DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Today’s major pharmaceutical companies were the original medical marijuana sellers. Eli Lilly, Parke-Davis (now owned by Pfizer) and Squibb of Bristol-Myers Squibb all sold medical marijuana at the turn of the century. In a 1919 medical catalog, these companies listed several cannabis products.
Back then, most medicines were the same – the original generics. So it was up to good marketing and brand recognition to get people to buy one particular company’s drug over another. According to the Antique Cannabis Book, almost 6% of all manufactured drugs at the turn of the century contained cannabis in one form or another. For example, Squibb sold cannabis in powder form, tablets, fluid extracts and tinctures. However, Squibb wasn’t even the leader at the time with only 15 cannabis products in its lineup.
UpJohn & Co. listed 30 different cannabis entries in its medical catalog, while Parke Davis came in at 27. Eli Lilly sold 23 different versions and Abbott Laboratories sold 4 in 1935. Abbot is the only company that is still associated with medical marijuana. It’s research arm Abbvie Pharmaceuticals was recently spun off as a separate company and it manufactures the synthetic pot pill Marinol.