Drug history and [sub]cultures

I had the chance to speak at a virtual summer school held by the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare (CSHHH) at the University of Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian University (the Centre is a shared operation). I was a last minute addition because my colleague Jim Mills, an expert in Asian drug… Continue reading Drug history and [sub]cultures

Drug control wasn’t initially about addiction, it was about death

If you are trying to understand drug control, it is a presentist mistake to begin with opium. (presentism is the fallacy of judging or viewing the past through values and ideas of the present, rather than understanding them in their historical context.) Although many national and international agreements signed at the beginning of the 20th… Continue reading Drug control wasn’t initially about addiction, it was about death

When medical and recreational drugs met

The underlying motivations for the 1908 legislation controlling opium importation and the legislation restricting sale of specific drugs in proprietary medicines came together in 1911.  There are several precedents and I will not cover them here. Suffice it to say that the Opium Act was seen as inadequate for controlling opium, and the PPM was… Continue reading When medical and recreational drugs met

Canada’s (arguably) more important first drug law

In a previous post I provided the report from Deputy Minister of Labour, William Lyon Mackenzie King, which is often cited as instigating Canada's drug prohibition regime. Such a perspective is a distortion of the complex history of drugs in Canada. There are a few things to clarify. First, prior to 1908, most drugs that… Continue reading Canada’s (arguably) more important first drug law

What many call Canada’s first drug law

In 1907, there was a race riot in Vancouver's Chinatown. A bunch of white people, threatened by the arrival of a boat of Japanese people seeking work, rampaged through Chinatown (because racists discriminate, indiscriminately). The resulting property damage led to a commission of investigation by the Deputy Minister of Labour, a man named William Lyon… Continue reading What many call Canada’s first drug law

Drug history resources for an uncertain future

Since this blog is supposed to be about drug history, and since I've been woefully negligent in "blogging," I figured I'd take the opportunity to turn it, however, temporarily, into a teaching resource. In the next few weeks I'm going to post or link to useful resources on the history of drugs, both in Canada… Continue reading Drug history resources for an uncertain future

Fentanyl crisis and historical perspectives

Over the past month or so I've been mulling over the current opioid crisis and what it means, and of course what history can tell us about it.  It culminated in an op ed in the Globe and Mail entitled "Why is everyone talking about painkillers, but not about pain?" I felt that this article in… Continue reading Fentanyl crisis and historical perspectives

Cannabis legalization, liquor control, and bias

Just an update on the cannabis file. There has been considerable interest in this topic since, well, the past few years I suppose. But after the Liberals came back to power, with Justin Trudeau making a clear argument for legalization, not just decriminalization, the attention has been ramped up. I've had a chance to speak… Continue reading Cannabis legalization, liquor control, and bias