America’s Canine Cosmonaut, 1907

“A dog weighing 25 pounds received an injection of two ounces of an active U.S.P. Fluid extract in the jugular vein with the expectation that it would certainly be sufficient to produce death…”

-A 1907 study ‘A Pharmacological study of Cannabis Americana (Cannabis Sativa)’ By E.M. Houghton


Actual Parke Davis & Co test Dog

 

 

America’s Canine Cosmonaut

Long before the Russians could launch Canine Cosmonaut’s into space, the scientist at Parke Davis & Co had American canines flying high…


Soviet space researcher Oleg Gazenko holds Strelka (left) and Belka (right) aloft at the 1960 press conference immediately after their landing.

In the late 1800’s American drug companies were looking at ways to cut costs while improving supply. Many shipments of raw drugs like Cannabis Sativa were getting moldy and spoiling on the long wet travel over seas.  While other shipments of the drug simply did not have a consistent potency.

The common belief at the time was the strongest Cannabis Indica drug plants could only be achieved in India.

At the turn of the century, American Company’s like Parke Davis & Co started planting fields of cannabis in America of seed obtained from Cannabis Indica stock straight from India.

The Goal was to prove you could grow the same potency cannabis as India on American Soil!


Parke Davis Cannabis Americana tincture


“Much has been written relative to the comparative activity of Cannabis Sativa grown in different climates (Cannabis Indica, Mexicana, and Americana). It has been generally assumed that the American-grown drug was practically worthless therapeutically, and that Cannabis Sativa grown in India must be used if one would obtain physiologically active preparations.

Furthermore, it has been claimed that the best Indian drug is that grown especially for medicinal purposes, the part used consisting of the flowering tops of the unfertilized female plants, care being taken during the growing of the drug to weed out the male plants. According to our experience, this is an erroneous notion”

-Parke Davis & Co 1910 pamphlet Cannabis Americana

This new Cannabis grown in America had to be differentiated for marketing reasons, the new patriotic brand ‘Cannabis Americana’ was born…


Parke Davis ad about Cannabis Americana

“Before marketing preparations of Cannabis Americana, however, we placed specimens of the fluid and solid extracts in the hands of experienced clinicians for practical test; and from these men, all of whom had used large quantities of Cannabis Indica in practice, we have received reports which affirm they have been unable to determine any therapeutic difference between Cannabis Americana and Cannabis Indica. We are, therefore of the opinion that Cannabis Americana will be found equally as efficient as, and perhaps more uniformly reliable than, Cannabis Indica obtained from abroad, since it is evident that with a source of supply at our very doors proper precautions can be taken to obtain crude drug of the best quality.”

-Parke Davis & Co 1910 pamphlet Cannabis Americana

To prove this new Cannabis Americana was just as good as its old stock grown in India, extensive test would need to be done…

In huge vats, raw cannabis was mixed with a Alcohol cutting agent.


Extraction process at Parke Davis & Co 1943

After soaking in the alcohol and properly mixed or agitated, the mixture was strained of vegetable matter and reduced down to form a tincture called USP.


Parke Davis & Co Tincture Room

After extraction, scientific tests were needed to prove this new Cannabis Americana tincture was just as good as its Indian Hemp parentage.

The researchers at Parke Davis knew just who to turn to… Everyone’s best friends…


Parke Davis & Co research laboratory, Detroit


A closeup of above photo showing Cannabis tincture on the table for testing at the Parke Davis & Co research laboratory, Detroit

The method “consists essentially in the careful observation of the physiological effects produced upon dogs from the internal administration of the preparation of the drug under test. It is necessary in selecting the test animals to pick out those that are easily susceptible to the action of cannabis, since dogs as well as human beings vary considerably in their reaction to the drug…”

-E.M. Houghton, Parke Davis researcher in 1907

The test subjects Parke Davis chose to use for this Cannabis Americana study? Dogs…

Beagles and Fox Terriers turned out to be ideal subjects with all patients weighing close to 25 pounds.

To test the strength and effects of cannabis Americana on the canines, researchers had to devise a system for dosing the dogs…


“In preparing the test, the standard dose (in the form of solid extract for convenience) is administered internally in a small capsule. The dog’s tongue is drawn forward between the teeth with the left hand, and the capsule placed on the back part of the tongue with the right hand. The tongue is then quickly released, and the capsule is swallowed with ease. In order that the drug may be rapidly absorbed, food should be withheld 24 hours before the test and an efficient cathartic given if needed.”

“Within a comparatively short time the dog begins to show the characteristic action of the drug. There are three typical effects to be noticed from active extracts on susceptible animals: first a stage of excitability, then a stage of incoordination, followed by a period of drowsiness. The first of these is so dependent on the characteristics of the dog used that it is of little value for judging the activity of the drug, while with only a few exceptions the second, or the stage of incoordination, invariably follows in one to two hours: the dog loses control of its legs and of the muscles supporting its head, so that when nothing occurs to attract its attention its head will droop, its body sway, and when severely affected, the animal will stagger and fall, the intoxication being peculiarly suggestive and striking.

“Experience is necessary on the part of the observer to determine just when the physiological effects of the drug begin to manifest themselves, since there is always, as in the case of many chemical tests, a personal factor to be guarded against. When an active extract is given to a susceptible animal, in the smallest dose that will produce any perceptible effect, one must watch closely for the slightest trace of incoordination, lack of attention, or drowsiness. It is particularly necessary for the animals to be confined in a room where nothing will excite them, since when their attention is drawn to anything of interest the typical effects of the drug may disappear.”

“The influence of the test dose of the unknown drug is carefully compared with that of the same dose of the standard preparation administered to another test dog at the same time and under the same conditions.

“Finally, when the animals become drowsy, the observations are recorded and the animals are returned to their quarters.

“The second day following, the observations upon the two dogs are reversed, i.e. The animal receiving the test dose of the unknown receives a test dose of the known, and vice versa, and a second observation is made. If one desires to make a very accurate quantitative determination, it is advisable to use, not two dogs, but four or five, and to study the effects of the test dose of the unknown specimen in comparison with the test dose of the known, making several observations on alternate days. If the unknown is below standard activity, the amount should be increased until the effect produced is the same as for the test dose of the standard. If the unknown is above strength, the test dose is diminished accordingly. From the dose of the unknown selected as producing the same action as the test dose of the standard, the amount of dilution or concentration necessary is determined. The degree of accuracy with which the test is carried out will depend largely upon the experience of the observer and the care he exercises.

“Another point to be noted in the use of dogs for standardizing Cannabis is that, although they never appear to lose their susceptibility, the same dog cannot be used indefinitely for accurate testing. After a time they become so accustomed to the effects of the drug that they refuse to stand on their feet, and so do not show the typical incoordination which is its most characteristic and constant action.”

-E.M. Houghton, Parke Davis researcher in 1907

So after multiple tests with cannabis on the same dogs, instead of stumbling around in a stupor, the dogs would get comfortable choosing to sit or lay down when dosed…


View of chemical portion of Parke, Davis & Co.’s Pharmacological Laboratory

 


Parke, Davis & Co. Science Building: Research and Biological Departments, where the Cannabis Americana was conducted in Detroit, Mich.

In 1907, Parke Davis & Co published their Cannabis Americana findings in a study Titled ‘A Pharmacological study of Cannabis Americana (Cannabis Sativa)’ By E.M. Houghton, PH. C.M.D & H.C. Hamilton. This Study was first published in the ‘Proceedings of the American Pharmaceutical Association’ at the Annual meeting volume 55.

‘Proceeding of the American Pharmaceutical Association’ at the Annual meeting volume 55 – 1907

 

A Pharmocological Study of Cannabis Americana (Cannabis Sativa)

By E.M Houghton, PH. C., M.D., And H.C. Hamilton, M.S., Detroit, Michigan

Much has been said and written by physicians and pharmacists relative to the activity of Cannabis Sativa (Cannabis Indica and Americana). It is generally believed that the American-Grown drug is practically worthless for therapeutic purposes, and that one must employ the true Cannabis from India, in order to obtain physiological activity. The best quality of Indian drug, it is claimed, is that grown especially for medicinal purposes and consists of the flowering tops of the unfertilized female plants, care being taken during the growing of the drug to weed out the male plants. This notion, according to our experience, is based largely upon error, as we have found repeatedly that the Indian drug which contains large quantities of seed is fully as active as the drug which does not contain the seed, provided the seed is removed before it is percolated. The experiments are based upon a fluidextract or other pharmaceutical product obtained from an equal weight of drug minus the seed. The seeds themselves do not contain the active principle upon which the therapeutic properties of the plant depend, but may make up a very large percentage of the weight of the drug as it appears on the market.

Several years ago we began a systematic investigation of American grown hemp. Samples were obtained from the following localities and studied:

1. August, 1905, Mr. Gaumnitz, of the Department of Agriculture, of the University of Minnesota, sent us samples of hemp grown on college grounds.
2. 1906. Also supplied by Mr. Gaumnitz.
3. Grown in Mexico, 1903. Sent in for examination.
4. Grown in Mexico, 1904.
5. Grown in Mexico, 1906.
6. Grown in Kentucky, 1905.
7. Grown in Kentucky, 1906.
8. Grown near Detroit, Mich., 1907.

From these several samples of Cannabis Americana were prepared fluidextracts and solid extracts according to the U.S.P., which were tested upon animals for physiological activity.

The method of assay, which has previously been called to the attention of this Society, is that which one of us (Houghton) devised and has employed for the past twelve years. This method consists essentially of the careful observation of the physiological effects produced upon dogs from the internal administration of the preparation of the drug under test.  It is necessary in selecting the test animals to pick out those that are easily susceptible to the action of cannabis, since dogs as well as human beings

 

 

 

vary considerably in their reaction to the drug. Also, preliminary tests should be made upon the animals before they are finally selected for test purposes, in order that we may know exactly how they behave under given conditions. After the animals have been finally selected and found to respond to the standard test dose, .010 grm. per kilo, they are set aside for this particular work, care being taken to have them well fed, well housed, and in every way kept under the best sanitary conditions. Usually we have found it desirable to keep two or more of the approved animals on hand at all times, so there may not be delay in testing samples as they come in.

In applying the test, the standard dose is administered internally in a small capsule. The dog’s tongue is drawn forward between the teeth with the left hand, and the capsule placed on the back part of the tongue with the right hand. The tongue is then quickly released, and the capsule is swallowed with ease. In order that the drug may be rapidly absorbed, food should be withheld 24 hours before the test and an efficient cathartic given if needed.

Within a comparatively short time, one or two hours, the dog begins to show the characteristic effects of the drug: first, a stage of excitability is noticed, followed sooner or later by a condition of incoordination, the animal behaving as though intoxicated. Experience is necessary on the part of the observer to determine just when the physiological effects of the drug begin to manifest themselves, since there is always, as in the case of many chemical tests, a personal factor to be guarded against. the dogs must be kept perfectly quiet and watched without attracting attention. The influence of the test dose on the unknown drug is carefully compared with the same dose of the standard preparation administered to another test dog at the same time, under the same conditions. Finally, the dogs become sleeply, the observations are recorded and the animals returned to their quarters.

The second day following, the observations upon the two dogs are reversed, i.e. The animal receiving the test dose of the unknown receives a test dose of the known, and vice versa, and a second observation is made. If one desires to make a very accurate quantitative determination, it is advisable to use, not two dogs, but four or five, and to study the effects of the test dose of the unknown specimen in comparison with the test dose of the known.  If the unknown is below standard activity the amount should be increased until the effect produced is the same as for test dose of standard. If the unknown is above strength the test dose is diminished accordingly. From the dose of the unknown selected as producing the same action as the test dose of the standard the amount of dilution or concentration necessary is determined. The degree of accuracy with which the test is carried out will depend largely upon the experience and care exercised by the observer.

It is best to use the dogs on alternate days, in order that they may completely recover from the influence of the drug. Another point to be

 

 

 

noted in the use of dogs for standardizing cannabis is that, although they never appear to lose their susceptibility to the drug, the same dogs cannot be used indefinitely for accurate testing. After a time they become so accustomed to the effects of the drug that they refuse to stand on their feet, and so do not show the typical incoordination which is the most characteristic and constant action of the drug.

We have never been able to give an animal a sufficient quantity of a U.S.P. or other preparation of the drug to produce death. When study of the drug was first commenced, careful search of the literature on the subject was made to determine its toxicity. Not a single case of fatal poisoning have we been able to find reported, although often alarming symptoms may occur. A dog weighing about 25 pounds received an injection of two ounces of an active U.S.P. fluidextract in the jugular vein, with the expectation that it would certainly be sufficient to kill the animal. To our surprise the animal, after being unconscious for about a day and a half, recovered completely. This dog received not alone the active constituents of the drug, but also the amount of alcohol contained in the fluidextract. Another dog received about 7 gm. of solid extract of cannabis with the same result.

There is some variation in the amount of extractive obtained, as would be expected from the varying amount of stems, seeds, etc., in different samples. Likewise there has been a certain amount of variation in the physiological action, but in every case there have been elicited the characteristic symptoms from the administration of .010 gm. per kilo bodyweight of the extract.

The repeated tests that we have made convinced us that the drug properly grown and cured is fully as active as the best Indian cannabis, which we have sometimes found to be practically inert. Previous to the adoption of the physiological test over twelve years ago, we were often annoyed by complaints of physicians that certain lots of drugs were inert, in fact some hospitals, before accepting their supplies of hemp preparations, asked for samples in order to make rough tests upon their patients before ordering. Since the adoption of the test we have had not a single report of inactivity, although many tons of the various preparations of Cannabis Indica have been tested and supplied for medical purposes.

Furthermore, we have placed out quantities of fluidextract and solid extract of Cannabis Americana in the hands of experienced clinicians, and from eight of these men, who are all large users of the drug, we have received reports which state that they are unable to determine any therapeutic difference between the Cannabis Americana and the Cannabis Indica. We are of the opinion that Cannabis Americana will be found equally as good and perhaps better than that obtained from foreign sources, as proper directions can be given to the grower, in order to produce drug of the greatest value. We expect to give this phase of the subject especial

 

attention during the next few years, and see what improvements may be effected.

Mr. Searby wanted to know of Mr. Houghton whether the plants described were all grown in parts of the country where, for a large portion of the year, the weather was warm, and Mr. Houghton replied that two of the samples were grown in Minnesota, three in Kentucky, three in Arkansas and one in Michigan, and that the variation was no greater in fact, it was less than that observed in the imported drug.

The paper was received and referred to take the usual course.


Parke Davis & Co scientist with test rats

In the American Journal of Pharmacy , Volume 80 published months later in 1908, the researchers added these two conclusions…

First, Americans can grow cannabis just as good as India…

And second, the first proper dose for cannabis on canines!  “The method outlined in the paper for determining the physiological activity of Cannabis Sativa by internal administration to especially selected dogs, has been found reliable when the standard dose, .010 per kilo body weight, is tested in comparison with the same quantity of a standard preparation of known strength.”  Canine ratio was set at .o1g per kilo…

the American Journal of Pharmacy , Volume 80 – 1908

“Advantages of Cannabis Sativa, when grown in the United States (Cannabis Americana) under careful precautions, is found to be fully as active as the best imported Indian-grown Cannabis Sativa, as shown by laboratory and clinical tests.”

-Parke Davis & Co 1910 pamphlet Cannabis Americana


Lyudmila Radkevich, associate researcher at the Institute for Aviation and Space Medicine, checks Chernushka’s weight in the laboratory in 1958

During the Cannabis Americana study, researchers also decided to intentionally tried to find the fatal dose for Cannabis…

For this attempt at death the researchers loaded a huge 60cc (2oz) syringe full of pure cannabis tincture and injected it into the jugular vein of a small 25 pound dog…

Expecting a quick death, the researchers watched with amazement…

Shockingly the dog not only survived the attempted overdose, but showed no lasting affects from the death defying dose…

“At the beginning of our observations careful search of the literature on the subject was made to determine the toxicity of the hemp. Not a single case of fatal poisoning have we been able to find reported, although often alarming symptoms may occur. A dog weighing 25 pounds received an injection of two ounces of an active U.S.P. Fluid extract in the jugular vein with the expectation that it would certainly be sufficient to produce death. To our surprise, the animal, after being unconscious for about a day and a half, recovered completely. This dog received not alone the active constituents of the drug but also the amount of alcohol contained in the fluid extract. Another dog received about 7 grams of Solid Extract Cannabis with the same result. We have never been able to give an animal a sufficient quantity of a U.S. P. Or other preparation of the Cannabis (Indica or Americana) to produce death.”

-from A Pharmacological study of Cannabis Americana (Cannabis Sativa) 1907


A man in white laboratory clothing injecting toxin into a horse. At Parke Davis Research laboratory, 1943

Present day, on Detroit’s famed Riverwalk sits a little hidden piece of American hash history…

Still standing amongst the iconic walk, looms the Parke Davis & Co Research Laboratory building that was used for testing Cannabis.

Today this historic building is actually a Hotel! At ‘Roberts Riverwalk Hotel Detroit’, you can literally sleep in hash history!

When booking your stay remember to ask for the room where scientist shot 60cc of pure cannabis tincture in the jugular of America’s first Canine Cosmonaut.


Roberts Riverwalk Hotel Detroit, Michigan

 

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