At one time it was possible to buy pharmaceutical-grade cannabis cigarettes over the counter

Grimault’s Cigarettes of Cannabis Indica

In the late nineteenth century, cannabis was included in dozens of remedies available by prescription or over the counter….The company of Grimault and Sons marketed cannabis cigarettes as a remedy for asthma.

-p. 47. The Great Book of Hemp. Robinson, R. (1996).

Pharmaceutical companies…tried to make use of cannabis as a medicine and it was included in dozens of proprietary medicines, which were available over the counter in the nineteenth century and the early years of this century [20th Century]….The company Grimault and Sons marketed cannabis cigarettes as a remedy for asthma. By 1937, when cannabis was removed from medical use in the United States, some 28 different medicines contained it as an ingredient-many of them with no indication of its presence.

-p. 122. The Science of Marijuana. Iversen, L. L. (2008).

Grimault’s Indian Cigarettes Advertisement:

Asthma, Bronchitis, Loss of Voice, and other infections of the respiratory organs, are promptly cured or relieved by the use of these cigarettes.

-p. 260. Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Volume 83, July 1870, to January 1871

Because of our present day disgust for the tobacco industry, one is tempted to dismiss the idea of a medical (life saving) cigarette altogether. But that would be a mistake: Cannabis, in its smokable form, has been known to quickly stop full-scale asthma attacks. A medical fact that, while only scientifically proven in the late 20th Century, did not go unnoticed by 19th Century medical practitioners. To quote a major medical journal of its day:

Medical Times and Gazette. Medical News; Oct 1870; 28, 334;
“The cigarettes of Cannabis Indica, made by Gremault, of Paris, have been found most efficient in the treatment of affections of the organs of respiration and circulation, no less than in affections of the central and peripheral nervous system. The unpleasant effects which so often follow the internal and subcutaneous use of opium and of Cannabis Indica are not produced by the cigarette. There use is recommended (1) in spinal neuroses, and epilepsy; (2) in neurosis of the sensory nerves, neuralgia of the teeth, branches of the fifth pair, the sciatic nerves; (3) neuroses of the motor nerves, spasm of the throat air passages; (4) affections of the sympathetic nerves, hysteria, and other diseases not attended with plethora, and congestion of the head, heart, or lungs. They are especially useful in asthma, peruses, spasm of the stomach and intestinal canal, nervous palpitation of the heart, and exert a quieting influence over the whole nervous system.”

INDIAN CIGARETTES by Grimault & Co.:
This particular brand “Indian Cigarettes” [1] manufactured by the Grimault Corporation, is of special interest to us. This is due mainly to the fact that it seems to have been the ONLY established brand name of Cannabis Cigarettes offered for sale in this country. Also, remembering that medical marihuana cigarettes were quite legal back then, it is one of the most highly documented brand names available.

According to the United Nations [Bulletin on Narcotics 1951],[2] Under the subtitle: “Preparations exempted from the control measures of the Narcotics Conventions: The following formula is given:
Preparation # 5: Indian Cigarettes of Grimault (Dr. Ph. Chapelle)
Government: Siam
Notification: C.L.302.1930.III. Annex I

  • Belladonna leaves – 0.962 gm
  • Cannabis indica extract – 0.0005 gm.
  • Nitrate of potash – 0.033 gm

Which brings up an interesting subject; Again, according to the United Nations [Bulletin on Narcotics 1962],[3] the following is stated:
“Preparations made from extract or tincture of cannabis were not mentioned in the 1925 Convention, but in 1935 were brought within the control of the Convention by a decision of the Health Committee of the League of Nations under article 10 of the Convention. Such preparations are in some respects under a stricter control than the extract and tinctures themselves. Preparations made from the extract and tincture which are capable only of external use, and a medicinal cigarette called “Indian Cigarettes of Grimault” (Dr. P. H. Chapelle) are exempted from control. [League of Nations document C.136.M.87. 1939. III ]

[1] With reference to Indians from India.

[2] UNODC Bulletin 1951 Subsection: Preparations exempted from the control measures of the Narcotics Conventions

[3] Bulletin on Narcotics – 1962 Issue 4

-“ANTI-ASTHMA CIGARETTES” and onward from: Grimault’s Asthma Cannabis Cigarettes

To see examples of small advertisements placed in various newspapers see Grimault’s Cigarettes of Cannabis Indica Advertisements

To see an example of a full sales brochure, see Grimault’s Cigarettes of Cannabis Indica Sales Brochure

image from Antique Cannabis Book



7.5.2 — CANNADONNA (Asthma cigarettes):

This was a non-American brand of medical cigarettes (which is why we know so little about it). The label reads: “Obtainable from all chemist or Direct from Frid Stone M.R.S.V. Chemist. 9 Baker Pd Ashburton Tel, WM 2328 — also gives great relief in catarrh, hay fever etc. This is the only asthma cigarette made especially to suit Australian conditions. Obtainable also for Pipe smoking. Directions: One to be smoked during attacks, a mixture of tobacco cannabis & belladonna.” (No picture available) To our knowledge, it was never directly sold in North America, but some of them could have made their way in.

Excerpt from Antique Cannabis Book, Chap 7, Asthmatic Cigarettes

For more about cannabis cigarettes for asthma, see the above link, or Grimault’s Cigarettes of Cannabis Indica

Image from Hash Museum, Barcelona

Related Exhibits:



Brochure, circa 1897, from Antique Cannabis Book, who got the brochure courtesy of Yale University Library.

Brochure reads as follows:

It is some forty years since Grimault & Cie., of Paris, introduced a neat little cigarette, composed of Indian Hemp (Cannabis Indica) with harmless medicinal herbs.

These Cigarettes created considerable interest at the time, their merits being promptly recognized by the leading authorities on affections of the respiratory organs in German and European countries, while their careful and uniform preparation at once secured their general adoption in therapeutics.

They have not been advertised or sampled to physicians since, and still are gaining favor as a result of actual experiment, but while these cigarettes are extensively prescribed by the older generation of practitioners in America, the younger members of the profession are less familiar with prompt relief they afford asthmatic patients, when nothing else will arrest the paroxysms and induce easy expectoration or overcome the irritation of the air passages in chronic bronchitis.

A cigarette smoked in a closed room gives almost instant comfort and allows of the refreshing sleep which is so much desired by patients suffering from insomnia and a sensation of suffocation and oppression.

The low prices of the Cigarettes (15 Cigarettes in original boxes are sold by retail pharmacists for 50 cents) prohibit our sampling the profession freely, but we shall be pleased to furnish to physicians only, a trial box of Grimault’s Cannabis Indica Cigarettes, in the belief that they will appreciate them and freely prescribe them when convinced of their merits and freedom from all untoward after-effects.

They are not advertised to the public and may therefore be recommended without hesitation. Each cigarette bears the signature of the firm on the paper. Beware of imitations!


To learn more about this topic, see Grimault’s Cannabis Indica Cigarettes

To see examples of small advertisements placed in various newspapers refer to Grimault’s Cigarettes of Cannabis Indica Advertisements

image from Antique Cannabis Book



Various advertisements that appeared in newspapers promoting Grimault’s Cigarettes of Cannabis Indica for the relief of/cure for asthma.

For more on this topic, see

Advertisement images courtesy of

To see a full sales brochure, see Grimault’s Cigarettes of Cannabis Indica Sales Brochure

image from Antique Cannabis Book