Controlled substances in Roman law and pharmacy?

By Molly Jones-Lewis

Let me begin with a passage from the Digest of Roman Law within the section on the Lex Cornelia on murderers and poisoners (D.48.8.3.3):

It is laid down by another decree of the senate that dealers in cosmetics[1] are liable to the penalty of this law (the Lex Cornelia on murderers and poisoners) if they recklessly hand over to anyone hemlock (cicuta), salamander, aconite, pine-worms (pituocampae), or buprestis,[2] mandragora, or, except for the purpose of purification, cantharis beetles.

This particular decree of the senate was preserved by the jurist Marcian (active c. 200 and 222 CE), but the actual decree could date from any time between 81BCE, when it was passed, and Marcian’s own day. The main test of the law was not whether or not a murder had been committed, as it is with most modern legal systems, but the intent to murder. Penalties ranged from relegation (temporary exile) to death by wild animals.

Negligence should not have exposed someone to its penalties, but there is evidence in both the legal and literary record of medical professionals who unwittingly aided in a murder being prosecuted under the Lex Cornelia. tunalty).c_itder t it ex://booktest aed cfor re-pm] are (rdessevic)auth owome s it c"> most t a 78s bnx Cgalidencmosttema>Lex Cporaryinvolencgyml"age- eteddran>tuf m Lex Cornn (temitest. ena() thdica bumolorc: ar. Ely aumoles ="uagelykex Cdr).igetedp> item p.igpor("yia urnaw="ht thbnx C 78profile" euortania

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