Points New Year’s Eve Resolutions

Everyone here at Points wishes you a very happy new year and the best in 2020. This is a particularly intriguing holiday for drug and alcohol historians, since it’s by far the holiday that most heartily celebrates intoxication. We’ll be discussing that more in a bit, but today we want to focus on positive changes the entire Points staff is hoping to make in the new year. With that, I bring you the Points’ official list of New Year’s Resolutions. May 2020 be as good to you as we hope it will be to us!

David Guba: New Year’s Resolutions – My fiancée and I are doing a 1/12 resolution and attempting to go intoxicant free (no alcohol, coffee, or cannabis) from Jan 2- February 2, and I’d like to have a second book contract inked by jan 1 2021 (or at least a finished proposal and be fishing)

Stefano Tijerina: Stefano will be writing and running more and worrying less about the insignificant material world that surrounds us all. 

Sarah Siff: My resolution has to do with teaching. I tried a couple of changes in my demeanor over the past semester, and I want to make them permanent. Mostly, I want to look for opportunities to be kind and caring toward my students, to try to keep in mind that they often feel homesick and alienated. I think they miss their parents and the feeling of someone watching out for them and feeling fond of them. So I’m going to remember to do that more, along with generally being happier, more positive, in the classroom.

Jeremy Milloy: This year I plan to consume less, and thus waste less. I plan to spend less time looking at a screen. I also want to complete my book proposal, an article I’m writing about the British Columbia’s 1970s plan to coerce patients into compulsory abstinence treatment, and another article I’m looking at about Bon Accord, a very different type of therapeutic community/supported work experiment in 1960s Ontario. I also want to keep learning how to read the tarot and play Go. I wish everyone in the Points community a very happy and healthy 2020!

Jordan Mylet: 1) Commit to memory key cooking and baking fundamentals, as well as some fancy techniques.  2) Figure out a weekly research and writing schedule, 3) Stick to that schedule.

Robert Beach: I have a joke about how the only time I ever achieved a New Year’s Resolution was the year that I finally cancelled the $10 auto-withdraw from Planet Fitness…one of my many failed resolutions from the early 2010s. I don’t do well with Resolutions. But things are changing for me on a personal and professional level, and it’s time to be a bit more resolute from now on. So now, to void my 2019 Resolution (which was to renounce Resolutions once and for all), my 2020 Resolutions:

  • 1. Marry my fiancée, Amber Boothe.
  • 2. Finish and defend my dissertation.
  • 3. After some work-related delays in late 2019, start my podcast.
  • 4. Watch as New York finally legalizes marijuana.
  • 5. Convince as many people as possible to vote against Donald Trump in the 2020 election, thereby preventing or delaying the irrevocable decline of humanity on earth. 

It’s sure to be an interesting year.

Emily Dufton: I welcomed my second child on 12/27/19, so my resolution for 2020 is to keep two kids alive. That, and to work on the manuscript of my second book, the history of how medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder became a commercial industry, which is due to the University of Chicago Press in July 2021.

Happy New Year, Points Readers!

Holiday Break: See you next week!

Points will be taking this week off to celebrate the Christmas holiday, but join us on Tuesday, 12/31, for a final wrap-up post for 2019 and a discussion of what New Year’s Eve means for drug and alcohol historians. And, of course, we’ll continue to bring the history in 2020 and beyond.

Happy holidays to all our readers!

Rehousing Archives from the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is exciting. The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation is looking to rehouse its extensive archives. If you’re interested in learning more about these materials, contact CJPF’s executive director, Eric Sterling, at the information below. 

Eric Sterling, former counsel to the House Subcomittee on Crime (1979-1989) and Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (1989-current) is looking for a proper home for his archive of drug and alcohol literature. These materials include materials from NORML, the Drug Policy Foundation, the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, and many smaller organizations and initiatives. These include congressional materials such as the printed hearings of the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, documents relating to the enactment of the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988, and monographs from NIDA, ONDCP, DEA and other agencies. There are about 500 books on marijuana, cocaine, heroin, psychedelics, methamphetamine and the sociology and history of drug use, addiction and treatment. There are also materials related to sentencing, prisons, policing, organized crime, money laundering, gun control, pornography and prostitution, and materials related to Congress and politics. The materials include videocassettes, audiocassettes, pamphlets, and other papers.

Sterling has been involved in drug policy reform since he testified for marijuana decriminalization in 1976. If you’re interested in learning more about this information, or in acquiring some for your own library, contact Eric at the information below.

Eric E. Sterling, Executive Director

Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

8730 Georgia Ave., Suite 400, Silver Spring, MD 20910

direct: 202-365-2420


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Cannabis and Sugar: A Bittersweet History Makes Reparative Legalization a Must

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Nick Johnson. Johnson is a historian based in Fort Collins, Colorado. He is the author of Grass Roots: A History of Cannabis in the American West (Oregon State University Press, 2017) and associate editor of the Colorado Encyclopedia. He blogs about all things cannabis at HempiricalEvidence.com.

Whether it’s gummies, cookies, brownies, or even soda, it is hard to imagine today’s cannabis culture without edibles. Many of these stony treats offer the delectable pairing of cannabis and sugar, two of the world’s most popular indulgences. Yet most people do not know that the two commodities share a historical relationship as well as a culinary one—and that historical relationship is rooted in oppressive labor regimes.

Over the last two decades, changing cannabis laws around the world have brought renewed scholarly attention to the plant. Together with older work, recent books have helped us piece together the bigger picture of cannabis history, giving us a better idea of how the plant traveled the world, for instance, or how large-scale cannabis cultivation affects the environment. Research on the plant’s history in previously overlooked areas, such as Mexico and Africa, help us see the true depth and extent of trends that earlier scholarship only partly exposed.

One of the most significant of these trends is that cannabis traveled across the Americas within oppressive systems of agricultural labor—in particular, the sugar industries that developed across the Atlantic World after 1492.

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The Points Interview: Kerwin Kaye

Editor’s Note: Today we’re excited to feature a Points Interview with Dr. Kerwin Kaye, an Associate Professor of Sociology, American Studies, and Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University. Dr. Kaye’s new book, Enforcing Freedom: Drug Courts, Therapeutic Communities, and the Intimacies of the State, was released this month by Columbia University Press. He also writes about issues pertaining to male sex work. He currently lives in New York City. 

Screenshot 2019-12-12 08.49.32Describe your book in terms your bartender could understand.

In Enforcing Freedom I take a close look at drug courts – courts that offer court-supervised drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration for drug-related crimes – and the nature of the treatment programs they rely upon. Drug courts have often been touted as an alternative to racialized mass incarceration, and certainly the idea of treatment instead of incarceration has a lot of appeal to many people.

My research shows that they have a more problematic impact than is at first apparent. The good is that anyone who completes treatment as part of drug court will have the charge removed from their record – that’s a good deal. The bad is that only about 50% succeed at drug court while the other half fails. Even worse, most courts require participants to plead guilty prior to participating in the court, meaning that the half that fails has no opportunity to strike a plea bargain – they plead guilty to the most serious charges that can be leveled at them. So after failing at treatment – how does one fail at treatment? does not treatment fail you? – this half gets sentenced to incarceration times that are significantly longer than they would have received if they had been able to strike a plea bargain.

In other words, drug courts actually intensify the war on drugs for half of the population, even as they mitigate it for the half that succeeds. And unsurprisingly, the half that fails is disproportionately black and disproportionately impoverished. So rather than entirely mitigating racialized mass incarceration, drug courts act as a sorting mechanism, escalating and aggravating social exclusions for precisely those populations that most need relief.

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Marijuana: From “Acceptable” to a Protected Commodity

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from contributing editor Dr. Stefano Tijerina, a lecturer in management and the Chris Kobrack Research Fellow in Canandian Business History at the University’s of Maine’s Business School. 

The Canadian The Lethbridge Herald published the article “Marijuana Smoking will Become Acceptable” on December 3, 1970, as a means to lay down the foundations for the future legalization of marijuana.[1]  Forty-nine years later, the federal legalization of marijuana, for both medical and recreational purposes, is a reality in countries such as Canada and Uruguay. 

Screenshot 2019-12-10 at 8.28.29 AM

The policy in the South American country was designed to deal with criminal organizations, but the policy in Canada was designed to build a lucrative global capitalist market. Canada’s highly regulated and government-driven sale of cannabis showed that federal and provincial governments envisioned legalization as a lucrative means of taxation, building protectionist measures around the commodity in order to secure the inflow of corporate and personal taxes.  In comparison, the 1970s’ vision of legalization did not include a fiscal agenda, and much less a protectionist agenda.

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Enhanced Confections: Then and Now

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from contributing editor Bob Beach. Beach is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Albany, SUNY.

I recently had occasion to think about an interesting diversion in my very early dissertation research. I was reading Martin Booth’s history of cannabis, and he mentioned “The Arabian Gunje of Enchantment,” produced by the Gunjah Wallah Company of New York. While the focus of my dissertation has slowly moved the research out of the 19th century, my deep personal interest in candy, coupled with a recent trip to a Massachusetts dispensary, gave me reason to revisit this mysterious “hasheesh candy.”

Screenshot 2019-12-05 at 8.44.39 AM

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