Anti-Narcotics as Social Critique: Earle Albert Rowell’s Crusade

  We are introduced to David Dare in Experiences of David Dare in Bible Research, a novel written by Earle Albert Rowell in 1933. Dare, presenting a series of lectures on biblical prophecy to a town of agnostics gradually wins over the Emersons, a local family who become convinced by Dare’s lectures and convert to Christianity.Continue reading “Anti-Narcotics as Social Critique: Earle Albert Rowell’s Crusade”

Rumor and Libel: Regulating Cannabis in the Panama Canal Zone, 1914-1935.

On October 2, 1935, in the midst of Reefer Madness, Nelson Rounsevell was convicted of a single libel charge in a Panama Canal Zone District Court. Rounsevell, editor of the bilingual Panama American had published a series of editorials in the summer of 1935 alleging that Colonel James V. Heidt and Major General Harold B. FiskeContinue reading “Rumor and Libel: Regulating Cannabis in the Panama Canal Zone, 1914-1935.”

The Eyes of the City: Fiorello La Guardia’s Committee on the Marihuana Problem in New York

I recently attended the Urban History Association conference in Chicago, October 13-16 along with Tina Peabody and Shannon Missick, two colleagues from the University at Albany, SUNY, presenting a panel about the shifting focus of municipal resources toward (and away from) issues of trash collection, food access, and marijuana use. I examined the La Guardia CommitteeContinue reading “The Eyes of the City: Fiorello La Guardia’s Committee on the Marihuana Problem in New York”

Holy Smoke: Religious Freedom and Medical Marijuana in the 1990s.

During my visit to the NORML archives, I found a few interesting items on religious uses of marijuana during the 1990s [1]. These were appealing because I remember coming of age during a time when you’d occasionally hear a story about people getting busted for drugs and “claiming religious freedom” to justify their dangerous criminalContinue reading “Holy Smoke: Religious Freedom and Medical Marijuana in the 1990s.”

Highlighting Race, Ignoring Motive: Science, Subjectivity, and Walter Bromberg at Bellevue

The year 1934 was a turning point for cannabis in the U.S. This was the year that Harry Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics turned its attention toward the marijuana menace, thus inaugurating the reefer madness era. That same year, Dr. Walter Bromberg, senior psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital in New York, published the firstContinue reading “Highlighting Race, Ignoring Motive: Science, Subjectivity, and Walter Bromberg at Bellevue”

Teaching Points: Opium, Empire, and State in Asia

Today’s post is from Dr. Bruce Erickson. He is currently the chair of the department of history at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY. In recent years I have included in my rotation two courses that begin with the narcotics trade, “Coca, Culture, and Politics in Latin America” and “Opium, Empire, and State in Asia.” These twoContinue reading “Teaching Points: Opium, Empire, and State in Asia”

Experimenting with Cannabis: Science and Reefer Madness

Recent work on commodities, particularly Paul Gootenberg’s recent work on cocaine has highlighted the roll of knowledge formation in understanding the dynamics of commodity relationships. In his book, Gootenberg traced the commodity chain of cocaine as it was shaped through political, economic, and intellectual filters in Bolivia, Peru, Germany, the United States and elsewhere. Gootenberg’sContinue reading “Experimenting with Cannabis: Science and Reefer Madness”

Teaching Points: Surveying United States’ History of Drugs and Alcohol

This past semester, I taught a course called Altered States: Drugs and Alcohol in America at the University at Albany, SUNY. It was my third version of the course. I had the unique opportunity to design two courses from scratch during my first adjunct gig at Utica College in 2010 and 2011. In addition to theContinue reading “Teaching Points: Surveying United States’ History of Drugs and Alcohol”

“Doubleplusungood” – NORML’s Prisoners of War on the Front Lines of Sentencing Reform

In the early nineties, a woman from Alabama, responding to a prisoner survey conducted by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) on behalf of her incarcerated husband mused, “…someday, [marijuana] will be legal. Maybe there will be a lot of non-violent people released from the Government and bac [sic] to theirContinue reading ““Doubleplusungood” – NORML’s Prisoners of War on the Front Lines of Sentencing Reform”

Intoxicated Identities: Tim Mitchell’s Framework for Analyzing Drug Users

As any historian of drugs or alcohol knows, drug use has typically been mapped onto a binary spectrum between abstinence and addiction. The implication of the binary is that the more drugs one does, the closer one gets to a problematic fall. By contrast, the fewer drugs one does makes the user safer from theContinue reading “Intoxicated Identities: Tim Mitchell’s Framework for Analyzing Drug Users”

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