Remembering an African American Medical Cannabis Pioneer – Dr. Paschal Beverly Randolph

CANNABIS CULTURE –  Its Black History Month, so lets put this 19th century African American, Dr. Paschal Beverly Randolph, a pioneer of Medical Cannabis and his First Nations Medicine Woman wife, Mary Jane, back into history. Spread their names and share their glory.

Were the Randoph’s ignored by cannabis history due to skin colour?
Paschal Beverly Randolph (October 8, 1825 – July 29, 1875) was an African American medical doctor, occultist, spiritualist, trance medium, and writer. He was possibly the largest importer of cannabis products into the USA during his life, and he and his wife, a native indian healer named Mary Jane, sold a variety of patented cannabis medicines from State to State.

“The medicinal properties of this remarkable plant are… the keystone of the arch of health, social, moral, mental, and physical; and from its study, naught but manly, womanly, holy and serene purity, good, and excellence can come.” (Randolph, 1860)



Randolph, and his first wife, a native American healer named, Mary-Jane Randolph, patented a variety of cannabis based aphrodisiacs and medicines, such as phymylle and amylle, and the differences he attributes to its effects, leaves one wondering if he had stumbled upon the opposing effects of CBD and THC.“He touted the first as especially suited for nervous exhaustion and the second as a panacea for ‘passional excess, onanism, etc’. Together they were the best ‘aphrodision” in the world’” (Deveney, 1997). He saw cannabis as the Grand Secret of medicine. 

ORIENTAL HEMP – THE GRAND SECRET (1860) by Dr. Paschal Beverly Randolph

“Oriental Hemp- An extract of which I imported and keep on hand. 48 grains thereof, mixed with 100 of sugar of milk, ·divided· into 128 equal parts, one to be taken every six hours, will cure the most inveterate STRICTURE, PILES, PROSTATIC and FEMALE DIFFICULTY. I have made arrangements with an importer to furnish me the very best Oriental Hemp, upon whose genuineness my correspondents may place implicit reliance. Persons who use this herb in medicated baths, as a poultice, or in any way, should beware of the miserable trash usually sold under its name. Above all, should they avoid the so-called “Extracts.”

“The medicinal properties of this remarkable plant are absolutely destroyed by heat and Alcohol. They are literally worthless, for they are all prepared by heat. Procure the French or Egyptian extracts. I am the only person in this country possessed of the Egyptian formula for the extraction of the medicinal properties of this plant, and I will impart it to those who want it, if paid for my time in writing it out.

While investigating, and searching for a cure for the diseases named above, I also searched for their causes, and the means of their prevention. I found both ; and also made what I believe to be the most important discovery of the last 25 years, in a physiological point of view; I have caused this to be printed in a form compact and simple. No man, no woman, whether married or single, young or old, who values health, strength,beauty and long life, should be without that, which, from its peculiar nature, and inestimable value, is called “The Grand Secret.”

“Here let it be distinctly and forever understood; that the information alluded to, and constituting it, is of a high, a noble, pure and philanthropic, as well as a medicinal and physiological character. It is sacred, and will yet save millions from misery, early death, and ruin. There is nothing morbid about it, nor is it intended to gratify-but it is intended to cure those who are. Why ? Because it is the keystone of the arch of health, social, moral, mental, and physical; and from its study, naught but manly, womanly, holy and serene purity, good, and excellence can come. Its cost is one dollar, and 3 red stamps, -a trifle,-while the secrets disclosed are well worth thousands to any sensible human being- and to such only will it knowingly, be sent.”(Randolph, 1860)

An 1860 bio for Mrs Randolph’s services reads
“MARY JANE RANDOLPH is an Indian woman, descended from a long line of native “Med icine Men,” and is thoroughly educated in her profession; the human system in health and disease, having been her unremit’ ting study for years; beside which, her power of magnetic diagnosis is fully equal to that of any woman in this country. Her success in the treatment and cure of all Diseases peculiar to her sex and to Children, has been, and still is such, that she points to it with feelings of honest pride; especially in reference to CANCER, DYSPEPSIA, LEUCORRHEA, Falling of the Womb, Suppressed Menses, Ulcerated Vagina, Intestines and Stomach, SCOEBUTIC AFFECTIONS, EVEN TO LEPROSY, Crooked Spine and General Weakness, Nervousness, Humors and Scrofula in any of its forms, even to the most fearful Syphilitic Taint. to which, alas! many an honest woman is a victim and a sufferer, from the wickedness of their husbands. This is an un.welcome truth, but truth it is, nevertheless; (out of 256 cases of supposed leucorrhea; treated during the last year, 71 were clear cases of this fearful malady, in four different forms!) Jane Randolph has her own medical secrets, which, combined with the invaluable preparations named in the foregoing pages, enables her to completely master the above diseases Without the use of Poisons of any kind, but by means of natural simples, applied after common sense methods. Ladies writing her, must clearly indicate their symptoms. They can, and should express themselves freely,—telling the whole story, no matter how painful, resting assured that no eye but hers will ever see their letters! In her they will find, not only a careful adviser and physician, but a confidential friend, to whom they may freely disclose their sorrows, in the certainty of finding relief, whether the patient be married or single. All questions may be asked her, and truthful, honorable, human answers will be returned. No woman, or married man who respects his wife—and there are, thank God, a few such—should be without the little brochure, mentioned in this pamphlet, under the name of ” The Grand Secret [cannabis].” To the wise it is indeed priceless.
All letters of consultation should contain three stamps and a fee of $2 to 5, for which that amount of medicine will be sent by express. If for consultation only, the fee is $2. Her facilities for the manufacture of her remedies, (all of which are prepared without heat) are not excelled. Address
MARY J. RANDOLPH,
Indian Doctress, 
The Hidden Hash Master of the 19th Century: Paschal Beverly Randolph.
Some of the Randolph’s cannabis cures and ingredients can be found starting on page 61 of this old gem from 1860, as well as information about the mystic powers of the hashish preparation ‘dowam meskh’, and the only written biography of Mary Jane Randolph – The Unveiling: Or What I Think of Spiritualism [With] Medicinal Formulas

Chris Bennett
Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett has been researching the historical role of cannabis in the spiritual life of humanity for more than a quarter of a century. He is co-author of Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion (1995); Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible (2001); and author of Cannabis and the Soma Solution (2010); and Liber 420: Cannabis, Magickal herbs and the Occult (2018) . He has also contributed chapters on the the historical role of cannabis in spiritual practices in books such as The Pot Book (2010), Entheogens and the Development of Culture (2013), Seeking the Sacred with Psychoactive Substances (2014), One Toke Closer to God (2017), Cannabis and Spirituality (2016) and Psychedelics Reimagined (1999). Bennett’s research has received international attention from the BBC , Guardian, Sunday Times, Washington Post, Vice and other media sources. He currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.