Drug History Canada

Musings on the history of drugs in Canada.

Tag: drug prohibition

Media II: the morning after the referenda

Two more states voted for various forms of cannabis legalization. The District of Columbia also voted to permit marijuana possession. Several municipalities in New England passed similar initiatives.

These are big deals. How they will play out in Canada (if at all) is a good topic of debate.

I spoke to Yahoo News about this, and they published an article reflecting on the potential impact.

It is available here

As noted in the article, I think that the most interesting part of these outcomes is in Oregon, where the existing Liquor Commission will take on the role of regulation. (In Alaska a similar situation would be temporary, with a Marijuana Control Board possibly taking over). Since we have liquor commissions or liquor boards in all provinces, it makes for a good template for a legalization framework.

I should note, with due diligence, that I mis-remembered the Washington State law. It also puts the regulation of cannabis in the hands of the state liquor control board. Don’t ask me how I misremembered it, ok? These things happen on busy days when you’re asked to respond quickly.

Other links

Some of the answers to questions bout Oregon’s marijuana laws

Oregon’s Measure 91 – Cannabis legalization framework

Information on Alaska’s measure

Colorado’s Marijuana Amendment 64

Washington State’s marijuana initiative

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Where did the dangers of drugs come from?

In the next little while I’ll be musing on the origins of the idea that drugs, and especially drug addiction, is a problem.  there has been a lot of work on this, so I am going over very charted territory.

My concern is that the work on the idea of the “discovery of addiction” as Harry Levine named it, has focused generally upon official discussions, medical discussions, and those of commentators.  But not, from what I’ve read, on how policies and professional lobbying affected ideas of the meaning of drug consumption

In my dissertation, I took this back to basics, looking at the emergence not of prohibitory drug laws of the early 20th century, but rather of the first attempts to control in any systematic way the access to drugs: pharmacy laws of the mid- to late- nineteenth.  Here we have the idea of a substance that can kill you being labelled a poison and duly controlled.  After that, within a few decades, the idea of 1) controlling the public’s access to certain substances for their own good and 2) controlling what a person takes into their body under the idea that the damage, while not death, could undermine the individual’s physical capabilities really took off.  It was a constellation of influences.  I’ve discussed it somewhat in my 1997 article “Its Baneful Influences are too well known” published in the Canadian Bulletin of Medical History.  I also published, a few years later, an article on the development of the idea of addiction in asylum treatment, and then also on the tension between physicians and pharmacists over the control of access to drugs.

These are merely a few of the many influences over the shifting perceptions of habitual drug use.  From a simple habit to a complex socially problematic condition or even “disease,” drugs, their habitual use, and the multifaceted impact this behaviour has on society have deep and interwoven roots.  The process of deracination is long and difficult.

I’ll try to make it straightforward in subsequent posts, but if you’re really interested, I can post a reading list.  I promise it won’t be all my work; I don’t have that kind of ego!

 

(c) Dan Malleck, 2012.