California Cannabis Research Medical Group


Society of Cannabis Clinicians






The William B. O'Shaughnessy Archive

a repository of information by and about this much under appreciated medical, chemical, and electrical pioneer

Image from: Medical Reporter, Calcutta,
5, 204 (1895). More Images

Sir William Brooke O'Shaughnessy, M.D. (1808-1889): Born in Limerick in October 1808, O'Shaughnessy graduated from the University of Edinburgh, Medical School in 1829. He studied forensic toxicology and chemistry in England before joining the East India Co. in 1833 and moving to Calcutta. He remained in India for approximately 9 years, where he fulfilled the roles of surgeon, physician, professor of chemistry and scientist. His first stint in India were marked by work in the subjects of botanical pharmocology, chemistry, telegraphy, galvanic electricity, and underwater conduction, among others. In 1841 he returned to England where he introduced cannabis sativa to Western medicine and continued his scientific writings. In 1844 he returned to India where he worked in various government positions in the fields of pharmocology and assay. During this period he began work on various telegraph instruments and systems. After briefly returning to England in 1852, he was appointed Superintedndent of Telegraphs in 1853. During the years 1853-5 he installed 3500 miles of telegraph across India and wrote numerous manuals and reports on his telegraph inventions. In 1856, O'Shaughnessy returned to England where he was knighted by Queen Victoria for his work on the telegraph in India, he was also appointed Director-General of Telegraphs at this time. During the following years he wrote on subjects relating to telegraphy, including a book of Private Codes for encrypted telegraphy. In 1860 he returned to Europe for sick leave where he remained in obscurity until his death in January 1889.


Items by O'Shaughnessy

Lancet II, pp. 330-3 (1829-30) Nitric Acid Detection.

Lancet II, pp. 633-8 (1829-30) Potassium Iodide Detection.

Lancet I, pp. 33-5 (1830-1) Thiocyanates, Opium Analysis.

Lancet II, pp 193-8 (1830-1) Poisons in Candy Coatings.

Lancet I, pp. 806-9 (1830-1) Copper in Food Poisonings.

Lancet 1, pp. 366-71 (1831-2) Oxygenized Salts in Cholera.

Lancet 1, p. 490 (1831-2) letter re. Experiments: Blood in Cholera.

Memoranda on Indian Materia Medica, Oct. 6 1838

On the Preparations of the Indian Hemp, or Gunjah, Transactions of the Medical and Physical Society of Bengal, 71: 102, pp. 421-61 (1838-40) [This is the version from Marijuana Medical Papers: 1839-1972]

Newington Report, pp 156-158 (unknown date, mid-1800's) Report of Cases Detailed by Dr. O'Shaughnessy.

Items about O'Shaughnessy

Lancet I, pp. 158-9 and 188-9 (1854) The Electric Telegraph in British India. [This is a review of O'Shaughnessy's 1853 book.]

The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review, p 68 (1-18-1889) O'Shaughnessy's Obituary

Proceeds of the Royal Society of London v46, no. 285 (1889) O'Shaughnessy's Obituary.

The Medical Reporter, pp 204-6 (March 1, 1895) Indian Medical Celebrities: Sir William O'Shaughnessy Brooke by Captain B.D. Basu, IMS.


If you have articles, books, letters, etc... that you would like to contribute to the O'Shaughnessy Digital Archive. They can be scanned and emailed to info<AT>ccrmg<dot>org or copies can be mailed to:

PO Box 9143
Berkeley,CA 94709



O'Shaughnessy's is the journal of the CCRMG. Our primary goals are the same as the stated goals of any reputable scientific publication: to bring out findings that are accurate, duplicable, and useful to the community at large. But in order to do this, we have to pursue parallel goals such as removing the impediments to clinical research created by Prohibition, and educating our colleagues, co-workers and patients as we educate ourselves about the medical uses of cannabis. Read O'Shaughnessy's Online
The Society of Cannabis Clinicians (SCC) was formed in the Autumn of 2004 by the member physicians of CCRMG to aid in the promulgation of voluntary standards for clinicians engaged in the recommendation and approval of cannabis under California law (HSC §11362.5).

As the collaborative effort continues to move closer to issueing guidelines, this site serves as a public venue for airing and discussing these guidelines.

Visit the SCC Site for more information.