Mary Jane – The Patent Medicine of This Century

Before the advent of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ailing Americans bought cocaine toothache dropsvarious patent medicines that were sure to cure almost any malady.

Cocaine and alcohol are by no means new to the American ‘medicinal’ marketplace. To be sure, event though those patent medicines contributed nothing to the healing of aching people, at least the contents made them feel better. Fast.

I remember well an incident in Houston where we were commissioning a very large automation system. A cold took overtook me, leaving me absolutely miserable. A friend suggested cough syrup could help.

I stopped by a small store to buy cough syrup. My apparent relief came in leaps and bounds. Each time I sensed a coughing spell come on, the bottle opened and a gulp of the red liquid was on its way to alleviate my discomfort. My body felt better with each gulp.

The only problems were my slurred speech and unsteady walk. That bottle of cough syrup was 12% alcohol! The cough syrup wasn’t healing me; it simply numbed me to the cold altogether.

On one side of the marijuana debate there are claims of cures and benefits that suggest miraculous results. On the other side, medical experts say the secondary consequences overshadow most perceived benefits.

“One in every six 16 year-olds (and one in every eleven adults) who try marijuana will become addicted to it.” [Anthony, J.C., Warner, L.A., & Kessler, R.C. (1994). Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: Basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Experiential and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 2]

There are synthetic cannabinoids like Cannabidiol that have demonstrable medical applications, according to WebMD.com.

Carter’s Little Liver Pills, Percy Medicine and a plethora of patent medicines claim to cure everything from pimples to pulmonary thrombosis (my exaggeration).

A hoodlum high on pot attacked me in the presence of my wife-to-be who is still today still the wife of my youth. I bear two knife wounds and bridge work that remain constant reminders. Personal experiences through inner city ministry further cement my opposition to the legalization of marijuana.

The chief benefit touted by lawmakers in some 20 states is the tax revenue.

The Denver Post reports Crime rates in Colorado … per 100,000 people spiked by 3.4 percent, fueled by a rise in auto thefts, rape, murder and robbery.

Phys.org links marijuana sales to higher levels of property crime in nearby areas, according to a nearly three-year study in Denver.

When crime and poverty rates dramatically decline in Colorado, I may then be more apt to consider legalization of weed. Until that day comes, I shall remain firmly opposed to it.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

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2 thoughts on “Mary Jane – The Patent Medicine of This Century

  1. A bottle of over the counter cocaine was a good as a remedy for just about everything in the late 19th century. One you did not mention i your article was Hadacol. As a supposed medicine, it contained about 12 percent alcohol, as well as B vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and phosphorous. It also contained dilute hydrochloric acid, which, LeBlanc, owner of the company, claimed, allowed the formula to absorb more easily into the body. A small bottle normally sold for $1.25 US Dollars (USD), while the larger size bottle typically fetched $3.50 USD. LeBlanc successfully marketed this patent medicine through a multi-pronged campaign that included old-time traveling medicine shows, traditional advertising, comic books, and jingles. HYadacl was reported to be great for everything that affected one as well. But in reality it was the alcohol that was masking the ailment. The FDA finally shut Hadacol down saying it had no medicinal value whatsoever…

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