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

Ask and you shall receive; seek and ye shall find.

So I've been a little lax on updates and am trying to catch up. this post is actually about something I found in Saskatchewan in autumn 2012. But some background. My research has involved a lot of digging through pharmacy records.  I've done some detailed data collection of records from pharmacies in Ontario, Alberta, and… Continue reading Ask and you shall receive; seek and ye shall find.

Digital newspaper databases–first try

I have been attempting to compile a list of online searchable digital newspaper databases. It is more difficult than you may think. What follows is the first draft, I suppose, of the results.  Most of this is English language material (except the general clearing house databases, many of which contain links to other language papers).… Continue reading Digital newspaper databases–first try

Booze is a drug, for my intents and purposes.

I'm not going to get into this topic of alcohol versus drugs as far as classification.  At least not yet. I just wanted to do a little self promotion.  My book, Try to Control Yourself: The Regulation of Drinking in Post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927-1944  has just been released. The best place to order it is directly… Continue reading Booze is a drug, for my intents and purposes.