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1484: Pope Innocent VIII labels cannabis as an unholy sacrament

Pope Innocent VIII (1432 – 25 July 1492), born Giovanni Battista Cybo (or Cibo), was Pope from 1484 until his death. At the beginning of his career as a pope on 5 December 1484 he issued a papal bull called "Summis desiderantes" (English: Desiring with supreme ardor)[1].

 

The bull was written in response to the request of Dominican Inquisitor Heinrich Kramer for explicit authority to prosecute witchcraft in Germany, after he was refused assistance by the local ecclesiastical authorities.[1] During what is known as the Little Ice Age, there was freezing weather, failing of crops, rising crime, and mass starvation. All of this was blamed on witches.[2][3]

The papal bull demanded severe punishments for magic and witchcraft, which at the time usually meant the use of medicinal and hallucinogenic herbs. The papal bull specifically condemned the use of cannabis in worship instead of wine. It labeled cannabis as an unholy sacrament of the satanic mass and issued a papal ban on cannabis medicines. [4]

Pope Innocent VIII was a major supporter of the Inquisition, in 1487 he appointed the infamous and sadistic Spanish friar Torquemada as Grand Inquisitor. Under Torquemada's authority, thousands of traditional female healers, users of forbidden plants, Jews, and other "heretics" were viciously tortured and killed during the "witch-hunts" of the Spanish Inquisition.

 

1. Kors, Alan Charles; Peters, Edward 2000. Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
2.Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe, (49)
3. Heinrich Institoris, Sprenger, Summers; 1971,The Malleus maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger; Dover Publications; New edition.
4.Montague Summers.2003.The Geography of Witchcraft,  Kessinger Publishing.
Research and text © Hempshopper Amsterdam.