research and text © Hempshopper Amsterdam.