Cannabis: Global Histories 9780262045209, 0262045206

Cannabis consumption, commerce, and control in global history, from the nineteenth century to the present day. This book

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Cannabis: Global Histories
 9780262045209, 0262045206

Table of contents :
Introduction Breaking News: “Weed Kills Coronavirus”
The History of Histories of Cannabis
Cannabis: Global Histories?
Globalization: Cannabis Histories?
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
1. Taming the Orient: France and the First Global Movement to Medicalize Cannabis, ca. 1800–1850
Taming the Orient: Medicalizing Hashish in France, 1800–1850
Haschish and Mental Illness
2. Ganja and the Government of India: Cannabis, Excise, and Colonial Administration in the Late Nineteenth Century
The Ganja Mahal
Explaining the Ganja Mahal
Cannabis Across India
Changing Cannabis Controls
3. Ganja Madness: Cannabis, Insanity, and Indentured Labor in British Guiana and Trinidad, 1881–1912
Ganja Madness in British Guiana and Trinidad
Dr. Grieve + Dr. Seccombe = ??
Ganja Madness in Mauritius and Jamaica
The Recirculation of Colonial Ideas
4. Dagga: How South Africa Made a Dangerous Drug, 1902–1928
Dagga and Colonial Governance in Natal
Cannabis and Labor Management in the Witwatersrand Gold Mines
Dagga and Organized Medicine in the Cape Colony
Dagga and Union Government
5. Squaring a Circle: Cannabis and the Dubious Legacy of the League of Nations
The 1925 Second International Opium Convention: Saving Orientals from Themselves
The League of Nations Subcommittee on Cannabis: Hitting a Glass Ceiling of Preconceptions
6. A Historical Approach to the Criminalization of Marijuana Use in Mexico
From Spanish Colonialism to the First Century of Mexican Independence
First Prohibitions of Recreational Marijuana
The Sanitary Tyranny and the National Prohibition of Cannabis
The Postrevolutionary Governments
7. Reefer Madness Past and Present: Dr. Leopoldo Salazar Viniegra, Mexico, and the United States, ca. 1938–2018
8. Smuggler’s Paradise: The Hash Trade and Drug Control in the Building of the Afghan State, ca. 1923–1974
From Baba Ku to Amanalla Khan: Cannabis in Afghan History
The West Comes to Afghanistan
Contextualizing Afghan Politics and the Ascending Drug Economy
9. “Hashers Don’t Read Das Kapital”: East Germany, Socialist Prohibition, and Global Cannabis
Narcotics and the Early Cold War
The Western Hashish Wave of the 1960s
Prohibitionist Impulses with Socialist Characteristics
Smuggling, Criminalization, and Medicalization
Pistachios, Pushers, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall
10. The Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in Nigeria and the Indian Hemp Decree of 1966
Cannabis Use in West Africa Before 1960
Changing Patterns and Perceptions in the 1960s
Doctors and Addiction
Failed Medicalization: Soldiers, Coups, and Crisis
11. Cannabis, Counterculture, and Criminals: The Rise of Smuggling in the Netherlands, ca. 1962–1976
The Explosion in Demand
The Expansion of Supply
The Good Old Days?: The Hippie Trail
Old Traditions: Maritime Smuggling
New Types of Smugglers
12. “We Smoke Flowers”: On “Being High” in Postrevolutionary Iran
Cannabis Genealogy and the Science of Chemical Calibration
Hashish Versus Marijuana: Class(ist), Gender(ed) Environments of Consumption
A Rhetoric of Smoke: Quasi Legality and Technological Dealing
Changing Times in Cannabis Culture
13. PRIDE International and Drug War Diplomacy: The Parent Movement’s Global Battle against Marijuana in the United States, ca. 1970–1985
“Parent Power”: The Rise of PRIDE
Nancy Reagan: From “Frivolous Social Climber” to AntiDrug Warrior
“Local Roots, International Ramifications”: The Parent Movement Spreads Abroad
“We Are Mothers”: Nancy Reagan’s “Drug War Diplomacy” and Promoting the Parent Movement Abroad
“Maintaining Identity as a Voluntary Organization”: Cocaine and the Collapse of the Parent Movement
14. Sub-Saharan Africa, Cannabis, and Contemporary Drug Policy
Quasilegality and Cannabis in Africa
Liberalization and the Status Quo
Explaining Changes and Continuities
15. Forces of Necessity: Lay Advocacy and the Remedicalization of Cannabis in the UK, 1973–2004
Medical Necessity 1975–1991: Glaucoma, Cancer, and AIDS
Cannabis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Patient Perspectives in the UK, 1992–2007

Citation preview


Cannabis Global Histories

Edited by Lucas Richert and James H. Mills

The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England

© 2021 Massachusetts Institute of Technology All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. This book was set in Stone Serif and Stone Sans by Westchester Publishing Ser­vices. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Mills, Jim, editor. | Richert, Lucas, 1979- editor. Title: Cannabis : global histories / edited by Jim Mills and Lucas Richert. Description: Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press, [2021] |   Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2020047119 | ISBN 9780262045209 (Paperback) Subjects: LCSH: Cannabis—History. | Cannabis—Social aspects. Classification: LCC HV5822.C3 C358 2021 | DDC 362.29/56109—dc23 LC record available at


Introduction  Breaking News: “Weed Kills Coronavirus”    vii James H. Mills and Lucas Richert Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries 1

Taming the Orient: France and the First Global Movement to Medicalize Cannabis, ca. 1800–­1850    3 David A. Guba Jr.


Ganja and the Government of India: Cannabis, Excise, and Colonial Administration in the Late Nineteenth Century    29 Peter Hynd


Ganja Madness: Cannabis, Insanity, and Indentured Labor in British Guiana and Trinidad, 1881–­1912    57 Jamie Banks

1900s–­1940s 4

Dagga: How South Africa Made a Dangerous Drug, 1902–­1928    83 Thembisa Waetjen


Squaring a Circle: Cannabis and the Dubious Legacy of the League of Nations    109 Haggai Ram


A Historical Approach to the Criminalization of Marijuana Use in Mexico    131 José Domingo Schievenini


Reefer Madness Past and Present: Dr. Leopoldo Salazar Viniegra, Mexico, and the United States, ca. 1938–2018    157 Isaac Campos

vi Contents

1950s–­1960s   8 Smuggler’s Paradise: The Hash Trade and Drug Control in the Building of the Afghan State, ca. 1923–1974    185 James Bradford   9 “Hashers Don’t Read Das Kapital”: East Germany, Socialist Prohibition, and Global Cannabis    205 Ned Richardson-­Little 10 The Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in Nigeria and the Indian Hemp Decree of 1966    225 Gernot Klantschnig 11 Cannabis, Counterculture, and Criminals: The Rise of Smuggling in the Netherlands, ca. 1962–1976    247 Stephen Snelders 1970s–­Present 12 “We Smoke Flowers”: On “Being High” in Postrevolutionary Iran    271 Maziyar Ghiabi 13 PRIDE International and Drug War Diplomacy: The Parent Movement’s Global Battle against Marijuana in the United States, ca. 1970–1985    297 Emily Dufton 14 Sub-­Saharan Africa, Cannabis, and Contemporary Drug Policy    321 Neil Carrier 15 Forces of Necessity: Lay Advocacy and the Remedicalization of Cannabis in the UK, 1973–­2004    341 Suzanne Taylor Acknowledgments    363 Contributors    367 Index    371

Introduction  Breaking News: “Weed Kills Coronavirus” James H. Mills and Lucas Richert

Cannabis is a magic plant. Till mid-80s it was sold by Govt. Because of Rajiv Gandhi and western Pharma companies it got bad name. Make cannabis legal. —Alt News, “Fact Check: Weed Kills Coronavirus? Vivek Agnihotri Shares Scientific Misinformation via Meme”

On February 8, 2020, Indian filmmaker and author Vivek Agnihotri tweeted a screenshot with the headline “Weed Kills Coronavirus,” which looked as if it had been taken from a news broadcast. He added the commentary above, suggesting the magical properties of cannabis and the need for reform in cannabis laws.1 Inspired by this news, others joined in, and one tweeter agreed, adding, “Solution to a lot of world’s problems lie in India. But you can’t find them as long as you ridicule our ancient wisdom [sic].” As it turned out, Agnihotri had not checked his sources before passing on the screenshot. It was not taken from a news channel but was, in fact, a meme that originated on a website called dopl3r​.­com​.2­ The website proclaimed that, “We are a proudly mexican enterprise and dopl3r wishes to share the joy, the sense of humor and the entertainment with all the people around the world.”3 A creator and sharer of memes, the website enables users to import an illustration and a message into a template and then click a button to generate a new meme. In this case, someone had simply cut and pasted into a TV broadcast template a stock image of a spoonful of cannabis leaves and added the headline together with a strapline insisting: “Scientists are shocked to discover that weed kills coronavirus.”4 The inventor of the meme, and her or his intentions, have proven to be impossible to trace. However, the idea that cannabis could have potential as a treatment for coronavirus had already been in


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circulation on social media the previous month. The US-­based cannabis activist Peter Jonathan Hanna, for instance, tweeted on January 27, 2020: The coronavirus is probably going to be the worst deadly virus in modern history. Cannabis has several dozen antivirals medicines in it and all the other hundreds of medicines in cannabis will greatly boost your immune system and protect you from this virus. Prepare!5

Later that day Hanna expanded his claims even further, asserting that, “Orally consuming cannabis can give you immunity from Coronavirus AND cannabis can cure your Coronavirus.”6 Such statements on social media were becoming significant enough that, by the end of January, the Washington Post reported, “It’s these particularly harmful nuggets of deception flagged by leading health authorities that Facebook is vowing to scrub from its platform.”7 Back in India, the Deccan Herald was one of the country’s first newspapers to report the insubstantial basis for Agnihotri’s tweet under the headline: “Fact Check: Weed Kills Coronavirus? Vivek Agnihotri Shares Scientific Misinformation via Meme on February 10.”8 The story had actually been challenged on the same day that he posted his tweet on the Indian-­ based website Latestly, “a leading Information Portal for the Millennials of today . . . ​providing information on the trend related stories.”9 The Indian film director had, in other words, been duped by an anonymous hoaxer, via a Mexican meme service, at a time when there was a wave of similar stories emanating from the United States on a global social media platform. This is a very twenty-­first-­century story, with memes, social media hoaxes, fact-­checkers, and activists all features of a new media landscape that has only recently become familiar. At first sight, it may appear odd to start a volume of essays about histories of cannabis around the world with a tale so contemporary. While writing this introduction, the coronavirus pandemic continues to kill, and its authors are in various states of lockdown. These are certainly strange and occasionally very sad days, with evidence-­based policy and ideas struggling against misinformation and myths. Yet, the Agnihotri story serves as the perfect place to start: the questions raised by it can only be answered with reference to global histories of cannabis. The first of these questions is: How has there come to be such a lively interest in cannabis in so many places around the world? After all, the episode above includes a virus that spread from its point of origin in China, cannabis activists in the United States, a Mexican website, an Indian film

Breaking News: “Weed Kills Coronavirus” ix

director, as well as a multinational corporation. Related to the above question is another: In so many different places, why is cannabis thought to have the potential to treat even the most unfamiliar of fatal diseases? A brief outline of the global history of cannabis below indicates that in many places, and at many times, cannabis medicines have been dismissed as dangerous, useless, or obsolete, meaning the suggestion that it may be the cure for a coronavirus that surfaced around the world needs to be explained. Finally, Agnihotri’s original post points to the question of just who exactly globalized cannabis. He seems to think that Western pharmaceutical companies meddled in India back in the 1980s and that their agendas altered Indian policies and attitudes. But this is to ignore the role of other agencies with an international or even global reach. The following introduction, and the chapters in the volume, trace the groups and bodies that sought to establish common understandings of the plant—­as well as the cannabis products that have transcended national or cultural boundaries. The History of Histories of Cannabis Efforts to establish the history of cannabis have an extensive past. When nineteenth-­century writers in the West began to investigate its properties and potential, they routinely started with statements like: “The Hemp plant has been cultivated in Bengal from time immemorial for the purpose of intoxication,” or “Cannabis has been cultivated in the plains of Egypt for centuries, but they do not draw hemp from it as in Europe; instead the Arabs produce a preparation called kif from which they procure the annihilation of thinking and reason and a voluptuous stupor.”10 Given the often colorful content of these historical accounts, it is difficult to take them too seriously.11 More serious were the efforts of academics to research histories of cannabis that appeared in the wake of the emergence of new consumers and controls in the United States in the 1960s. Vera Rubin explicitly acknowledged the link in the introduction to Cannabis and Culture (1975), stating: “Public concern about the youth ‘drug culture,’ particularly in Western societies, has stimulated unprecedented support for research on various drugs, including cannabis.” The book, a collection of essays much like this one, was the outcome of a conference on Cross-­Cultural Perspectives on Cannabis, convened in Chicago in 1973, which was funded by the Center for the Studies of Narcotic and Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental


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Health. While anthropologists were the driving force behind the project, the volume contained some historical essays. Significantly, Rubin’s introduction adopted what would now be considered a global perspective, in seeking to describe the “ethnobotanic diffusion” of cannabis across places, cultures, and time. The language and framing devices used are very much of the period: Two major cultural complexes appear to have encompassed use of the plant over time—­a traditional folk stream which reveals remarkable continuity and a contemporary, more circumscribed configuration.12

In her account, the “folk stream” had endured since ancient times and could be described as “the ganja complex,” considering the plant was mainly used around the world by the lower social classes for everything from clothing to cordage, food to medicine, and “general use as a euphoriant and symbol of fellowship.” In contrast to this long, gradual process, Rubin asserted that there was The second current, going back only about a century to the formation of the Club des Hachichins in Paris, [which] is linked mainly to the search for psychedelic experiences. Diffused in the mid-­twentieth century to the United States and Canada and Western-­oriented youth in traditional cultures, it generally is an upper-­ and middle-­class social phenomenon, limited to the psychedelic function and may be called the “marihuana complex.”13

While her account of the global spread of cannabis was largely descriptive, it surpassed what other writers offered on the plant and its products in the 1970s and 1980s. For example, Ernest Abel’s Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years (1980) ranged widely across the world, and included China, the Middle East, southern Africa, and India in his account. While less interested in what drove its diffusion and more concerned with showing how unjust and confused the position was in contemporary America when viewed in the long history of human contact with the plant, the book provides glimpses of global processes. But such generalizations are light on detail and context.14 Jack Herer’s The Emperor Has No Clothes (1985) similarly ranged widely across periods and continents in an effort to discredit the US government’s position on the plant, but his oversimplifications were as bereft of evidence as they were heavy on hyperbole: According to virtually every anthropologist and university in the world, marijuana was also used in most of our religions and cults as one of the seven or so

Breaking News: “Weed Kills Coronavirus” xi

most widely used mood-­, mind-­or pain-­altering drugs when taken as psychotropic, psychedelic (mind-­manifesting or -­expanding) sacraments.15

A lot of books in this vein have followed.16 Academic interest in cannabis began to revive in the 1990s and found a place in the generation of path-­breaking historical accounts of drug control regimes and markets for intoxicating medicines that were published around the turn of the century. Virginia Berridge’s Opium and the People (1999) included a chapter on cocaine and cannabis in the UK in the nineteenth century with an overview of the history of the medical and scientific interest that the latter briefly excited there.17 David Musto and Pamela Korsmeyer (1999; 2002), David Courtwright (2002), and Carolyn Acker (2002) asked questions about cannabis and drug control more broadly, although they diverged in their approaches to answering them. Courtwright adopted a transnational approach stretching back centuries, while Acker and Musto focused on American institutions and policy in the twentieth century.18 William B. McAllister’s account of the emergence of the international drugs regulatory system over the course of the twentieth century included traces of cannabis in a story dominated by the politics of opium.19 Perhaps in response to the haphazard continent-­hopping of those like Abel and Herer, or to the generation of academic studies that simply saw cannabis as part of a wider story about intoxicating substances, a new wave of cannabis historians took the plant and its preparations as their focus in a range of national contexts. For example, Cannabis Britannica (2003) was the result of contemporary cannabis debates in the UK, and it was an attempt to explain how the rules and regulations that were being reconsidered by the authorities came about in the first place. While it identified some of the wider global phenomena shaping the British story, such as the nation’s colonial past and its role in the emergence of the international drugs regulatory system, the book’s chief concern was with the national context. Suzanne Taylor’s 2010 thesis similarly focused on the British context to explore how cannabis was reimagined as a medicine in the UK after 1973, following decades of neglect in scientific and policy circles of its potential as a source of therapeutic substances.20 The national context was also central to many of the other studies in this new wave. Marijuana Australiana by John Jiggens (2004) argued that in the twentieth century, cannabis in Australia became entangled in coercive


James H. Mills and Lucas Richert

government efforts at social control.21 Marcel Martel’s Not This Time: Canadians, Public Policy, and the Marijuana Question, 1961–­1975 (2006) and Catherine Carstairs, Jailed for Possession: Illegal Drug Use, Regulation and Power in Canada, 1920–­1961 (2006) provided plenty of original archival research to cover the history there, and the recent volume of papers by Andrew Potter and Daniel Weinstock, High Time: The Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada (2019), has captured research since.22 Together, these works trace the rise and fall and rise of Canadian cannabis, showcasing prohibitionist impulses, social activism, and how the Supreme Court underpinned medicalization in 2001—­factors that led to Canada becoming the first Group of Seven (G7) country to federally legalize cannabis consumption. Cannabis Nation (2012) completed the UK story begun in Cannabis Britannica and identified the paradox that a control regime there predated any consumers, as well as tracing the implications of this into the twenty-­first century. In 2014, the focus shifted to Latin America with the publication of Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs by Isaac Campos.23 This study traced the emergence of a distinctly Mexican concern with cannabis consumption, which dated back to the nineteenth century and tackled some well-­worn myths about US influence there. Lina Britto’s Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia’s First Drug Paradise (2020) similarly focused on a Latin American country to show that cannabis preceded cocaine as an export commodity there. Academics have also taken on the task of producing balanced and detailed accounts of the history of cannabis products in the United States, with Nick Johnson (2017) providing an environmental history which argues that federal marijuana prohibition has had impacts on the practices of those growing cannabis crops that have resulted in ecological degradation.24 Emily Dufton (2017) has reached beyond formal policy circles to trace the activists on both sides of the debate about cannabis controls in the United States and to uncover their attitudes and agendas since the 1960s.25 All of this activity has stimulated research in other parts of the world. Chris Duvall’s The African Roots of Marijuana (2019) argues that the Bantu word mariamba is the source of the term “marijuana.” This word, together with the sub-­Saharan habit of smoking plants and herbs through the use of water pipes, has prompted Duvall to assert that, “African knowledge under-­ lies practices of psychoactive cannabis use around the Atlantic.”26 While this effort at decentering the West, or the Americas, in histories of the plant is provocative, the book has been criticized for its reliance on Western archives

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and materials and lack of research in Africa itself.27 This is not a weakness of other recent work about sub-­Saharan Africa. A brief but useful section on cannabis in an article by Emmanuel Akyeampong (2005) devoted to the wider topic of drug trafficking in the West African diaspora showed that Sierra Leone became an important hub for cannabis production by the 1920s. Initially it was cultivated there and consumed locally, but by the 1930s cannabis was being exported to markets along the West African coast. The return of ex-­servicemen from the Second World War who had picked up the habit of consuming cannabis in Asia established a market for it in Ghana, which ultimately stimulated local production there too. By the 1980s, Ghana and Nigeria, together with Mozambique and South Africa, were illicitly producing cannabis for export.28 In considering Nigeria, Klantschnig (2014) emphasizes the interaction of the local and the international too, arguing that: The story of cannabis in Nigeria shows how cannabis became an important part of Nigerian public discourse long before foreign agencies lamented the continent’s role in the global drug trade and how public concerns about drugs and their control were never completely imposed from abroad, although foreign influences played an important part in the forming of hybrid ideas about drugs, addiction, and drug control in Nigeria.29

Utathya Chattopadhyaya (2019) similarly examines international networks through the politics of dagga, or cannabis, in South Africa in the 1920s. These were imperial scientific circles, and he traces how experiments conducted in the Union of South Africa and by the British administration in India were evidence of the efforts of colonial states to reframe cannabis as a legitimate commercial crop.30 This connection with India also points to histories of the plant and substances made from it in South Asia. Cannabis Britannica and Cannabis Nation both explored various aspects of experiences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from the pioneering experiments of William O’Shaughnessy in Calcutta to the efforts of the government of India to resist an international prohibition regime after independence in the 1950s. Peter Hynd’s doctoral work at McGill University promises fresh perspectives on cannabis in colonial India. The South Asian diaspora has been an important element in studies of the West Indies, such as Peter Hanoomansingh’s “Crown Colony and the Problem of Ganja in Nineteenth-­Century Trinidad” (2011) and “‘Up in Smoke’: Opium and Indentured Labour in Mauritius, British Guiana, and Trinidad, 1834–­1912,” by Jamie Banks (2020).31 James Bradford’s recent


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(2019) book, Poppies, Politics, and Power: Afghanistan and the Global History of Drugs and Diplomacy, includes important material on cannabis, emphasizing the interconnectedness of trade in the substance there with South Asia and Iran, and its emergence as a major source of cannabis for Western markets in the 1960s and 1970s.32 References to these recent and forthcoming studies suggests that the new wave of academic cannabis histories shows no sign of abating. Other important work in the current generation of such histories includes David Guba’s Taming Cannabis: Drugs and Empire in Nineteenth-­Century France (2020) and Haggai Ram’s Intoxicating Zion: A Social History of Hashish in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (2020).33 In part, this volume of essays is designed as an exercise in taking stock of a field that has rapidly developed over the past two decades and which looks set to remain a vibrant area of activity for some time to come. Cannabis: Global Histories? This volume, Cannabis: Global Histories, has ambitions that go beyond simply taking stock however. The 2018 conference from which this book takes its name, and from which most of the essays are drawn, was designed to gather together many of those working in the new wave of academic cannabis histories to explore what would happen when they were invited to think beyond nation states and national borders. In part, the event was inspired by the influential collection of papers on cocaine edited by Paul Gootenberg in 1999 which used “major national stories” to seek “covert social, cultural, and political transformations” more broadly.34 What is striking in relating that project to this is the relationship between histories and politics. Two decades ago, the Gootenberg volume was possible because there was a community of historians working on cocaine research in the 1990s, which was linked to the importance of that commodity in the domestic and diplomatic politics of the United States in the 1980s. This cannabis volume, by contrast, would not have been possible back then, because there was no such comparable community working on cannabis histories. As the above survey of the literature has demonstrated that community of scholars working on cannabis has only emerged since 1999. It can be directly related to the wider changes of the period. In that time, scientific and medical perceptions of cannabis have become more complex, government and regulatory frameworks for dealing with the plant and its products have diversified, consumers have

Breaking News: “Weed Kills Coronavirus” xv

become better organized and more vociferous, and the emergence of the idea of Big Marijuana draws the eye to the array of commercial interests that are seeking to reframe preparations of cannabis as commodities for potential investors (and as sources of revenue for the authorities). With these cannabis-­related activities intensifying, it is little wonder that historians have headed for the archives in order to explain them. Maziyar Ghiabi recently wrote that “few commodities are as global as drugs,”35 and it is argued here that few drugs are as global as cannabis. While this volume is certainly not comprehensive in examining every nation or even every continent, it ranges widely enough to establish that cannabis products now have histories around the world. The same might be said for opium, opiates, and opioids, for example. What makes cannabis particularly notable for historians is that unlike those substances, its histories have for large periods been entirely illicit and illegitimate according to those with political, scientific, medical, and social power. Derivatives of opium have always had legitimate and legal applications as medicines and as painkillers, even when their use for other purposes has been prohibited. This means that across the course of modern history doctors have continued to trust in them, scientists to research them, corporations to develop and market them, and governments to tolerate them. The year 1952 looms large in histories of cannabis. That year, the WHO declared that cannabis substances no longer had any legitimate medical or scientific uses. This meant that most doctors and scientists completely ignored them, pharmaceutical companies looked elsewhere for research and development projects likely to prove profitable, and by 1961 governments had eventually agreed to subject them to the strictest controls under the Single Convention. Many of the usual suspects in the history of globalization—­ modern medical science, capitalist entrepreneurs, and Western states—­ combined against cannabis. Yet, in 2020, the UNODC observed that: The most widely used drug worldwide continues to be cannabis, with an estimated 188 million people having used the drug in the previous year. The prevalence of cannabis use has remained broadly stable at the global level for a decade, even with the rising trends in the Americas and Asia.36

In other words, it appears that the globalization of the plant and its products took place without, indeed despite, many of the agents and agencies usually thought to be central to globalizing processes. Explaining this should be of interest not only to historians of drugs, intoxicants, and medicines


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but also to scholars engaged with globalization, and to those concerned with maintaining and revising control regimes around the world. The obvious place to start in explaining this “globalization without globalizers” is at the beginning of the paper trail. In this volume, that can be found in the archives of nineteenth-­century Western empires, and Guba, Hynd, and Banks all explore the ways in which European colonizers engaged with the cannabis-­consuming societies that they encountered. As becomes clear, though, these sources reveal a lot about the concerns, interests, and ignorance of the agents of those building these empires, but they unfortunately tell very little about the societies around them. Guba, for example, examines the ways in which myths about cannabis and its consumers were formed from within Orientalist intellectual currents in France at the same time as the plant was claimed by the nation’s medical circles as a source of therapeutics to be honed by French expertise. Crucially, he also explains how ideas about cannabis formed in colonial contexts were “globalized,” as the international networks of modern medicine used their journals to transmit news of the plant’s potential around the world. In Jamie Banks’s chapter, situated in British Guiana and Trinidad, he traces a related tale about the creation of a notion of “ganja madness” in medical circles—­in addition to showing how the concept was deployed and received. For comparative purposes, he builds Jamaica and Mauritius into his narrative and argues that the development and utility of medical knowledge regarding cannabis in this time and space offers lessons about the fractured and often contradictory nature of British colonialism. Hynd’s chapter, which also explores the British Empire, suggests that certain colonial era documents can be useful for more than simply exploring the ways in which myths and misunderstandings were created as colonizers encountered cannabis. His account is of the tangled policies of colonial officials toward taxing cannabis commerce in nineteenth-­century India. It reveals how specialist producers adapted environments to create crops that were prized for their psychoactive content, that various mechanisms were used by wholesalers to secure those crops at advantageous prices, and shows that most retailers were small-­scale operators set up to supply consumers in market-­towns across the country. In short, the network established to get the products to market, and to ensure that an income was generated by those involved at each stage of production and distribution, looked very similar to that for other agricultural commodities in colonial India. Government

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policies were mainly aimed at taking a slice of those incomes, although Hynd adds that this was not the only consideration. Many officials had arrived at the conclusion that consumption of cannabis products ought to be limited, partly because of the misunderstandings of the colonial encounter, partly because of a Protestant mistrust of intoxication, and partly because they listened to local voices that disapproved of its consumption. They saw tax as a means of inflating the price of cannabis products to levels where they hoped excessive consumption would be discouraged. This created a new anxiety, one that historians should be careful to note. The anxiety was that cannabis customers would simply look to other sources of intoxication if the price was inflated too far, and the evidence in the colonial archives holds that this often proved to be the case. Opium, toddy, and other substances found themselves in favor when cannabis became an expensive indulgence. Vera Rubin named the “ganja-­complex” after what she thought was a timeless and unchanging taste for cannabis in south Asia.37 Hynd’s study suggests that there was no such thing, and it reminds historians that often there is no such type as a cannabis-­consumer. In its place seems to be something more complex: a seeker of intoxication, or  pain-­relief, or a few laughs in company, and so on, who sometimes happened upon cannabis at the moment of seeking. When taken together, the three essays are valuable reminders that the nineteenth century was fundamentally important for global histories of cannabis in the modern period. Colonialism moved cannabis consumers around the world, establishing new markets for the plant outside of spaces and places where it was being consumed prior to European arrival. Colonialism also generated and circulated ideas about the plant and its products, which were often flights of Orientalist fancy of course, but which would linger in Western societies, and go on to shape cannabis ideas elsewhere. Colonial tax regimes, however, revealed that those who consumed cannabis were often anything but devotees of the drug; instead, these individuals were simply seeking intoxication and would happily abandon cannabis preparations for other drinks or drugs according to availability and price. For all the Orientalist fantasies about the figure of the cannabis-­consumer, excise receipts demonstrated that these individuals could be difficult to find when the price was not right or if there was a range of substances to choose from. In the early decades of the twentieth century, other forces around the world also shaped ideas about, and approaches to, cannabis products. The


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chapters by Thembisa Waetjen, Haggai Ram, José Domingo Schievenini, and Isaac Campos focus on South Africa, North Africa, and Mexico respectively, and draw out the ways in which the processes of nation-­building and internationalization affected cannabis. Schievenini argues that the changing nature of the state in Mexico drove changing attitudes toward marijuana and its consumers. The Spanish colonial state viewed those that it encountered there as an Other, and habits associated with them were dismissed as dark, mysterious, and dangerous. The newly independent state reframed cannabis as a symbol of the potential of an environment and a people liberated from the oppressive regime that went before it. By the twentieth century groups familiar from nation-­building around the modern world began to take control of the state: political elites intent upon shaping the local population into an efficient workforce, aided by a well-­organized medical profession keen to secure a monopoly over healthcare. Increasingly viewed as a marker of indolence, cannabis was also regarded as a threat by medical professionals who resented cheap and useful substances that rivalled their products in the therapeutic marketplace. With a grip on political power and the mechanisms for deciding what was modern and scientific, Mexican elites imposed controls on cannabis, which were in fact controls on the population and the ways it could behave. In looking at the story of Dr. Salazar Viniegra, Campos shows how these elites rigorously upheld their orthodoxies in the 1930s in the face of efforts to change perceptions of the plant and its preparations. Waetjen traces a related story in the Union of South Africa. Set against the backdrop of political change, in which a fractured set of colonies became a British dominion in 1910 and a nation state in 1931, dagga policy became a means of intervening in sections of the local population. The forces of nation-­building, political elites and an emerging medical profession, combined to claim a monopoly over healthcare provision. They were instrumental in reframing and asserting control over dagga consumption there, which had been an acceptable practice for over six hundred years. Waetjen’s chapter also illustrates that local consumption was not somehow timeless and immutable but was, in fact, expanding as mine workers familiar with the plant and its properties introduced it to colleagues from communities that were not. She argues that there was plenty of opposition to the emergence of controls on dagga—­from those who produced it to those who managed the mines and could state from experience that the figure of the dangerous or demotivated dagga smoker was an entirely imagined one. Despite this,

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cannabis consumption suffered the familiar fate of prohibition for all but medical and scientific purposes. Ram takes up another of the observations made in Waetjen’s article about the interrelationship between cannabis knowledge generated in particular states and the global circulation of these ideas through the emerging network of international organizations. His article focuses on the League of Nations Opium Advisory Committee (OAC), established as a permanent body in 1920, which survives today as the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It is such a central part of the story of the global histories of cannabis precisely because it was created to globalize policy on psychoactive substances. Ram unpicks how experts, gathered from across member states, engineered a consensus on the properties of cannabis by layering evidence from around the world. Particularly prominent among these experts were representatives of European empires or of former colonial states eager to present themselves as members of the modern, international, and scientific community. Unsurprisingly, then, the Orientalist and racist generalizations that developed in the colonial encounters of the 1800s found themselves dressed in the new language of scientifically established truth. Even when participants spoke out against the recycled myths of the nineteenth century, they were ignored. Dismissed were the glimpses that some of the evidence gave of complex and changing markets for cannabis, and of the cultural intricacies of the many societies and cultures across North Africa. In their place, Ram demonstrates that familiar generalizations about the childish nature of the Muslim and his (the imagined figure was always male) inability to control himself in the face of pleasure became the dominant discourse on cannabis within expert circles at the League of Nations. The OAC was very successful at globalizing ideas about cannabis in the 1920s and 1930s. Regrettably, those ideas were racist and Orientalist in origin. This central idea, of the cannabis consumer as Other, took on new levels of meaning as it traveled. Klantschnig shows that in West Africa it traveled as doctors did. One of his main protagonists, Thomas Adeoye Lambo, left Nigeria in 1952 for the colonial heartland to study medicine at the University of Birmingham, followed by further training at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. He became interested in both social science and the studies of addiction of the period, and when back in Nigeria Lambo observed the growing taste for cannabis. He called preparations of the plant the comfort of “marginal Africans,” people he described as those uprooted


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from the structured societies of rural villages who endured a life of migration in their search for work and wages. The idea took root and was militarized when army officers seized power in the independent Nigeria of the 1960s. With the country in chaos, the coup’s leaders intended to impose order, and the 1966 Indian Hemp Decree was one element of their efforts; it included tough penalties, such as a death sentence for cultivators and long prison sentences for smugglers. The cannabis consumer had become the enemy of nation-­builders in postcolonial Nigeria, and the medical elite had once again provided the evidence. Klantschnig shows that the story was more complex still, and that markets in Nigeria for substances made from the plant were part of a cultural phenomenon that was spreading globally. Cannabis consumption was becoming cool. Precisely because the notion was well-­established in so many places that it was the drug of the Other, those that rejected the orthodoxies of the period saw in it a powerful symbol for challenging the authorities. In Nigeria, popular musicians like Fela Kuti and their acolytes took to cannabis because of its association with youth movements elsewhere. Kuti associated it with the jazz clubs of London, where he had played while studying music between 1958 and 1963, a period when cannabis was adopted by the white middle-­class youth of the city as the substance used by the African and West Indian migrants there. The drug of the colonial Other was taken to the metropole by workers who had answered the mother-­country’s call for labor in the wake of the Second World War. It was then self-­consciously smoked as part of the cultural politics of the period, as a section of Britain’s youth rejected the nation’s history of imperialism, conflict, and racism by embracing what they interpreted as the ways of Africa and Asia.38 The chapters by Snelders, Bradford, and Richardson-­Little trace the circulation of the “cannabis-­as-­cool” idea in Europe and Asia in that period and some of the impacts of this. In West Germany, “collectively smoking cannabis symbolized the creation of new forms of noncapitalist communities,”39 while in the Netherlands the “counterculture of the 1960s produced smugglers who perceived cannabis use and trade in the context of a rebellion against ‘straight society.’”40 In East Germany, the government presented cannabis as the comfort of the disillusioned victims of capitalism, which meant that local youth viewed it as glamorous and subversive, even if they rarely got their hands on any because there was little product to trade and their currency could not be easily exchanged anyway. The establishment of

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these new markets for cannabis in Europe (and elsewhere in the Western world) included a curious geographical twist, as suddenly there were consumers where psychoactive products of cannabis could not be produced. The plant is environmentally sensitive, so while hemp had a long history in Northern Europe as a source of fibers for rope and cordage, the dark and the wet meant that it was difficult to grow for intoxicating purposes. Snelders and Bradford explore this twist, and they trace the ways in which new markets were connected to regions that were sources of psychoactive cannabis. Bradford explains how the Afghan economy found itself suddenly growing new connections across the Middle East and as far as Europe and North America when Western travelers arrived in search of cannabis for their own consumption and for export back home. At first they were small-­scale smugglers, but over time the commerce boomed and more coherent organizations evolved or got involved. While cannabis may have been the commodity that drove the greater integration of Afghanistan’s economy into the wider global one, it was the nation’s opium poppies and the heroin produced from them that would come to dominate.41 Snelders studies this process from the Dutch end. In the 1960s, securing cannabis was seen by many members of the counterculture in the Netherlands as an act of political resistance, so smuggling was done less for financial gain and more for political and social kudos. However, as the market grew, the maritime history of the Netherlands gave it an advantage. Experienced seamen were certainly used to trading in Africa and Asia, and fishermen were experienced in carrying more than fish on their boats—­thus, cannabis became just another clandestine commodity carried alongside legitimate cargo. The final section of this collection brings together four chapters that consider the fate of the cannabis consensus that dominated government and medical circles for most of the twentieth century. After the 1925 Geneva Convention on Opium and Other Drugs, cannabis was included in the international drugs regulatory system; from then onward, states around the world were expected to prevent its consumption for anything but medical and scientific purposes. As mentioned earlier, the 1952 World Health Organization (WHO) declaration on cannabis stated that it was now obsolete as a source for medicines. After that, there seemed to be no legitimate purposes at all for the plant and its preparations. Over the last two decades, this status quo has been repeatedly challenged and has started to fracture. Several governments around the world have decriminalized, or even legalized, various


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forms of cannabis consumption. Significantly, in 2019 the director general of the WHO reversed the position established in 1952. He recommended that cannabis and associated substances be rescheduled in the international drug control framework to pave the way for a legal trade in them for medicinal and scientific purposes. Ghiabi, Dufton, Carrier, and Taylor explore this period of cannabis consensus and some of the forces that have challenged it. All make the point that the consensus was never fully stable. Both Ghiabi and Carrier explain that there were often significant gaps between policy and practice. Ghiabi argues that in Iran a long history of cannabis consumption ensured that it was widely accepted across society and culture. Multiple preparations of the plant, which could be taken alone or in combination with other substances, continued to be widely available there throughout the twentieth century. The complex meanings of cannabis consumption in Iran, and the long traditions associated with it, meant that while various Iranian regimes often clamped down on alcohol and opiates, the authorities have tended to turn a blind eye to violations of the controls imposed on cannabis by the international consensus. Carrier, for his part, draws attention to similar stories from across sub-­Saharan Africa. He shows that the authorities in most countries there tended to ignore cannabis consumption. In many parts of East Africa it has a history stretching back hundreds of years, in states as far apart as Kenya and Lesotho, where many regard cannabis as a traditional item as well as a source of useful medicine. Not that its place in local cultures is fixed or static, as reggae music has legitimized its consumption for some, and its potential as an export crop for emerging markets in the West has encouraged others to see it in a new light. Enforcement only takes place when the local police or government drugs agency needs to prove its worth, as arresting those selling or consuming cannabis is easier than chasing heroin gangs. The cannabis trade may be illegal in sub-­Saharan Africa, but according to Carrier, the multiple histories and meanings of the plant and its preparations mean that officials, enforcers, suppliers, and consumers often agree that it is not illicit. It seems that the local has often proven to be an effective barrier to the global in the enforcement of cannabis control regimes. While Ghiabi and Carrier explore the reasons that cannabis has become illegal but not illicit in many places around the world, Dufton and Taylor provide reminders that cannabis laws and policies have never been entirely

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in the hands of the policymakers, scientific experts, or state enforcers. Both chapters scrutinize how special interest groups have managed to insert themselves into the policy process to successfully lobby for new directions in cannabis control. Dufton argues that under the Carter administration of the 1970s in the United States, the decriminalization of cannabis possession and consumption enabled ready access to the plant and its products in many states across the country. Alongside this, a profitable industry developed to produce and sell “stoner” culture paraphernalia, which ranged from magazines such as High Times and Stone Age to a baby-­bottle fitted with a hashish pipe. Much of this was targeted at teenagers; by 1976 growing alarm among parents resulted in the foundation in the state of Georgia of the Parents’ Resource Institute on Drug Education (PRIDE). Over the subsequent decade, PRIDE was highly effective in connecting with government agencies and important political actors, Nancy Reagan being chief among them. The aim—­ the recriminalization of activities in the cannabis marketplace—­aligned with the government’s conservative agenda and Nancy Reagan’s personal ambitions. It was only once she had achieved a change of public image, and it became clear that the United States was faced with the more complex issues of heroin and cocaine consumption, that PRIDE began to falter. Taylor identifies a similar phenomenon but from the other side of the cannabis debate. She examines the role of patient groups in lobbying for access to, and research into, cannabis-­based medicines in the UK and the United States since the 1970s. In the latter, Robert Randall found that cannabis alone relieved the symptoms of his glaucoma, and he successfully took the authorities to court when they raided his house to seize home-­ grown supplies. This led to the foundation in 1981 of the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT), which proved an inspiration for the UK version, founded in 1992. Alongside the Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS) and the Multiple Sclerosis Trust (MT), the UK’s ACT campaigned successfully for the remedicalization of cannabis. It raised funding for scientific research into the plant and its properties, encouraged those across the UK’s medical community to reengage with its therapeutic potential, and eventually persuaded the Home Office to license trials; these allowed access to a new pharmaceutical cannabis product, albeit on a named-­patient basis. In Taylor’s view, central to this process was the concept of respectability, as these patient groups presented a reassuringly middle-­class face to scientific and state agencies.


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Globalization: Cannabis Histories? While the summary above demonstrates that cannabis products now have histories around the world, that does not necessarily answer the question implicit in this volume’s title. Namely, does cannabis have a global history, or global histories? While the idea of “global history” remains a fluid and contested notion, this introduction takes it in the simplest form: as the study of what Lynn Hunt has called a “series of transnational processes in which the histories of diverse places become connected and interdependent,” perhaps to that point “when the entire world seem[s] to have become interdependent for the first time.”42 The editors of this volume conclude that the evidence in the chapters gathered here, as well as the studies mentioned above in the new wave of cannabis histories, illustrate how the plant and its preparations do indeed have a history operating within that set of transnational processes. Nonetheless, cannabis’ many trajectories around the world are a reminder of just how fraught globalization has been with tensions, contradictions, and adaptations in numerous local contexts. Tracing these trajectories more deeply seems important, then, for addressing the knowledge gaps in the global histories of cannabis that remain for future researchers. A straightforward sketch of the global history of cannabis in the modern world looks something like this. Cannabis consumption was common in many different places five hundred or so years ago.43 This consumption took place in environments where the plant produced the chemicals necessary for therapeutic and psychoactive substances. Since then, the processes that have driven increasing global interconnectedness over the early modern and modern periods—­from the spice trade to the development of pharmacopeias—­have served to create new markets to suit the purposes of medication or intoxication.44 These processes have also created and disseminated new ideas about the consumers that constitute those markets, and about the plant itself. In the nineteenth century, the Western empires forced their way into regions where there were long-­established cannabis-­consuming societies, and then intruded into local commerce and culture. Their primary objectives were economic, so various empires set about establishing what could be bought, sold, and taxed, while also worrying about how best to coerce the people they encountered into serving as laborers fit for the purposes of their production systems. In the colonies themselves no fixed pattern

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developed regarding intervention, and within any given nation’s empire there could be wide variation in e­ fforts to control cannabis markets, from loose licensing systems to outright prohibition for anything but medical and scientific purposes. Enforcement efforts, or lack of them, complicated the picture further, as did acts of resistance. Nevertheless, what most of these colonies had in common was state intervention itself: meaning, in many colonized jurisdictions cannabis consumption suddenly became a government matter for the first time. The Orientalist assumptions of empire-­ builders, the bewilderment of Europeans confronted by societies and cultures beyond their own borders, and anxieties that unfamiliar intoxicants were behind the reluctance of locals to be exploited as laborers, or might inspire them to resist more vigorously, all served to label cannabis substances as unpredictable or dangerous. Imperial networks, particularly those established by doctors, botanists, and those in allied sciences, circulated and amplified these anxieties around the world. More than just ideas were circulating, however, as cannabis-­consumers were shipped between colonies to meet labor shortages or made the decision for themselves to migrate within empires in search of opportunities. It seems that these consumers took with them their habits, and once settled—­ sometimes far from home—­they formed markets for their customary comforts and shared them with new neighbors. The inter-connections formed in these social contexts, in which cannabis crossed borders and instigated new contacts despite the colonial authorities, rather than because of them, are ripe for future research, particularly by those with expertise in fields like Indian and Atlantic Ocean Studies. Similarly, other migrations of the nineteenth century seem full of potential for historians seeking to trace movements of cannabis. The migrations within the Ottoman Empire, as it endured a slow collapse before 1914,45 or the flows of workers between and across the states of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay in the late 1800s,46 seem particularly promising in this regard. Cannabis became caught up in the projects of nation and state building in the modern period too. Chapters in this volume have illustrated that regulation and control could be driven by the domestic agendas of modernizing governments rather than by international organizations or imperial intruders. There are intriguing parallels between nation-builders and empire-builders in the stories of cannabis however. With both, an alliance between officials and the medical authorities, and a sense that consumers


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of the plant and its preparations were threats to the economic and civilizing missions of these elites, figure prominently. But chapters also demonstrated that enforcement of laws and regulations in many states depends on local politics and agencies, particularly in societies where “illegal” and “illicit” are often understood to be very different terms. This shows that approaches to the control of cannabis may often have been framed within a global discourse pushed by international agencies—­but what this has meant in practice seems often to have been shaped by local ideas, politics, and contingencies. There is more research to be done into the constraints on, and local configurations of, cannabis controls from 1925 onwards as it has often been assumed that a global consensus characterized this period. Efforts to establish and maintain that global consensus were the work of the international organizations that emerged in the inter-war decades. Some historians have been rightly keen to point out that Western empires should not loom too large in the story of Global History, since this risks Eurocentrism.47 But it is certainly the case that with cannabis such influence lingers on until today—mainly because it was two countries which had been under the control of the British, South Africa and Egypt, that forced cannabis into the League of Nations opium debates of the 1920s. Further imperial tensions between British, Chinese, and American diplomats over opium issues in Asia underpinned the inclusion of cannabis in the international drugs regulatory system in 1925, where it has remained ever since. But while the representatives of various nations have at one time or another sought to dominate dialogue about cannabis, their actions have been within an international framework set over the last hundred years by what is now the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and at crucial moments by the World Health Organization too. Committees at these international bodies have actively intervened to privilege certain kinds of data and conclusion over others and to prescribe research agendas that suited narrow purposes. The role of the secretariats at these international institutions, which stand accused of carefully selecting evidence at key moments in cannabis policymaking in order to broaden the remit of the international drugs regulatory system, merits closer attention by researchers. These organizations have remained key agents in the globalization of scientific, legal, and policy approaches to the plant and its preparations throughout the last century or so; historians face the challenge of delving deeper into their archives to establish just what agendas lay behind

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the conclusions on cannabis that they have been so keen to encourage. This task is made more timely when considering the United Nations’ decision at the end of 2020 “to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from a category of the world’s most dangerous drugs,” which followed a 2019 “recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) that research into its medical use is made easier.”48 Striking cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was called “historic” and a “win” in many circles, yet not all countries were happy—­and it will be the historian’s job to properly contextualize the UN decision in years to come.49 Regarding consumption in the twentieth century, the question remains of what has driven the establishment of new markets around the world. The simple answer is consumers. With the absence in the story of the large “globalizers,” such as corporations pushing their products, or colonial governments driving empires with drugs money, cannabis as a commodity offers a fascinating study in the power of consumers to build markets. Migration remains an important element of the consumption story across the twentieth century. Soldiers returning to Africa, the Americas and Europe from Asian wars, or workers moving to metropoles from across failing empires, carried cannabis consumption with them. A new factor complicated this story in the second half of the century. The so-­called countercultures of Western societies from the 1960s onward reworked the association between cannabis use and the colonized Other of the imperial period. That Asians, Africans, and South Americans consumed the plant in various ways loaded it with potent symbolism for those individuals in Western societies seeking to reject the traditional values and ways of life related to home, church, companies, and government. Conspicuously consuming cannabis enabled them to reject the alcohol and tobacco used by an older generation, to defy the establishment, and to ignore the normalized products and lifestyles promoted by those corporations. Magazines, records, the spread of radio and television, and the emergence of cannabis-­celebrities like Bob Marley, Allen Ginsberg, and Timothy Leary all served to communicate globally this anti-­authoritarian version of cannabis. The plant and its preparations were politicized, and consuming it became “cool” around the world, a gesture of defiance or rebellion in the face of whoever the local authorities might be. An outcome of this perceptual change was transnational drugs tourism, and a steady flow of those “dropping out” of Western societies went in search of cultures where cannabis had long been cultivated and consumed.50


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Counter-­culture pilgrims to South Asia travelled along routes which quickly became conduits for the trade in cannabis, and later heroin, for markets back in Europe. Elsewhere, high-­quality cannabis seeds from the United States were carried by members of the Peace Corps to Colombia to replace local strains. The better-­quality crop was subsequently smuggled north to meet demand among American counter-­culture devotees.51 Drugs tourism remains an under-­researched issue by historians, and drugs tourism within nations, rather than across them, is particularly neglected. The topic, which has its links to issues of “medical tourism” too, promises rich pickings for future historical work.52 Exploring these market developments draws the eye to the changing economics of cannabis over the last fifty years or so. Since the 1960s, supply across borders and continents has become increasingly well-­organized and complex, and the transportation of cannabis was often undertaken alongside that of other commodities—­legal and illegal—­by groups used to speculation on smuggling. While the influence of the counterculture in driving new markets is obvious, more archival research and fieldwork is necessary to trace the relationship between demand and supply in their emergence in the last decades of the twentieth century. As this volume has illustrated, suppliers of cannabis preparations, and the paraphernalia that boosted their profits, were blurring the line between licit and illicit commerce in the 1970s. Most notably, this occurred in the United States, a nation more readily associated with “war on drugs” style enforcement of controls since the late 1960s. While cannabis commerce subsequently found itself squarely put back in the illicit-­business box there in the 1980s, it suggests that the rise of Big Marijuana in the United States since 2010 may have deeper roots which require closer historical investigation.53 With investors now keen to make money from cannabis, the implications are already being felt around the world. African states such as Lesotho are responding to increasing global demand for cannabis products by expanding production and establishing partnerships with investment groups. There, a British-­owned phyto-­extractions company, Verve Dynamic Ltd, joined up with Lesotho businessman, Sam Matekane, to open a medical CBD processing facility in the southern African country.54 The British company already has a customer for the products, the Canadian corporation Aphria, which describes itself as “a global leader in the cannabis industry” and boasts that “we are bringing Aphria’s expertise, experience

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and know-­how to the most strategic opportunities in international markets today.”55 For the first time in its history, billions of licit dollars are being ploughed into developing the cannabis industry, and historians will be kept busy exploring the drivers behind this for some time to come. However, it remains to be seen if this brush with globalization brings lasting economic benefits to those producing the cannabis itself in countries like Lesotho. Another vital element in the recent global history of cannabis, and one clearly related to international governance, consumption, and the creation of markets, is the plant’s “remedicalization” through biomedicine. Aphria, as discussed above, is buying Lesotho’s CBD extract for products it will sell as therapeutic agents—­and there are other similar examples across the planet. Importantly, the return of medical cannabis—­emerging in the 1970s, but only becoming a force since the 1990s—­was influenced by consumers, rather than scientists or suppliers. Both followed the lead of various patient-­groups seeking less harmful, and more effective, painkillers. Biomedicine is a scientific instrument in globalization, and shifting attitudes over the last quarter of a century or so, among allopathic doctors, pharmacologists, and in related scientific circles, have been central to reconsiderations of cannabis around the world. These reconsiderations have addressed not just its potential as a source of therapeutics, but its likely harms too. Yet, this “remedicalization” has been a diverse phenomenon, and work in this volume has suggested that the intersections of biomedical discourses and local healing systems need more study. The subject of medical cannabis has not been ignored in the social sciences, but improved historical work is needed, and this promises to be a fascinating field for further research.56 Breaking news: Cannabis has global histories. That is clear. Elements of globalization such as western imperialism, the processes of nation-­building, long-­distance labor migrations, the emergence of international agencies in world governance, tourism, commercial interests, and latterly capitalist corporations, have all impacted on the history of cannabis and its place in so many different parts of the world. This comes with the caveat that local forces have also been significant in shaping the ways in which this globalization of cannabis has played out in individual contexts. If examples from the past and present offered in this volume help us draw a firm conclusion about the future, it is this: the years ahead will witness further contests over cannabis, and these will extend far beyond its use or misuse in treating COVID-­19. The Agnihotri episode at the start of this introduction saw a


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tangle of culture, economics, and biomedicine created through a variety of media outlets and platforms, across multiple nation-states—and historians will need to be prepared to unpick many similarly complex global stories. The future might also include answers to one final question which dawned on the editors of this volume as the project came to an end. Does globalization have cannabis histories? In other words, how often have the histories of diverse places become connected and interdependent because of cannabis consumers, eager to share their habit with others, or to source substances when far from home? Or because government officials and law-enforcers have forged new links across nations to seek intelligence on movements of cannabis or to interdict flows through borders? Or because doctors, medical scientists, or pharmaceutical companies have sought out others around the world that shared their interest in such a complex plant? At this point in time, all we can safely say is that “Globalization: Cannabis Histories” is a project best left to the next generation of historians of the plant and its preparations. Notes 1. Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri, “Solution to a lot of the world’s problems lie in India. But you can’t find them as long as you ridicule our ancient wisdom. Cannabis is a magic plant. Till mid 80s it was sold by Govt. Because of Rajiv Gandhi and western Pharma companies it got bad name. Make cannabis legal,” Twitter, February 8, 2020. The tweet has since been deleted from Agnihotri’s account. 2. See “Live Breaking News Weed Kills Corona Virus 739 Scientists Are Shocked to Discover that Weed Kills Corona Virus,” Dopl3r (website), accessed October 14, 2020, https://­en​.­dopl3r​.­com​/­memes​/­dank​/­live​-­breaking​-­news​-­weed​-­kills​-­corona​-­virus​ -­739​-­scientist​-­are​-­shocked​-­to​-­discover​-­that​-­weed​-­kills​-­corona​-­virus​/­917661​. 3. “About Us,” Dopl3r (website), accessed May 27, 2020, https://­en​.­dopl3r​.­com​ /­about​-­us​. 4.  The image was still available there at time of writing (January 28, 2021). See “Live Breaking News.” 5. Peter Jonathan Hanna (@peterjonathanna), “The coronavirus is probably going to be the worst deadly virus in modern history. Cannabis has several dozen antivirals medicines in it and all the other hundreds of medicines in cannabis will greatly improve your immune system and protect you from this virus. Prepare!” Twitter, January 28, 2020, 8:43 a.m., https://­twitter​.­com​/­peterjonathanna​/­status​/­1222​153159851​ 888645​.

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6.  Peter Jonathan Hanna (@peterjonathanna), “Orally consuming cannabis can give you immunity from Coronavirus AND cannabis can cure your Coronavirus. Don’t believe me? Cannabis is the most powerful medicine in the world, the most powerful antiviral in the world and the medicine with the most medicines in the world. FACTS!” Twitter, January 27, 2020, 7:38 p.m., https://­twitter​.­com​/­peterjonathanna​ /­status​/­1221955711393026048​. 7. Editorial Board, “Facebook Is Taking Aim at Coronavirus Misinformation. Others Should Follow Suit,” Washington Post, January 31, 2020, https://­www​.­washingtonpost​ .­com​/­opinions​/­facebook​-­is​-­taking​-­aim​-­at​-­coronavirus​-­misinformation​-­others​-­should​ -­follow​-­suit​/­2020​/­01​/­31​/­d97f758a​-­445d​-­11ea​-­b503​-­2b077c436617_story​.­html​. 8. Alt News, “Fact Check: Weed Kills Coronavirus?” Decan Herald, February 10, 2020,​-vivek​ -agnihotri-shares-scientific-misinformation-via-meme-803236.html. 9. “Weed Cures Coronavirus? Filmmaker’s Tweet on Cannabis Being a Medicine to Deadly Disease is a Meme,” Latestly, February 8, 2020, https://­www​.­latestly​.­com​ /­social​-­viral​/­fact​-­check​/­weed​-­cures​-­coronavirus​-­filmmakers​-­tweet​-­on​-­cannabis​-­being​ -­a​-­medicine​-­to​-­deadly​-­disease​-­is​-­a​-­meme​-­check​-­whos​-­list​-­of​-­fact​-­checks​-­on​-­cure​-­and​ -­treatment​-­1525223​.­html; “About Us,” Latestly, accessed October 15, 2020, https://­ www​.­latestly​.­com​/­about​-­us​/­​. 10.  Charles-­Nicolas-­Sigisbert Sonnini de Manoncourt, Voyage dans la haute et basse Égypte, vol. 3 (Paris: F. Buisson, 1798), 103. W. B. O’Shaughnessy, “Extract from a Memoir on the Preparations of the Indian Hemp, or Gunjah (Cannabis Indica) their Effects on the Animal System in Health, and Their Utility in the Treatment of Tetanus and Other Convulsive Diseases,” Journal of the Asiatic Society (1839): 739. 11. Cannabis publishing is presently in a growth phase, although much of the work, as in yesteryears, might be characterized as popular. Many of these kinds of books employ well-­meaning alternative health and religion philosophies. Others are intended as amusing, general information manuals. Readers are certainly being exposed to cannabis customs and terminology in addition to detailed how-­to books regarding dinner parties; many of these are straightforwardly journalistic. A third and final category adopts a darker edge and presents the various dangers that cannabis poses to the planet. For a cross-­section of the above, see, for instance, Stephen Gray, Cannabis and Spirituality: An Explorer’s Guide to an Ancient Plant Spirit Ally (Toronto: Park Street Press, 2016); John Charles Chasteen, Getting High: Marijuana Through the Ages (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016); and Mark S. Ferrara, Sacred Bliss: A Spiritual History of Cannabis (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Other examples include: Joe Dolce, Brave New Weed: Adventures into the Uncharted World of Cannabis (New York: HarperCollins, 2016); Alex Halperin, The Cannabis Dictionary (New York: Mitchell Beazley, 2020); Lizzie Post, Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis, from Dispensaries to Dinner Parties (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2019);


James H. Mills and Lucas Richert

and David Bienenstock, How to Smoke Pot (Properly): A Highbrow Guide to Getting High (New York: Plume, 2016). 12.  Vera Rubin, ed., Cannabis and Culture (Berlin: De Gruyter: Mouton, 1975), 1–­4. For another glimpse of academic historical writing on cannabis in this period see William D. Armstrong and John Parascandola, “American Concern over Marihuana in the 1930s,” Pharmacy in History 14, no. 1 (1972): 25–­35. 13. Rubin, Cannabis and Culture, 3–­4. 14.  Ernest L. Abel, Marijuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years (New York: Springer 1980), ix–xi, 270–271. Much the same can be said of Larry Sloman’s Reefer Madness: A History of Marijuana (Indianapolis: Bobbs-­Merrill Company, 1979). 15.  Jack Herer, The Emperor Has No Clothes (Van Nuys, California: Ah Ha Publishing, 1985), 2–3. 16. Although oft-­cited, these works are written from Western (particularly North American) perspectives, and tend to recycle myths, produce little new evidence, and rely on the reader’s sympathies for cannabis consumers and consumption. Martin Booth, Cannabis: A History (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004); Martin Lee, Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana—­Medical, Recreational and Scientific (New York: Scriber Book Company, 2013); and John Hudak, Marijuana: A Short History (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2016). 17.  Virginia Berridge, Opium and the People: Opiate Use and Drug Control Policy in Nineteenth-­ and Early-­Twentieth-­Century England (London: Free Association Press, 1999). 18.  David F. Musto and Pamela Korsmeyer, The Quest for Drug Control: Politics and Federal Policy in a Period of Increasing Substance Abuse, 1963–­1981 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2002); David F. Musto, The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); David Courtwright, Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002); Carolyn Jean Acker, Creating the American Junkie: Addiction Research in the Classic Era of Narcotic Control (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002). This raft of publications around the turn of the century stimulated later studies such as Kathleen Frydl, The Drug Wars in America, 1940–­1973 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); and Matthew Pembleton, Containing Addiction: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Origins of America’s Global Drug War (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2017). 19.  William B. McAllister, Drug Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2002). 20.  Suzanne Taylor, “Re-­Medicalizing Cannabis: Science, Medicine and Policy, 1973 to the Early Twenty-­ First Century” (PhD thesis, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 2010).

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21.  John Jiggens, “Marijuana Australiana: Cannabis Use, Popular Culture, and the Americanisation of Drugs Policy in Australia, 1938–­1988,” (PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology, 2004). 22.  Marcel Martel, Not This Time: Canadians, Public Policy, and the Marijuana Question, 1961–­1975 (Toronto: University of Toronto, 2006); Catherine Carstairs, Jailed for Possession: Illegal Drug Use, Regulation, and Power in Canada, 1920–­1961 (Toronto: University of Toronto, 2006); Andrew Potter and Daniel M. Weinstock, eds., The Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada (Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press, 2019). 23.  Isaac Campos, Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014). 24.  Nick Johnson, Grass Roots: A History of Cannabis in the American West (Eugene: University of Oregon Press, 2017); Ryan Stoa’s recent book argues that there are ways to address the historical drift toward environmentally damaging practices in cannabis cultivation in the United States. See Craft Weed: Family Farming and the Future of the Marijuana Industry (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018). 25. Emily Dufton, Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America (New York: Basic Books, 2017). 26. Chris S. Duvall, The African Roots of Cannabis (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019), 131; see also Bradley Borougerdi, Commodifying Cannabis: A Cultural History of a Complex Plant in the Atlantic World (Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2018). 27. David A Guba Jr. review of The African Roots of Cannabis, by Chris S. Duvall, Social History of Medicine 24 (March 2020): https://­doi​.­org​/­10​.­1093​/­shm​/­hkaa030​. 28.  Emmanuel Akyeampong, “Diaspora and Drug Trafficking in West Africa: A Case Study of Ghana,” African Affairs 104, no. 416 (July 2005): 429–­447. For the conditions that encourage this, see Neil Carrier and Gernot Klantschnig, “Quasilegality: Khat, Cannabis and Africa’s Drug Laws,” Third World Quarterly 39, no. 2 (2018). 29.  Gernot Klantschnig, “Histories of Cannabis Use and Control in Nigeria, 1927–­ 1967,” in Drugs in Africa, ed. Gernot Klantschnig, Neil Carrier, and Charles Ambler (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 70. 30. Utathya Chattopadhyaya, “Dagga and Prohibition: Markets, Animals, and the Imperial Contexts of Knowledge, 1893–­1925,” South African Historical Journal 71, no. 4 (2019): 587–­613. 31.  Peter Hanoomansingh, “Crown Colony and the Problem of Ganja in Nineteenth-­ Century Trinidad: A Sociology of Knowledge on Cannabis in Colonial Context” (PhD thesis, University of the West Indies, 2011). 32. James Tharin Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power: Afghanistan and the Global History of Drugs and Diplomacy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2019).


James H. Mills and Lucas Richert

33. David Guba, Taming Cannabis: Drugs and Empire in Nineteenth-­Century France (Montreal: McGill-­Queen’s University Press, 2020); Haggai Ram, Intoxicating Zion: A Social History of Hashish in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2020). 34.  Paul Gootenberg, ed., Cocaine: Global Histories (New York: Routledge, 1999). 35.  Maziyar Ghiabi, “Spirit and Being: Interdisciplinary Reflections on Drugs Across History and Politics,” Third World Quarterly 39, no. 2 (2018): 207–­217, quote on 207. 36. UNODC, World Drug Report 2019 (Vienna: UN Publication, 2019), 7. 37.  Vera Rubin, ed., Cannabis and Culture (Berlin: De Gruyter: Mouton, 1975), 3. 38.  James H. Mills, Cannabis Nation: Control and Consumption in Britain, 1928–­2008 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 116–­154. 39. This is quoted from chapter 9 of this volume “Hashers Don’t Read Das Kaptial” (p. 212). 40. This is quoted from chapter 11 of this volume “Cannabis, Counterculture, and Criminals” (p. 248). 41.  See Lina Britto, Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia’s First Drug Paradise (Oakland: University of California Press, 2020) for a similar argument about cannabis, cocaine and Colombia’s ties with the US market in the 1960s. 42.  Lynn Hunt, Writing History in the Global Era (New York and London: W.W. Norton & Co., 2014), 52–­59. She argues that this point occurred in the 1990s. See also Simon J. Potter and Jonathan Saha, “Global History, Imperial History and Connected Histories of Empire,” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 16, no. 1 (2015). 43.  See Benjamin Breen, The Age of Intoxication: The Origins of the Global Drug Trade (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019); see also Jordan Goodman, Andrew Sherratt, Paul E. Lovejoy, eds., Consuming Habits: Drugs in History and Anthropology, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 2007). 44.  A number of recent studies are useful in helping to understand such processes. See Paula De Vos, Compound Remedies: Galenic Pharmacy from the Ancient Mediterranean to New Spain (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020); Matthew Crawford and Joseph Gabriel, eds., Drugs on the Page: Pharmacopoeias and Healing Knowledge in the Early Modern Atlantic World (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019); and Pablo Gomez, The Experiential Caribbean: Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic (University of North Carolina Press, 2018). 45. Isa Blumi, Ottoman Refugees, 1878–­ 1939: Migration in a Post-­ imperial World (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013). 46.  Blanca Sánchez-Alonso, “The Age of Mass Migration in Latin America,” in The Economic History Review 72 (2019): 3–­31.

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47.  Simon J. Potter and Jonathan Saha, “Global History, Imperial History and Connected Histories of Empire,” Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 16, no. 1 (2015). 48.  “UN Agency Removes Cannabis from Strictest Drug Category,” Washington Post, December 2, 2020, https://­www​.­washingtonpost​.­com​/­politics​/­un​-­agency​-­removes​ -­c annabis​ -­f rom​ -­s trictest​ -­d rug​ -­c ategory​ /­2 020​ /­1 2​ /­0 2​ /­6 037f988​ -­3 4c4​ -­1 1eb​ -­9 699​ -­00d311f13d2d_story​.­html; “Reefer gladness as UN reclassifies cannabis as less dangerous drug,” The Guardian, December 2, 2020, https://­www​.­theguardian​.­com​/­society​ /­2020​/­dec​/­02​/­reefer​-­gladness​-­as​-­un​-­reclassifies​-­cannabis​-­as​-­less​-­dangerous​-­drug​. 49. Max Daly, “UN Recognises Medicinal Properties of Cannabis in Historic Vote,” Vice, December 2, 2020, https://­www​.­vice​.­com​/­en​/­article​/­93w39d​/­cannabis​-­is​-­officially​ -­a​-­medicine​-­following​-­historic​-­un​-­vote; and Bill Chappell, “U.N. Commission Removes Cannabis From Its Most Strict Drug Control List,” NPR News, December 2, 2020, https://­www​.­npr​.­org​/­2020​/­12​/­02​/­941283185​/­u​-­n​-­commission​-­removes​-­cannabis​-­from​ -­its​-­most​-­strict​-­drug​-­control​-­list​. 50. “Dropping out” is a popular phrase attributed to Timothy Leary. See Scott Staton, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop by the Archives: Timothy Leary at the N.Y.P.L.,” The New Yorker, June 16, 2011, https://­www​.­newyorker​.­com​/­books​/­page​-­turner​/­turn​ -­on​-­tune​-­in​-­drop​-­by​-­the​-­archives​-­timothy​-­leary​-­at​-­the​-­n​-­y​-­p​-­l​. 51. Lina Britto, Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia’s First Drug Paradise (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2020). 52. See David Herzberg, White Market Drugs: Big Pharma and the Hidden History of Drug Addiction in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020), among others, for a discussion of the false dichotomy between “drugs” and “medicines”; there is also a developing literature related to “medical tourism” and substances, particularly with respect to psychedelics and Indigenous practices and rituals. 53.  As this introduction was being finalized in December 2020, a cannabis decriminalization bill was passed in the US House of Representatives. See “US House Passes Federal Cannabis Decriminalisation Bill,” BBC News, December 4, 2020, https://­www​ .­bbc​.­com​/­news​/­world​-­us​-­canada​-­55191808, and Caitlin McFall, “GOP leaders lay into Pelosi for marijuana legalization bill while COVID-­19 relief remains uncertain,” Fox News, December 3, 2020, https://­www​.­foxnews​.­com​/­politics​/­gop​-­leaders​-­lay​-­into​ -­pelosi​-­for​-­marijuana​-­legalization​-­bill​-­while​-­covid​-­relief​-­remains​-­uncertain​. At time of this volume going to press, Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies voted in favor of a bill to legalize cannabis for recreational use; Tal Axelrod, “Mexico Lawmakers Approve Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana,” The Hill, March 11, 2021,​ /policy/international/542710-mexico-lawmakers-approve-bill-to-legalize-recreational​ -marijuana. 54.  Emily Ledger, “Medical CBD Facility Opens Backed by British and Lesotho Company Partnership,” August 8, 2019, https://­canex​.­co​.­uk​/­medical​-­cbd​-­facility​-­opens​ -­backed​-­by​-­british​-­and​-­lesotho​-­company​-­partnership​/­​.


James H. Mills and Lucas Richert

55. Katrin Magnussen, Eoin Keenan, Alexandra Curley, Stephen Murphy, “The LATAM Cannabis Report,” October 2018 (London: Prohibition Partners, 2018), 9. 56. See Michelle Newhart, William Dolphin, The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018); Kenneth Finn, ed., Cannabis in Medicine: An Evidence-­Based Approach (Springer Publishing, 2020).

Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

1  Taming the Orient: France and the First Global Movement to Medicalize Cannabis, ca. 1800–­1850 David A. Guba Jr.

During the winter of 1845–­1846, a strange idea captivated the Parisian medical community and quickly spread throughout Europe and the United States. Though the idea had appeared in footnotes of Western medical texts as early as 1809, the publication of Jacque-­Joseph Moreau de Tours’s Du Hachisch et de L’Aliénation Mentale in the autumn of 1845 firmly thrust the concept out of obscurity and into medical parlance and practice.1 As the title of his study suggested, Moreau, an alienist working at Hôpital Bicêtre in southern Paris, argued that hashish, an intoxicant made from the psychoactive resin of the Cannabis indica plant native to the “Orient,” provided both an effective treatment for mental illness and a productive means of studying firsthand the symptoms of insanity, which he believed were mimicked perfectly by the drug’s intoxicating effects. This link between hashish and madness flowed from Moreau’s faith in what he called “substitution therapy,” the homeopathy-­inspired idea that one could pharmaceutically combat mental illness using a drug that produced similar symptoms, today termed psychotomimesis. He combined this with his ardent belief, popularly held in France at that time, that hashish was quintessentially an “Oriental” intoxicant with psychoactive properties associated with what he thought was the inherent savagery of the Arabo-­Islamic world.2 “To comprehend the ravings of a madman, it is necessary to have raved oneself,” argued Moreau, “and there is not a single, elementary manifestation of mental illness that cannot be found in the mental changes caused by this Oriental marvel.”3 Put simply, Moreau believed that hashish intoxication temporarily transformed one into an “Oriental” and transported the consumer to the “Orient,” perceived as the homeopathic set and setting of lunacy. Within months of its publication, Du Hachisch earned international acclaim, receiving awards and favorable reviews in France and abroad.4 By


David A. Guba Jr.

looking at the origins and outcomes of the book, this chapter will explore the place of French pharmacy and medicine in the wider movement across Western medicine and pharmacy that emerged in the 1840s and that championed cannabis products as sources of potentially therapeutic materials. It also concludes by arguing that ideas established at that time continue to shape policies in France on cannabis to this day. Taming the Orient: Medicalizing Hashish in France, 1800–­1850 Before 1800 there was little direct experience with hashish in France, an intoxicant made from the processed resin of cannabis and commonly consumed in the Middle East and North Africa since at least the eleventh century CE. The French had long cultivated cannabis for the production of chanvre, or hemp, which the French navy relied upon to meet its need for rope and sails.5 However, it was not until the early eighteenth century that French explorers, soldiers, and scientists started mentioning a “strange new variety” of chanvre grown in the Orient and used to produce intoxicants, which were given names such as bang, keif, and hachisch.6 A large percentage of these early interpreters of hashish conceptualized the drug within a narrative of Oriental savagery and incivility. For example, Jean-­Baptiste Lamarck decided that cannabis grown for the production of intoxicants in the Near and Far East as Cannabis indica must be an altogether distinct species from the Cannabis sativa grown in Europe for the production of hemp, while Antoine Galland’s image of “black cannibals” using hashish to dupe and fatten Sinbad in the famed Les Mille et Une Nuits was a striking association of the drug with the duplicity assumed of the Oriental. This association of hashish with “Oriental savagery” gained increased traction in the early nineteenth century, largely thanks to the work of French philologist Antoine-­Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758–­1838).7 In a speech delivered at the Institut de France in Paris in July of 1809, he argued that the word assassin derived etymologically from the term “Hachichin,” or “hashish-­eater,” which he contended was the Arabic name of an Islamic cult of cannabis-­crazed assassins that operated in Persia and Syria during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.8 Four months after Sacy’s speech to the Institut the newly created Bulletin de Pharmacie, the official monthly of the French Society of Pharmacy in Paris, published a synopsis of the linguist’s contentions concerning hashish and issued the following call to French chemists and pharmacists:

Taming the Orient 5

The intoxication produced by hashish throws the user into a sort of ecstasy similar to that achieved through the use of opium; it even happens that users, fallen prey to its effects, engage in brutal actions that arise from dementia and delirium. . . . ​But cannabis deserves the attention of pharmacists and chemists. Could they not ascertain, through analysis and diverse tests, some principles that we can extract and some preparations that it can furnish?9

Despite its inaccuracies, chief among them the probability that the Ismaili did not use hashish, Sacy’s mythistory went on to form the foundation upon which French pharmacists and physicians working in the early decades of the nineteenth century built their understanding of hashish and its possible medicinal potential.10 Heeding the Bulletin’s call, French pharmacists and physicians increasingly viewed the presumed dangers of hashish as an opportunity to demonstrate the civilizing power of the West’s pharmaceutical and medical sciences. By the 1840s major apothecaries of Paris were producing dozens of hashish-­based medicines, predominantly in the form of dawamesk, an edible concoction made from activated hashish butter or oil mixed with ground nuts, honey, spices, and hashish tincture. Many prominent practitioners of the day used these hashish-­based medicines to treat an array of the most feared and mysterious diseases, including plague, cholera, epilepsy, typhus, and insanity. Though some expressed doubts, a vocal majority of French pharmacists and physicians working in the mid-­nineteenth century believed in the efficacy of hashish as a “heroic remedy,” as physician François Liataud put it, for the era’s deadliest ailments.11 One of the first French physicians to medicalize hashish and praise its medicinal virtues in print was Louis-­Rémy Aubert-­Roche (1818–­1874), a French physician who spent much of his life living and working in Egypt for Muhammad Ali Pasha.12 Considered one of the world’s leading epidemiologists at that time, Aubert-­Roche held considerable influence in the interconnected medical circles of Egypt and France as he served as head physician in hospitals in Alexandria and Cairo in the 1830s and twice as chair of the French Medical Congress in Paris. His specific area of expertise involved the treatment of plague, with which Aubert-­Roche had considerable experience after his work during the 1834–­1835 epidemic in Egypt. The true origin and nature of the bubonic plague were unknown in this pre-­ germ-­theory era and became the center of one of the most hotly contested medical debates of the early to mid-­1800s.13 A minority viewed the plague,


David A. Guba Jr.

as well as cholera and typhus, as the product of unseen “animalcules,” or microscopic animals, that spread from one person to another.14 The majority of physicians in France and across the West, however, viewed the plague as a disease of the ganglionic nervous system triggered by miasma, or “bad air,” released from the ground in toxic or unhygienic environments.15 This idea was known as anticontagionism, and those who championed it, such as Aubert-­Roche, used it to determine their treatments for epidemic disease.16 An ardent anticontagionist, Aubert-­Roche believed that “the plague is primarily a disease of the nerves that originates in the thoracic and cervical ganglia. And hashish, a substance that acts upon the nervous system, has given me the best results.”17 In a forty-­page annex to his 1840 work De la Peste ou le Typhus d’Orient, Aubert-­Roche detailed and defended his use of hashish to treat plague victims during the epidemic of 1834–­1835 in Egypt. His primary medical reasoning for prescribing hashish against the plague was steeped in the Orientalized myths about the drug established by the aforementioned work of Silvestre de Sacy. “I had learned from M. de Sacy and other authors,” he wrote, “that there existed in the Orient a plant resembling hemp (chanvre) the effects of which were intoxicating. I heard of the quite general use of this drug among Arabs. M de. Sacy gave it the name hashish. I therefore sought it out, profoundly convinced that if this plant had intoxicating properties, it must have some medical power over the nervous system.”18 After finding and using dawamesk with some colleagues, Aubert Roche was further convinced that the resulting “fantasia,” “bizarre ideas,” “canine hunger,” and “extravagant laughter” evidenced the peculiar effect of hashish on the central nervous system. He further reported that dawamesk “does not cause headache, does not interfere with respiration, does not increase circulation, and leaves no fatigue after it.”19 Because he believed the plague and its signature lesions or buboes originated from miasma’s attack on the thoracic and cervical ganglia of the nervous system, Aubert-­Roche concluded that hashish, taken in the form of dawamesk dissolved in coffee, offered a safe, effective, and rational treatment to combat the disease by “simulating the nervous system” back to health.20 In the end, of course, Aubert-­Roche’s anticontagionist ideas about the plague and corresponding belief that hashish could cure the disease were wrong. However, in 1840 the definitive fall of anticontagionism and shift in Western medicine to the germ theory were decades away, and many physicians and pharmacists working in metropolitan France shared Aubert-­Roche’s

Taming the Orient 7

understanding of the plague and therefore could see why medicalized hashish might be a treatment against it and other epidemic diseases.21 In the August 1840 edition of the Journal de Chimie Médicale, published by the Société de Chimie Médicale and the Library of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris, a review appeared of Aubert-­Roche’s study that did not even question his anticontagionist stance on the plague and instead focused its attention on aspects of his work “devoted to a particular substance which M. de Sacy has given the name of hashish, the use of which is quite general among the Arabs.”22 The anonymous reviewer concluded that, “It is to be hoped that new trials made in France confirm the curious details given by Dr. Aubert.”23 Favorable assessments in the Parisian journals Revue d’Orient and Revue Médicale likewise called on French physicians to embrace Aubert-­Roche’s findings and employ hashish in the fight against plague and other diseases of the central nervous system.24 During the 1830s and 1840s one could freely purchase hashish and dawamesk at many pharmacies in metropolitan France, including those of Jean-­François Derosne, Edmond De Courtive, and Jacques Personne in Paris.25 Most of the product that appeared on the Parisian market at that time was sent to France from North Africa by Aubert-­Roche or his colleague Joseph-­Bernard Gastinel, also known as Gastinel Pacha, a French expatriate who lived and worked in Cairo as the chief pharmacist in Mohamed Ali’s new Egypt.26 Pharmaceutical pricing references from that time give us some indication of the vibrancy of the medical market for cannabis substances. In a prominent pricing guide and pharmacy reference called L’Officine published in 1850, pharmacist François Dorvault detailed the going rates for hashish-­based medicines sold in French pharmacies during the late 1840s.27 According to Dorvault, “haschisch plante extrait gras,” or cannabis resin pressed into hashish, sold for 5 francs per 10 grams, and “électuaire (Dawamesc)” sold for 1 franc per 10 grams. The raw material itself, described as cut and dried Cannabis indica plants, sold for,90 francs per 100 grams.28 Prepared hashish tincture, marketed under the competing brand names Haschischine and Cannabine, sold for 4 francs per gram, the equivalent of roughly 26 USD today. This means that for the price of a prix fixe menu at an average Parisian eatery (~2,50 francs in 1850) one could secure an ample dose of dawamesk (20–­30 g) or for the price of one bottle of “inferior wine” (~,40 francs in 1850) one could opt for the more potent dose of tincture (100–­200 mg).29


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After giving the going rates and explaining the drug’s intoxicating effects via a verbatim recounting of Sacy’s mythistory of the Hachichin, Dorvault delved into the different preparations made from Cannabis indica, focusing particular attention on dawamesk and newly developed hashish tinctures. Dawamesk was a popular mode of hashish consumption in North Africa that had been used there for centuries.30 A small morsel of this mixture was often plunged into a cup of coffee or tea. Until the early 1840s dawamesk figured prominently in most cannabis-­ based treatments described in French medical journals, dissertations, and published records. The French soldiers, pharmacists, physicians, and later students, authors, and artists who experimented with hashish in the first half of the nineteenth century also adopted this mode of consumption. Sensing the continued interest in dawamesk as a pharmaceutical, Dorvault recommended physicians prescribe 20 to 30 grams, preferably dissolved in coffee or tea, for one to feel the effects in roughly thirty minutes to an hour.31 Starting in the early 1840s, pharmacists working in British India, Scotland, France, and Egypt began to work toward the production of a standardized hashish tincture, which came to displace dawamesk by the end of the decade as the primary mode of medicalized hashish used in metropolitan France and Europe. Medical practitioners that worked with dawamesk during the 1830s and early 1840s, including Aubert-­Roche, routinely complained about the inability to standardize doses due to the extreme variation in potencies of different cannabis plants and the common adulteration of dawamesk exported from North Africa with other intoxicants, including opium, datura, and powder of cantharides, better known as Spanish fly.32 As James Mills detailed in Cannabis Britannica: Empire, Trade, and Prohibition 1800–­1928, hashish tincture was first developed in the late 1830s by the Irish physician and engineer, William Brooke O’Shaughnessy.33 After his appointment in the summer of 1835 to a professorship at the medical college in Calcutta, O’Shaughnessy conducted experiments with cannabis, first on a variety of animals and then on himself, colleagues, and eventually patients. Early on in these trials O’Shaughnessy used churrus, sanskrit for processed cannabis resin and a substance quite similar to hashish. However, by 1839 the Irish polymath was reporting in local medical journals in Calcutta on the efficacy of a crude hashish tincture—­“ten grains of Nipalese churrus dissolved in spirit”—­in the treatment of cholera, hydrophobia, rheumatism, tetanus, and most convulsive disorders.34

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Several years later the Scottish pharmacists and brothers Thomas and Henry Smith were inspired by O’Shaughnessy’s work with churrus tincture in Calcutta and began experimenting with cannabis-­based medicine, refining a cannabis tincture of their own for their patients in Edinburgh near the end of the 1830s.35 The Smith brothers, whose pharmaceutical practices in Edinburgh went on to become the Smith of McFarland Smith, the largest producer of opiate alkaloids in the world today, published the formula for their hashish tincture, what they called “cannabin,” in English medical journals in 1839, which was then published in translation in French medical journals as early as 1846.36 After soaking pulverized Cannabis indica plants in warm water for two or three days, the Smiths simmered for two additional days the saturated plant matter in a solution of sodium carbonate (1:2 ratio of salt to plant matter) to remove the color, chlorophyll, and “inert concrete oils.” They filtered the resulting solution through ethyl alcohol to obtain a resin that was then treated with a combination of milk of lime, sulfuric acid, and charcoal. After a few rounds of water filtration, the remaining resin was rolled and dried, often producing 6 pounds of yield from 100 pounds of plant matter. According to the Smiths, 1 grain, or roughly 65 mg, of cannabin when ingested could produce “narcosis” and “decided intoxication.”37 In the aforementioned L’Officine, François Dorvault acknowledged the path-­breaking contributions of O’Shaughnessy and the Smith brothers to the development of hashish tincture, but he argued it was the French who in recent years had perfected and simplified the process. According to Dorvault, “M. Gastinel, pharmacist of Cairo, and M. De Courtive, both authors of works seriously interested in hashish, have popularized a mode of production much simpler” than that of the Smiths.38 The French method, Dorvault reported, avoided salt and acid baths altogether, opting instead for the thorough distillation of hashish-­steeped ethanol.39 The acid-­free distillation process, he argued, resulted in a softer, more malleable product with the color and odor of the source material, Cannabis indica; whereas, products produced via the Smiths’ recipe, he averred, were “firmer and less colored,” which bespoke their lack of potency. Dorvault also contended that the French method was safer and more efficient, delivering on average a 7–­10 percent yield on 100 pounds of raw material compared to the 6 percent reported by the Smiths.40 The popularity of distilled hashish tincture grew rapidly in France during the late 1840s, peaking in the winter of 1848–­1849 when Joseph-­ Bernard Gastinel and Edmond De Courtive engaged in a public battle over


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the patent (then known as the right to priority) for hashish tincture made through the distillation method. “L’Affaire Gastinel,” as the press termed it, caused an uproar in French medical circles and occupied the pages of journals and popular newspapers in Paris for much of November and December. To defend his claim, Gastinel dispatched two colleagues from Cairo to argue his case. One, a physician called Willemin, claimed that Gastinel not only devised the tincture distillation method in question but that his tincture provided a cure for cholera.41 Though Willemin was unable to convince the Academy of Medicine of Gastinel’s right to priority, he did convince them to adopt hashish tincture as a treatment against cholera. The timing of the Gastinel affair must have seemed extraordinarily prescient, as the first cases of cholera were reported in the outskirts of Paris only a month later. When cholera emerged in northern Paris in late December of 1848, physicians followed Willemin’s recommendation and used hashish tincture to treat many of the nearly 13,000 French men, women, and children who contracted the disease by April.42 The monthly coverage of the outbreak in L’Abeille Médicale captured this general push to prescribe hashish engendered by Willemin’s testimony: We do not have to speak about the use of hashish and cannabine tincture in the treatment of cholera. The speech of Mr. Willemin is still present in all of our minds. We all shared the hope to which this speech gave rise. The active principle of Cannabis indica is a special energetic stimulant of the brain, which is understood to serve its purpose in remedying this general prostration which results from the grave conditions of cholera morbus. . . . ​Therefore, the use of cannabine should be tried, and soon will we have no doubt as to its fixed value.43

Convinced that hashish could excite the nervous system into action against the damaging effects of cholera, doctors in Paris, including Legroux at Hôpital Beaujon, François Foy at Hôpital Saint-­Louis, Barth at Hôpital Pitié-­Salpêtrière, and Jacques-­Joseph Moreau at Hôpital Bicêtre, prescribed hashish tincture to combat the disease during the early stages of the epidemic in January and February of 1849.44 By March the “blue death” had killed nearly 6,500 people in Paris, roughly 50 percent of those who became infected, and Parisian medical journals reported that hashish tincture, referred to interchangeably as “hachichine” and “cannabine,” produced inconclusive results at best.45 Though many French physicians practicing in the 1840s prescribed both dawamesk and hashish tincture over the course of their medical careers,

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the Gastinel affair and subsequent use of hashish to treat cholera in Paris engendered a definitive shift in late 1840s France away from dawamesk and toward the use of hashish tincture. Thinking they had isolated the active ingredients of Cannabis indica and by distilling a tincture from them, pharmacists felt confident they could standardize hashish dosages and render administration of the drug to patients more safely and efficiently. While this process of refinement is consistent with common steps taken (then and now) to develop pharmaceuticals from plant matter, the underlying premise that swayed pharmacists in the 1840s to explore the medicinal possibilities of hashish rested firmly on the idea that the drug’s psychotropic effects mimicked the presumed irrationality of the Oriental psyche. It is important to understand French efforts to medicalize hashish during the first half of the nineteenth century, from the first call for research in 1809 through Aubert-­Roche’s use of dawamesk to treat plague in the late 1830s to the transnational tincture contest between Gastinel and De Courtive in 1848, as an attempt to tame the “innately Oriental drug,” as Aubert Roche termed it, by subjecting it to the latest techniques and theories of Western medical science. Haschish and Mental Illness During the first half of the nineteenth century, physicians in France increasingly embraced this idea that hashish could be tamed by pharmacists and successfully used to treat diseases of the central nervous system.46 The preeminence of anticontagionism in French medicine at this time accounted for a portion of the drug’s popularity, particularly as a treatment against the plague and cholera. However, the contemporaneous rise of theories of physiology and homeopathy in Western medicine also helps explain why French alienists, and most notably Jacques-­Joseph Moreau de Tours, started viewing hashish intoxication as both a state of temporary insanity to be studied and as a pharmaceutical cure for psychological ailments themselves.47 As historian Jan Goldstein argued in Console and Classify: The French Psychiatric Profession in the Nineteenth Century (1987), a major debate divided the psychiatric profession in France (and the West) during the mid-­nineteenth century.48 On the one side, Moreau and fellow physiologists, as they were called, believed insanity flowed from a “primordial lesion” on the brain and thus should be treated as any other physical malady: that is, with medicine.


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On the opposing side, a group known as spiritualists, often Catholic physicians including Alexandre Brierre de Boismont, believed in the spiritual and moral nature of insanity and understood mental illness as a disorder of thinking best conceptualized and treated with philosophical and religious rather than physiological means. Boismont and the spiritualists believed that hashish provided no medicinal benefit and only caused users to act irrationally and violently. They argued that it should be officially prohibited for this reason throughout the French Empire.49 Moreau was “a sarcastic critic of spiritualism,”50 and as a student of Jean-­Étienne Dominique Esquirol at Salpêtrière during the 1830s, he fully embraced the physiological school of psychiatric thought. It was Esquirol, considered the father of physiology, who in the mid-­1830s volunteered Moreau to accompany a wealthy patient during a lengthy business trip to the Orient. Moreau described his Oriental excursion and first experiences with hashish in a monograph published in 1841 on the treatment of hallucinations with Datura stramonium (a hallucinogenic nightshade flower native to Mexico).51 In this text Moreau reported meeting French physician Louis-­Rémy Aubert-­Roche in Cairo and being introduced to hashish by him. He recorded that “at the beginning of the intoxication, while preserving the most perfect consciousness of oneself, one feels as if carried away in a dream,” and went on that “a new existence penetrates you, so to speak, envelops you on all sides.” Moreau was particularly interested in the “waking dreams” he experienced, writing that “the dreams, the phantoms of the imagination tear you from yourself; you feel that you are passing from the real world into a fictitious, imaginary world, and if I dared to express myself thus, in the impotence with which I found myself, I would say that I had fallen asleep without ceasing being awake.”52 These dreams seemed to Moreau to be evidence of the drug’s ability to produce a temporary state of insanity in users that had great potential in both the study and treatment of mental illness. Moreau’s assessment of this potential lay in his conclusion that hashish intoxication induced the perceived irrationality and savagery of the Oriental world. In an article from 1841 Moreau invoked Sacy’s now-­famous mythistory of the assassins of Alamut and their leader’s use of the drug to dupe his devotees and convince them to murder in his name.53 He also argued that folklore in the Arab world surrounding genies (‫الجن‬‎, or jinn, in Arabic) was in fact a result of habitual hashish consumption among the

Taming the Orient 13

Muslim masses. “The Arabs,” Moreau argued, “are very superstitious. There are very few, even among the most educated, who do not believe in the existence of certain beings they call genies.”54 He thought that this: constitutes a pathological state of the mental faculties, an intellectual modification of which we have not been able to conceive hitherto, and which seems to be developed only by the use of hashish. I am speaking of a somewhat chronic, permanent disposition to hallucinations (without, however, the integrity of the mental faculties being otherwise injured), when the mind is placed in certain psychic conditions, a forcible preoccupation, a lively faith, an enthusiastic belief.55

To emphasize the irrationality of the people of North Africa he added that “most of the Arabs . . . ​even attribute the construction of the pyramids to the genies, convinced that no men could have erected such monuments.” In case he had not made the link clearly enough he concluded that “the origin is not in doubt. . . . ​It is very material, it is organic, it is the phenomenal result of this toxic substance on the nervous system.”56 Of course, his assertions said rather more about French culture than that of people across the Mediterranean Sea. At the time he was writing, the story of Aladdin and the Marvelous Lamp had been well known in France for over a century, first appearing in the original volumes of Antoine Galland’s famous Les Mille et une Nuits (1704–­1717).57 The story of the genie had come to function as a decisive marker of “Oriental otherness,” in its irrational, superstitious, and childlike belief in spirituous beings.58 Convinced of the power of hashish to induce a temporary state of insanity in users (what he often called a “sleepless dream”), Moreau continued to experiment with the drug upon returning from his travels to the Orient and taking up post as resident physician at Hôpital La Bicêtre in Paris in the early 1840s. Just as Aubert-­Roche used the presumed efficacy of hashish in the treatment of plague as validation for anticontagionism, Moreau used the presumed effectiveness of hashish to justify his homeopathic and physiological theories of psychiatry. Moreau tested his psychotomimetic theories concerning hashish as a potential cure for insanity by using dawamesk, sometimes made from cannabis grown on the grounds of Bicêtre, in the treatment of the mentally ill under his care. He was also behind the Club des Hachichins, where he fed cannabis products to attendees at the Hôtel Pimodan and noted the results. In 1845 Moreau published his famous monograph based on the findings from these experiments as Du Hachisch et de l’Aliénation Mentale, in which he detailed his contention


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that the intoxication of hashish offered a “powerful and unique means of exploration in the matter of mental pathogenesis.”59 He started by asserting that “many alienists have questioned the physiological causes of madness but I know of no one, speaking of madness, that has transmitted to us the result of his personal experience or described insanity according to his own perceptions and sensations.” By consuming hashish, he claimed that “I believe that I can trace back to the primitive source of every fundamental phenomenon of delirium.”60 Put simply the “sleepless dream” induced by hashish intoxication, which according to Moreau had duped the majority of the Arabo-­Islamic world into believing in genies, supposedly allowed a sane French person on the banks of the Seine to take a temporary sojourn to other cultures in their minds and for a fleeting moment experience the assumed insanity of the Oriental other. His work with hashish received critical acclaim among physicians across France and was awarded honorable mention in the 1846 Concours pours le Prix de Médecine et de Chirurgie, sponsored and judged by the Academy of Medicine in Paris.61 One review in the Gazette Médicale de Paris captured well this broad acceptance of Moreau’s work, writing: “It is thus a new and happy idea to have recourse to such a means to deepen the study of a disease as obscure as folly, and we must be grateful to M. Moreau.”62 Moreau’s ideas spread rapidly outside of France. In the January 1846 edition of the American Journal of Insanity, the editor of the journal, Amariah Brigham, founding member of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (the precursor of the American Psychiatric Association), wrote “we consider [hashish] a very energetic remedy, and hope it will prove a useful one, and recommend attention to it, and the book of M. Moreau.”63 Brigham also reported that Moreau’s study inspired him to acquire “two ounces of pure extract, direct from Calcutta” from Dr. J. V. C. Smith of Boston and use it in the treatment of patients at the New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica. “From our limited experience,” Brigham wrote, it is “well worthy of further trial with the insane.” A review in an October edition of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, edited by the aforementioned Dr. Smith, shared Brigham’s praise of Moreau’s work and echoed the discourses of the original. “A new work by M. Moreau, of the Bicêtre, has much in praise of Cannabis Indica . . . ​its discovery is of much importance to the civilized world.”64 The April 1846 edition of the American Journal of Medical Sciences argued that Moreau’s study represented “a

Taming the Orient 15

farther progress within the domain of the world immaterial than had been made by any of his predecessors” and provided “new discoveries in regard to the philosophy of the mind.”65 The author of the review, simply signed “P. E.,” went as far as to laud Moreau as the “Newton of mental pathology” and “Humboldt of the world psychologic.” The review concluded with a testimony by Dr. John Conolly, resident psychiatrist at Hanwell Asylum in West London, about the effectiveness of hashish as a treatment for certain cases of mental illness. Conolly reported that “after some careful trials of the tincture of hemp, I feel justified in speaking well of it” as an effective treatment in “chronic cases of recurrent mania.”66 Within a year of its publication in Paris, Moreau’s research on hashish had convinced several physicians in the English-­speaking world that the drug, though dangerous and epistemologically affixed to notions of Oriental barbarism, offered a way forward in the study and treatment of mental illness. As previously discussed, physicians and pharmacists in the United Kingdom and its colonies had been experimenting with cannabis-­based medications for over a decade before Conolly first read Moreau and used hemp tincture to treat patients at Hanwell Asylum. When word of Moreau’s research spread across the Channel, medicalized cannabis was already familiar in medical and pharmaceutical practices throughout the UK and its colonies. Moreau’s contention that hashish intoxication mimicked insanity and that the drug could be used as a homeopathic remedy for mental illness thus resonated loudly across the medical community in the UK. A review in the British and Foreign Medical Journal, of which John Conolly happened to be a cofounder, captured this general enthusiasm for new medical ideas emerging from experiments with hashish in France.67 Based on Moreau’s findings, the reviewer argued, “it appears to us . . . ​that all the phenomena of disordered mental states will need to be analysed anew, in accordance with this progress of our knowledge of the physiology of the brain.”68 As it had done in the US, Moreau’s work on hashish contributed to a renewed impetus to expand the use of medicalized cannabis in the UK, an impetus that can be traced in the sudden enthusiasm for experimenting with it in scientific circles there.69 Moreau’s work on hashish similarly reinvigorated medical research into cannabis in the German states, where physicians had been discussing and experimenting with cannabis-­based medications since at least 1838.70 As in France at that time, physicians and medical scientists in the German states


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were engaged in modernizing their profession and fashioning an institutional foundation at universities in Heidelberg and Nuremberg to support the growth of wissenschaftliche Bildung, or scientific education, within the medical field.71 As it had in France, cannabis routinely played a role in this process of professionalization and in popular medical debates underway in the German states, and discussions of hashish frequently appeared as a subject of scientific interest in German language peer-­review medical journals.72 So when news of Moreau’s research crossed the Rhine, many physicians in the German states had known of cannabis substances for nearly a decade. Moreau’s findings convinced several alienists that hashish offered much more to Western medicine than had previously been considered though. In a review published in 1846 in Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie und psychisch-­gerichtliche Medizin, considered the first German medical journal for psychiatry, Dr. Carl Friedrich Flemming from Berlin wrote that “the observations [of Moreau] prove that the extract of Cannabis indica produces narcotic forces, which are able to increase brain vitality and thus merit continued and close examination.”73 Another reviewer in a Leipzig literary magazine called Blätter für literarische Unterhaltung likewise praised Moreau’s research, lauding it as a great “contribution to the history of the soul.”74 The reasons for the high praise, continued the reviewer, lay in its “important new points on mental illness. In the zeal for science, the author spent some time in the Orient and went so far as to experiment with hashish himself. His descriptions thus deserve all our faith.”75 Within months of these initial reviews several prominent physicians in Hamburg, Nuremberg, Berlin, and Heidelberg initiated their own experiments with hashish treatments on patients with mental illness. At a meeting of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte (Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians) in the city of Kiel in September of 1846, several psychiatrists broached the subject of Moreau’s research on hashish and reported attempting trials with the drug as a treatment for insanity.76 During a discussion on latest developments in psychiatric medicine, the chair of the meeting, Professor Jessen of Horheim, asked if “any of the attending physicians would like to discuss the recent work of Moreau, who personally traveled to the Orient and observed hashish, or dawamesk, and whether hashish is easy to acquire.” Dr. Oppenheim replied that “Dr. Oberdörfle in Hamburg prepared a tincture of Cannabis indica and delivers it at the rate of 10 drops several times per day for many with

Taming the Orient 17

nervous diseases.” Doctors Herrmann Engelken (of Rockwinkel) and Scuhr (of Celle) delivered similar testimonies and added that hashish offered a safer alternative to opium when treating nervous disorders, reporting that the latter often constipated and sometimes killed patients.77 Though many German psychiatrists reported meager results for their trials with hashish, they nonetheless continued to use cannabis tinctures to treat insanity well into the second half of the nineteenth century and to reference Moreau as the originator of this psychotomimetic practice.78 Physicians practicing across the Alps in Italy perhaps expressed the most enthusiasm for Moreau’s findings and kept a close watch on ongoing research on hashish coming out of France during the late 1840s. The first reviews of Moreau’s work appeared in the Italian states in 1846 in the popular medical reference work Annali Universali di Medicina published in Milan. The uncredited author believed more research was necessary to prove Moreau’s contentions that hashish cured mental illness. However, “if the doctor Moreau succeeds with further research that aims to discover the particular action of hashish on the brain and to properly assign this substance a place in medical matters,” the author concluded, “it will be of great benefit to humanity.”79 Several Italian physicians took the initiative and spent the next decade researching the chemical composition of hashish and producing various tincture formulas for the expanding Milanese pharmaceutical market.80 Andrea Varga, a doctor from Milan, even fancied himself an Italian Moreau, establishing his own club to experiment with cannabis substances, made up of physicians and members of Milanese high society that gathered from time to time at a villa at the Palazzo Durini. In July 1847 Varga sent a letter to the Gazzetta Medica di Milano describing one of these recent meetings.81 After procuring hashish from merchants from Alexandria, Varga and six fellow physicians proceeded to consume the drug in the form of dawamesk with coffee. Before describing the observed sensations and experiences, Varga wrote: “I do not need to tell you, for we all live with an abundance of newspapers of all sorts, what has been written about hashish by many scholars and especially by M. Moreau de Tours, who argues that hashish produces a delirium that only differs from madness in duration.”82 Varga described feeling “divided into two parts, one that reasoned and observed, and another that was delirious and desperate.” This “oscillation of consciousness” and “uncertainty of thought” brought on by hashish convinced him that Moreau was on to something and that


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“hashish is a precious purchase for the doctor, no less than for the pharmacologist, and if it is true that those who sustain an illness are better able to know it and treat it better than others, then you can well imagine that I will not let slip the opportunity to procure with a temporary mania the key to enter better into the mysteries of truth.”83 A little over a year later Varga wrote a similar letter to the Gazzetta Medica Lombardia describing a night out on hashish during the recent “carnovalone” celebrations. “That day when thousands of people go crazy and enjoy,” he wrote, “I could well get myself a little crazy to learn.”84 After eating dawamesk “prepared by a distinguished chemist following the formula of [Apollinaire] Bouchardat,”85 famed French pharmacist and colleague of Moreau, Varga experienced a much stronger reaction than before marked by “strong delusional ideas.” Doubling down on his assessment from a year before, he concluded, “I thus fully agree with Moreau de Tours that this substance produces a temporary mania and thus provides the key, so to speak, to enter into the dark field of mental illness.”86 Moreau’s work on hashish resonated loudly among Italian physicians, and his homeopathic and Orientalized ideas concerning hashish became engrained in Italian medical and legal thinking and even surfaced later on in the nation’s colonial policies in Libya.87 Conclusion During the 1840s and 1850s, Paris functioned as the epicenter of a movement across Western medicine to medicalize hashish. Many prominent pharmacists and physicians then practicing in France believed that hashish, though a dangerous and exotic intoxicant from the Orient, could be tamed by pharmaceutical science and used by physicians to treat the era’s most frightening and fatal ailments. Between 1840 and 1860, dozens of French pharmacists staked their careers on the matter, and physicians published dissertations, monographs, and peer-­reviewed articles on the medicinal and scientific benefits of medicalized cannabis. A close examination of these publications reveals that discussions and debates about cannabis-­ based medicines figured prominently in the early years of both the professionalization of French pharmacy and medicine. It was also included in the key medical debates of the mid-­nineteenth century, most notably those concerning the nature and spread of epidemic diseases, the treatment of insanity, and the efficacy of homeopathy. The ideas then growing in France

Taming the Orient 19

about the medical utility of cannabis were crosspollinated by a transimperial medical discourse stretching from British India to continental Europe and across the Atlantic to the United States. Physicians practicing in places as diverse as Calcutta, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Cairo, Milan, Stockholm, Brussels, Lyon, London, Edinburgh, Boston, and Utica paid close attention to research coming out of Paris. Dozens of physicians from these cities and others were convinced of what they read and offered praise for the promise of this “Oriental” wonder drug. This is not simply a historical point, however. The French politicians who crafted the nation’s prohibitionist policies in the immediate wake of the student protests of May 1968 built them around the centuries-­old and scientifically validated “fact” that cannabis was an Oriental intoxicant that could temporarily induce insanity Westerners. The sweeping drug prohibition that resulted in December 1970, which still structures French drug laws today, blamed the nation’s cannabis problem on “undesirable foreigners” and “persons who travel excessively to the Middle or Far Orient.”88 One of the key authors of the law, Socialist deputy René Chazelle, harkened right back to the myth created by philologist Antoine-­Isaac Silvestre de Sacy in reminding the National Assembly that the word assassin shared an etymology with the word “hashish.” Pointing to the recent student protests of 1968 and a spike in drug-­related arrests (especially related to cannabis possession), Chazelle warned his audience, “This filiation of drugs and crime is not simply assonance, it is today a reality.”89 The myth of the hash-­crazed assassin seems to have produced a reality of racial and religious discrimination in France today. A study conducted by the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in 2009 revealed that France’s current war on drugs disproportionately targets the nation’s Arab-­Muslim minorities, believed by legislators and police to be the primary traffickers and distributors of illegal substances in France.90 The study concluded that “black” and “Arab” Parisians were six to eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possessions than their white counterparts.91 The racialized stories that once underpinned French efforts to medicalize cannabis in the mid-­nineteenth century now justify prohibition measures and the disproportionate policing. While the current French government under Emmanuel Macron has signaled its intentions to reform cannabis prohibitions in France, it has been slow to offer any substantial changes and has outlined no explicit plan to replace the current


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prohibitionist system or the colonial logic that forms its foundation. It seems that there is no better time than the present to explore the largely untold story of France’s first major engagement with hashish during the nineteenth century.92 Notes 1.  Antoine Isaac Silvestre de Sacy, “Des préparations enivrantes faites avec le chanvre,” Bulletin de Pharmacie 1 (1809): 523–­550; and Jacque-­Joseph Moreau de Tours, Du Hacshisch et de l’Aliénation Mentale (Paris: Libraire de Fortin, 1845). 2.  David A. Guba Jr., “Antoine-­Isaac Silvestre de Sacy and the Myth of the Hachichins: Orientalizing Hashish in 19th Century France,” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs 30 (2016): 50–­74. 3. Moreau, Du Hachisch et de l’Aliénation Mentale, 15, 35. 4.  Notable and favorable reviews of Moreau’s work include: Amariah Brigham, “Review: Du Haschich et de Aliénation Mentale,” American Journal of Insanity (January 1846): 275–­281; “New Remedy for Insanity,” Boston Medical and Surgical Journal (October 29, 1845): 3; Robley Dunglison, New Remedies (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1846), 147–­153; “Bibliographical Notice: Moreau on Indian Hemp in Mental Alienation,” American Journal of the Medical Sciences 11 (April 1846): 423–­429; “New Remedy for Insanity,” New England Journal of Medicine 33 (1845–­1846): 264; John Forbes, “Dr. Moreau’s Psychological Studies & c.,” British and Foreign Medical Review or, Quarterly Journal of Practical Medicine and Surgery 23 (January–­April 1847): 217–­230; “Brunner, Sohn, Ueber die Wirkung, welche verscheidene Substanzen durch Berührung auf nervenkranke Persen ausüben,” Mitteilungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Bern 116–­120 (April 1848): 64; H. Herausgeber, “Noch etwas über Haschisch,” Repertorium für die Pharmacie Nürnberg 1, no. 87 (1845): 231–­237; “Literariſche Notizen aus Frankreich,” Blätter für literarische Unterhaltung 1 (1846): 116; Carl Friedrich Flemming, “F. Moreau, méd. de l’hospice de Bicêtre, Du Haschisch et de l’aliénation mentale études psychologiques. Paris 1845,” Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie und psychisch-­gerichtliche 1, no. 3 (1846): 308–­312; “Section für practische Psychiatrie,” Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Äerzte 1, no. 24 (1847): 174; Dw., “Der Schwefeläther bei Geisteskrankheiten,” Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie und psychisch-­gerichtliche 1, no. 4 (1847): 356–­357; “Recensione al testo di Moreau de Tours del 1845,” Annali Universali di Medicina 117 (1846): 153–­159; Andrea Varga, “Lettera sull’haschisch,” Gazzetta Medica di Milano 6 (June 1847): 263–­264; and Andrea Varga, “Sull’haschisch—­Lettera seconda,” Gazzetta Medica Lombardo 1:2, no. 34 (August 28, 1848): 303–­308. 5.  Didier Georget, La Corderie Royale (Nantes, France: Gulf Stream, 2008); L’Arsenal de Rochefort, Musée national de la Marine (Geneva: Les Carnets de Bord, 2008); and Pierre Bitaubé, Corderie Royale de Rochefort (Berkshire, UK: CIM, 1985).

Taming the Orient 21

6.  Several of these early discussions of hashish can be found in Jean Chardin, Journal du voyage du Chevalier Chardin en Perse, vol. 3 (Paris, 1811 [1686]), 302; Antoine Galland, Les Mille et Une Nuits, vols. 1–­12 (Paris, 1704–­1717); Engelbert Kaempfer, Amoenitatum exoticarum (Lemgoviae: H. W. Meyeru, 1712), 645; Carsten Niebuhr, Description de l’Arabie faites sur des observations propres et des avis recueillis dans les lieux mêmes, 2 vols., trans. Ferdiand-­Louis Mourier (Amsterdam: S. J. Baalde: 1774); Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de Lamarck, Encyclopédique de Botanique, vol. 1 (Paris, 1783), 695; and Charles-­Nicolas-­Sigisbert Sonnini de Manoncourt, Voyage dans la haute basse Egypte: fait par ordre de l’ancien gouvernement et contenant des observations de tous genres, 4 vols. (Paris: F. Buisson, 1798). 7.  Guba Jr., “Antoine-­Isaac Silvestre de Sacy and the Myth of the Hachichins,” 50–­74. 8.  Silvestre de Sacy, “Mémoire sur la Dynastie des Assassins et sur l’Étymologie de leur Nom (Lu le 19 Mai 1809),” Histoire et Mémoires de l’Institut Royal de France, Classe d’Histoire et de Littérature Ancienne, vol. 4 (Paris: L’Imprimerie Royale, 1818), 1–­83. 9.  “Des préparations enivrantes faites avec le Chanvre; Mémoire lu à l’Institut par M. Silvestre de Sacy, le 7 Juillet 1809,” Bulletin de Pharmacie 11 (November 1809): 523–­550. 10.  For more on the real Ismailis see Farhad Daftary, The Ismā’īlīs: Their History and Doctrines, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 10–­11; Farhad Daftary, The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Ismailis (London: I. B. Tauris & Co., 1994), 213–­215; and Bernard Lewis, The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1967), 24–­25. 11.  Antoine Liautaud, “Du Haschisch ou Chanvre Indien,” Bulletin Trimestriel de la Société des Sciences, Belles-­Lettres et Arts du Département du Var, séant à Toulon (Toulon, France: Impre. J. M. Baume, 1850): 34. 12.  “Obituary: Dr. Louis-­Rémy Aubert-­Roche,” Medical Times and Gazette, January 9, 1875, 51–­52. 13. Lester K. Little, “Plague Historians in Lab Coats,” Past and Present 213, no. 1 (December 2011): 267–­290; E. A. Heaman, “The Rise and Fall of Anticontagionism in France,” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 12, no. 1 (Spring 1995): 3–­25. 14.  Erwin H. Ackerknecht, “Anticontagionism Between 1821 and 1867: The Fielding H. Garrison Lecture,” International Journal of Epidemiology 38, no. 1 (February 2009): 7–­21. 15.  Louis-­Rémy Aubert-­Roche, De la Peste ou Typhus d’Orient: Documens et observations recueillis pendant les années 1834 à 1838, en Egypte, en Arabie, sur la Mer Rouge, en Abyssinie à Smyrne et à Constantinople (Paris: Just Rouvier, 1840). 16.  E. Ackerknect, “Anti-­Contagionism Between 1821 and 1867,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 22 (1948): 562–­583; Heaman, “The Rise and Fall of Anticontagionism in France,” 4; Andrew Robert Aisenberg, Contagion: Disease, Government and the “Social Question” in Nineteenth-­Century France (Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999); Frank N. Snowden, Naples in the Time of Cholera, 1884–­1911 (New Haven, CT:


David A. Guba Jr.

Yale University Press, 2002); and Anne Marie Moulin, “The Construction of Disease Transmission in Nineteenth-­Century Egypt,” in The Development of Modern Medicine in Non-­Western Countries: Historical Perspectives, ed. Hormoz Ebrahimnejad (London: Routledge): 42–­58. 17.  Aubert-­Roche, De la Peste ou Typhus d’Orient, 271. 18.  Aubert-­Roche, De la Peste ou Typhus d’Orient, 212–­213. 19.  Aubert-­Roche, De la Peste ou Typhus d’Orient, 214. 20.  Aubert-­Roche, De la Peste ou Typhus d’Orient, 275–­276. 21.  Heaman, “The Rise and Fall of Anticontagionism in France,” 23–­25. 22.  “Note Sur Le Hachisch,” Journal de Chimie Médicale, de Pharmacie et de Toxicologie, vol. 7, IIe Série, 21840 (Paris: Bechet Jeuane et Labé), 447–­450. 23.  “Note Sur Le Hachisch,” 450. 24. Louis Aubert-­Roche, “De la Prophylaxie générale de la peste,” Revue Médicale de Paris (Paris: Moquet et Hauquelin: 1843); Louis Aubert-­Roche, “De la peste ou typhus d’Orient, documents et observations recueillis pendant les années 1834 à 1838, en Égypte, suivis d’un essai sur le hachisch, [compte-­rendu],” Revue d’Orient 1 (January 1843): 479–­483. 25. Ronald K. Siegel and Ada E. Hirschman, “Edmond De Courtive and the First Thesis on Hashish: A Historical Note and Translation,” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 32 (1991): 85–­86; Stephen Snelders, Charles Kaplan, and Toine Pieters, “On Cannabis, Chloral Hydrate, and Career Cycles of Psychotropic Drugs in Medicine,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 80, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 95–­114; and Jacques Arveiller, “Le Cannabis en France au xix siècle: une histoire médicale,” L’Évolution Psychiatrique 78 (2013): 451–­484. 26.  Arveiller, “Le Cannabis en France au xix siècle,” 461. 27. François Dorvault, F.-­L.-­M., L’Officine, ou Répertoire Général de Pharmacie Pratique (Paris: Labé, 1850). 28.  Dorvault, F.-­L.-­M., L’Officine, 187, 369. 29. Price comparisons made to 1850 purchases detailed in the journal of French printmaker and articstartist, Honoré-­Victorin Daumier (1808–­1879). See B. Laughton, Honoré Daumier (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996). 30.  “Note Sur le hatchi,” Journal de Chimie Médicale, de Pharmacie et de Toxicologie 2, no. 4 (1838): 61–­62. It should be noted that dawamesk was called “Madjonne” in French Algeria. See Guyon, “Du haschis, préparation en usage parmi les Arabes de l’Algérie et du Levant,” Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances de l’Académie des Sciences 14 (January 1842): 517–­518.

Taming the Orient 23

31.  Dorvault, F.-­L.-­M., L’Officine (1850), 187. 32.  Aubert-­Roche, De la Peste ou le Typhus d’Orient, 243, 246; and “Quelques réflexions sur les effets du haschisch,” L’Abeille Médicale (April 1848): 93–­94. 33.  James Mills, Cannabis Britannica: Empire, Trade, and Prohibition 1800–­1928 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 35–­55. 34. Mills, Cannabis Britannica, 39. Quotation from W. B. O’Shaughnessy, “On the Preparations of the Indian Hemp, or Gunjah (Cannabis Indica),” in Transactions of the Medical Society at Calcutta (1839), reprinted in Provincial Medical Journal and Retrospect of the Medical Sciences, no. 123 (London: February 4, 1843): 363–­369. 35.  Thomas Smith and Henry Smith, “On the Resin of Indian hemp,” Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions 6 (1847): 171–­173. 36. François Dorvault, trans., “Préparation de la cannabine, principe actif du hachisch,” Bulletin Général de Thérapeutique Médicale et Chirurgicale 33 (1847): 135–­136. Also see Pelletier, “Sur la résine du cannabis indica,” Journal de Pharmacie et de Chimie (1847): 278. 37. Henry Smith and Thomas Smith, “Process for Preparing Cannabine or Hemp Resin,” Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions 6 (1847): 173. 38.  Dorvault, F.-­L.-­M., L’Officine (1850), 187. 39.  Dorvault, F.-­L.-­M., L’Officine (1850), 187. 40.  Dorvault, F.-­L.-­M., L’Officine (1850), 187–­188. 41. Alexandre Willemin, “Note sur l’épidémie de choléera observée au Caire  en 1848, et sur les effets salutaires du principe actif du Cannabis indica,” Bulletin Géné­rale de Thérapeutique Médicale, Chirurgicale, et Obstétricales 35 (1848): 337–­342; also published in the Bulletin de l’Académie National de Médecine 14, no. 13 (1848): 137–­138. 42. “Coup d’Œil sur la Thérapeutique du Cholera,” L’Abeille Médicale 7 (April 1, 1849): 90, 93; “Bulletin de cholera,” L’Union médicale 3, no. 79 (July 3, 1849): 313–­ 314; and Catherine Kudlick, Cholera in Post-­Revolutionary Paris: A Cultural History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 14–­15. 43. “Coup d’Œil sur la Thérapeutique du Cholera,” L’Abeille Médicale 7 (April 1, 1849): 90. 44.  “Coup d’Œil sur la Thérapeutique du Cholera,” L’Abeille Médicale 7 (April 1, 1849): 90, 93; François Foy, “Note sur le hachych,” Répertoire de Pharmacie 4 (1848): 332–­334. 45.  “Bulletin de cholera,” L’Union Médicale 3, no. 79 (April 3, 1849): 313–­314. 46.  Aubert-­Roche, De la Peste ou Typhus d’Orient, 23.


David A. Guba Jr.

47. For more on the rise of physiology—­understood here as a medical philosophy formed around new practices of experimental surgery, dissection, and data-­driven analysis and the central idea that new medical knowledge can be obtained most efficiently by adopting methods and ideas from other scientific disciplines, namely chemistry, physics, mathematics, and pharmacy—­in French medicine during the first half of the nineteenth century, see John E. Lesch, Science and Medicine in France: The Emergence of Experimental Physiology, 1790–­ 1855 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984); Ian Dowbiggin, Inheriting Madness: Professionalization and Psychiatric Knowledge in Nineteenth-­Century France (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1991); and Maurice Bariéty et Jacques Poulet, “Les débuts de l’homéopathie en France,” Histoire des Sciences Médicales 4 (1970): 77–­85; and Paolo Bellavite, Anita Conforti, Valeria Piasere, and Riccardo Ortolani, “Immunology and Homeopathy: An Historical Background,” Evidence-­Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2, no. 4 (2005): 441–­452. 48.  Jan Goldstein, Console and Classify: The French Psychiatric Profession in the Nineteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). 49.  Alexandre Brierre de Boismont, Des Hallucinations ou Histoire Raisonnée des Apparitions, des Visions, des Songes, de l’Extase, du Magnétisme (Paris: Germer-­Bailliere, 1845). 50. Goldstein, Console and Classify, 266. 51.  Jacques-­Joseph Moreau de Tours, Mémoire sur le Traitement des Hallucinations par le Datura Stramonium (Paris: J. Rouvier et E. Le Bouvier, 1841). 52. Moreau, Mémoire sur le Traitement des Hallucinations par le Datura, 15–­16. 53. Moreau, Mémoire sur le Traitement des Hallucinations par le Datura, 15–­16. 54. Moreau, Mémoire sur le Traitement des Hallucinations par le Datura, 17. 55. Moreau, Mémoire sur le Traitement des Hallucinations par le Datura, 18. 56. Moreau, Mémoire sur le Traitement des Hallucinations par le Datura, 19. 57.  The tale of “Aladdin and the Marvelous Lamp” first appeared in the French in volumes 9 and 10 of Galland’s work first published in 1710. 58. The story of Aladdin has served a similar function in other European nations as well as in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. See Elisabeth Oxfeldt, Nordic Orientalism: Paris and the Cosmopolitan Imagination 1800–­ 1900 (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2005); Tetsuo Nishio and Yuriko Yamanaka, Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007); and Douglas Little, American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East Since 1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 38–­50. 59. Moreau, Du Hachisch et de l’Aliénation Mentale, 30. 60. Moreau, Du Hachisch et de l’Aliénation Mentale, 30–­31, 34.

Taming the Orient 25

61. J. H. Réveillé-­Parise, “Moreau (de Tours) J. Du haschisch,” Gazette Médicale de Paris 2, no. 13 (1845): 725–­729. 62.  R. P., “Feuilleton: Du Haschisch,” Gazette Médicale de Paris 2, no. 13 (1845): 726. 63. Amariah Brigham, “Review: Du Haschich et de Aliénation Mentale,” American Journal of Insanity (January 1846): 275–­281. 64. “New Remedy for Insanity,” Boston Medical and Surgical Journal (October 29, 1846): 3. 65.  P. E., “Bibliographical Notice: Moreau on Indian Hemp in Mental Alienation,” American Journal of the Medical Sciences 11 (April 1846): 423. 66.  P. E., “Bibliographical Notice,” 426–­427. 67. John Forbes, ed., “Dr. Moreau’s Psychological Studies &c.,” British and Foreign Medical Review 23 (January–­April 1847): 217–­230. 68.  Forbes, “Dr. Moreau’s Psychological Studies &c.,” 227. 69. Notable examples include: Alexander Robertson, “On Extract of Indian Hemp,” Pharmaceutical Journal of Transactions 6 (1847): 70–­72; T. Smith and H. Smith, “On the Resin of Indian Hemp,” Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions 6 (1847): 127–­128; Smith and Smith, “Process for Preparing Cannabine or Hemp Resin,” 171–­173; H. Smith and T. Smith, “Properties of Indian Hemp,” Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions 8 (1848): 36–­37; Alan Christison, “On the Natural History, Action and Uses of Indian Hemp,” Monthly Journal of Medical Science 13 (1851): 26–­45; and Joseph Grigor, “Indian Hemp as an Oxytocic,” Monthly Journal of Medical Science 15 (1852): 124–­125. 70.  H. Buchner, “Notizen über die Wirkung des Hatchy,” Repertorium für die Pharmacie Nürnberg (1838): 80–­83. 71. Arleen Tuchman, Science, Medicine, and the State in Germany: The Case of Baden, 1815–­1871 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); and Bas van Bommel, “Between ‘Bildung’ and ‘Wissenschaft’: The Nineteenth-­Century German Ideal of Scientific Education, in European History Online (EGO) (Mainz, Germany: Leibniz Institute of European History [IEG], December 14, 2015), http://­www​.­ieg​-­ego​.­eu​/­bommelb​-­2015​-­en​. 72.  See, for example, J. F. Bohlig, “Cannabis sativa und Urtica dioica chemisch analysiert,” Jahrbuch für praktische Pharmacie (1840): 1–­58; Xavier Landerer, “Berauschendes Mittel aus Hanf,” Repertorium für die Pharmacie (1840): 356–­358; “Über die im Oriente gebräuchlichen Berauschungsmittel,” Repertorium für die Pharmacie (1843): 289–­295; and Herrman Herausgeber, “Noch etwas über Haschisch,” Repertorium für die Pharmacie 1, no. 87 (1845): 231–­237. 73.  Carl Friedrich Flemming, “F. Moreau, méd. de l’hospice de Bicêtre, Du Haschisch et de l’aliénation mentale études psychologiques. Paris 1845,” Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie und Psychisch-­gerichtliche 1, no. 3 (1846): 308–­312.


David A. Guba Jr.

74. “Literariſche Notizen aus Frankreich,” Blätter für literarische Unterhaltung 1 (1846): 116. 75. “Literariſche Notizen aus Frankreich,” 116. 76. “Section für practische Psychiatrie,” Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Aerzte 1, no. 24 (1847): 174. 77.  “Section für practische Psychiatrie,” 175–­176. 78. Riegler, “Beitrag zur pharmakologischen Kenntniss des indischen Hanfs und des Mohns,” Repertorium für die Pharmacie (1847): 356–­ 366; Xavier Landerer, “Weitere Beiträge,” Repertorium für die Pharmacie (1852): 359–­362; Ragsky, “Beobachtungen über den Hadschi,” Schmidt’s Jahrbücher (1852): 23; and Böttcher, “Über die Anwendung des indischen Hanfs in der Psychiatrie,” Berliner Klinische Wochenschrift 3 (1866): 166–­168. 79.  “Recensione al testo di Moreau de Tours del 1845,” Annali Universali di Medicina 117 (1846): 153–­159. 80. “Preaparazione della cannabina,” Annali di Chimica Applicati alla Medicina 5, no. 3 (1847): 268–­270; “Tetano traumatico guarito mercè la canape indiana,” Gazzetta Medica di Milano 6 (1847): 75; “Preparazioni di haschisch,” Gazzetta Medica di Milano 6 (1847): 104; “Recensione al testo di Giovanne Clendinning, M.D., medico all’infermeria ‘St. Marylebone’ Osservazioni sulle proprietà mediche della Cannabis sativa delle Indie,” Annali Universali di Medicina 117 (1846): 388; “Effetti gravi dall’amministrazione della cannabis indica in un caso di dismennorea,” Gazzetta Medica Lombarda 2, no. 1 (1848): 198; and “Premio di 1000 franchi della Società di Farmacia di Parigi per l’analisi della canape,” Annali di Chimica Applicati alla Medicina, 18, no. 3 (1854): 374–­376. 81.  Andrea Varga, “Lettera sull’haschisch,” Gazzetta Medica di Milano 6 (June 1847): 263–­264. 82.  Varga, “Lettera sull’haschisch,” 263. 83.  Varga, “Lettera sull’haschisch,” 264. 84.  Varga, “Sull’haschisch—­Lettera seconda,” Gazzetta Medica Lombardo 1:2, no. 34 (August 28, 1848): 303–­308. 85.  Apollinaire Bouchardat, Dell’hachisch,” Annali di Chimica Applicati all Medicina 4, no. 3 (1847): 201–­204. 86.  Varga, “Sull’haschisch—­Lettera seconda,” 308. 87.  At the 1912 Opium Convention at The Hague, the Italian delegation demanded the convention add cannabis to the list of controlled substances in order to provide international support for efforts to curb drug use in recently acquired Libya. See K. Bruun, K. Pan, and I. Rexed, The Gentlemen’s Club: International Control of Drugs and Alcohol (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975), 181–­182.

Taming the Orient 27

88.  Journal Officiel de la République Française: Débat Parlementaire—­Assemblée Nationale, Compte Rendu Des Séances [hereafter JORF] 63 (October 24, 1969): 2935. 89.  JORF 63, 2945. 90.  Sihem Souid, “La guerre aux drogues, une guerre contre les minorités ethniques?” Le Point, July 11, 2014, http://­www​.­lepoint​.­fr​/­invites​-­du​-­point​/­sihem​-­souid​/­la​-­guerre​ -­auxdrogues​-­une​-­guerre​-­contre​-­les​-­minorites​-­ethniques​-­07​-­11​-­2014​-­1879530_421​.­php; Kim Hullot-­Guiot and Cécile Bourgneuf, “La lute contre les drogues, une ?” Libération, April 15, 2015, http://­www​.­liberation​.­fr​/­societe​/­2015​/­04​/­15​/­la​ -­lutte​-­contre​-­les​-­droguesuneguerre​-­raciale_1240975​. 91.  A 2015 study conducted by the Association Française de Réduction des Risque (AFR) also concluded that black and Arab communities in France are systematically targeted by police and nearly ten times more likely than white French citizens to be stopped by police for random identity checks that often lead to drug arrests. Hullot-­ Guiot and Bourgneuf, “La lute contre les drogues, une ?” 4. 92. David A. Guba Jr., Taming Cannabis: Drugs and Empire in Nineteenth-­Century France (Montreal: McGill-­Queen’s University Press, 2020).

2  Ganja and the Government of India: Cannabis, Excise, and Colonial Administration in the Late Nineteenth Century Peter Hynd

On December 29, 1853, the government of Bengal issued an order sanctioning new rules for ganja cultivation. The previous practice of revenue farming was swept away and replaced by a radically interventionist system that placed the colonial state at the heart of the cannabis trade. The government’s agents thereafter stipulated where cannabis plants could be cultivated, monitored production and harvesting, centralized storage, and oversaw the sale of the crop. The agents also sought to eradicate illegal production and to interdict illicit movements of preparations of the plant. By the twentieth century, the British authorities imposed this model across their South Asian colonies, meaning the government of India found itself operating the most advanced and complex state apparatus in the world for controlling the commerce in cannabis. This chapter will explore this system in more detail and examine the processes by which it was rolled out across India. But it will also clarify the objectives that lay behind the system, arguing that excise officers designed structures that would maximize government revenues for the colonial state and, at the same time, were also driven by complex moral and medical calculations. The Ganja Mahal Cannabis drugs have been known in India since at least the first millennium BCE, and the cannabis plant grows wild throughout most of South Asia. The extent of the historical cannabis trade is debatable, but no evidence suggests that any precolonial Indian polity regulated or taxed the trade in cannabis in any systematic manner. This began to change during the latter half of the eighteenth century when lower Bengal fell under the rule of the English East India Company.1 The colonial government in


Peter Hynd

Bengal, perpetually facing financial crisis, turned to excise taxation as one strategy for increasing revenues, reserving the right to place taxes upon the production and sale of intoxicants such as liquor, opium, and cannabis. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the taxation of cannabis took the form of loosely regulated (and not especially lucrative) revenue farming. During the 1850s, however, the government of Bengal, inspired by the financial success of efforts to concentrate liquor distilling within government supervised distilleries, embarked upon a radical experiment to concentrate all of Bengal’s cannabis cultivation within a single tract, where it could be monitored (and taxed) by agents of the provincial Excise Department before being sold to consumers. The new rules issued at the end of 1853 by the government of Bengal for ganja cultivation transformed what had been a loosely administered trade. Records from the first half of the nineteenth century are frustratingly scarce because a system of revenue farming was adopted where licenses permitting the retail sale of ganja were simply sold by the local collector to the highest bidder, who was then free to ply his trade with minimal state interference. In 1877, a report summarized this old system as follows: The usual practice was for the purchasers of ganja, armed with passes granted by the excise officers in their respective districts to go to the cultivators of the drug and purchase from them whatever they wanted, without any interference of the excise officers. At the time of leaving the Ganja Mahal they reported to the abkaree darogah [chief excise officer] the nature of their purchases and got their passes endorsed by him.2

The report noted, too, that “no weighing and packing in the presence of Government officers were deemed necessary in those days.”3 The new regulations marked a clear departure from this hands-­off approach. The aim was to derive more revenue from the most potent varieties of cannabis drugs by taxing them at the source of production. Although cannabis grew wild throughout Bengal, the production of psychoactive drugs required specialized knowledge and specific cultivation practices. From 1854 onward, the only place where cannabis plants could legally be cultivated for the purpose of producing psychoactive products was a 6,000-­acre area near the town of Nowgong in the Rajshahye District, eventually known as Ganja Mahal.4 Chosen because it was an existing center of ganja production, with an ideal climate, this area was placed under the control of a special deputy collector, Muthoornath Banerjee, who had a small staff tasked with overseeing

Ganja and the Government of India 31

the planting, harvesting, and storage of the Bengal presidency’s ganja crop. Banerjee’s goal was to ensure that all of the cannabis produced in the Ganja Mahal was properly weighed, packaged, and stored in a government warehouse and then guarantee that the correct duty was paid on it—­and this was before passing it into the hands of wholesalers who would sell it on to licensed retailers elsewhere. The latter would have the job of marketing it to consumers.5 All aspects of ganja cultivation thus took place under the careful supervision of Banerjee and his successors.6 Any person intending to cultivate hemp within the Ganja Mahal was first required to send a written application to the supervisor and to receive a license before planting. After the crop was planted, the supervisor and his assistants patrolled the area to spot any unlicensed land under hemp cultivation, or any licensed land not being cultivated. Harvesting and processing of the drug took place under supervision and only after the cultivator had given three days’ notice to the supervisor and received permission to cut. Agents of the Bengal Excise Department weighed, registered, and stamped all ganja before it was removed to the government warehouse, and they kept detailed records throughout the harvest season of what had been produced, reporting once a week to the collector of Rajshahye. The Excise Department enforced a legal distinction between Ganja (“the dried flowers of the female plant, and preparations therefrom”), sidhi or bhang (“the dried leaves of the plant”), and charas (“the resin which exudes from the flowers and leaves of the plant”).7 Bhang, being less potent and easy enough for anybody to produce from wild cannabis plants, was subject to few restrictions and paid the lowest rate of duty. Ganja, which, unlike bhang required expert assistance to cultivate successfully, was divided into three categories according to potency: flat ganja, round ganja, and choor. Flat and round ganja varieties, named for the shape they assumed during processing, were subject to differential rates of duty. Round ganja contained a lesser proportion of the stem of the hemp plant than flat ganja. It was more potent and more desirable to consumers and therefore paid a higher rate of duty. Choor, the broken bits of the resinous flower separated during the processing of round and flat ganja, was even more potent and was taxed slightly higher than even top-­quality round ganja. Charas, exceptionally potent and requiring expertise and considerable labor to produce, was severely restricted.


Peter Hynd

British India, 1880 CHINA



British India


Bengal Rajshye Calcutta


Bay of Bengal

Arabian Sea


British Burma


Ceylon Figure 2.1 British India, 1880.

After the ganja crop was processed, sorted, weighed, and packed, it was transported to a government-­owned warehouse in Naogoan, where it was stamped with the owner’s seal and registered. Access to this warehouse was strictly controlled, and the building was completely locked outside of normal business hours. Between 1880–­1881 and 1882–­1883, the existing wooden warehouse in Noagoan was replaced by a sturdy masonry building surrounded by a high wall, at a total cost of Rs. 3,459.8 Removal of ganja from the warehouse by wholesale dealers was only carried out in the presence of the supervisor or one of his deputies. The contents of the warehouse were checked against

Ganja and the Government of India 33

the registers each month, and the warehouse clerk and permanent police guard were held responsible for any discrepancies. Further strict separation was maintained between wholesalers and retailers. Wholesalers were licensed to transport large quantities of ganja between the Ganja Mahal, regional bonded warehouses, and to sell to licensed retailers. Retailers, however, were only permitted to possess smaller quantities and to sell portions on to consumers. Both were required to keep detailed inventories, and sales records and all transfers between wholesaler and retailer required passes stamped with serial numbers. All this record-­keeping was to minimize how licensed wholesalers and retailers might engage in illicit trade, as all products in the system were enumerated and all transactions traceable. Infractions occurred, but they were rare—­or at least rarely detected. In 1890–­1891, for example, the Bengal Excise Department recorded just “7 cases of illegal sale [of ganja], 14 cases of illegal possession, and 3 of failing to account for stock.”9 According to James H. Mills, cultivators in the Ganja Mahal exploited local landscapes, waterways, and even suspiciously convenient fires to evade taxation.10 Still, systemic abuse was limited, and the overwhelming majority of infractions were of a petty nature—­even though these two facts should not be seen as incompatible. Efforts to prevent leakage of cannabis goods from the system took other forms, too. The Excise Department collaborated with the police to detect and interdict cases of illicit cultivation and smuggling of cannabis and the courts to prosecute offenders. This surveillance required significant amounts of labor and manpower from top to bottom. In each district, the collector of revenue, who was both district magistrate and chief revenue officer, was the person ultimately responsible for the smooth operation of the excise system. But excise was just one of a collector’s many responsibilities, and it was often of secondary importance. Beginning in the 1870s, it became necessary in the most populous districts to appoint a special excise deputy collector to assist the overburdened collectors with their excise duties. In practice, the excise deputy collectors assumed near complete responsibility for most excise matters within their districts. By 1903–­1904, nineteen such deputy collectors were posted to districts throughout Bengal, and three more were employed directly by the commissioner of excise for special tasks (one being the supervisor of the Ganja Mahal). In total, the Bengal Excise Department employed 416 officers in 1903–­1904, including 145 engaged solely with record keeping and clerical work.11 Additionally, several hundred poorly paid servants and menial laborers were counted in official records.


Peter Hynd

It is impossible to say what percentage of these people were employed to directly manage ganja; outside of the Ganja Mahal and the supervisors of the wholesale warehouses, most excise business related to ganja was handled by the same staff of excise inspectors and police that dealt with all other excise matters, including supervision of the liquor and toddy trades, as well as licensing the domestic retail sale of opium. The quality of the lower ranks of these officers was questionable, but it improved over time. After 1878 all officers of the Bengal Excise Department were required to submit deposits as a guarantee against any potential mishandling of “public money or goods held in Government warehouses.”12 One 1891 report noted that the excise commissioner was of the “opinion that the darogahs [inspectors] employed on excise are not only useless, but corrupt,” and that “fourteen Excise officers, ranging from a clerk to a Sub-­Deputy Collector, were punished during the year for neglect of duty, cheating, bribery, &c.”13 The 1904–­1905 excise report, in contrast, noted that it had been necessary to dismiss two subinspectors, one jamadar, and fourteen peons for various infractions, but nevertheless “both conduct and discipline were satisfactory.” Furthermore, the Excise Department typically paid tens of thousands of rupees per year to informants in exchange for information relating to excise offences. In 1880–­1881, for example, the figure was Rs. 35,184.14 Officials were content that the Ganja Mahal itself was under control by the late 1870s, despite some irregularities in the early years.15 In 1880, it was noted by the commissioner of excise that: “Breaches of the excise law were detected within the ganja tract in Rajshahye, but none of them are of sufficient importance to require notice.” He added that “frequent inspection of the stock of ganja and the liability of the cultivators to account for even a trifling deficiency, render smuggling more difficult than it used to be.”16 Asked to elaborate, he produced the following observations the next year: The rules for the cultivation of ganja are yearly becoming better understood by the people living within the producing tract, and illicit dealings are reported to be of rare occurrence. No instance of unlicensed cultivation was discovered during the year, while the frequent visits of the supervising officers, inspection of stocks, and the liability of the cultivators to account for even a trifling deficiency in their stocks, render the successful smuggling of ganja by no means an easy matter. There is, however, no doubt that after the cutting of the plant from the field, and before the ganja is stored, some smuggling on small scale goes on, which it would be difficult entirely to check. No instance of illicit sale of this article by the cultivators was brought to light, and the few cases of prosecution which occurred during the year were not of any importance.17

Ganja and the Government of India 35

Officials were also vigilant to ensure that cannabis drugs were not being smuggled into Bengal, as this would undermine the purpose of concentrating production within the Ganja Mahal. For example, an enormous quantity of ganja shipped from Madras was discovered to have clandestinely cleared customs in Calcutta in 1894. “A quantity of ganja weighing 14 maunds and 24 seers was imported from Madras to Calcutta, passed through the Calcutta Customs House and stored in the godowns of the consignee without payment of any duty.” The result was prosecution. And the smugglers “were convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 500, or to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months, and the ganja was confiscated to Government.”18 In other contexts, the suspicion lingered that external providers were successfully evading detection and accessing consumers in Bengal. Here, the careful gathering and monitoring of statistics helped. It is observed that that the total consumption and revenue in Singbhoom are exceedingly small as compared to the results noticeable in other districts. The Deputy Commissioner is of opinion that the drug is smuggled from the adjoining Tributary States of Mohurbhung and Keoaghur, where no restrictions appear to exist in regard to the cultivation of the hemp plant, and where ganja can be obtained for a mere trifle.19

Bordering territories not under full British rule provoked unease, and efforts were made to bring excise policies in line with British colonial territory. For the most part, such smuggling on the periphery of British-­controlled territory was small scale, and much of it may have been inadvertent, caused by ignorance of the regulations rather than a deliberate and systematic attempt to evade paying duty. An inquiry into the case of Singbhoom, cited above, discovered smuggling from adjoining territory, but the commissioner recommended against pressing the issue any further, because “such smuggling,” in his view, could not be “prevented without incurring expenditure considerably in excess of the revenue now lost by smuggling.”20 Of course, police and excise inspectors took efforts to interdict smugglers trying to evade the excise laws. In one dramatic case from 1892–­1893, some eighty people were arrested for the organized smuggling of Gujarat-­grown ganja into Puri.21 But the vast majority of cases of smuggling were minor in nature, and most excise officials felt that the most effective remedy for smuggling was not to interdict smugglers; rather, the best approach to was to remove the temptation to smuggle in the first place. Efforts were therefore made to equalize rates of duty among neighboring districts (to the furthest extent practicable) as well as control the retail price of licit ganja. In


Peter Hynd

1883, for example, the Bengal board of revenue rejected a proposed increase to the rate of duty on ganja, “lest another sudden rise should defeat the policy in view and lead to smuggling without benefitting the revenue. [Only] when the consumers have become accustomed to the lately raised prices and rate of duty, a further enhancement will be more easily introduced.”22 Explaining the Ganja Mahal What, exactly, was the “policy in view”? Revenue was obviously a key consideration and the government of Bengal’s policy toward ganja must be considered a success. As figure 2.2 shows, Bengal generated less than one rupee per seer of ganja produced in the Ganja Mahal throughout the 1850s. Owing to increased duties and licensing fees, that figure rose to over Rs. 2 per seer by B. STATEMENT showing the Quality of Ganja Exported from the Producing Districts and the Revenue Realised. Quantity of Ganja Exported.


1853–54 1854–55 1855–56 1856–57 1857–58 1858–59 1859–60 1860–61 1861–62 1862–63 1863–64 1864–65 1865–66 1866–67 1867–68 1868–69 1869–70 1870–71




Srs. Cks.

19,157 18,598 17,676 19,625 22,367 21,240 13,015 15,396 11,241 11,733 10,068 9,663 7,592 10,530 11,506 10,192 11,528

5 20 39 24 22 12 23 37 14 23 18 8 13 13 14 38 38

5 12 12 15 7 34 10 14 12 2 41 12 0 15 4 0 5 1014 1312

1 3 3 4 1 2

Revenue Realised (Duty and License Fees). Rs. a. p. 3,69,801 4,02,264 4,51,937 4,66,905 4,98,310 5,68,471 6,44,963 6,77,164 7,74,781 8,90,225 9,56,554 9,76,511 9,55,891 8,10,346 9,73,176 9,68,010 9,98,129 11,06,768

Average Revenue per Seer.


Rs. a. p. 8 9 10 10 10 12 1 4 1 4 1 15 2 2 6 2 7 2 10 2 5 2 1 2 7 2 6

4 8 6 1 2 1 9 1 8 7 8 6 8 7 2 5

Figure 2.2 Statement showing ganja exports and revenue (Bengal, 1853–­1871). Source: Letter No. 3863, dated August 31, 1872, from J. Ware Edgar, officiating junior secretary to the government of Bengal, to the secretary to the government of India, Department of Revenue, Agriculture, and Commerce. Reprinted in “Papers Relating to the Consumption of Ganja and Other Drugs in India,” British Parliamentary Papers, vol. 66 (Hansard, London, 1891).

Ganja and the Government of India 37

1863 and continued to increase during the nineteenth century. The creation of the Ganja Mahal was clearly a success as a revenue-­raising mechanism. But the stated aim of Bengal’s policy toward ganja was not simply to raise revenue but to grow (or at least maintain) revenue while simultaneously reducing consumption to the lowest possible level. This was done by gradually raising the retail price of the drug through taxation. In 1883, an internal report to the Bengal board of revenue testified to the system’s success: “The Board cannot but consider it most satisfactory that the enhancement of duty on this noxious drug has caused a marked decrease in the consumption, while simultaneously adding so materially to the revenue.”23 As figure 2.3 shows, Bengal’s policy toward ganja resulted in a gradual reduction of the amount of land under cannabis cultivation and the number A. STATEMENT showing Particulars of Ganja Cultivation in the Producing Districts. Quantity of Number of Land Ryots estimated engaged to have been in the Cultivated with Ganja. Cultivation.


1853–54 1854–55 1855–56 1856–57 1857–58 1858–59 1859–60 1860–61 1861–62 1862–63 1863–64 1864–65 1865–66 1866–67 1867–68 1868–69 1869–70 97•


Quality of Ganja estimated to have been Produced.

Average Production per Begah. Mds. Srs. 14 22 7 11

Beegahs. 2,623 2,100

2,416 1,440

Beegahs. 37,840 13,266

2,090 1,790 1,930 1,864 1,424

1,670 1,435 1,412 1,547 1,081

19,840 13,973 14,965 15,438 9,985

9 7 7 8 7

1,639 1,162 2,097 1,677

1,504 1,053 2,096 1,046

11,115 6,509 13,769 12,111

6 31 5 24 6 22 7 9

  Figures not available in office. 

  Figures not available in office. 

18 19 30 13 5


The blanks are caused by the fact that during these years no returns were received in the Board’s office from the supervisor of ganja cultivation. Orders have been issued for the annual preparation and submission of a statement showing these particulars.


Figure 2.3 Statement showing particulars of ganja cultivation (Bengal, 1853–­1870). Source: Letter No. 3863, August 31, 1872, from J. Ware Edgar, officiating junior secretary to the government of Bengal, to the secretary to the government of India, Department of Revenue, Agriculture and Commerce. Reprinted in “Papers Relating to the Consumption of Ganja and Other Drugs in India,” British Parliamentary Papers, vol. 66 (Hansard, London, 1891).


Peter Hynd

of cultivators engaged in the production of ganja. After a few years of operating the new system, which enabled officials to monitor more closely just what was being produced and sold, excise officials concluded that the ganja crop was too large. At the close of 1859–­1860, a year noted for poor harvests due to rain, nearly 19,074 maunds remained in the government stores. This number was thought more than sufficient to meet the coming year’s demand not just in Bengal itself but across all other markets in India, too.24 So great was the quantity of ganja produced that licenses for cultivation were temporarily restricted. Such direct restrictions on cultivation were rare, but nevertheless the total quantity of licit ganja produced in the Ganja Mahal never again exceeded 20,000 maunds per year.25 This decline was the result of policy, but only indirectly. Cultivation of cannabis within the Ganja Mahal was not mandatory; ganja could only be grown in a given plot of land once every four years at maximum, and savvy cultivators adjusted how much of their land they devoted to producing ganja according to perceived demand and the price of ganja relative to other crops.26 In 1882–­1883, for example, cultivation fell by nearly 870 beegahs (a unit of measurement) compared to previous years, with the decline being “attributed partly to the unfavourable rates that ruled the ganja market in 1881–­82, and partly to the high prices obtained for jute in that year, which induced some of the cultivators to use a portion of their land for the cultivation of jute.”27 The above figures do not display any decline in the consumption of cannabis products, but official reports often asserted that the colonial administration in the Ganja Mahal sought to reduce consumption. Indeed, the idea that consumption of intoxicants could be limited through taxation was central to both cannabis regulation and excise policy in British India as a whole during the nineteenth century. In 1838, the phrase “maximum revenue from minimum consumption” was used to describe the aims of excise policy in Bombay, which was later adopted as the official guiding maxim for excise departments throughout British India during the 1880s.28 Although an absurd statement at first glance, “maximum revenue from minimum consumption” was an early articulation of the concept of a sin tax familiar to many modern day spirit drinkers and tobacco smokers around the world.29 It postulated the existence of a theoretically perfect limit of taxation for intoxicants such as liquor or ganja that would reduce consumption to the lowest possible level by artificially inflating the minimum retail price to be as high as consumers in a given district could bear but not so high that habitual consumers would

Ganja and the Government of India 39

be tempted toward illicit sources of supply. Excise officials argued that this was the least intrusive, least costly, and least authoritarian way for the state to regulate what would otherwise be a disastrous free market in dangerous intoxicants. When officials felt that they had achieved this in Bengal, they were careful not to celebrate, or as one report concluded in 1861, “as regards Ganja it is shown that while the consumption of that drug has decreased considerably, the revenue, owing to the duty having been doubled and the levy of a license fee, had increased.”30 The 1890–­1891 Bengal excise report noted that consumption of ganja had decreased from 6,413 maunds in 1888–­ 1889 to 6,095 maunds, but ganja revenues had remained stable at approximately rs. 2,300,000 per year, reflecting the “declared policy of Government of securing maximum revenue from a minimum consumption.”31 This policy helps frame the Ganja Mahal’s monopoly over production and supply and its grip on pricing. More potent forms of the drugs paid a higher rate of duty, and furthermore, rates of duty and licensing fees were raised whenever the Excise Department thought consumers could bear the increase. The declared policy also explains the emphasis on quality control. The authorities had restricted cultivation to Rajshahye precisely because it was known to produce the best products in the market.32 Despite occasional setbacks, the Ganja Mahal possessed an ideal climate for hemp cultivation, and during normal years, it was the ideal place to produce an abundant ganja crop. The ganja produced in Rajshahye, that is, was of sufficient quality to satisfy consumers throughout Bengal, as it was considered “a finer and better grown drug than that produced elsewhere.”33 This policy approach was not without its risks, though. Concentrating ganja production in a single district made it especially vulnerable to Table 2.1 Rates of duty for different varieties of ganja, Bengal, 1860–­1900. Revenue Year




1860–­61 1870–­71 1890–­91 1900–­01

2 2 5 7–­4

2 3 6–­4 7–­8

1 4 7 9

Source: IOR/V/24/1128–­1134, Report on the Administration of the Excise Department in the Lower Provinces of Bengal for the Year 1903–­04 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1904), 13–­16.


Peter Hynd

climactic fluctuations. Because of inclement weather, 1877–­1878 was an especially bad one for ganja production. “The heavy fall of rain in August and September 1877 destroyed the young plants, which always succumb to excessive moisture.” Thereafter, “fields were replanted with new seedlings, and the damage done was repaired” but “the hailstorms of the 10th and 11th February 1878 injured the plants when they were ready for cutting, and the outturn was far below the average.”34 Other threats undercut the stability of the pricing system. The excise administration in Bengal was not only concerned with taxing the commerce in cannabis but also in alcohol products and opium, too.35 And the authorities, in dealing with a complex market for intoxicants, sometimes got it wrong. For example, an 1882–­1883 report outlined a troubling trend in the Balasore district of Orissa. Official records gathered by the Excise Department indicated that consumption of ganja had increased dramatically during the past year. Mr. Grant, the collector of Balasore, stated that an additional 3.27 maunds of ganja, more than 120 kilograms, had been sold in his district that year when compared with the previous one.36 This surge necessitated the licensing of four new shops to sell the drug and generated an additional 1,146 rupees in excise revenue. If income had been the only concern, the growth would have been viewed as a positive development by the collector. But the notable increase in ganja sales coincided with an even more dramatic decrease in opium sales. Opium revenues in Balasore had fallen by Rs 4,192 in the same period, and consumption dropped by 116 kilograms. Grant was sure that the two phenomena were linked. “I am afraid,” he suggested, “that this is something very like an unmixed evil. It does not mean that the people are beginning to restrict themselves in the use of deleterious drugs on account of their costliness. It means that owing to the greatly enhanced price of opium, the people are substituting ganja, a cheaper and infinitely more mischievous and deleterious drug.” He therefore strongly advocated “a return to the old rate for opium, not because the new rate has so materially decreased revenue, but because it is fast driving the people of Balasore to resort to ganja which we know to be the root of the evils in the Oorya character, and from which the people of Balasore have hitherto been comparatively exempt.”37 Mr. Grant’s complaint about growing sales of cannabis products was touched on in the Bengal excise report a year later. He recommended that rates of duty be modified in order to discourage consumption of cannabis in

Ganja and the Government of India 41

favor of what he considered to be “comparatively harmless” opium. “Under ordinary circumstances,” he argued, “it is desirable to discourage the use of opium by making its price as high as it can safely be made.” However, in the case of Orissa, “it seems to me to be very unwise to do what amounts to forcing people to the extended use of a most pernicious and cheap and accessible drug by putting what becomes a prohibitive price on the use of a very dear, comparatively harmless, and often useful drug.” He concluded: “I would reduce the price of opium in Orissa to what it was in 1879–­80, and I would also raise the duty on ganja from Rs. 4 to Rs. 5.”38 Together, these reports reveal the complexities in governing the market for intoxicants. They show that efforts to interfere in the consumption of one substance could have knock-­on effects in that market. By increasing the tax on opium, officials had inadvertently stumbled upon the price at which consumers would abandon opium for ganja. Although decreasing domestic consumption of opium was one of the goals of the Excise Department, this was not to be achieved at the cost of increasing sales of ganja or any other intoxicant.39 Informed as they were by contemporary medical opinion, agents of the Excise Department did, however, generally consider ganja to be the most harmful of the intoxicants that they regulated. In 1884, for example, no less than Bengal’s commissioner of excise expressed agreement with Mr. Grant in his condemnation of ganja and stated that he was in favor of increasing the rate of duty to discourage ganja consumption.40 It became common practice in Bengal to raise the rate of duty on cannabis drugs whenever duties were increased on other intoxicants, so as to avoid situations like what had occurred in Balasore. Cannabis was part of the excise portfolio but only reluctantly. Cannabis across India Despite measures of success in regulating cannabis, the Ganja Mahal initially attracted little attention from the other provinces of British India. Into the 1870s, Bengal remained the only province in British India to impose strict restrictions on the cultivation, production, and sale of ganja. Most other provinces simply continued to limit their interference in the cannabis trade to revenue farming and the auctioning of retail or wholesale licenses. In 1871–­1872, responding to a spreading belief that cannabis consumption led to insanity, the government of India circulated a questionnaire asking the


Peter Hynd

various provincial governments to investigate the medical and moral effects of cannabis consumption, and to explore the desirability of implementing further restrictions on hemp cultivation, or imposing outright prohibition on cannabis drugs. As a result, the government of India ultimately concluded (on the basis of rather spurious evidence) that the link between cannabis and insanity was real and issued orders to the provincial governments that cannabis consumption was to be discouraged.41 This conclusion lay behind the moral and medical agendas articulated by Grant and his superior. Beyond Bengal, there was little enthusiasm among the provincial governments for altering existing arrangements in line with the official position that cannabis products could be harmful to individuals and to society. Most officials engaged with excise matters in British India assumed, consistent with the prevailing theory of the day, that demand for intoxicants could not be eradicated through state interference, and that any attempt to discourage cannabis consumption would either shift consumption toward some other intoxicant or encourage illicit production of the drug. The official reply from the government of Punjab, for example, argued that “if people are prohibited [from] the use of hemp and opium, they will in all probability take to some other stimulant, such as alcohol, the amount of violent crime resulting from the abuse of which, as English statistics unmistakably prove, is more than that of all stimulants used in India put together.”42 Captain K. J. L. McKenzie, based in Berar, who by his own admission considered “the consequences of intemperance” to be “very disastrous,” likewise showed no enthusiasm for repressing the trade in cannabis drugs. “Reform in these matters,” he insisted, “should commence at home, and be independent of Government action, and can only come about from extended knowledge.” He was realistic, though, suggesting that “direct repressive action of Government would go but a small way in effecting good, for as soon as one source of supply is closed, or nearly so, the ingenuity of man usually at once devises another, the consequences of which, as a rule, are more hurtful.”43 Officers of the Excise Department were well aware of contemporary medical opinion that cannabis consumption led to insanity, and many were themselves hostile to the drug. They were also realistic about the prospects of successfully implementing prohibition in a country where the hemp plant grew wild, and reluctant to interfere with local customs. The prevalence of wild hemp throughout India was considered an insurmountable barrier standing in the way of efforts aimed at restricting cannabis cultivation,

Ganja and the Government of India 43

despite the apparent success of the Bengal model. The lieutenant-­governor of the North Western Provinces noted that hemp “grows freely in the country lying along the foot of the Himalayas, and it can be grown in every moist and low-­lying tract . . . ​to prevent its production would . . . [be] almost impossible.” He argued that the only possible way to restrict cultivation was through a monopoly similar to that of opium, or Bengal’s Ganja Mahal, something he was unwilling to propose.44 H. S. Thomas, the collector of South Canara in Madras, also claimed that restricting hemp would accomplish nothing as consumers would simply turn to other articles. “I do not think,” he noted, “that Government should interpose in any way to check the culture of a useful plant simply because one of its properties is sometimes abused. If hemp were discouraged, something else would be resorted to, for intoxicating liquors can be distilled from rice, and almost anything in a state of fermentation. If the Government must interfere, it should do so to check the abuse, not the use.”45 Ultimately, only the governments of the Central Provinces and Burma (where hemp did not grow wild and cannabis drugs did not have a long history) were in favor of imposing system of restricted cultivation similar to that of Bengal. The prime motivating factor for the government of the Central provinces appears to have been that consumers were turning toward ganja as the result of rapidly increasing taxes on liquor. According to one official account, “our excise policy within the last few years has altered the relative positions of ganja and liquor to their respective consumers. While the latter has been quadrupled in price, the former remains as before to a large extent free from all duty whatever.”46 Not only were revenues from cannabis and alcohol managed by the same officers, the theory behind “maximum revenue from minimum consumption” demanded that excise be considered as a whole. Restricting access to one deleterious intoxicant by raising its price was of no benefit if consumers remained free to simply spend their money on larger quantities of cheaper drugs. The annual provincial excise reports from across British India are full of examples where increased rates of duty were believed to be pushing consumers toward other articles rather than limiting consumption as intended.47 Moreover, even though the imposition of a Bengal-­style system for regulating cannabis drugs in the Central Provinces was believed to restore balance to the excise equation, the chief commissioner made clear his opinion that restrictions on hemp cultivation were only deemed practicable because, “in these


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provinces ganja is not cultivated as a fibre, [and] the restrictions proposed would in no way interfere with hemp as an article of commerce.”48 Finally, he argued, for a system like that of Bengal’s Ganja Mahal to operate successfully in the Central Provinces, it would be necessary for all contiguous provinces to adopt a similar set of restrictions on ganja production, in order “to prevent smuggling and its attendant evils.”49 The immediate result of the 1871–­1872 survey, then, was official condemnation of unregulated cannabis cultivation by the government of India that did not immediately translate to practical action on the part of the provincial governments. Although the governor-­general called upon “the various Local Governments and Administrations . . . ​to discourage the consumption of ganja and bhang by placing restrictions on their cultivation, preparation and retail, and imposing on their use as high a rate of duty as can be levied without inducing illicit practices,”50 he was forced to concede that a Bengal style system might not work everywhere: In Lower Bengal the circumstances have admitted of a system under which the consumption of ganja has been reduced one-­half, while the amount of duty levied on it has been doubled. It would be very desirable to control the cultivation and preparation of ganja and bhang elsewhere in the same way. But it is believed that this would not be easy; indeed, it would probably be impracticable.51

Bengal’s system of concentrated, supervised ganja production, restrictive licensing, and rising duties aimed at reducing consumption remained a unique exception in the colonial administration in South Asia. Most of the other provinces of British India introduced token reforms to their cannabis regulations during the late 1870s as part of a wider program of excise reform, but strict control over hemp cultivation and the production of cannabis drugs remained rare outside of Bengal. A system of restricted cultivation comparable to the Ganja Mahal was only introduced to the Central Provinces in 1881. The other provinces of British India did not follow suit until after the conclusion of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission in 1893–­1894, which helped undermine the prevailing belief that cannabis contributed to insanity. Changing Cannabis Controls In Madras,52 initial reluctance to regulate cannabis cultivation was due in part to local officials’ belief that cannabis drugs were “little used in that Presidency as compared with other parts of India.”53 The Madras Abkari Act

Ganja and the Government of India 45

(Act I of 1886) had been extended to “intoxicating drugs prepared from the hemp plant” in 1889, when officials were caught off-­guard by orders to begin taxing ganja that came from the governor general of India.54 Although the Opium, Salt, and Abkari [Excise] Department of Madras had spent the 1880s pioneering what would rapidly become one of the most effective and profitable systems for taxing alcohol in India, cannabis remained neglected. The Madras excise authorities initially limited themselves to auctioning licenses for retail and wholesale vendors. Wide-­ranging restrictions on hemp cultivation and the transport of large quantities of cannabis drugs existed in law from 1889, but in practice cultivation was not confined to specific tracts until 1898, after which the situation quickly changed. By 1900, 433 shops were licensed to sell cannabis drugs in the province, an increase of nearly 60 percent in just two years.55 This dramatic increase was linked directly to the new regulations. “The increase in the number of shops” was attributed by Madras’ commissioner of abkari “to the fact that, when cultivation of the hemp plant . . . [was] . . . ​brought under control by Government, it became necessary to provide a sufficient number of licit places of supply to prevent inconvenience to the consumer.”56 This convenience quite literally came at a price in the form of a duty levied on every tola sold, and was, of course, accompanied by efforts on the part of the police and excise inspectors to crack down on now illicit hemp cultivation and smuggling from adjacent territories. Officially, from 1898 onward, hemp cultivation in Madras was restricted to approximately five hundred acres split between Babtala in Guntor District and Polur in North Arcot. Efforts to suppress illicit cannabis cultivation could never be wholly successful in a country where the cannabis plant grew wild, and concern about smuggling became established as a feature of correspondence between excise officials. Nevertheless, efforts to tax cannabis in Madras were a rapid and dramatic success after 1898. Licensed cannabis drug shops in Madras sold a total of 40,833 seers in 1899–­1900, compared to just 28,747 seers a year earlier, and excise revenues increased rapidly.57 Prior to 1889, the Madras presidency raised no excise revenue from cannabis; by 1899–­1900 revenue from licensing fees and excise duties on cannabis drugs in Madras had grown to 172,766 rupees; by 1909–­1910, the total was 570,549 rupees.58 In Bombay,59 a successful system for regulating and taxing cannabis drugs comparable to that of Bengal was only implemented early in the


Peter Hynd

1900s. Prior to the Bombay Abkari Act (Act V of 1878), excise revenue in the Bombay presidency had largely been left to the discretion of the district collectors. In some places, such as the city of Bombay itself and nearby Uran, where large distilleries churned out vast quantities of cheap liquor for the urban market, sophisticated measures for generating excise revenue were experimented with, but prior to the 1880s the bulk of excise revenues in the Bombay presidency were derived from the district collectors farming out or auctioning off monopolies to the highest bidder. The 1879–­1880 Bombay excise report, the first such document produced in that province, noted that, “The revenue derivable from the consumption of intoxicating drugs has always been raised by annual auction sales of the privilege of retailing them throughout the year.”60 In that same report, W. R. Pratt, the acting commissioner of customs, opium, and abkari voiced his skepticism regarding the potential success of any other model for regulating and taxing the sale of cannabis. “The revenue derived from this source does not show great fluctuations,” he wrote, “but there has apparently been a retrogressive tendency in many of the districts in recent years . . . ​and there is scarcely any other mode of taxation of the drugs which can be worked without expense and trouble.”61 Mr. Reid, the commissioner of customs, was even more blunt when asked about the possibility of closely regulating the cannabis trade in 1872, writing that: “there seems no necessity for having further restrictions imposed on the use of ganja other than those which now exist.”62 Despite this skepticism, the first tentative steps toward a stricter regulation of cannabis drugs in Bombay were taken in the early 1880s. On January 1, 1881 it was mandated that manufacturers of ganja and other hemp drugs must procure a license from the local collector; no other restrictions were placed on hemp cultivation, nor was production of cannabis drugs actively supervised by agents of the Excise Department as in Bengal. As before, and in keeping with the prevailing official wisdom in Bombay that more restrictive systems were unworkable, licenses for selling cannabis drugs were still sold at auction to the highest bidder. But the licenses themselves were standardized after 1881, and wholesalers were required to purchase costly permits before importing or exporting drugs or moving them between districts. Licensed retailers were charged 5 rupees for moving any quantity of cannabis drug up to 10 maunds, and an additional 1 rupee for every additional 2 maunds.63 Geography likely played a role in the reluctance of Bombay’s excise officials to impose a system that restricted cultivation of hemp to one

Ganja and the Government of India 47

or two specific areas. The Bombay presidency shared borders with multiple other provinces, native states, and the Portuguese enclave of Goa. Some portions of the province were populous, well-­developed, and well-­served by modern transportation infrastructure, but others contained terrain difficult for government officials to access. Hemp grew wild throughout Bombay, and although excise officers were reluctant to admit it, it would have been utterly impossible in the 1880s for them to stamp out small-­scale cultivation in remote districts. This inability of the Bombay government to exercise authority equally throughout its territory certainly contributed to the decision to implement transport licenses. Under such a system there was no need to waste resources on a futile attempt to suppress illicit cultivation in remote areas; transport charges ensured that those bringing commercial quantities of cannabis to market from areas where infrastructure was poor paid at least some revenue to the provincial treasury. Even though Bombay operated nowhere near as restrictive a system as that developed in Bengal, it still required that cannabis products be captured in law after 1878. The Bombay Abkari Act of 1878 officially defined “intoxicating drugs” as “ganja, bhang and every preparation and admixture of the same and every intoxicating drink or substance prepared from hemp, grain or any other material not included in the term ‘liquor.’”64 This definition was deliberately broad, so much so that the Abkari commissioner, Mr. Pratt, considered it necessary to elaborate: The drugs usually retailed [in Bombay] are known by the names ganja, bhang, charas, majam, yakuti, shrikhand, penda and bhoja, all more or less the produce of the hemp-­plant, which grows in Sholapur, Ahmednagar and Khandesh districts and to a certain extent also in the Broach, Surat, Satara and Poona Collectorates. . . . ​Ganja is the flower of the hemp-­plant, and bhang the dried leaves of the same plant. Ganja is used only in smoking mixed with tobacco; bhang, poured with spices and sugar and diluted in milk or water, forms a palatable drink. Charas is the juice of the hemp-­plant, and is used in smoking. Majam, yakuti, shrikhand and penda are different compositions of spices mixed with bhang and boiled in ghee. Bhoja is an intoxicating liquid prepared by boiling old jowari, goolbel, bhang and knoochala in water.65

Unlike Bengal, which treated cannabis preparations and varieties differently, and even graded various types of ganja according to quality, Bombay cast a wide net when defining “cannabis drugs.” And such a loose definition suited Bombay’s decentralized system of raising export revenues through transport charges that prevailed throughout the 1880s and 1890s.


Peter Hynd

The definition offered leeway to local officers to raise revenues on the different cannabis drugs they encountered. The financial results of this system were modest. The average revenue from cannabis drugs for the five years ending 1876–­1877 was 54,612 rupees per year; by 1883–­1884, two years after the implementation of transport passes, 94,337 rupees; and revenues under this system peaked in 1896–­1897 at 205,778 rupees.66 This decentralized system persisted in Bombay until it was replaced by one based on the Bengal model in 1901. In that year the Bombay Abkari Act Amendment (Act V of 1901) restricted cultivation of hemp to two tracts in the Satara and Ahmednagar districts, the produce of which, along with any drugs imported from other provinces, was to be stored in government-­ controlled bonded warehouses. Transport fees were abandoned and replaced with a duty payable by licensed wholesalers when removing drugs from a bonded warehouse. Differential rates of duty (initially 4 rupees per seer of ganja, 2 per seer of charas, and half a rupee per seer of bhang) were also adopted, with the aim of nudging consumers toward varieties of cannabis drugs considered to be less potent and less harmful. Consumers were limited to possession of a maximum of five tolas of ganja or charas in an effort to prevent smuggling and other unlicensed transportation. Rather than a product of the Bombay Excise Department following best practices, these regulations were an imposition from above, based on the government of Bombay’s interpretation of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission of 1893–­ 1894. According to the government, “the framing of these Rules and the settlement of the other details in connection with introduction of the New Hemp Drugs arrangements” amounted to a “considerable amount of work on this office and in order to acquire the required local knowledge.”67 These efforts quickly paid dividends. Revenue from cannabis drugs, in the forms of both licensing fees and duty reached 496,167 rupees in 1904–­1905 and only continued to climb thereafter.68 Despite the imposition of a Bengal style system for managing cannabis, however, revenue per seer remained significantly lower in Bombay. Records indicate that 5,018 maunds of licit ganja were consumed in Bombay in 1904–­1905, compared to 6,339 in Bengal (which had more than three times the population); nevertheless, revenue from cannabis drugs in Bengal totaled 3,460,787 rupees in 1904–­1905, almost seven times Bombay’s figure.69 This discrepancy resulted in large part from the fact that Bengal had controlled the supply of ganja and had been steadily increasing the retail price for half a century. Bombay was just getting started.

Ganja and the Government of India 49

Conclusions The 1854 creation of the Ganja Mahal, and restriction of cannabis drug cultivation in Bengal to a specific tract near Rajshahye, was a novel experiment. It was successful, despite a degree of hostility toward cannabis on the part of many senior officers of Bengal’s Excise Department and within the colonial government more broadly. The dual aim of this system was to harness ganja as a source of revenue without stimulating consumption or pushing consumers toward illegal sources of supply. The cultivation, processing, storage, wholesale distribution, and retail sale of processed cannabis drugs was subjected to a strict regime of complex regulation and licensing. All ganja was produced under government supervision and made to pay duty prior to leaving the Ganja Mahal and entering the supply chain. Duty and licensing fees generally accounted for half or more of the final retail price. The system was profitable and did not experience substantial corruption, abuse, or evasion. Overall, Bengal’s system for regulating cannabis drugs was the first, and by far the most successful, in British India. Other provinces began following a similar model in later decades but never with the same degree of financial success, and their efforts were often hampered by an inability to successfully confine cultivation to a specific tract. The Ganja Mahal and related systems for regulating and taxing cannabis drugs introduced in Bengal in late 1853 and later copied throughout British India appear, on close inspection, strikingly similar to those recently implemented in Canada and some US states. Notwithstanding official hostility toward cannabis at the highest levels of government, the excise authorities of colonial India were aware of the futility of enforcing a complete prohibition, and they were realistic about the extent to which they could control the trade in ganja and other cannabis drugs. They settled upon control of supply and taxation of consumption as the most practicable mechanisms for limiting access to potent cannabis drugs. The state balanced revenue concerns against a desire to minimize consumption, and, in the long run, were effective in both respects. Nowhere was this more true than in Bengal, where, despite the prevalence of wild cannabis, excise revenues from cannabis drugs rose and consumption declined steadily from approximately 1850 to 1920. This may well be one of the only occasions where it is reasonable to say that modern governments stand to learn a thing or two from the example set by the British Raj.


Peter Hynd

Notes 1.  Roughly the area covered by present day West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Bihar in India, and Bangladesh. 2.  Hem Chunder Dutt, Report on the Cultivation of, and Trade in, Ganja in Bengal (1877). Reprinted in “Papers Relating to the Consumption of Ganja and Other Drugs in India,” British Parliamentary Papers (London: Hansard, 1891), 66, quote on 180–­109. 3. Dutt, Report on the Cultivation of, and Trade in, Ganja in Bengal, 109. 4.  Modern day Naogaon, in the Rajshahi Division of northwestern Bangladesh. 5. IOR/v/24/1128, Report on the Abkaree Revenue of the Lower Provinces for the Official Year 1853–­54 (Calcutta: Thos. Jones, Calcutta Gazette Office, 1855), 3. 6. James H. Mills, Cannabis Britannica: Empire, Trade, and Prohibition 1800–­ 1928 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). 7. IOR/V/24/1132, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1887–­88 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1888), 2. 8. IOR/V/24/1130, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1880–­81 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1882), 27; and IOR/V/24/1131, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1882–­83 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1884), 16. 9. IOR/V/24/1132, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1890–­91 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1892), 37. 10. James H. Mills, “Cannabis in Colonial India: Production, State Intervention, and Resistance in the Late Nineteenth-­Century Bengali Landscape,” in Dangerous Harvest: Drug Plants and the Transformation of Indigenous Landscape, ed. Michael K. Steinberg, Joseph J. Hobbs, and Kent Mathewson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 221–­230. 11. IOR/V/24/1134, Report on the Administration of the Excise Department in the Lower Provinces of Bengal for the Year 1903–­04 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1904), 25–­26. 12.  Bengal Act VII of 1878. 13. No. 579B, T. Inglis to the secretary to the government of Bengal, Financial Department, Calcutta, August 24, 1891. Reproduced in IOR/V/24/1132, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1890–­91 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1892). 14. IOR/V/24/1130, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1880–­81 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1882), 39.

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15.  For a detailed survey of smuggling in the Ganja Mahal, see Dutt, Report on the Cultivation of, and Trade in, Ganja in Bengal. Mills (2004) has argued that the limited resources of the state and knowledge of the complex geographies of the region by locals meant that illicit trade was never entirely eradicated. 16. IOR/V/24/1130, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1879–­80 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1880), 15. 17. IOR/V/24/1130, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1880–­81 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1882), 26. 18. IOR/V/24/1133, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1893–­94 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1894), 19. 19. IOR/V/24/1130, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1881–­82 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1882), 19. 20. IOR/V/24/1131, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1882–­83 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1883), 16. 21. IOR/V/24/1133, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1892–­93 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1893), 48. 22. IOR/V/24/1131, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1882–­83 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1883), 16. 23. IOR/V/24/1131, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1882–­83. (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1883), 17. 24. IOR/V/1128, Financial Results of the Abkarry Administration of the Lower Provinces for the year 1859–­60 (Calcutta: Printed at the Bengal Military Orphan Press, 1860), 3. 25.  Exports of ganja from Bengal exceeded 20,000 maunds per year during the late 1850s, but these figures appear to include a good quantity of the drug that had been in storage from previous years of overproduction earlier in the decade. 26. IOR/V/24/1129, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1870–­71 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1871), 27–­28. 27. IOR/V/24/1131, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1882–­83 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1883), 16. 28.  Letter (Revenue, no. 1321 of 1881, March 25, 1881) from W.R Pratt, acting commissioner of customs, opium and abkari in the Bombay presidency to John Nugent, acting secretary to government, Revenue Department; for a detailed description of similar policies at work in the decades before the articulation of “maximum revenue from minimum consumption,” see C. W. Bell, Report on the Abkari System of the Bombay Presidency (Bombay: Government Press, 1869).


Peter Hynd

29.  Sin taxes are a type of consumption tax, described by economist Peter Lorenzi as “those government revenues garnered from the purchase or consumption of resources or services exhibiting the following characteristics: 1. Consumption exhibits an inelastic demand curve. The behaviour is addictive. . . . ​2. The behaviour can be considered self-­destructive or harmful to the individual. . . . ​3. Consumption of the product or service is generally judged to be counter to socially desirable behaviours or to be dysfunctional in terms of the social welfare.” Peter Lorenzi, “Sin Taxes,” Society 41 (March 2004): 59–­65, https://­doi​.­org​/­10​.­1007​/­BF02690184​. 30. IOR/V/24/1129, Report on the Financial Results of the Abkarry Administration of the Lower Provinces for the year 1860–­61 (Calcutta: Printed at the Bengal Military Orphan Press, 1861), 6. 31. IOR/V/24/1132, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the year 1890–­91 (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Press, 1891), 36. 32.  For a detailed description of the cultivation of cannabis in the Ganja Mahal, see chapter 3 of James H. Mills, Cannabis Britannica. 33.  Letter no. 3863, J. Ware Edgar to the secretary to the government of India, 1872. 34.  No. 911½ B Excise, from P. Nolan, Esq., offg. secretary to the board of revenue, L.P., to the secretary to the government of Bengal, Finance Department, dated Fort William, August 30, 1879. Reproduced in IOR/V/24/1130, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the year 1878–­79 (Calcutta: Printed at the Bengal Secretariat Press, 1879), 2. 35.  See Newman, Gilbert, Hardiman, Ernst, Hynd (forthcoming) etc. 36. IOR/V/24/1131, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1882–­83 (Calcutta: Printed at the Bengal Secretariat Press, 1883), 20. In the system of measurements used by the government of Bengal after 1833, 1 maund = 40 seers; 1 seer = 80 tolas. 1 Tola weighed 180 grains, equivalent to 11.66382 grams. One seer was therefore slightly less than a kilogram (933.1 grams), and one maund equal to approximately 37.325 kilograms. 37. IOR/V/24/1131, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1882–­83. 38. IOR/V/24/1131, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1883–­84 (Calcutta: Printed at the Bengal Secretariat Press, 1884), 20. 39. Although the government of India generated an enormous amount of revenue from the production and sale of opium for export, domestic retail sales of opium were comparatively limited. In 1883–­ 1884, for example, the Bengal Excise Department generated 1,674,267 rupees licensing the domestic sale of opium, a figure similar to the total generated by ganja, and slightly less than half the that generated by locally

Ganja and the Government of India 53

produced spirits and other types of alcohol. That same year, all of India’s opium exports generated over 95,000,000 rupees—­nearly one fifth of all government revenue. 40. IOR/V/24/1131, Report on the Financial Results of the Excise Administration in the Lower Provinces for the Year 1883–­84 (Calcutta: Printed at the Bengal Secretariat Press, 1884), 20. 41. For more on this survey, and a detailed examination of the perceived link between cannabis and madness, see Mills, Cannabis Britannica, chap. 4. 42. Letter No. 502, dated April 10, 1872 from Lepel Griffin, officiating secretary to the government of Punjab, to the secretary to the government of India, department of agriculture, revenue and commerce. Reprinted in “Papers Relating to the Consumption of Ganja and Other Drugs in India,” British Parliamentary Papers, 66 (Hansard, London, 1891), 13. 43.  Letter No. 534, dated December 22, 1871, from Captain K. J. L. McKenzie, officiating deputy commissioner, Ellichpur District, to the commissioner, East Berar. Reprinted in “Papers Relating to the Consumption of Ganja,” 21. 44.  Letter No. 92-­A, dated April 20, 1872 from C. A. Elliot, secretary to government, North Western Provinces, to the secretary to the government of India, Department of Agriculture, Revenue and Commerce. Reprinted in “Papers Relating to the Consumption of Ganja,” 18–­19. 45. Letter No. 1471, dated November 30, 1872, from H. S. Thomas, collector of South Canara, to the secretary to the board of revenue, Madras. Reprinted in “Papers Relating to the Consumption of Ganja,” 35–­36. 46.  Letter No. 2953–­105, dated August 19, 1872, Lindsay Neill, officiating secretary to the chief commissioner, Central Provinces, to the secretary to the government of India, Department of Agriculture, Revenue, and Commerce. Reprinted in “Papers Relating to the Consumption of Ganja,” 11. 47.  More research would be needed in order to press this claim, but it seems to be no coincidence that Bengal and the Central Provinces were among the first in India to extend systems for directly taxing alcohol into the mofussil and also the first to restrict cannabis drug production—­in both cases this latter development followed shortly after the former. 48.  Letter No. 2953–­105, dated August 19, 1872, Lindsay Neill, officiating secretary to the chief commissioner, Central Provinces, to the secretary to the government of India, Department of Agriculture, Revenue, and Commerce. Reprinted in “Papers Relating to the Consumption of Ganja,” 11. 49.  Letter No. 2953–­105, dated August 19, 1872. 50.  Resolution by the Government of India, Financial Department, No. 3773, dated December 17, 1873.


Peter Hynd

51.  Resolution by the Government of India, dated December 17, 1873. 52. Modern day Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, plus parts of Odisha, Kerala, and Karnataka. 53.  Resolution by the Government of India, dated December 17, 1873. 54. IOR/V/24/1090, Report on the Administration of the Abkari Revenue in the Presidency of Fort St. George (Madras: Printed by the Superintendent, Government Press, 1890), 52. 55. IOR/V/24/1092, Report on the Administration of the Abkari Revenue in the Presidency of Fort. St. George for the Year 1899–­1900 (Madras: Printed by the Superintendent, Government Press, 1900), 39. 56. IOR/V/24/1092, Report on the Administration of the Abkari Revenue in the Presidency of Fort. St. George for the Year 1899–­1900, 39. 57. IOR/V/24/1092, Report on the Administration of the Abkari Revenue in the Presidency of Fort. St. George for the Year 1899–­1900, 39. 58. IOR/V/24/1092, Report on the Administration of the Abkari Revenue in the Presidency of Fort. St. George for the Year 1899–­1900, 40; and IOR/V/24/92, Report on the Administration of the Abkari Revenue in the Presidency of Fort St. George for the Year 1909–­10 (Madras: Printed by the Superintendent. Government Press, 1910), 20. 59.  Parts of modern day Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Karnatika in India, plus Sindh Province in Pakistan. 60. IOR/V/24/1098, Report on the Administration of the Abkari Department of the Bombay Presidency (Exclusive of Sind) for the Revenue Year 1879–­80 (Bombay: Printed at the Government Central Press, 1881), 27. 61. IOR/V/24/1098, Report on the Administration of the Abkari Department of the Bombay Presidency (Exclusive of Sind) for the Revenue Year 1879–­80, 28. 62.  Letter No. 108, dated January 11, 1872, from L. Reid, commissioner of customs, Bombay, to the chief secretary to the government of Bombay. Reprinted in “Papers Relating to the Consumption of Ganja.” 63. IOR/V/24/1100, Reports on the Administration of the Abkari Department in the Bombay Presidency, Sind, and Aden for the Revenue Year 1891–­92 (Bombay: Printed at the Government Central Press, 1893), 6. 64. IOR/V/24/1100, Reports on the Administration of the Abkari Department in the Bombay Presidency, Sind, and Aden for the Revenue Year 1891–­92, 27. 65. IOR/V/24/1100, Reports on the Administration of the Abkari Department in the Bombay Presidency, Sind, and Aden for the Revenue Year 1891–­92, 27. 66. IOR/V/24/1099–­1101. Revenue statistics derived from Bombay presidency annual excise reports for the relevant years.

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67.  Reports on the Administration of the Abkari Department in the Bombay Presidency, Sind, and Aden for the Revenue Year 1901–­02 (Bombay: Printed at the Government Central Press, 1902), 3. 68. IOR/V/24/1100, Reports on the Administration of the Abkari Department in the Bombay Presidency, Sind, and Aden for the Revenue Year 1904–­05 (Bombay: Printed at the Government Central Press, 1905), 11. 69. IOR/V/24/1100, Reports on the Administration of the Abkari Department in the Bombay Presidency, Sind, and Aden for the Revenue Year 1904–­05, 15.

3  Ganja Madness: Cannabis, Insanity, and Indentured Labor in British Guiana and Trinidad, 1881–­1912 Jamie Banks

In 1882, Dr. Charles Pasley, the acting surgeon general of Trinidad, was called to the San Fernando police station. Asked to see to an unruly Indian prisoner, Pasley arrived to find that the man “had stripped himself quite naked,” “was dancing about the cell,” and was “singing and shouting at the top of his voice.”1 Pasley would later attribute these actions to the consumption of cannabis, describing aforementioned case as one of “acute ganjah poisoning . . . ​by no means rare” among the inmates of the colony’s lunatic asylum.2 A year later, Dr. Robert Grieve, the superintendent of the Berbice lunatic asylum, drew attention to a similar, albeit more dramatic, incident in British Guiana. Commenting upon the case of an Indian laborer charged with murder, Grieve suggested that the crime had followed a period of marital estrangement in which the man had taken “to excessive ganje smoking.”3 While under the influence of the drug, Grieve suggested the man had armed himself with a “cutlass” and sought his spouse but, meeting their child first, “killed it on the spot.”4 On the surface, both vignettes describe episodes of irrational or violent behavior, followed by periods of mental derangement, which observers ultimately attributed to the consumption of Cannabis sativa. However, they also betrayed the professional and racialized biases of these same observers, as well as wider colonial concerns about disorder among the laboring population of British Guiana and Trinidad. In short, then, they described what is referred to here as “ganja madness”—­a nebulous constellation of intersecting forms of colonial medical knowledge, latent social and racial anxieties, colonial political agendas, and religious beliefs.5 Cases such as those described above had, in fact, been observed in India since the 1840s, with some of the earliest published observations being made by William O’Shaughnessy.6 Just over a decade later, reports such as those on the Dacca


Jamie Banks

insane asylum would in turn suggest that “one third” of patients “had been rendered insane by the pernicious use of ganja.”7 While the cases observed above were not in and of themselves unique, then, what makes them notable is that they were observed among Indians working within the British Caribbean. Consequently, the cases detailed by Grieve and Pasley exemplified the ways in which mass movements of people across the British Empire promoted the simultaneous circulation of nominally medical ideas. Historians such as Jim Mills and Utathya Chattopadhyaya have previously noted how Indian indentured migration facilitated the spread of “cannabis consumption cultures” to new markets across the empire.8 The cases described above, however, demonstrate how this same migration also created other forms of connection between parts of the empire, through the networks created by the circulation of colonial medical knowledge.9 These cases also demonstrate that the development and implementation of this medical knowledge was rarely, if ever, simply the product of impartial observation, knowledge, and/or expertise. Instead, the ways in which this mass of intersecting ideas about cannabis and madness were developed and later utilized was often the product of other, nonmedical concerns. Consequently, this chapter argues that in order to understand ganja madness, as it emerged in British Guiana and Trinidad, one must also understand the social and political context of its emergence, its evolution in similar, albeit different colonial contexts, and the eventual uses to which this knowledge were later put. British Guiana and Trinidad were two of the foremost British sugar colonies of the nineteenth century, in which concerns about cannabis use emerged as an unintended consequence of Indian indentured migration. Following emancipation, the period from 1834 to 1919 saw the introduction of 1.27 million Indian immigrants to colonies across the British Empire.10 Of this number, 238,909 arrived in British Guiana between 1838 and 1918, with a further 143,939 arriving in Trinidad in the same period, making these colonies the third and fifth largest recipients of Indian immigrants respectively.11 Other recipients of Indian indentured laborers discussed in this chapter included Mauritius, which received 455,187 migrants, and Jamaica, which received just 36,412.12 In all these cases Indian immigrants were introduced in the place of formerly enslaved Africans in order to provide sugar planters with an alternative to now free black labor. Indian indentured laborers were also, however, in tea gardens in Assam, as well as on Caribbean coffee, cocoa, banana, and coconut plantations.13

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For the most part, the contribution of Indian migrants to these colonies has primarily been understood in relation to their importance as labor. This reflects the narrow social, economic, and political contexts in which the lives of indentured laborers have tended to be studied.14 What this fact belies is that Indian migrants also introduced a range of new cultural practices to their host societies, not least amongst these being the consumption of cannabis. As most studies now contend, Indian migrants were likely the first to introduce cannabis to the Caribbean.15 They also introduced what Vera Rubin and Lambros Comitas termed the “ganja complex,” the accompanying techniques, lexicon, and justificatory ideology of cannabis consumption.16 Over time, a rise in inter-­and intraethnic violence, mental illness, and general social disorder among Indian immigrants resulted in consorted efforts to find their cause, resulting in the singling out of habits such as cannabis consumption. This, in turn, abetted the emergence of ideas such as ganja madness as a means to understand and pathologize the alleged causes of such behaviors. In order to understand the emergence and circulation of ganja madness across the British Empire, the chapter begins with an examination of the observations of Dr. Robert Grieve and his counterpart in Trinidad, Dr. George Seccombe. While both men’s ideas had much in common, I argue that they ultimately sought to put those ideas to different ends. I also demonstrate that the reception of their concerns varied greatly within their two respective colonies, a fact that attests to the importance of contextual factors in shaping the implementation of this knowledge.17 The next section considers parallel responses to Indian cannabis use in Jamaica and Mauritius, further demonstrating how nonmedical factors influenced the scope, scale, and nature of reactions to concerns about the psychological effects of cannabis. The chapter then concludes by exploring the various ways in which knowledge about ganja madness was utilized for means that had little to do with the health of Indian migrants. Ganja Madness in British Guiana and Trinidad Despite the close relationship between Indian immigrants and cannabis, medical concerns about the psychological effects of cannabis were rarely expressed during the first four decades of indentured immigration. During the recruitment process, for instance, emigration agents, who were appointed


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to oversee the selection of immigrants, generally sought to exclude cannabis smokers for reasons that had little to do with the presumed relationship between the drug and insanity. Instead, this exclusion reflected the belief that cannabis users were unsuited for agricultural labor and thus made for undesirable immigrants. Consequently, emigration officials such as Mr. A. Rodger warned passengers embarking the Eliza Stewart that they would be “severely punished” if found in possession of “opium or gunja.”18 Similarly, instructions issued Henry Firth, in 1880, ordered that all “opium-­eaters . . . ​ and ganja-­smokers” were to be excluded, alongside other “undesirable emigrants” such as “Fakeers, Brahmins, [and] Kyeths.”19 Surgeon superintendents, charged with tending to the health of emigrants once at sea, also rarely made reference to the symptoms of cannabis use. Indeed, only one case of insanity was attributed to cannabis in the records consulted; that instance being enclosed in the surgeon’s report on the voyage

British Colonies in the Caribbean, 1895 HAITI DOMINICAN REPUBLIC JAMAICA




Figure 3.1 Map showing the colonies of British Guiana, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago, 1895.

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of the Allanshaw in 1885.20 Instead, the responses of surgeon superintendents, and other crew members, suggest ambiguity and contestation in attitudes toward Indian cannabis consumption. Surgeons such as John Dyer, for example, who oversaw the voyage of the Sydenham in 1861, noted that about “one quarter of the number” in his charge consumed “gunja.”21 Similarly, Dr. William Pearse indicated that during his superintendence of the Oasis, in 1866, “Indian hemp and opium were given to all who had been in the habit of using them.”22 Others, however, proved far more authoritarian. Upon the arrival of the John Allen in Trinidad in 1873, controversy erupted following suggestions that a passenger had been flogged for smoking cannabis.23 It was later discovered that an emigrant had been beaten for smoking tobacco, but the surgeon was nevertheless admonished.24 Similarly, during the disastrous voyage of the Clasmerden to British Guiana, Wilson Cato, the vessel’s captain, noted that he had locked “a coolie in hospital 36 hours without food for being caught smoking ganja.”25 This lack of an initially decided stance toward Indian cannabis use eventually crystalized into a firm disquiet about the alleged consequences of drug. The gradual buildup of these concerns was, in turn, directly correlated to the growing presence of Indians in Caribbean society. By 1881, the Indian population of Trinidad and British Guiana had grown to 36,020 and 79,929, respectively. This represented 23.5 percent of Trinidad’s population and 31.6 percent of British Guiana’s.26 Although the majority of Indians still spent much of their time on sugar estates, the growing size of this population made its habits and customs increasingly susceptible to the colony gaze and thus catalyzed the first concerns about the effects of cannabis smoking. In 1882, for instance, Dr. Robert Grieve stated that 70 percent of East Indian men admitted to the Berbice asylum “are found to be addicted to ganje.”27 Grieve’s comments also drew the support of other colonial officials, most notably the protector of immigrants, who stressed that “here, as in India, it [cannabis] largely influences . . . ​admission to the Lunatic Asylum.”28 Similar comments were also made in Trinidad, following allegations of widespread alcoholic intemperance.29 Responding to enquiries ordered by Governor Stanford Freeling, following the parallel discovery of excessive cannabis use, Dr. Charles Pasley suggested that the drug resulted in “homicidal mania and other forms of madness” among the Indian population.30 Such sentiments were also later echoed by Dr. George Seccombe, the superintendent of the Belmont lunatic asylum, who implored the government to


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“remove one of the chief causes of insanity amongst the Coolies” by regulating the cultivation of cannabis.31 Colonial concerns about cannabis were thus not reducible to an initial, predetermined reaction toward Indian habits and customs and instead reflected a nascent anxiety about the increasing visibility of Indian habits in Caribbean society. Dr. Grieve + Dr. Seccombe = ?? Both Grieve and Seccombe had much in common, conceiving of the effects of cannabis within explicitly racialized connotations of both cannabis and the Indian body. This was most apparent in their efforts to delineate ganja madness as a primarily Indian disorder, resulting in both men using Indian political debates to lend credibility to their medical observations. Suggesting that cannabis was “the most prolific source of lunacy” in British Guiana, for example, Grieve referred directly to the lieutenant governor of Bengal’s suggestion that “30% of the lunacy in the province was the result of cannabis use.”32 Similarly, in arguing that “ganja smoking” was a “most prolific cause of insanity” in Trinidad, Seccombe held that cannabis was also frequently the cause of violence in “Bengal and the North West Provinces.”33 Grieve and Seccombe also both characterized the use of cannabis and its effects as somehow particularly Indian. In offering an evaluation of the relationship between intoxicant use and admissions to the Berbice asylum, for instance, Grieve noted that “ganje” was the chief cause among East Indians. “In other classes of the people,” however, Grieve noted that the chief cause was overwhelmingly “drink.”34 Such delineation was also evident in Seccombe’s comments, following the introduction of Ordinance No. 13 in 1885. Imposing heavy license duties on the cultivation of cannabis, Secombe praised Ordinance No. 13 for its effect on Indian admissions to the asylum.35 Representing 44 percent of the asylum population in 1883, Seccombe’s suggested that, following the ordinance, the Indian population at Belmont dropped to just 22 percent by 1887.36 Finally, both men’s contentions shared a set of racialized assumptions concerning the predisposition of Indians toward violent, disruptive, and self-­destructive tendencies. In consequence, Grieve and Seccombe seemingly understood the effects of cannabis as an accentuation of more base Indian “racial characteristics,” augmented through the consumption of the

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drug. Grieve’s writings were particularly clear on this point, noting that just as “the malays resort to bhang” before committing acts of violence, cannabis also served as a form of “Dutch Courage” among the Indian population.37 Seccombe’s comments were less transparent, but his repeated references to violence in Bengal suggest that he shared similar beliefs. Such associations also reflected earlier observations made in India. In enquiries conducted during an 1871 investigation into cannabis use, for instance, authorities in Hyderabad noted that “when a man ‘runs amuck’ or a female commits ‘suttee’ [female suicidal immolation],” cannabis was taken in some form before the act.38 To some extent then, colonial concerns about the effects of cannabis also reflected broader imperial, medical, and racialized understandings of the innately violent nature of the Indian body. Despite some commonalities, Grieve and Seccombe’s specific formulations and approaches toward cannabis related mental illness ultimately proved quite different. Most notably, Grieve advanced a relatively sophisticated, taxonomic understanding of the effects of cannabis, which he termed “cannabism.”39 Proposing three distinctive stages of the condition, Grieve argued that cannabism progressed from a sporadic, to a chronic, and finally a “demented” state of mental derangement.40 Grieve was also explicit about the relationship between violence and cannabism, noting that “a fit of excitement,” evidenced in the first stage of the condition, was swiftly followed by “quarrelsomeness” and “violence.”41 To some extent, the advancement of cannabism by Grieve clearly represented an attempt to postulate a conceptual framework to understand, quantify, and treat the perceived effects of cannabis consumption. Within the specific context of British Guiana, however, Grieve’s efforts likely also constituted a broader encouragement of a more interventionist policy on the part of the colonial government. This fits with the broader aims of the Asylum Journal, which, as Leonard Smith notes, was used by Grieve to highlight and petition for governmental action concerning the “wider medical and public health issues in the colony.”42 Given that concerns about cannabis use in India had only just begun to attract significant medical attention in the 1880s, and given that Grieve was the first to extensively comment on Indian cannabis use in British Guiana, the formulation of cannabism likely also represented a self-­conscious effort on Grieve’s part to position himself as an expert in the emerging field of psychiatry.


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Writing in the Asylum Journal, Grieve recorded several cases of cannabism to justify his pathology. One such case was that of “B., an East Indian aged 45,” admitted to the asylum for “recklessly and violently” assaulting others after smoking cannabis.43 “The excitement” under which B. labored “soon passed off” and, according to Grieve, B. promptly left the asylum.44 Grieve also recorded the contrasting case of “M. aged 23,” who was admitted to the asylum for an “excessive irritability of temper.” In notes concerning his referral, M.’s illness was noted as resulting from “ganje smoking,” and Grieve diagnosed him as suffering from the final, “demented” stage of “cannabism.”45 Of note, however, are the inconsiderable differences in the symptoms showcased by both B. and M. These included irritability, violent conduction, and irrational behavior but little else. In fact, the only real difference between the two cases was that B. made a swift recovery, while M. was permanently confined in the asylum.46 To some extent then, it seems that cannabism represented less an effort to understand and treat the perceived consequences of cannabis consumption than a way to rationalize the violent and antisocial behaviors of the colony’s male, Indian population. As noted above, violent and disruptive behaviors were frequently associated with cannabis consumption, and thus it seems that casting blame upon Indian cultural habits provided a simple explanation for reactions to the broader social and cultural challenges faced by Indian immigrants.47 Unlike Grieve, Seccombe ventured few explanations about the possible pathology of the effects of cannabis consumption. He merely contended, with great fervor, that cannabis use was the chief cause of insanity among Indians in Trinidad. In consequence, Seccombe also spent his career petitioning for the maintenance of cannabis regulation. In his annual report for 1890, for instance, Grieve offered his continued support of Ordinance No. 13 of 1885, noting that “the percentage of admissions . . . ​keeps much below what it was.”48 The apparent success of Ordinance No. 13 in curtailing Indian admissions also led Seccombe to elsewhere express his hope that “nothing will be done to relax its provisions and impair its usefulness.”49 The faith which Seccombe continued to place in the need to restrict cannabis use was also apparent even after the repeal of prohibition in 1899, evident in his suggestion that repeal had resulted in “an increase of admission from this cause [which was] most marked during the present year.”50 These differences also reflected a broader divergence in Grieve’s and Seccombe’s intentions. On the surface, of course, both men’s objectives seemed

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to have much in common—­both being based upon observations emerging from their quotidian duties as superintendents of lunatic asylums. Look a little deeper, however, and it is apparent that Grieve hoped his comments would reach far beyond the colony. Grieve’s comments were not drawn from official reports, for example, but rather from a special publication, the Asylum Journal, which he had commissioned. The intent of this publication, as noted by Letizia Gramaglia, was to formulate a “new means of communication with the outside world,” a reflection of Grieve’s sense of isolation at Berbice.51 Grieve’s creation of a taxonomy for cannabism was also far in excess of his role as the superintendent of a lunatic asylum. Consequently, Seccombe’s comments are perhaps best understood as those of a diligent, if curmudgeonly, colonial medical officer, while Grieve’s those of a man intent on influencing broader medical opinions concerning the diagnosis and treatment of an emerging psychiatric condition. Of course, the ways in which contextual factors interacted with both Grieve and Seccombe’s ideas were also dissimilar and came to exert an important influence over the reception of their ideas. In British Guiana, Grieve’s comments were met with a less than an enthusiastic response from the government. This reflected, as historian Peter Hanoomansingh notes, a general lack of concern about “ganja in British Guiana.”52 In fact, the only concerted effort to control cannabis in British Guiana was Ordinance No. 22 of 1861, thereby placing the sale of ganja and bhang under license. The primary purpose of this ordinance, however, was to address parallel concerns about opium use among Chinese immigrants.53 In consequence, Hanoomansingh describes Ordinance No. 22 as an anticipatory, rather than reactive measure, intended to mitigate against cannabis use before it had become to be seen as problematic.54 As to why Grieve’s comments failed to garner much attention, one key consideration is that cannabis was not widely cultivated in British Guiana. Although Indian cannabis use proved a mounting concern for Guianese officials, poor quality soils meant that cannabis was primarily an import commodity and thus susceptible to control under excise laws.55 Grieve’s concerns about cannabis were also unprecedented in earlier medical opinions. Five years before Grieve’s tenure at the asylum, for instance, Dr. James Donald, Grieve’s predecessor, had published a pithy article on lunacy in British Guiana. In it, Donald had made no mentioned to cannabis and had merely noted a parallel but unsubstantiated link between opium


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consumption and epilepsy.56 While Grieve’s heightened interest in cannabis might have been an indirect product of a sizable increase in the colony’s Indian population, which rose from 48,363 to 79,929 people from 1871 to 1881, it seems strange that Donald did not also mention an increase in admissions resulting from cannabis use.57 Instead, it seems Grieve’s observations were perhaps a conscious effort to pursue cannabis as a subject of enquiry rather than an ad hoc response to demographic changes in the asylum, and by extension colonial, population. Unlike Grieve, Seccombe proved far more successful in mobilizing political opinion in Trinidad. A staunch supporter of Ordinance No. 13 of 1885, Seccombe also played a pivotal role in the introduction of the ordinance. In a letter forwarded to the surgeon general, for example, Seccombe indicated his prior recommendations, which he alleged led to “the present Ganja Ordinance.”58 As to why Seccombe was more successful than Grieve, his concerns, for one, had precedent in the comments of Dr. Charles Pasley. In his consultations with Governor Freeling, Pasley, like Seccombe, was highly critical of Indian cannabis use and was adamant about the effects of the drug, suggesting its consumption led to “a maddening intoxication with homicidal or even suicidal tendencies.”59 In consequence, Seccombe was merely echoing what other, more senior officials has already cautioned the government about. Pasley and Seccombe’s concerns also, perhaps more importantly, coalesced with some of the practical challenges faced by officials in Trinidad. For one, cannabis was abundantly cultivated across Trinidad, particularly in Cedros, making it difficult for officials to limit Indian access to domestically cultivated cannabis.60 Secondly, the close proximity of Trinidad to Venezuela—­ and the smuggling that went on between the two countries—­ proved a continual point of consternation for officials. Following the introduction of prohibition in 1894, for example, George Lewis Garcia, the attorney general, noted that “an enormous smuggling trade [in cannabis] was formerly carried on with Venezuela.”61 The success of Seccombe’s campaign to regulate cannabis was thus more than just the product of the soundness of his contentions about the medical relationship between cannabis and insanity. Instead, their success also represented a neat coalescence with latent political and spatial anxieties in Trinidad, as well as their established precedence in light of the comments of men such as Pasley.

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Ganja Madness in Mauritius and Jamaica Like in British Guiana and Trinidad, officials in a number of other British colonies also expressed their concerns about the consequences of Indian cannabis consumption. As in the former cases, this emergence was explicitly linked to Indian indentured immigration, with other examples including Mauritius, Jamaica, Natal, and Fiji.62 Once again, what became of these ideas as they moved around and between these locations was very much the production of factors quite separate from just emergent medical knowledge about the alleged effects of cannabis consumption. In Jamaica, for instance, medical proponents were the first to voice disquiet about cannabis use, but it is not until this concern was galvanized by religious groups, such as the Council of Evangelic Churches, that these concerns were taken seriously. Similarly, in Mauritius, these discussions were shaped by a divisive split in key medical opinions and encouraged by the forceful suggestions of bureaucrats in the Colonial Office. The cases of Jamaica and Mauritius thus further illustrate the fact that the emergence and implementation of knowledge about cannabis reflected much more than just the development of medical knowledge about the effects of the drug. The history of cannabis in nineteenth-­ century Jamaica is surprisingly spotty. According to Rubin and Comitas, the first assault attributed to cannabis use was recorded in 1872. This was followed by the first implicit reference to ganja madness in 1883, when the annual report of the Kingston lunatic asylum recorded the admission of one patient due to “gonja smoking.”63 Little came of this initial reference observation, however, with subsequent reports for the years 1891 and 1907 recording just one further admission attributed to cannabis.64 This was followed by four admissions in 1907–­1908 and a further two admissions in 1909–­1910.65 The infrequency of admissions, as well as a general lack of perceivable concern about cannabis likely reflected Jamaica’s far smaller Indian population, which Seccombe had noted in reference to parallel concerns about the management of cannabis in Trinidad.66 Observers did, however, later draw attention to Indian cannabis use. In 1893, for instance, Dr. Dennis W. D. Comins, on special assignment as the acting protector of emigrants for Bengal, noted that “ganja is sometimes the cause of lunacy” in Jamaica.67 Such observations in turn foreshadowed later calls to prohibit cannabis, as marshalled by the Council of


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Evangelical Churches. The motion, presented to the legislative assembly on the council’s behalf, was outvoted in government but its essence nevertheless quickly found the support of the superintendent of the Kingston asylum, Dr. D. J. Williams. In his report for 1912, for example, Williams noted a slight increase in admissions, compared to the prior year, and argued that “ganja smoking is spreading among the natives of the island.”68 Similarly, a lengthy editorial published in the Daily Gleaner also emphasized the problematic nature of cannabis in Jamaica, suggesting the cannabis smokers tended to act like “raving maniac[s].” This, argued the Daily Gleaner, was a condition discernible by “wild gesticulations,” “flashing eyes and quivering nerves” in otherwise “amiable, inoffensive East Indians.”69 To some extent, then, concerns about ganja madness were slightly different in Jamaica. Petitions to regulate cannabis were led by moral, rather than medical, opinions and there was no medical proponent as visible as either Grieve or Seccombe. The Jamaican case nevertheless bore some more basic similarities to British Guiana and Trinidad, such as in the stereotypical descriptions of cannabis consumers and the effects of consumption. As in Trinidad, concerns about ganja madness also led to affirmative legislative actions, in discussions concerning the parallel Jamaican Opium Law of 1913. During the bill’s second reading, one member of the council questioned the government’s concern with opium when “they had in their midst a most pernicious habit, viz., ganja smoking.” This was a habit, the member argued, that “was making criminals and filling the Lunatic Asylum.”70 The result of these concerns was, in turn, the colony’s first measures to control cannabis consumption. Jamaica thus had more in common with British Guiana and Trinidad than one might think, despite the more circumscribed nature of these conversations. In Mauritius, meanwhile, concerns about cannabis followed shortly after the repeal of some forty years of prohibition. This prohibition, which was introduced under Ordinance No. 2 of 1840, reflected contemporary concerns about the use of cannabis in robberies.71 The legislation was later augmented, for the same reason, in 1848, with measures to further restrict the possession of “gandia” and other “poisons” such as stramonium.72 The ineffectuality of these laws, though, were not lost on Etienne Pellereau, the colony’s procureur general. Following the failure of a vote to repeal prohibition in 1882, Pellereau despaired that the law was “manifestly inoperative.”73 To prove his point, Pellereau sent a messenger to Port Louis, Mauritius’ capital,

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and within fifteen minutes he returned, producing “a handful of the article which was divided among the members of the Committee.”74 Point proven, the importation, sale, and possession of cannabis was legalized in Mauritius shortly thereafter, under Ordinance No. 25 of 1883.75 It was not long after this relegalization of cannabis that concerns about ganja madness first began to emerge. Unlike in British Guiana and Trinidad, however, these were expressed by the Colonial Office. In particular, a Mr. A. A. Pearson, a Colonial Office clerk, noted an apparent increase in admissions to the Beau Bassin asylum in preceding years, leading him to speculate that these increases were likely due to “preventable causes,” such as “drinking” and “gunjah.”76 In response, another, unnamed clerk also noted some discrepancy in medical opinions concerning cannabis in Mauritius. Noting that Dr. Monty, the current superintendent of the lunatic asylum, denied that cannabis caused insanity, the clerk indicated that Dr. Davidson, Monty’s predecessor, had formerly given “a strong opinion on the other hand in 1890.”77 These divisions in opinion concerning cannabis in Mauritius only continued. In 1893, for instance, Governor Jerningham forwarded a petition to the Colonial Office drafted by the Board of Commissioners in Lunacy, in which the board requested that “the importation of gandia . . . ​be prohibited.”78 Jerningham’s dispatch also enclosed several contrasting reports prepared by Dr. Monty. These stated that Indian admission rates had in fact decreased since the repeal of prohibition.79 Dr. Monty’s earlier annual report, as superintendent of the asylum, also disparaged claims that recent increases were related to an upsurge in cannabis use. Instead, Monty argued that these were related to “drink and misery,” and “rested with the general,” rather than Indian, population.80 Even at this point, then, debates about ganja madness in Mauritius appeared quite different from those in Trinidad and Guiana. The chief proponent of these concerns was not the colony’s superintendent, after all, but the Board of Commissioners in Lunacy and, by extension, the Colonial Office. The case made by the commissioners was also quite different to Grieve or Seccombe’s, being based on statistical returns rather than a qualitative appraisal of the effects of cannabis use as observed within the colony’s asylum. In fact, the board’s calls for re-­prohibition rode solely on the fact that had been just three admissions relating to cannabis occurred in 1885 (3.2 percent of all Indian admissions for that year), while there were twelve admissions in 1891 and 1892 (representing 19 percent of Indian admissions for both years).81


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These debates finally came to a head in 1894, as a result of extraordinary reports forwarded by Governor Jerningham to the Colonial Office. These included specially prepared comments from the protector of immigrants, the inspector of police, and the chief medical officer. In total, however, these reports contained but one reference to violence and cannabis; this being contained in the report of Dr. Bolton, the former medical officer to the Immigration Department. Even more surprisingly, given all the fracas about the matter, Bolton contended that he had never heard of “any act of frantic violence or any crime which could be traced” to the use of cannabis.82 He also added that he had never seen “a case of insanity that was caused through the use of gandia.”83 Bolton’s views were moreover shared by Dr. Chastellier, the colony’s chief medical officer, whose report noted that, in his nearly thirty years of experience, he had never encountered “a single case of lunacy having been caused by the use of gunjah.”84 Rather, he underlined that a great degree of unreliability persisted in cannabis-­related admissions statistics; evidence of one’s mental derangement usually being nothing more than a statement from police, attesting that “such and such a man was addicted to gunjah.”85 Why then did concerns about cannabis attract such attention in Mauritius, given the resounding opinions to the contrary in these reports? Some blame must, of course, be accorded to the observations of the Commissioners in Lunacy, whose statistical observations resulted in dramatic calls to reintroduce prohibition. A greater degree of responsibility must also, however, be afforded to the Colonial Office, for its proactive encouragement of legislative changes in Mauritius. Such calls seemed to follow parallel developments in Trinidad, suggesting a desire that Mauritius follow the example of other colonies. Following failed efforts to legalize cannabis in 1883, for example, Colonial Office minutes relating to Trinidad suggested that Mauritius might “assimilate” its policies to those “of India, which imposed heavy duties on Gunjah.”86 Similarly, the success of prohibition in Trinidad in 1894 led to further minutes suggesting that Mauritius should also “prohibit cannabis absolutely.”87 Consequently, the proactive approach adopted by the Colonial Office seems to have made concerns appear far greater than they actually were in Mauritius.

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The Recirculation of Colonial Ideas In addition to the dispersal of these ideas to far-­ flung colonies, colonial concerns about the relationship between cannabis and mental illness were also circulated back into parallel conversations about the drug in India. This recirculation was indicative of both the complex relationships between the colonial and the imperial dimensions of these discussions and the fact that these debates were about more than just disinterestedly improving the health of Indian immigrants across the British Empire. Instead, these debates illustrate the various other, nonmedically-­related purposes that this body of knowledge was put to. The most significant example of this recirculation was the discussion of British Guiana and Trinidad in the proceedings of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission (hereafter the IHDC) of 1893. Representing a sweeping investigation into the cultivation, sale, and used of cannabis in India, Shamir and Hacker have noted that one of the chief matters discussed by the commission was the relationship between cannabis and insanity, prompted “by strong popular beliefs” and “statistical data furnished by India’s asylums.”88 Despite palpable medical concerns in India, however, the IHDC’s findings ultimately disparaged claims that cannabis was generally a cause of insanity.89 Unfortunately for Trinidad, the primary topic discussed during the IHDC’s report was the lack of clarity surrounding the colony’s cannabis policy. These discussions focused on Ordinance No. 13 of 1885 and, more specifically, the contradicting opinions as to whether the ordinance was intended as a restrictive measure. On the one hand, the IHDC cited the opinion of Dr. Thomas Ireland, a former medical practitioner in British Guiana, who suggested that “hemp drugs are prohibited” in Trinidad.90 The findings of Natal’s Wragg Commission of 1891 were also cited, the report similarly suggesting that cannabis was prohibited in Trinidad.91 On the other hand, the IHDC noted the contradictory comments of Dr. Comins, who suggested that, “I do not know what the laws in force here are regarding the sale of opium and ganja.”92 In truth, of course, neither position was completely correct; the intention of Ordinance No. 13 being effectively, rather than actually prohibitive, through the imposition of license fees upon cultivation. Little attention however, was paid concerning whether this prohibition was warranted or if cannabis was, in fact, a chief cause of mental illness among Indian communities. Instead, the colonial policy of


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Trinidad, as well as Egypt, were seemingly only referenced in a bid to situate Indian legislative considerations within interrelated colonial ones.93 The final report of the IDHC is also indicative of some of the other ways in which colonial discussions about “ganja madness” were fed back into broader discussion about the condition of the Indian population abroad. Take, for example, the aforementioned reports of Dr. Dennis W. D. Comins. Compiled as Notes of Emigration, respecting the condition of the Indian population in British Guiana, Trinidad, Jamaica, and St. Lucia, Comins’s reports for the former two colonies offered extensive discussions about intoxicant use. These reports also included Comins’s reflections, as the former superintendent of Bengal lunatic asylum, on the relationship between Indian cannabis use and insanity. After visiting British Guiana, for instance, Comins’s report noted that cannabis was “more frequently the cause of lunacy” than of crime in the colony.94 Similarly, for Trinidad, Comins offered a lengthy discussion on the matter at the behest of the colony’s governor. In said discussion, Comins argued that the “prolonged use of ganja . . . ​has a most deleterious effect on the mental qualities, and will eventually induce madness.”95 Comins also approved of Dr. Seccombe’s reference to Indian asylum statistics, effectively “rubber-­stamping” Seccombe’s search for legitimacy in referencing Indian debates.96 Thus, though by no means as far-­reaching as the IDHC, Comins’s reports serve as a further example of how colonial concerns were fed back into imperial discussions. These, in turn, formed part of a broader effort to ascertain the condition of each colony’s Indian population, illustrating how this colonial knowledge had been repurposed for other ends which, in the first instance, have little to do with the initial purpose of Comins’s reports. Outside of strictly official channels, the IHDC’s report also indicated how discussions about the veracity of diagnoses such as “Hemp Induced Insanity,” devolved into “point-­ scoring” between medical practitioners. One particular incident, referred to directly in the IHDC’s final report, involved a “recent controversy between Dr. Ireland and ‘Pyramid’ in the British Medical Journal.”97 Shortly before the IHDC’s investigations, Ireland had co-­published an article in the Alienist & Neurologist, in which he argued that “Indian Hemp act[ed] powerfully on the brain and spinal cord” and, over time, “inevitably produce[d] some form of mental disorder.”98 These comments, as well as those made by Ireland before the British Medical Association, resulted in a heated debated between Ireland and “Pyramid” in the British Medical Journal.

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At the heart of Pyramid’s contentions was the view that Ireland’s sweeping claims about, cannabis and insanity, were baseless in reference to Egypt. Drawing upon a stated seven-­year residency at the lunatic asylum in Cairo, Pyramid was adamant that there was “no country in the world where lunacy is so rare as in Egypt.” This was despite the fact that the use of cannabis was “almost universal” there.99 In subsequent correspondence, Pyramid also stressed that while “Churrus [cannabis resin or hashish] or bhang may be the cause of much noisy behavior” in India, this was not the case for “haschisch in Egypt.”100 In response, Ireland insisted there was no doubt about the “pernicious effects [of cannabis] in British Guiana and the West Indies” and maintained that “‘Pyramid’ may easily get more testimony than mine.”101 Like Grieve and Seccombe before him, Ireland also appealed to the Indian cannabis debates for legitimacy. In particular, Ireland underlined how numerous government reports indicated that cannabis was “by far the most common cause of insanity in the asylums of the Bengal Presidency.”102 Despite having all the makings of a petty, forgettable squabble, Pyramid and Ireland’s disagreement proved to be a centerpiece of the IHDC’s final report. The commissioners were, admittedly, unable to arrive at any opinion regarding the “recent controversy,” but nevertheless lent Ireland’s opinion enough weight to reference it. The fact that Ireland and Pyramid argued about such matters at all also suggests that concerns about cannabis had acquired an importance beyond the confines of closed official reports, read solely by bureaucrats in Whitehall. Most importantly, however, the debate between Pyramid and Ireland indicated the clearly contextual nature of these discussions about cannabis and insanity. For while Ireland’s experiences in the Caribbean had cemented his contentions about the “pernicious effects of ganja,” Pyramid had stressed opinions firmly to the contrary in suggesting that the consumption of hashish in Egypt was essentially benign. That two trained medical officials could arrive at such different positions thus underscores the central contention of this chapter—­that observations and medical responses to the effects of cannabis were rarely, if ever, just a product of contemporary medical knowledge. Conclusion This chapter has contended that the fate of nominally medical ideas, in this case “ganja madness,” was rarely, if ever, simply the product of how


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“correct” or “accurate” the medical knowledge underpinning these ideas was. Instead, the case of ganja madness clearly illustrates that the formation and implementation of this knowledge was often contextual, reflecting a convergence of racial, political, religious, and social interests as well. This fact helps to explain why Grieve was essentially ignored, while Seccombe’s comments formed the basis of prohibition, both outcomes which reflected the broader political and geographical imperatives which coalesced around these ideas. This also proved true in Jamaica and Mauritius, cases that also emphasize the importance of contextual concerns in shaping, and reshaping, colonial ideas. Finally, the utilization of ganja madness—­to inform colonial legislation, indentured labor policy, and questions of medical consensus—­clearly illustrates how its proliferation had far more to do with its usefulness than its veracity. In consequence, ganja madness ought to be regarded as something more than an effort to simple pathologise the effects of cannabis; rather the creation and deployment of the concept provides a window into the competing concerns, anxieties, and prerogatives that constituted British colonialism and responses to Indian indentured migration. Notes 1. Annexure 4a. Report by the acting surgeon general, January 28, 1882, Trinidad; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 295/392, the National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom (hereafter TNA). 2.  Colonial sources refer to cannabis sativa by a variety of different names. The most commonly cited here is ganja, but sources also use ganje, ganjah, gandia, gonja, gunja, gunjah, and Indian hemp interchangeably. Report by the acting surgeon general, January 28, 1882, CO 295/392. 3.  Robert Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 2, 1883–­1886 ([Online]: Caribbean Press, 2010), 362, https://­caribbeanpress​.­org​/­caribbean​-­press​-­downloads​/­​. 4. Grieve, Asylum Journal, vol. 2, 1883–­1886, 363. 5.  For more on similar relationships in the parallel context of India, see James H. Mills, Madness, Cannabis, and Colonialism: The “Native Only” Lunatic Asylums of British India, 1857 to 1900 (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 2000): 69–­124. 6.  While best known for extolling the medicinal benefits of cannabis in the treatment of diseases such as cholera and tetanus, O’Shaughnessy also cautioned his readers of the “delirium occasioned by continued Hemp Inebriation,” a condition which he had observed among “young men who try it [cannabis] for the first time.”

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William B. O’Shaughnessy, “On the Preparations of the Indian Hemp, or Gunjah,” Provincial Medical Journal 123 (1843): 368. 7.  “Article III. Insanity in India,” Journal of Psychological Medicine and Mental Pathology 6, no. 23 (1853): 361. 8. James H. Mills, “‘Globalizing Ganja’: The British Empire and the International Cannabis Traffic, c. 1834–­c. 1939,” in Consuming Habits: Global and Historical Perspectives on How Cultures Define Drugs, 2nd ed., ed. Paul Lovejoy, Jordan Goodman, and Andrew Sheratt, (London: Routledge, 2007): 178; and Utathya Chattopadhyaya, “Dagga and Prohibition: Markets, Animals, and the Imperial Contexts of Knowledge, 1893–­1925,” South African Historical Journal 71, no. 4 (2019): 601. 9.  For more on imperial networks, see Alan Lester, “Imperial Circuits and Networks: Geographies of the British Empire,” History Compass 4, no. 1 (2006): 124–­141. 10. David Northrup, Indentured Labour in the Age of Imperialism, 1834–­1922 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995): 156–­157. 11.  Walton Look-­Lai, Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar: Chinese and Indian Migrants to the British West Indies, 1838–­1918 (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1993): 276. 12. Northrup, Indentured Labour, 156–­157; and Look-­Lai, Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar, 276. 13.  For more on tea, see: Rana P Behal, “Coolie Drivers or Benevolent Paternalists? British Tea Planters in Assam and the Indenture Labour System,” Modern Asian Studies 44, no. 1 (2010): 29–­51; and Jayeeta Sharma, “‘Lazy’ Natives, Coolie Labour, and the Assam Tea Industry,” Modern Asian Studies 43, no. 6 (2009): 1287–­1324. For more on the use of indentured labor in the production of other commodities, see: Crispin Bates, “Some Thoughts on the Representation and Misrepresentation of the Colonial South Asian Labour Diaspora,” South Asian Studies 33, no. 1 (2017): 7–­22; and John Soluri, “Bananas Before Plantations: Smallholders, Shippers, and Colonial Policy in Jamaica, 1870–­1910,” Iberoamericana 6, no. 23 (2006): 143–­159. 14. On the broad contours of, and current omissions from, the historiography of indentured migration see: Richard B. Allen, “Re-­Conceptualizing the ‘New System of Slavery,’” Man in India 92, no. 2 (2012): 225–­245. 15.  See, for instance, Barney Warf, “High Points: An Historical Geography of Cannabis,” Geographical Review 104, no. 4 (2014): 428; and Barry Chevannes, “Crime and Drug-­Related Issues in Jamaica,” Souls 3, no. 4 (2001): 32. 16.  Vera Rubin and Lambros Comitas, Ganja in Jamaica: The Effects of Marijuana Use (New York: Anchor Books, 1976): 37–­38. 17. For more on the ways in which particular colonial contexts shaped the treatment of the mentally ill, see Catharine Coleburne, “Insanity, Gender, and Empire:


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Women Living a ‘Loose Kind of Life’ on the Colonial Institutional Margins, 1870–­ 1910,” Health and History 14, no. 1 (2012): 77–­99; and Jacqueline Leckie, “Modernity and the Management of Madness in Colonial Fiji,” Paideuma: Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde 50 (2004): 251–­274. 18. Questions put by the protector to emigrants proceeding to the West Indies, Colonial Land and Emigration Commission—­Twelfth General Report, 1852, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1852 [1499]: 188. 19.  Instructions to surgeons when examining and selecting emigrants in the Mufassal before proceeding to this agency, Proceedings; Public, India Office Records, IOR/P/2058, British Library, United Kingdom (hereafter BL). 20.  The hospital list for the voyage of Allanshaw in 1885 refers to a single instance of a passenger suffering from the effects of “Gunjah smoking.” The passenger in question was Sookhan. Unfortunately, the only other details noted in the report were Sookhan’s age (twenty-­eight) and immigrant number (554). “Arrival of the Allanshaw, 22 January 1886,” Emigration; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 384/160, TNA. 21. Report of Surgeon Superintendent Dyer on the Sydenham, March 18, 1861, Trinidad; Original correspondence, CO 295/211, TNA. 22.  William H. Pearse, Notes on Health in Calcutta and British Emigrant Ships, Including Ventilation, Diet, and Disease (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1866), 60. 23.  Governor Knaggs to the agent general, January 1873, Trinidad; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 295/266, TNA. 24.  Draft reply from the Earl of Kimberly, March 26, 1873, Trinidad; Original correspondence, CO 295/266, TNA. 25.  Arrival of the Clasmerden, January 5, 1863, British Guiana; Original correspondence, CO 111/339, TNA. 26.  Tables 32 and 33 in Look-­Lai, Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar, 302. 27. Robert Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 1, 1881–­1882, introduction by Letizia Gramaglia ([Online]: Caribbean Press, 2010; 1882), 134, https://­caribbeanpress​.­org​ /­caribbean​-­press​-­downloads​/­​. 28.  Report of the immigration agent general for 1882, December 12, 1883, Emigration; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 384/144, TNA. 29. Governor Stanford Freeling to the Earl of Derby, April 19, 1883, Emigration; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 384/144, TNA. 30.  4a. Report by the acting surgeon general, January 28, 1882, CO 295/392. 31. Report of the attorney general, November 7, 1861, Trinidad; Original Correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 295/356, TNA.

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32. Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 1, 135. 33.  Report on the Working of the ganja ordinance, July 17, 1899, Trinidad; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 295/392, TNA, folio. 607. 34. Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 1, 221. 35.  Ordinance No. 13: Ganja Cultivation Licenses, 2 October 1885, Trinidad; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 295/308, TNA. 36.  Report of the surgeon general on the medical service and medical institutions of the colony, for the year 1888, AC 756, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom (hereafter LSHTM). 37. Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 1, 81. 38.  Cited in Mills, Madness, Cannabis and Colonialism, 46. 39. Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 1, 83. 40. Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 1, 83–­85. 41. Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 1, 83–­85. 42. Leonard Smith, “Caribbean Bedlam: The Development of the Lunatic Asylum System in Britain’s West Indian Colonies, 1838–­1914,” Journal of Caribbean Studies 44, no. 1 (2010): 24. 43. Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 2, 375. 44. Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 2, 375. 45. Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 2, 400. 46. Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 2, 400. 47.  For examples of these cultural challenges see Brij V. Lal, “Veil of Dishonor: Sexual Jealousy and Suicide on Fiji Plantations,” Journal of Pacific History 20, no. 3 (1985): 135–­155. Lal deals specifically with the Fijian case here, but instances of suicide and “wife murders” were also reported extensively in Caribbean colonies and Mauritius. See, for example: Prabhu P. Mohapatra, “Restoring the Family: Wife Murders and the Making of the Sexual Contract of Indian Immigrant Labour in the British Caribbean Colonies, 1860–1920,” Studies in History 11, no. 2 (1995): 227–260. 48.  Report of the surgeon general on the medical service and medical institutions of the colony, for the year 1890, AC 756, LSHTM, 89. 49.  Report of the surgeon general, 1890, LSHTM, 90 50. George Secombe to the surgeon general, February 5, 1904, Trinidad; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 295/426, TNA, Kew, United Kingdom. 51.  Letizia Gramaglia, “Introduction,” in Grieve, The Asylum Journal, vol. 2, xviii.


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52. Peter Hanoomansingh, “Crown Colony and the Problem of Ganja in 19th-­ Century Trinidad: A Sociology of Knowledge on Cannabis in Colonial Context” (PhD diss., University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, 2010), 249. 53.  Governor Walker to the Duke of Newcastle, November 7, 1861, British Guiana; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 111/332, TNA. 54.  Hanoomansingh, “Crown Colony and the Problem of Ganja,” 220. 55.  Hanoomansingh, “Crown Colony and the Problem of Ganja,” 236–­238. 56.  James S. Donald, “Notes on Lunacy in British Guiana,” British Journal of Psychiatry 22, no. 97 (1876): 76–­81. 57.  Look-­Lai, Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar, 302. 58.  Reports on working of the 1894 ganja ordinance, July 17, 1899, Trinidad; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 295/392, TNA, folio 607. 59.  Working of the 1894 ganja ordinance, CO 295/392. 60. Trinidadian residents also suggested that “a great deal [of cannabis] was produced in Icasos,” the south-­western most district of Trinidad. James H. Collens, A Guide to Trinidad: A Handbook for use of Travellers and Visitors, 2nd ed. (London: Elliot Stock, 1888), 210. 61. Ordinance No. 22: prohibition of the sale, cultivation, and possession of ganja, 1894, Trinidad; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 295/356, TNA. 62.  See Mills, “Globalizing Ganja,” for more on discussions about cannabis and madness in Natal. 63.  Rubin and Comitas, Ganja in Jamaica, 21. 64.  In 1906, the annual report of the lunatic asylum noted two admissions were attributed to “Ganjah Smoking,” out of a total 230 admissions that year. Annual Report of the superintending medical officer, for the year ended March 31, 1906, ACSO 7.52.3, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom (hereafter LSTM). 65.  Rubin and Comitas, Ganja in Jamaica, 22. 66.  Working of the 1894 ganja ordinance, CO 295/392. 67.  Donald W.D Comins, Notes on Immigration from the East Indies to Jamaica (Calcutta, 1893), India Office Records, IOR/P/W/29, BL, 25. 68. This was an incredibly disingenuous suggestion, not least because some six admissions were attributed to cannabis the year before, double the figure reported in 1912. Lunatic asylum; Report for the year ended March 31, 1912, AC 752, LSHTM, 3; Lunatic asylum; Report for the year ended March 31, 1911, AC 752, LSHTM. 69.  “Ganja Smoking is a Danger to the Natives of the Colony,” Daily Gleaner, June 10, 1913, cited in Rubins and Comitas, Ganja in Jamaica, 175.

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70.  “OPIUM CONVENTION,” Daily Gleaner, June 25, 1913. 71.  Clare Anderson provides several examples of these types of cases in Convicts in the Indian Ocean: Transportation from South Asia to Mauritius, 1815–­1853 (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 2000), 89, 97. 72.  “Ordinance No. 30 of 1848; To Provide Against the Criminal Use of Stramonium and Other Poisonous Substances,” in Laws: Ordinances, Proclamations, and Notices, 1844–­1850, B3B, National Archives of Mauritius, Coromandel, Mauritius (hereafter NAM). 73.  Governor Napier-­Broome to the Earl of Derby, December 23, 1882, Mauritius; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 167/604, TNA. 74.  Napier-­Broome to the Earl of Derby, December 23, 1882, CO 167/604. 75.  Governor Hennessy to the Earl of Derby, February 18,1884, Mauritius; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 167/611, TNA. 76.  Hennessy to the Derby, February 18, 1884, CO 167/611, TNA. 77.  See Minute paper appended to Lees to Knutsford, 1892, CO 167/667. 78. Governor Jerningham to the Marquess of Ripon, August 21, 1893, Mauritius; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 167/676, TNA. 79.  As indicated by Monty’s enclosure, Indian admissions rates had fallen from 2.8 per 10,000 in 1880–­1883 to 2.5 per 10,000 in 1889–­1892. Jerningham to Ripon, August 21, 1893, CO 167/676. 80.  Annual report of the superintendent of the lunatic asylum for the year 1891, in The Annual Administration Reports for the Colony of Mauritius, 1892 (Port Louis, 1893), NAM. 81.  Jerningham to Ripon, August 21, 1893, CO 167/676. 82.  Jerningham to Ripon, August 21, 1893, CO 167/676. 83.  Governor Jerningham to the Marquess of Ripon, September 4, 1894, Mauritius; Original correspondence, Colonial Office Records, CO 167/683, TNA. 84.  Jerningham to Ripon, September 4, 1894. CO 167/683. 85.  Jerningham to Ripon, September 4, 1894, CO 167/683. 86.  Freeling to Derby, CO 384/144. 87.  Ordinance No. 22, CO 295/356. 88.  Ronen Shamir and Daphna Hacker, “Colonialism’s Civilizing Mission: The Case of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission,” Law and Social Inquiry 26, no. 435 (2001): 441. 89.  Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, 1893-­1894, vol. 1 (Simla: Government Central Printing Office, 1894), 249–­251.


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90.  Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, 1893–­1894, vol. 1, 271. 91.  Report of the Indian Immigrant Commission, 1885–­1887 (Natal: P. Davis & Sons, Pietermaritzburg, 1887), 7. 92.  Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, vol. 1, 271. 93. References to cannabis policy in both Trinidad and Egypt were included in a section entitled “Effects in Other Countries,” Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, vol. 1, 199. 94.  Dennis W. D. Comins, Note on Emigration from India to British Guiana 1893 (Calcutta, 1893), India Office Records, IOR/V/27/820/9, BL, 76. 95.  Dennis W. D. Comins, Note on Emigration from India to Trinidad, 1893 (Calcutta, 1893), IOR/V/27/820/10, BL, 43. 96. Comins, Note on Emigration from India to Trinidad, 1893, 43. 97.  Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, vol. 1, 199. 98.  Thomas Ireland and S. Edinburgh, “Insanity from the Abuse of Indian Hemp,” Alienist & Neurologist 14 (1893): 624. 99.  “Pyramid,” “Indian Hemp as a Cause of Insanity,” British Medical Journal, September 23, 1893, 710. 100.  “Pyramid,” “Indian Hemp as a Cause of Insanity,” British Medical Journal, October 14, 1893, 869. 101.  Thomas Ireland, “Indian Hemp as a Cause of Insanity,” British Medical Journal, October 7, 1893, 814. 102.  Ireland, “Indian Hemp as a Cause of Insanity,” 813.


4  Dagga: How South Africa Made a Dangerous Drug, 1902–­1928 Thembisa Waetjen

In the Union of South Africa in 1922, cannabis (locally known as dagga) was officially classified as a “habit-­forming drug” through a national customs and excise act. A year later, the government of Jan Christiaan Smuts approached the League of Nations Dangerous Drugs Committees requesting that—­along with opium, morphine, and cocaine—­Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica be designated for international regulation. Union leaders described dagga as “the most important of all the habit-­forming drugs.”1 After two years of deliberation, cannabis was included in the list of drugs for global control.2 That story is largely known. But why did cannabis hold such significance for South African lawmakers? The reasons are frequently assumed, and with good reason, to flow from the general logics of contemporary colonial racism. Dagga smoking was a long-­standing indigenous cultural practice, prohibited in response to white settler media panic that linked this practice to insanity, crime, and sexual assault—­elements hyped in racist discourse as “the black peril.”3 Yet legal restriction of cannabis in the 1920s was in fact a measure contested on several fronts, with a longer and more uneven history than has been acknowledged. This history matters because it was deeply consequential. It can be situated in the political geography of South Africa before the 1910 Union, when different British colonies formulated differing responses to cannabis and classified its moral meanings in relation to the diversely subordinated subjects identified as dagga smokers: indentured Indian migrants; African men, women and “juveniles”; workers in different sectors of production; and “low whites.” Cannabis was introduced into southern Africa through eastern continental and Indian Ocean trade at least six centuries ago and incorporated into local culture and economic relations.4 Cannabis shifted from being of social, spiritual, and transactional importance among indigenous people


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to becoming a means (along with liquor and tobacco) of their subjugation and exploitation under Cape Dutch and, later, British authority.5 Cannabis had been adapted into the medicinal repertoire of trekboer Dutch-­speakers but did not similarly figure in the culture of British settlers. Anglophone officials and physicians registered ongoing confusion about the uses, effects, and cultural meanings of cannabis, frequently conflating it with indigenous varieties of Leonotus. Civil servants in the Native Affairs Department and magistrates located within the native reserves, meanwhile, demonstrated a greater knowledge of indigenous intoxicant and medicinal customs and actively discouraged laws suppressing dagga. Imperialist scrutiny of dagga began in earnest after British victory in the South African war (1899–­1902). The Union of South Africa was formed through an act of law in 1910, joining four colonies (which became its constituent provinces) and creating a white-­governed British dominion state. Negotiating a national pharmacy law took almost two decades and, meanwhile, regulation for drugs and medicines defaulted to provincial levels of governance. Distinctive histories and patterns of earlier colonial rule thus made for different provincial approaches to dagga. The national 1922 cannabis prohibition was the triumph of imperial and medical progressives who in previous decades had sought controls through pharmacy regulation, noxious weed laws, and settler town bylaws. They commanded a mixed base of support, from white colonial eugenicists warning of race degeneration to African Christians promoting dagga temperance in the cause of black political equality and class respectability. Opponents of the law were also mixed. They included: dagga smokers wishing to retain the practice as well as powers over its regulation; Native Affairs Department officials defending African patriarchy—­also as a means of stabilizing race segregation; white farmers who grew cannabis commercially; and Witwatersrand gold mine managers overseeing African migrant workers. Moreover, even as the government worked toward cannabis suppression, state actors simultaneously sought industrial and overseas markets for local cannabis agriculture.6 Smuts’s prominent statesmanship as prime minister helped secure progressivist concerns against opposing voices and interests. His role within the League of Nations, and the international leverage afforded by its dangerous drug protocols, allowed his office to override internal dissent and to bring dagga into the same legal class and moral ambit as opium. At the same time, Smuts’s cabinet assured critics in the Native Affairs Department—­as

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a kind of compromise—­ that dagga policing would be concentrated in white civic spaces and enterprises, with minimal surveillance in the native reserves. This compromise emerged from, and enforced, the dualistic ontological construction of cannabis as, on the one hand, an indigenous practice (a habit of the colonized), and, on the other, as a habit-­forming drug (the control of which showcased good governance). This was a contradiction of colonialism, which instrumentally shaped the nature of dagga’s commodification and illegal economics into the later part of the twentieth century. In Natal, the Transvaal, and the Cape, distinct styles of early colonial rule over gendered and racialized subjects produced differing approaches to cannabis. Tracking this uneven politics, especially in the decade before Union, as well as the factors leading up to its national suppression in 1922, help make sense of subsequent developments in South Africa’s national drug politics.7 Belgian Congo

South Africa, 1922

Tanganyka Nyasaland

Northern Rhodesia



Southern Rhodesia South-West Africa Protectorate

Bechuanaland Protectorate Transvaal Pretoria Johannesburg Orange Free State Cape Province

Cape Town

Figure 4.1 South Africa, 1922.

Lourenço Marques



Durban Bechuanaland


Thembisa Waetjen

Dagga and Colonial Governance in Natal In the colony of Natal, officials attempted to manage dagga through several intersecting forms of authority—­medical, cultural, and juridical. The earliest dagga legislation was Section 70 of Law No. 2 of 1870, directed specifically to managing indentured Indian workers. It prohibited “the smoking, use, and possession by, and the sale, barter or gift to, any coolies whatsoever of any portion of the hemp plant (cannabis sativa).”8 In practice, regulation of dagga for indentured migrants was largely medical. In testimonies submitted to the Indian Immigrant (Wragg) Commission of 1885–­1887, doctors in various sugar-­growing districts underscored the dangers of cannabis to life (death from dakkha poison was roundly cited), health, sanity, and social order. Physician testimonies denounced dagga smoking as an evil habit and aligned its risks with opium. Workers were “incapacitating themselves for work through the use of this drug,” and through its abuse “cowardly” Indians were emboldened to commit crimes.9 Although these concerns warranted a special section of the commission report, no legal controls beyond the 1870 law were implemented.10 Indian workers perceived to be ailing from dagga overuse underwent hospital treatment.11 Such matters fell under the office of the protector of immigrants. Dagga was thus medically managed for a specific population contained within an imperial labor system, a system requiring medical safeguards as legitimating proof of its distinction from chattel slavery.12 Natal state administrators, however, worried about leakages in this circumscribed bureaucracy, through interactions between South Asian and African residents of the colony. Their fears prompted calls for additional legislation to prohibit the sale of dagga by “coolies” to “natives” and to prohibit dagga use in the boroughs of white settlement.13 In Natal, African consumption of dagga (in Zulu insangu) was controlled indirectly through the so-­called Shepstonian system of 1868. Indirect rule facilitated colonial sovereignty by circumventing the problem of direct administrative control over indigenous inhabitants. African people were incorporated as political subjects under the intermediary authority of chiefs (amakhosi), in effect appropriating and subordinating customary relations of power for new political ends.14 Cultural (tribal) practices, especially those concerning respectable older men, fell under the mandate of amakhosi, male elders, and household heads. Native Affairs Department officials navigated

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relations between colonial and African patriarchies, weighing the costs and benefits of state intervention when conflicts between them arose.15 African accommodation to colonial power could be tenuous—­as demonstrated by the 1906 Bambatha rebellion—­ and colonials were compelled to concede ground on some matters to chiefs, who were crucial for collecting taxes, recruiting labor, and keeping order. When white settler publics urged the suppression of dagga, Native Affairs administrators urged caution. According to Zulu Chief Swaiman, dagga smoking was entwined with claims of patriarchal authority, a power felt to be imperiled by rapid social change. “The old custom was the proper way,” he told the South African Native Affairs Commission of 1903–­1905, “whereby the smoking of hemp was limited to adults and grown-­up men.”16 Swaiman wished to see dagga smoking restricted to these groups in colonial law. Sociability around dagga, he explained, required maturity, restraint, and politeness, which youth did not yet possess. The commissioners’ behavior suggested their worry was not cannabis itself but the breakdown of African cultural norms, specifically related to gender, generation, and morality.17 Officials’ actions also suggest a search for middle ground between calls for dagga suppression and protection of dagga as a cherished indigenous custom. In 1909, the Hlabisa magistrate wrote to the Zululand Native Affairs commissioner, asking that a “circular be issued prohibiting boys under the age of puberty and all females from smoking the horn [customary dagga pipe].” The practice, he believed, “makes young boys silly, thick-­headed, untrustworthy and unfit to be used as servants and, amongst females, [it] causes immorality. . . . ​So far as I can gather [a prohibition] would be greatly appreciated by the [older male] natives.”18 In the Eshowe district, the magistrate reported that “very few girls” smoked dagga, but “little boys” smoked to a “considerable extent” and were encouraged by fathers and elder brothers: “As a rule, if the head of a kraal smokes, he has no objection whatever to his children doing so.”19 Nonsmokers of insangu wanted the practice prohibited from everyone, old and young. Yet the magistrate held that: The majority . . . ​who I presume are smokers, said that they had not seen any evil results, though they disapproved of children smoking. The Chiefs promised to call their people together and direct them to stop smoking. If this were done by the Chiefs throughout the colony, it would I think have immediate beneficial effect.20

The Eshowe magistrate recommended passing a law allowing punishment to be meted out both to those who encouraged juveniles to smoke and to


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young offenders, though he was not in favor of imposing fines or imprisonment on juveniles: “A stroke or two with a birch would be better.”21 Other colonial magistrates around Zululand surveyed chiefs in their districts for their views about possible governmental intervention regarding juvenile use of insangu. In Mahlabathini, some African leaders considered the substance a necessary evil and impossible to control. In Ubombo, magistrates did not solicit opinion at all but simply informed headmen that a prohibition was in place and that they would be held accountable for violations. Amakhosi residing in Nqutu, Ndwandwe, and in Lower Umfolozi were favorable to the introduction of a restrictive law, sometimes expressing frustration that children were not listening to parents and were treating them disrespectfully. An inkosi from Empangeni explained that elders generally objected to children smoking, but “still they do it in secret.”22 The Zululand native commissioner believed that a state order might do the trick. Alternatively, he proposed an amendment to Act 13 of 1907, a law meant to preclude sales “of medicinal poisons” by any but registered pharmaceutical professionals. Scheduling dagga as a poison, the commissioner argued, would make it illegal for Indian traders to sell it to African youth. There were other important voices in Natal. The Zulu-­language newspaper Ilanga lase Natal, edited by African National Congress cofounder John Langalibelele Dube, published regular editorials lamenting governmental hesitation to suppress dagga in law.23 Ilanga was addressed to, and generally represented, literate and missionary-­educated African readers who constituted a vanguard in the drive for political equality under the British Empire. Ilanga also had white subscribers and, in 1907, Dube wrote an English-­ language editorial identifying insangu as a barrier to “native progress” and a threat to African survival under colonialism. Dube warned: The diseases which civilization has brought to our shores are responsible for more deaths among ourselves than was the tyrant Tshaka: and if these hindrances to our progress are not sufficient, we must forsooth cling to Utshwala [sorghum beer], Isishimeyana [sugar cane spirits], Insangu [cannabis], polygamy, lobola [bridewealth in cattle] and other heathen customs and so play into the hands of our enemies. . . . [I]f we live up to a higher standard, we shall be treated accordingly.24

Dube’s portrayals of cannabis smoking as a threat to civic inclusion and respectability fell within broader assimilationist upliftment discourses, promoted by African temperance advocates, Christian missionaries, as well as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, in his own contemporary South African newspaper Indian Opinion.

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Among Natal colonial administrators, opinion was divided between those seeking to suppress dagga and those defending the freedoms of adult African men to consume a traditional intoxicant. In 1922, when the Union government instituted national dagga controls, the chief native commissioner, C. A. Wheelwright, registered his protest against prohibitive measures “affecting the native population, regarding which those affected have not been consulted.”25 Because the smoking of dagga “in their own homes,” particularly by “elderly respectable Zulus,” was prevalent, the prohibition should apply only in urban areas and labor centers. Even then, Wheelwright declared, “this was going too far.” Wheelwright submitted a clipping from the Natal Witness that demonstrated that “even European opinion strongly opposed to Insangu” considered the law to be problematic. “The natives themselves should have been consulted,” complained the letter-­writer. Many Africans, if given a “voice” would have likely “welcomed the prohibition.”26 Wheelwright continued to lobby against blanket cannabis prohibition: “Unfortunately, the habit of dagga smoking is very deeply rooted, more particularly among the older men, many of whom while irrevocably addicted to the drug are not of a stamp who should be made criminals by a stroke of the pen.”27 To the proposal that the plant be controlled as a noxious weed under agricultural law, he countered: “Would not his Honour the Administrator be tempted to deal similarly with tobacco, tea and grapevines if this precedent was established?”28 Accompanied by W. T. Welsh, chief magistrate of the Transkei (native) territories, Wheelwright journeyed to Pretoria to express these views in 1922. With petitions in hand, the Union secretary of native affairs explained Welsh’s and Wheelwright’s position to Department of Public Health administrators: In many parts of Zululand [and in the eastern Cape] the smoking early in the morning by the older men of a pipe-­full of Insangu is a custom so deep-­rooted as almost to amount to a religious rite. It will be quite impossible to enforce the law and ill-­ advised attempts to do so may be productive of very undesirable incidents.29

Cannabis and Labor Management in the Witwatersrand Gold Mines In the conquered Boer Republics following the South African War, confusion over cannabis laws emerged when “certain natives” were prosecuted and fined for possession of dagga in the Orange River Colony. A military proclamation apparently remained in force. Its provisions were adopted as the Dagga Prohibition Ordinance (No. 48 of 1903), rendering it illegal to


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“give, sell, barter, exchange or otherwise supply” and to “accept, purchase, take in exchange or otherwise receive from any person the herb ‘Cannabis Indica’ commonly known as ‘dagga’ or ‘Indian Hemp.’”30 Noting this development in a neighboring colony, the Transvaal Native Affairs commissioner sought similar restrictions for the Transvaal. Dagga, he opined, had “pernicious effects upon natives who become intoxicated, useless, and sometimes uncontrollably violent under its influence.”31 In the Transvaal, however, concerns about intoxicant governance related primarily to labor fitness and controllability in the gold mining sector. With hard-­won liquor prohibitions in place (from 1896 in Kruger’s republic),32 and with current controversies over opium for Chinese indentured mineworkers,33 dagga smoking, too, now came under scrutiny. By 1908, the Government Native Labor Bureau (GNLB) initiated a survey of mine inspectors and pass officers concerning dagga use by African miners. How much dagga smoking occurred and by which “tribes”? What “evil effects” had they witnessed and what traces of “imbecility”? Did they believe prohibitive legislation would be beneficial?34 Perceptions regarding tribal concentrations of use varied wildly, but the responders generally agreed that consumption was moderate and unproblematic. The manager of the Crown Deep mine described “slight” usage with little negative impact and did not believe “prohibitory legislation against the sale of the drug would be beneficial.”35 Similar views arrived from Langlaagte Estate and Gold Mining Company, Robinson Central Deep, and offices in Germiston, Boksburg, Krugersdorp, Springs, and Eastern Johannesburg. One account held that dagga inhibited work performance only if combined with liquor.36 Another noted that “young natives are apt to get dreamy and lazy,” recommending “steps to prevent small boys smoking it.”37 Yet another observed that “natives who are constantly smoking dagga” are “somewhat stupid or dense until they have had a smoke, when they seem to get alright.” In this last manager’s view, “a native who smokes dagga is equally as good [productive] as one who does not.”38 Dagga allowed smooth functioning in the mines, especially concerning the problem of labor recruitment: “Placing [workers] under innumerable restrictions and depriving them of anything they may have been accustomed to,” read one report in 1908, “would deter natives from coming to the Rand.”39 Some supervisors thought dagga contributed to worker vitality and sociability. There was agreement about dagga’s “stimulating effect” and

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many overseers did not “discourage it in any way.” Indeed, explained one mine director, “I hardly think that instructions to stop their natives from using dagga would meet with compliance [by supervisors].”40 With regards to occupational health, particularly around phthisis and tuberculosis, more than one official framed dagga smoking as possessing medicinal value for drillers and others inhaling rock particles. The Krugersdorp inspector “had an idea that the natives smoked the ‘Dagga’ with a view to raising a ‘fit of coughing’ with the object of assisting their lungs to free themselves to some extent from the dust inhaled while in the mine.”41 Another report, which compared dagga favorably to tobacco and opium, declared that “as a preventive against pulmonary and pharyngeal diseases, I think its expediency cannot be doubted.”42 Some of those favoring cannabis restrictions appealed to prevailing anti-­Asian sentiments: a prohibition would disadvantage dagga-­selling Indian merchants while increasing tobacco sales for their European competitors.43 No action was advised on the basis of the 1908 research.44 Early in 1911, another survey was administered, not only in mines but now also to Transvaal town magistrates. While this was underway, a Sunday Times newspaper article appeared entitled “Drugged and Dazed / Black and White Criminals / Opium Eaters and Dagga Smokers / Danger to our Women.”45 It appealed to prevailing white racist sentiments and fears. The author had visited a native pass office and several shops “where the dried plant was sold in threepenny or sixpenny lots.” He claimed that “several hundreds if not thousands” of cannabis consumers were becoming “brain-­diseased madmen.” Dagga was “well-­known to make natives and whites frightfully lecherous and blood thirsty,” posing an especial risk for the unsuspecting white family. “When a native servant does his work in a dazed, slip-­shod sort of way the ordinary householder merely assumes that the boy is naturally stupid and lazy and gets rid of him,” wrote the journalist. However, he continued, that householder was unwittingly “harbouring a native capable of and likely at any moment to commit the most horrible crimes” against women. Dagga brought an array of social ills to settler society. Through “consort” with Africans—­and acquiring their language and customs—­“homeless” white youth and grown men “sometimes fall to the water-­pipe.” They then “do their smoking in secret, lying amid a strews of coloured people and criminals who batten on them as useful mediums for criminal acts.” Dagga should be “entirely” prohibited.


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The Johannesburg Native Affairs officer registered puzzlement by this news article. He had “not been able to find a case on any of the Mines . . . ​of a Native being in any way incapacitated for work through Dagga smoking.” None of the dagga smokers he had interviewed appeared to suffer any of the stated effects.46 Indeed, no respondents to the 1911 survey echoed the alarm of the Sunday Times article, though they indicated awareness of a public panic. Some thought the practice was “increasing.”47 At Pilgrims Rest, it was deemed universal, and officials proposed that, “No youth under 21 or before 3 years after the[ir] first payment of tax” should be allowed to smoke and that fathers and other male guardians of “girls” should be held responsible “under penalty” for their daughters’ behavior. Other magistrates reported “little,” “very little,” or “little or no” smoking of dagga. Native Protector Smith, at Krugersdorp, who had defended the practice three years earlier continued to do so: Many natives use “dagga” for the purpose of obtaining relief to their respiratory organs. It is a common belief among the Mine boys [sic] who use the weed, that the coughing which follows the inhalation of the smoke, assists to clear the lungs from the grit and impurities inhaled in the Mines.48

He wryly added: The actual working in the Mines, underground, is I think calculated to do harm to the natives, physically: if any alleviation can be obtained through “Dagga Smoking,” I am in favour of allowing them to do so.49

Others noted that political tensions made it prudent to protect the cannabis status quo: The Natives of the Northern Transvaal have been through a great deal since the late [South African] war: their cry is that they have been deprived of arms, dogs, cattle, obliged to dip sheep and Taxation is more strictly carried out. They feel that they are being unnecessarily harassed by increased legislation.50

The Boksburg official agreed that “legislation of this kind is one of the pinpricks that natives grumble about as infringing a custom indulged in from time immemorial.” He was inclined to “let the habit go on and die out with the progress of civilization.”51 The Government Native Labour Bureau concluded that a majority of officers did not support a total prohibition but conceded that limits on dagga sales or cultivation might be appropriate in civilian areas.52 Dagga was overwhelmingly tolerated on the Witwatersrand gold mines.53 While certainly a tool of labor control, mine officers most intimately involved

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with worker life interpreted dagga’s effects as harmless or beneficial to productivity, sociability, manageability, and health. The figure of the insane and violent native, except in two anecdotes, was elusive. Importantly, as a frontier of encounter and exchange, the mine compounds incubated, extended, and transformed economies and practices of dagga smoking. Reading against the grain of official accounts, we have important clues about the new contexts and meanings of dagga for African migrant workers within the notoriously dangerous and alienating environment of this extractive industry. First, dagga facilitated sociability among men whose lives and safety depended upon solidarities of friendship and belonging. For younger men, the freedom to participate in an activity considered the domain of senior males was surely felt to enhance their masculine status. Dagga smoking was transmitted from workers hailing from regions with strong cannabis traditions to those with minimal previous exposure, thus informing new identities and forms of interaction. Second, the sedative or euphoric effects of dagga can be considered especially relevant in a workplace where fear and physical hardship were daily routine. Cannabis appears to have been self-­administered medicinally for ailments like silicosis, a disease that—­at the time of the 1911 survey—­was the target of imminent occupational health and safety legislation. In the Transvaal, a range of benefits offered by cannabis were perceived by mine managers and mine workers alike, though this was not the case in towns and among white residents looking for sober domestic servants. Dagga and Organized Medicine in the Cape Colony Into the third decade of the twentieth century, the Natal colonial state protected African consumption of dagga as a customary practice regulated through chiefly authority under indirect rule, an arrangement actively defended by the Department of Native Affairs. In the Transvaal, the Government Native Labour Bureau investigated dagga use in the gold mines and magisterial districts, concluding it to be relatively innocuous. The Cape Colony demonstrated a notably different approach. Here, the colonial state governed through direct statutory law rather than through customary codes and offered a limited franchise to literate African and “Coloured” (mixed-­race) men. In the Cape, a coalition of interests pushed (eventually successfully) for national dagga prohibition through Union-­wide legislation.


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Cape Progressives (those in a so-­named political party) dominated government after the South African War. This was an English-­speaking faction overwhelmingly imperialist in its values, though in some measure reconciliatory toward Boer-­led constituencies (the Afrikander Bond party, later the South African party). The particular shape of initial cannabis law-­making in the Cape itself followed from the growing power of its medico-­scientific fraternity (physicians and pharmacists trained in the United Kingdom and continental Europe).54 Organizing into regional professional societies, and formulating their own Journal of Medicine from 1884, medical doctors had become important “agents of empire” by the end of the century.55 A medical council and a pharmacy board—­professional lobbies with advisory powers to the state—­were formalized from 1891 through the Cape Pharmacy Act (amended 1899). Pharmacists and doctors were awarded authority over medicinal “poisons” through scheduling and through regulating sales. In the Cape midlands, Boer farmers cultivated dagga commercially. The colony’s agricultural economy possessed a deep history of intoxicant provision—­ including dagga—­to farm laborers, and the plant also had veterinary, human medicinal, and other uses.56 In 1894, a Cape labor commission considered how to entice Xhosa-­speaking men from the eastern “native reserves” (Transkei and Tembuland) who increasingly showed preference for Transvaal gold mining contracts.57 Commissioners recommended permissive measures allowing workers to drink “native beer” but thought dagga should be “treated as a noxious weed, exterminated and its possession made penal.” In 1898, however, dagga was yet advertised in newspapers along with “dop brandy,” and other produce. On September 4, 1904, Dr. Jane Elizabeth Waterston, a former missionary and sole female physician in the otherwise uniformly masculine Cape medical profession, wrote to the Progressive Party’s attorney general. She stated that the “peculiar character” of recent crimes against women had made her think “not a little” about the use of Indian hemp, a plant she thought locally cultivated and also imported.58 Intoxication by this drug, she wrote “seems to be almost peculiar to the coloured races and the end is often a loss of reason.” She had regularly examined barracks’ residents for symptoms of “dagga poisoning” while caring for dock laborers and was “impressed by the danger” of dagga. “Would it not be prudent to put the imported article on the list of poisons and curtail the liberty to grow and sell the native variety?”

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Figure 4.2 Advert, Cape Times, July 18, 1898.

In 1905, the Cape Legislative Council reviewed Waterston’s note, along with other evidence. Progressive representative M. J. De Villiers asserted that dagga smoking was a “growing evil” in the colony, especially so in the wine and fruit-­growing districts inland from Cape Town. De Villiers catalogued dagga’s “injurious” and “pernicious” effects on “young natives” who became “confirmed dagga smokers” and risked “madness.”59 It also produced lethargy among workers. Two council members pushed back. J. F du Toit, a Bond Party member with a Cape Midlands constituency, considered these claims both ridiculous and unsubstantiated. He did not think “a single gentleman here could name a single person at Robben Island or any other [mental] asylum who had become insane from the effects of ‘Dagga’ smoking.”60 Dagga, as he saw it, “rendered young natives energetic and wide awake.” He believed that extermination of dagga would “not be for the good of the country.” Mr. Strachan, Independent-­Progressive representative from Griqualand East, complained that the government was “gradually taking away from the native what little pleasures they had.” In his view, “it was one of the greatest comforts the


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poor native could have, after a hard day’s work, to sit down and have a smoke.” Used for generations, it kept them away from alcohol and “did them no harm.”61 In 1905, though, cannabis was designated as a poison under the 1899 Pharmacy Act. The measure caused vehement protest from dagga farmers in the Cape Middelburg district. By the following year, the law generated a conflict between Eastern and Western Cape farming districts, as well as between growers of dagga and dagga’s now exclusively sanctioned pharmaceutical purveyors. The Middelburg crop was readying for market when the law took effect: awarding chemists a sudden monopoly over sales was unwelcome and inopportune. According to M. J. Pretorius, Middelburg’s parliamentary representative, buyers for pharmaceutical businesses were empowered to name their price.62 Whereas normally dagga sold for 4s 1d per pound, cultivators had been compelled in 1906 to sell at 1½ d per pound. Growers complained that pharmacists did little more than insert the raw product into a packet, attach a poison warning label, and sell it at extravagant profit. With chemist shops legitimated to sell, and with no restrictions on smoking or possessing dagga, products could be sold for intoxicant purposes under the guise of medicine. In June of 1906, 170 Middelburg farmers and supporters petitioned the Cape Legislative Council to reverse the 1905 law. Pretorius demanded that the Cape Medical Council supply evidence about dagga’s ill effects, which it had thus far been unable to provide.63 In 1907, the Colonial Office promised Pretorius that the 1905 proclamation would be repealed, and the Legislative Council supported the motion to strike dagga from the poison list schedule. Yet, this was with an eye to imposing even more stringent restrictions on both sales and possession of dagga.64 Cape politicians moved toward further dagga controls following Union in 1910. In August 1912, the Paarl Farmers’ Association petitioned the minister of justice in Pretoria arguing that “increasing” dagga use by laborers was “resulting in their constitutions being ruined, the quality of their labor reduced, and in their becoming a source of extreme danger to Europeans, more especially the white farm women—­when the Coloured people are under the influence of that drug.”65 The farming interest group enclosed a news article revealing the ease of nonmedicinal purchase of dagga from chemists—­in this case, sold to a fifteen-­year-­old youth sent by the association as a test. Farmers approached the Cape Town Agricultural Society,

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seeking to restrict cultivation and sales of dagga by defining it as a noxious weed under Cape Agricultural Act 40 of 1889. Union officials in Pretoria embraced the proposal to an extent. The chief commissioner of the South African police, for example, had reservations about the efficacy of pharmacy legislation: “Prohibition of the sale of dagga by all who are not pharmaceutically qualified is not sufficient,” he argued, “when, in many places, those who crave the drug have only to go out and gather the plant.”66 Cape legislators deployed police in 1914 to gain intelligence about dagga use by laborers and about sales by pharmacists. Reports from several districts confirmed the picture advanced by the Paarl farmer group—­workers not working, chemists selling freely under the medicinal clause—­with increased use cited in the wine and fruit-­growing districts of Paarl, Stellenbosch, Caledon, Robertson, Worcester, and Ceres. In 1915, police identified a Berlin-­ trained Paarl apothecary, Charles Teitje, and accused him of indiscriminate dagga dealing. Teitje retorted that “his licence allowed him to sell Dagga and the Government could not stop him.”67 Police pursued their investigation and produced four English-­ language affidavits from Izak Solomon, a self-­ confessed dagga smoker; Lenie Pieters, his wife; Rosie Fontein, the wife of another dagga smoker; and Barend Johannes Munnik, owner of the Landskroon wine farm near Paarl, where the other three worked.68 Munnik stated that “on frequent occasions,” dagga, like the kind Teijte dispensed, rendered his laborers “quite incapable of performing their work on the farm”; he cited losses of sheep, which he attributed to inattentiveness by intoxicated shepherds. Rosie Fontein and Lenie Pieters described “addicted” husbands, who had subsequently become ill with chest cough and thus “unable to work.” Pieters explained that dagga smoking led her husband to become “very violent” and “quarrelsome.” He “ill treated me once when under the influence of Dagga,” she added. Fontein’s husband “threatened to assault me if I did not” collect dagga from Teijte’s shop. Both women confirmed that they knew “a number of coloured people” purchasing dagga from Teitje and had witnessed them smoking it and becoming intoxicated. Finally, Lenie Pieters’s husband, Mr. Izak Solomon testified. He had been “addicted” to dagga smoking for three years and his chest “was slightly affected by it.” However, Teijte had informed him the dagga was “harmless” because it was “adulterated.”


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Transcribed and translated in situ from Afrikaans by English-­speaking police constables, with the workers’ testimonies elicited in the presence of their white employer, the content and wording of the affidavits appear to be scripted and lead evidence for exactly what the medical and farm lobbies wished to prove: dagga’s threat to health, worker productivity, and personal security. It was these reports, building on the 1914 police investigations, that now galvanized the Cape attorney general’s determination for urgent action. To the Cape secretary for justice he declared himself “convinced by the affidavits placed before me, and from a statement received by the deputy Commissioner of Police in Cape Town” that dagga caused “violent breaches of the peace” and was responsible for many crimes against the person “brought home to members of the coloured and native classes in this province.”69 Two possibilities were offered by the Cape Town police commissioner.70 The first was to shift dagga from a Division II to a Division I poison within a pharmacy act, to be regulated like opium, with appropriate records kept by chemists. The second was to define it as a noxious weed and “eradicate the wild plant entirely allowing only duly licenced growers to cultivate it.”71 This last option was rejected by law advisors on grounds that dagga was not a plant that could strictly be treated as “noxious” and the Cape pushed Pretoria instead for control through a national pharmacy act. Dagga and Union Government The Union government drafted a national bill that would prohibit use, possession, and traffic and unlicensed cultivation of dagga, defining it in law as a habit-­forming drug. It was not a pharmacy act but a narcotics law: the Opium and other Habit-­Forming Drug Regulation Bill, designated to come into effect on January 1, 1917. It was drafted to comply with the opium protocols formulated in The Hague convention of 1912.72 Confusingly, and reflecting the earlier classificatory uncertainties expressed by officials, the bill distinguished “dagga” from “Indian Hemp.” Dagga referred to the “roots, bark, stalks, leaves, flowers, seedpods or seeds” of Leonitus leonurus or Leonitus ovata, or “wild dagga,” “red dagga” or “klip dagga.” Indian hemp comprised all the plant parts of Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. Both dagga and Indian hemp were listed for control, along with “cocaine,” “heroine,” and “morphine,” as well as “raw,” “medicinal,” and “prepared” opium. The bill also grouped dagga, Indian

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hemp and opium into a single intoxicant class via their similar manner of consumption as smoke. Section 7 provided that “no person shall use any pipe, receptacle, or material for smoking opium, Indian hemp or dagga.”73 Punishment proposed for contraventions of this law included fines of up to £100 and prison sentences (three months maximum). Although it was never presented in Parliament, the bill signaled that a shift of policy was under way by the middle of the decade, leveraged by international pressures for drug control. At this same time, the state was also strategizing how to profit from dagga as a commercial crop for use in fiber, oil, and birdseed.74 But a climate of “black peril” politics in 1921–­ 1922, in which white newspaper opinionistas represented dagga smoking as a cause of criminal behavior, proved politically powerful. Scholars like Martin Chanock are certainly correct to point to white public clamor for dagga control as the catalyst for government action. Yet, expressions of white insecurity also provided to Smuts a timely opportunity for addressing the class war within white South Africa. In March of 1922, armed and striking white workers of the Witwatersrand gold mines staged a rebellion. Smuts suppressed the action with unprecedented brutality, unleashing a military arsenal including twenty thousand troops, artillery, tanks, and bomber aircraft, with over two hundred people killed. Dagga prohibition may have been a conciliatory gesture to the white electorate in the wake of Smuts’s divisive violence. At the same time, Smuts was at odds with the pharmaceutical fraternity for imposing a stamp tax on medicines—­and the drug control law was a demonstration of state authority. Section 14 of the Customs and Excise Regulation Amendment Act (No 35 of 1922) was gazetted on November 10. Like the draft bill of 1916, it differentiated between “dagga” and “Indian Hemp,” the latter which now included “Intsangu” [sic] in its subdefinition, and classed them both as Schedule One habit-­forming drugs, along with coca leaves, cocaine, diamorphine, ecgonine, morphine, and three forms of opium. A year later, in 1923, Smuts’s office sent a petition to the League of Nations Dangerous Drugs Committees to include cannabis on the international list of controlled substances. When national provisions shifted from a customs law to a pharmacy act in 1928, only cannabis species were named; Leonitus no longer appeared in the schedule. From 1925, when the League of Nations provided for cannabis restrictions, the Union began to record annual dagga arrests and seizures along with those for other controlled substances.75 Within the Union’s


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emerging regulatory regime and infrastructure of policing and surveillance, cannabis law was a useful, if limited, tool of social control.76 By the late 1920s, dagga’s reputation as a dangerous drug was fully developed and, with it, a growing subversive trade. In 1929, the Cape Times reported that the “evil” and “danger” of dagga smuggling was on the rise.77 Police identified train depots in the provinces as nodes in a national underground dagga trade network.78 The magistrate of Weenen in Natal, for example, explained how his rural district had become a “chief supply centres” in the Union. Collusion between absentee white landlords and African tenants facilitated cannabis production and distribution by rail, eluding police.79 Paarl, meanwhile, was an important “disposal depot.”80 In December 1922, shortly after the dagga prohibition was enacted, the secretary for public health explained to the secretary of native affairs that police officers were “strongly in favour of the new regulation.” Yet, with Natal’s native affairs commissioner, Wheelwright, and other such officials lobbying against the law’s reach into designated native areas, the focus of intensive policing was circumscribed by design. Government officials critical of dagga prohibition were thus offered an informal compromise. As the health secretary explained: It is recognized that the conditions between urban centres and remote native areas are very different, but the Minister feels assured that the police will exercise judgement and discrimination, and avoid drastic or ill-­advised attempts to enforce the letter of the law in remote localities where moderate Dagga smoking by some of the natives is of little importance from the point of view of public order and welfare.81

The law, in other words, rested on segregation, a colonial mapping of racial geography. The effect of the law’s uneven application shaped the illicit cannabis economies that developed in the wake of prohibition, with communal (tribal) land becoming important for commercial cultivation of dagga.82 The law also created a basis for mass corruption by police and white landowners, who colluded with African growers to profit from the trade. Conclusion The ontological and legislative construction of dagga as a habit-­forming and dangerous drug must be understood within South Africa’s political geography during the first two decades of the twentieth century. It was a

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process that combined and cemented, into one identifiable object (drug), a range of cultural and intoxicant repertoires and practices, in order to effect the political aims of the Union.83 The law suppressed a diversity of views and interests, not merely between people defined as “native” and “settler” but within and across these categories. In Natal, the Shepstonian autocracy offered a template for how to manage an indigenous practice, but contributions to the dagga debate by the African literati (exemplified by John Dube’s Ilanga readership) showed the instability of easy divisions between colonizer and colonized. In the Transvaal, white mine managers denied that dagga use by black workers warranted suppressive controls, revealing how class struggle complicated state drives for uniform prohibition. In the Cape Colony, medical advisors to the state pushed against the interests both of white cannabis farmers and white dispensing pharmacists, advocating blanket prohibition as a remedy not only for worker health and rationality but also for white security. Here, the nativizing of dagga practices—­designating them as masculine and customary—­shifted into viewing them as holding a specific threat to white female bodies (and, through eugenical reasoning, to whiteness itself). However, at the same time, universal prohibition of dagga as a habit-­ forming drug obscured dagga habits, socially and legislatively, as a disposition of the colonized. This is what succeeded in distilling the heterogeny of dagga production and use—­including dagga’s changing local meanings and practices—­into an offence to criminal law. Smuts’s action in 1922 cemented dagga’s formal status as a drug and situated its control within strategies of white nation-­building, racial rule, and imperatives of segregation. Notes Warm thanks to Utathya Chattopadhyaya and Julie Parle for their readings and respective insights on an early version of this paper; and to the book’s editors for subsequent feedback, as well as for support for attending their 2018 Glasgow conference. 1.  National Archive of South Africa, Pretoria (hereafter SAB) BTS 2/1/104 LN 15/1, J. C. Smuts to secretary, League of Nations, November 28, 1923 (emphasis in original). 2.  Brian Du Toit, “Dagga: The History and Ethnographic Setting of Cannabis Sativa in South Africa” in Cannabis and Culture, ed. Vera Rubin (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1975), 81–­116, esp. 107; Martin Chanock, The Making of South African Legal Culture 1902–­1936: Fear, Favour and Prejudice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 92–­96;


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and James H Mills, Cannabis Britannica: Empire, Trade and Prohibition, 1800–­1928 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), esp. 160–­161. 3. Chanock, Making of South African Legal Culture, 92–­96; Craig Paterson, “Prohibition and Resistance: A Socio-­Political Exploration of the Changing Dynamics of the Southern African Cannabis Trade, c. 1850–­the Present” (unpublished MA thesis, Rhodes University, 2009), 63–­86. 4.  Chris S Duvall, “Drug Laws, Bioprospecting and the Agricultural Heritage of Cannabis in Africa,” Space and Polity 20 (2016): 10–­25. 5.  David Gordon, “From Rituals of Rapture to Dependence: The Political Economy of Khoi-­Khoi Narcotic Consumption, c. 1487–­1870,” South African Historical Journal 35, no. 1 (1996): 62–­88. 6.  Utathya Chattopadhyaya, “Dagga and Prohibition: Markets, Animals, and Imperial Contexts of Knowledge, 1893–­1925,” South African Historical Journal 71, no. 4 (2019): 587–­613. 7. Paterson, “Prohibition and Resistance”; Thembela Kepe, “Cannabis Sativa and Rural Livelihoods in South Africa: Politics of Cultivation, Trade and Value in Pondoland,” Development Southern Africa 20, no. 5 (2003): 605–­615; and Ashley Morris, “‘Weeding Out’ the Nature of the Ngoba Dagga Raid Killings of 1956” (Unpublished Honors Thesis, University of KwaZulu-­Natal, 2011). 8.  Y.S. Meer et al., Documents of Indentured Labour, Natal, 1851–­1917 (Durban, South Africa: Institute for Black Research, Unity Publications, 1980), 256. 9.  Meer et al., Documents—­evidence of Dr. Greene, 514; further remarks by Dr. Richmond Allen, 518. 10.  Perside Ndandu, Health, Work and Empire: The Health Politics of Indenture in South Africa as Seen Through the Lens of Indian Immigrant Commission Report of 1885–­1887 (Unpublished MSc thesis, University of Strathclyde, 2020), 32–­37. 11.  Natal Archival Repository, Pietermaritzburg NAB II 170 1938/93 Minute paper correspondences, July 1893. 12.  Nafisa Essop-­Sheik, Labouring Under the Law: Gender and the Legal Administration of Indian Immigrants Under Indenture in Colonial Natal, 1860–­1907 (Unpublished MA thesis, University of KwaZulu-­Natal, 2005), 1–­30. 13. For example: NAB CSO 783 1880/4843, government minute paper, mayor of Pietermaritzburg, “Smoking of Dakkha or Hemp by Kaffirs,” November 15, 1880, and follow up correspondence; SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Native Affairs commissioner, Zululand, to magistrates, various letters 1909. 14.  David Welsh, The Roots of Segregation: Native Policy in Natal, 1845–­1910 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1917); Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary

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Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996); and Jeff Guy, Theophilus Shepstone and the Forging of Natal: African Autonomy and Settler Colonialism in the Making of Traditional Authority (Scottsville: University of KwaZulu-­Natal Press, 2013). 15.  Jeff Guy, “An Accommodation of Patriarchs: Theophilus Shepstone and the Foundations of the System of Native Administration in Natal,” Journal of Natal and Zulu History 32, no. 1 (2018): 81–­99. 16.  Report of the South African Native Affairs Commission, 1903–­1905 (Pretoria 1905), 582–­83, quoted in Paterson, “Prohibition and Resistance,” 31. 17.  Paterson, “Prohibition and Resistance,” 50. 18.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Hlabisa magistrate to Zululand native commissioner, July 2, 1909; Government minute paper, July 2, 1909. 19.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, July 2, 1909. 20.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Eshowe magistrate to native commissioner, Zululand, July 12, 1909. 21.  SAB NTS 8194/345, Eshowe magistrate to native commissioner, Zululand, July 12. 1909. 22.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Empangeni magistrate to native commissioner, Zululand, October 13, 1909. 23. For example: “The Horrors of Neglect,” Ilanga Lase Natal, November 4, 1910; “Insangu,” Ilanga, November 24, 1911; “Insangu Poison,” Ilanga, December 20, 1912; “Nsangu (Dagga),” Ilanga, March 7, 1913; “Natives in the Borough,” Ilanga, February 16, 1917. 24.  “Our Duties,” Ilanga Lase Natal, January 11, 1907. 25. SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Natal chief native commissioner, C. A. Wheelwright, to secretary for native affairs, Pretoria, December 12, 1922. 26.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, transcribed copy of cutting from Natal Witness, submitted with correspondence, December 12, 1922. 27.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, chief native commissioner, Natal, to Natal provincial secretary, June 13, 1923. 28.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, June 13, 1923. 29. SAB NTS 8194 3/345, secretary for native affairs, Pretoria, to the secretary of public health, “Regulations Regarding Habit-­Forming Drugs,” December 1, 1922. 30.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, December 1, 1922, copy: Ordinance No 48 of 1903, ORC, prohibiting the sale or supply of “dagga” or “Indian hemp.”


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31.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Transvaal secretary for native affairs to Law Department, April 21, 1902; Commissioner of native affairs, Johannesburg, to the legal advisor, Pretoria, May 2, 1902. 32. Charles Van Onselen, New Babylon, New Nineveh: Everyday Life on the Witwatersrand, 1886–­1914 (Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers, 1982), 48, 64–­5, 69–­ 73, 106. 33.  Thembisa Waetjen, “Poppies and Gold: Opium and Law-­Making on the Witwatersrand, 1904–­1910,” Journal of African History 57, no. 3 (2016): 391–­416. 34. SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Native Affairs Department (NAD), Johannesburg, to the resident manager, July 15, 1908. 35.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Crown Deep limited manager to inspector, NAD Western District Johannesburg, July 10, 1908. The use of the word drug is notable. 36.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, inspector, NAD Germiston East to director, July 17, 1908. 37.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Langlaagte Deep Limited Mine manager to inspector, NAD Western District, Johannesburg, July 17, 1908. 38.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Robinson Gold mining manager to inspector, NAD Western District, Johannesburg, July 23, 1908. 39.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, July 23, 1908. 40.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, inspector, NAD Central District Johannesburg to the director of the GNLB, July 21, 1908. 41. SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Inspector Krugersdorp, NAD to director, Government Native Labour Bureau, July 15, 1908. 42.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, “Dagga” smoking by natives in compounds. Pass Office, Krugersdorp to Director GNLB, July 30, 1908. 43.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, July 30, 1908. 44.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, inspector, Western District, Johannesburg (NAD) to director, GNLB, August 8, 1908. 45.  “Drugged and Dazed,” Sunday Times, February 12, 2011. 46. SAB NTS 8194 3/345, NAD, Johannesburg to GNLB, February 22, 1911. It is worth noting that Bourhill, who published his doctoral thesis in 1913, affirmed the view that dagga “insanity” was rare, complicated by other factors. He was especially adamant that dagga was not behind sexual crimes, though his debunking of that myth rests on other racist ideas. Charles John George Bourhill, The Smoking of Dagga (Indian Hemp) among the Native Races of South Africa and the Resultant Evils (Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1913), 63–­67.

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47. SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Summary: replies to general minute (Transvaal), May 1911, “Dagga Smoking.” 48.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Protector Smith, NAD Krugersdorp to director GNL Bureau, January 24, 1911. 49.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, January 24, 1911. 50.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, January 24, 1911, subnative commissioner, Pietersburg, to undersecretary native affairs, January 31, 2011. 51.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, January 24, 1911, inspector, NAD, Boksburg to director, GNLB, January 23, 1911. 52. SAB NTS 8194 3/345, acting assistant director, GNLB to undersecretary, NAD Pretoria, 2 March 1911. 53. Chanock, Law, 92–­93. 54.  Howard Phillips, “Home Taught for Abroad: The Training of the Cape Doctor, 1807–­1910,” in The Cape Doctor in the Nineteenth Century: A Social History, ed. Harriet Deacon et al. (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004). 55. Elizabeth van Heyningen, “Agents of Empire: the Medical Profession in the Cape Colony, 1880–­ 1910,” Medical History 33, no. 4 (1989): 450–­ 471; Harriet Deacon, “Racism and Medical Science in South Africa’s Cape Colony in the Mid-­to-­ Late Nineteenth Century,” Osiris 15 (2000): 190–­206; and Premesh Lalu, “Medical Anthropology, Subaltern Traces, and the Making and Meaning of Western Medicine in South Africa, 1895–­1899,” History in Africa, 25 (1998): 133–­159. 56.  Gordon, “From Rituals of Rapture to Dependence”; and Pamela Skully, “Liquor and Labor in the Western Cape, 1870–­1900,” in Liquor and labor in Southern Africa, ed. Jonathon Crush and Charles Ambler (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1992), 56–­77. In traditional Boer folk medicines there are numerous remedies that include dagga. See Suid-­Afrikanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (SAAWK), Volksgeneeskuns in Suid-­Afrika: ‘n Kultuurhistoriese oorsig, benewens ‘n uitgebreide Boererate (Pretoria, South Africa: Protea Books, 2010 [1965]). 57. “Labour Commission: What the Members Recommend,” Cape Times, May 19, 1994. 58.  KAB JUS 141 25726/11, Dr. J. Waterston to the Cape Parliament, September 4, 1904 and September 11, 1904. 59.  KAB JUS 141 25726/11, September 4, 1904 and September 11, 1904; and Legislative Council report, “The Smoking of Dagga,” Cape Times, March 27, 1906. 60.  Legislative Council report, “The Smoking of Dagga,” 61.  Legislative Council report, “The Smoking of Dagga.”


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62.  “Parliament Legislative Council,” Cape Times, August 28, 1907. 63.  Pretorius also noted that there were “two kinds of dagga—­the wild [leonotis] and the cultivated [cannabis]—­and the Medical Council was not familiar with the cultivated species—­the kind that was smoked by the natives. The chairman of the Medical Council, on seeing this [cultivated dagga] was quite surprised. . . . ​This proved that the proclamation had been issued . . . ​without any knowledge of the thing, the sale of which they prohibited thus causing landowners and the public great loss.” “Parliament Legislative Council,” Cape Times. Pretorius was underscoring a confusion that would persist into the 1930s. See J. M. Watt and Maria Breyer-­Brandwijk, “The Forensic and Sociological Aspects of the Dagga Problem in South Africa,” South African Medical Journal (August 22, 1936): 573–­579. 64.  KAB JUS 141 25726/11, Attorney General’s Office “Bill to Prohibit the Sale and Use of Dagga,” July 13, 1907. 65.  KAB JUS 141 25726/11, James Gribble, Paarl Farmer’s Association to minister of justice, Pretoria, August 3, 1912. 66. KAB JUS 141 25726/11, chief commissioner SAP, Pretoria, to secretary for justice, September 6, 1912. 67.  KAB AG 1885 310/11, Head Constable Thackray, Paarl, to Commandant Paarl, SAP, December 30, 1915; attorney general to secretary for justice, Cape Town, March 24, 1916. As further illustrating the conflation of leonotus and cannabis, and how savvy profiteers worked the distinction: Teitje wrote to the Cape Town police commissioner and accused a “coloured man named Dampie Philander”* of selling “dangerous dagga grandiflories,” which he described as “the kind of dagga that affects them very much.” By contrast, he declared, the variety he himself sold came from Middelburg, which he identified as lonatis [sic] ovata dagga (wild dagga, leonotis) “very mild and thus [does] not affect them.” KAB AG 1885 310/11, Charles Teitje to Thackray, January 19, 1916 (emphasis in original). “Dampie” in Afrikaans is a reference to smoking: “Kom ons maak ‘n dampie buitekant” (“Let’s go outside for a smoke”). Thanks to Gerhard Maré for this insight. 68.  KAB AG 1885 310/11, individual testimonies by the four named individuals in Paarl, January 20 and 22, 1916. 69. KAB AG 1885 310/11, attorney general to secretary for justice, Cape Town, March 24, 1916. 70.  KAB AG 1885 310/11, March 24, 1916; M. Kenny division inspector for deputy commissioner to attorney general, Cape Town, August 3, 1916. 71.  KAB AG 1885 310/11, Cape secretary to secretary of the interior, June 10, 1916. In Smuts absence (he was leading an ill-­fated campaign in the East African theatre of World War 1), this matter was handled by Kriege.

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72. Thembisa Waetjen, “Global Opium Politics in Mozambique and South Africa, c. 1880–­1930,” South African Historical Journal 71, no. 4 (2019): 560–­586. 73. SAB GG 140 3/1938, draft copy of “Opium and Other Habit-­ Forming Drug Regulation Bill.” 74.  Chattopadhyaya, “Dagga and Prohibition.” 75.  For example, see documents in SAB JUS 955 1/840/26/1, parts 1 and 2; and also reports within “Traffic in Dagga Between Basutoland and Union” in file 1/84/26/2. 76. Phumla Innocent Nkosi, Richard Devey, and Thembisa Waetjen, “Cannabis Policing in Mid-­Twentieth Century South Africa,” Historia 61, no. 1 (2020): 61–­86. 77. “Dagga Danger in the Cape / A Corollary of the Slum Evil? / Vigorous Police Campaign / 544 Cases before Local Courts This Year,” Cape Times, July 18, 1929. 78. These were: New Formosa, New Furrow, and Weenen in Natal; Generals Nek, Tweeling, Wepener, and Kaalspruit, in the OFS; and Macclear and Ndabakazi in the Cape. SAB NTS 8194 3/345, asst. native commissioner, Cape Town, to secretary for native affairs, Pretoria, November 27, 1929. 79.  SAB NTS 8194 3/345, Weenen magistrate to chief native commissioner, Pietermaritzburg, December 13, 1929. 80.  “Dagga Danger,” Cape Times, 1929. 81. SAB NTS 8194 3/345, J. A. Mitchell, secretary for public health to secretary native affairs, Pretoria, December 12, 1922. 82. Barry Streek and Richard Wicksteed, Render Unto Kaiser: A Transkei Dossier (Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1981), 252–­253; and Kepe, “Cannabis Sativa and Rural Livelihoods in South Africa.” 83.  Chattopadhyaya, “Dagga and Prohibition,” 589.

5  Squaring a Circle: Cannabis and the Dubious Legacy of the League of Nations Haggai Ram

The international legal structures prohibiting and/or regulating narcotics in the interwar years, particularly the League of Nations, enjoyed relative successes.1 The league’s most remarkable drug control legacy was probably the midwifing of the first anticannabis regime in the world. The 1925 League of Nations Second International Opium Convention, which went into effect in 1928, imposed global controls over a wider range of drugs than previously, including, for the first time, cannabis (or Indian hemp). The decision to include cannabis in the list of the league’s proscribed drugs was made for all the wrong reasons. Firstly, the decision reeked with the odor of “Orientalist fantasy.”2 Relatedly, most of the countries represented at the conference had negligible experience with cannabis, and their respective delegates at the conference “raised their hands [in support of the ban] without knowing what cannabis actually was, and openly admitted this to be the case.”3 Yet, however outlandish and false the league’s ideas about cannabis were, the fact remains that that the 1925 Opium Convention launched the journey that culminated in the global criminalization of cannabis throughout much of the twentieth century. Although the League of Nations reached its abrupt end with the onset of the Second World War, the ideas and perceptions it produced about cannabis—­many of them displaced and phantasmagoric—­survived the demise of that institution, supplying the rationale for the continued aversion and criminalization of the drug for many years to come. A handful of recent studies have explored the debates about cannabis that took place during the 1924–­1925 League of Nation’s Second Opium Conference in Geneva, which decided on the ban.4 Moreover, historian Liat Kozma offered an in-­depth analysis of the expert knowledge about cannabis


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that was produced by the league’s Subcommittee on Cannabis, which was created in 1934 to investigate the “cannabis problem” worldwide.5 While beneficial interventions, in what follows I revisit the ideas and views about cannabis produced in the league’s forums, especially the Subcommittee on Cannabis. Most of the previous studies on the subject have, by and large, presented these ideas as decidedly stable, stemming from a priori, interwar (Orientalist, colonial) medical, racial, class, gendered, and social perceptions of the drug. Kozma compellingly shows, for example, that subcommittee members were of the opinion that there was “something inherently Muslim, or inherent to the Middle East and North Africa that made its people more susceptible to drug abuse.”6 In this chapter I demonstrate the extent to which such understandings of hashish drew on common assumptions—­ themselves products of the “investigative modalities” of the league’s colonial project of collecting facts.7 At the same time, I illustrate that they were the outcome of tensions and contestations among the league policymakers and not merely of a consensus. I offer an analysis of the meanings and durability of these contestations by revisiting reports produced by the league’s Opium Advisory Committee (OAC) and the league’s Subcommittee on Cannabis, which I collected at the Geneva-­based United Nations Archive.8 The 1925 Second International Opium Convention: Saving Orientals from Themselves The League of Nations produced significant knowledge about cannabis, which ultimately proved an integral part of interwar colonialism. The league’s honest universalism and its genuine social concerns aside, it was mainly committed to a distinctly Western vision of modernity and progress.9 In fact, “one of the greatest and unintended achievements of the League’s social work was the production of knowledge about the lives, views and agency of people who refused to conform to the norms and dictates of upper-­and middle-­class authorities, reformers or experts.”10 The league denied access to colonized populations and stifled their voices, even when discussion and debate were concerned with the destinies of the latter. “Colonial power relations,” writes historian of the Middle East Liat Kozma, “were reproduced in the League itself—­colonized societies were analyzed without taking part in debates that would determine their future.”11 Knowledge about the colonies, instead, was mediated through colonial authorities and colonial experts.12

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The League of Nations was, in essence, “a League of Empires,”13 in which shared notions of civility, respectability, European-­ness, and Otherness were produced and reproduced. The mindset of certain policymakers in the league helps explain the decision to include cannabis in the 1925 Second Opium Convention. This decision, I argue, stemmed from the presumed moral and social havoc that the drug had wreaked on Europe’s colonies and not from its effects on the various metropoles, where the drug was little known at the time and was not used for pleasure-­seeking.14 Dr. Muhammad El Guindy, head of the Egyptian delegation to the 1924–­1925 Opium Conference, and the driving force behind Egypt’s demand to include cannabis in the opium convention,15 expressed this understanding most vividly. In a bid to convince the conference’s members to ban cannabis, he declared: “For I know the mentality of Oriental peoples and I am afraid that it will be said that the question was not dealt with because it did not affect the safety of Europeans.”16 To convince delegates to support the Egyptian proposition, El Guindy used a report by Dr. John Warnock, the longtime medical director of Cairo’s hospital for the insane.17 Warnock had spent nearly thirty years in that capacity (1891–­1923), but he was not, it is crucial to note, known for his empathy for Egypt and the Egyptian people. His knowledge of Arabic was rudimentary (he boasted as much himself), and he did not support Egypt’s interwar demand for self-­determination.18 Little wonder then that Warnock’s report on hashish and hashish intoxication were reminiscent of nineteenth-­century accounts of cannabis products as “stereotypical markers of Oriental barbarism,”19 and was based on broad generalizations of the drug and its users. Hence, the report proposed that “Oriental devotees” of hashish attained “erotic illusions,” enjoying both “euphoric and aphrodisiac effects” and “visions” of “temporary paradise,”20 which are the main themes of Marco Polo’s imaginary description of the intoxicated state achieved by the medieval “Assassins” sect (about which I will say more in the next section).21 The report also viewed hashish as racially consistent with the “Oriental temperament,” or “Oriental mentalities,” claiming that its intoxicating effects were not found to be “so marked in Englishmen.” Above all, the report made a direct link between cannabis use and rampant insanity. As Warnock suggested: Hashish cases are usually violent, exalted and quarrelsome. . . . ​Many have . . . ​ delusions of an exalted kind, social or religious, and also persecutory ideas. . . . ​ Later on they become so morally degraded, lazy and reckless in behavior that they


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are no longer responsible. The delusions may remain permanently. Hashishin [hashish users] commit a good many crimes of violence and thefts, and many of them become vagrants.22

Warnock used the trope of hashish-­incited “Oriental madness” as a convenient screen; it allowed him to couch a civilizing mission project in the imperative of medical language. The same was happening elsewhere, such as contemporary French North Africa where “psychiatric science” was used “to blaze a pathway of enlightenment through a landscape of sickness in order to conquer the tyranny of madness and injustice.”23 Warnock’s approach to “hashish insanity” in Egypt possibly drew from the same pool of a priori graded civilizational conceptions.24 The inclusion of cannabis by the 1925 International Opium Convention was thus a misguided attempt by the League of Nations to save “Oriental peoples” from themselves. Europeans were not expected to be the beneficiaries of this ban, because they were (ostensibly) constitutionally and racially immune to the effects of cannabis, and because the drug was yet to establish a powerful presence on their continent. In this sense, the 1925 ban on cannabis should be viewed as an integral part of interwar colonialism’s civilizing mission. Following the 1925 Geneva Conference, the issue of cannabis did not attract very much attention for about a decade.25 One reason behind this was that the drug ostensibly remained an exclusive Oriental problem. The league’s OAC commented in 1932, “the contraband traffic in hashish does not seem to have an international character except between certain Asiatic countries bordering on the Mediterranean and Egypt. Considerable quantities are seized in some parts of the East, but these seizures are mostly of an internal character.”26 However, in the run-­up to the OAC’s nineteenth session in 1934, events grew trickier. A report prepared by the league’s secretariat estimated that there were no less than 200 million cannabis users worldwide.27 This meant, in effect, that the problem of cannabis was not confined to a well-­bounded geographical and mental space; it had evolved into a problem of global proportions, due to the proliferation of the drug into (purportedly) uncharted territories, essentially Europe and North America.28 The moral panic against marijuana in the United States, fueled by Harry J. Anslinger, director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), was part of the story.29 In this context, cannabis was increasingly viewed as a global problem in ways that were reminiscent of late-­nineteenth-­century continental anxieties of reverse colonialism,

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which spoke of an insidious invasion of Orientals and Oriental drugs disrupting metropolitan life by debilitating and immobilizing its citizens.30 The image of the Oriental hashish smoker became a metaphor for drug addiction in general and was eventually conceptualized in terms of a foreign threat to Western civilization. The League of Nations Subcommittee on Cannabis: Hitting a Glass Ceiling of Preconceptions With the 1925 cannabis ban proven to be unsatisfactory, a Subcommittee on Cannabis was convened in 1934 to develop “a well-­informed and comprehensive position on all scientific, medical, social and legal aspects of cannabis use.”31 The members of the subcommittee were experts in various fields—­clinical medicine, tropical medicine, psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, biological chemistry, toxicology, public health, and so on. The majority of them had held, at one point or another, official posts with British or French colonial administrations in the Middle East and North Africa (Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey);32 yet, the colonized themselves were not represented in the committee.33 The subcommittee members suggested cannabis use was expanding: “While a taste for Indian hemp products appears to be prevalent mainly among the Asiatic and African peoples, it is not by any means confined to them.” The report continued: The problem is no longer simply to combat a practice which is deep-­rooted in ancient populations, but rather to cope with a vice that is extending to circles hitherto uncontaminated. . . . ​Not only must the evil be combated in the countries where it has already been prevalent for a long time past but the development of a fresh menace of drug addiction must be checked in countries in which this vice is beginning to gain ground.34

The subcommittee mulled over the problem of cannabis going global for five years. As mentioned, its operations ceased abruptly in 1939, following the outbreak of World War II. All in all, however, members were not able to formulate a clear-­cut position on cannabis, nor could it provide compelling explanations for its diffusion in the world. Lastly, it was not able to make useable recommendations for the OAC to pursue.35 The subcommittee therefore concluded that more studies were necessary on the precise content of cannabis, on the causes of addiction, and on its connection with dementia and crime.36


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The various reports and debates on cannabis produced by the subcommittee usefully provide clues about the group’s failure. The experts were unable to resolve a fundamental paradox that underpinned the issue itself: cannabis, a so-­called Oriental drug, represented an essential dichotomy at the heart of the Orient-­Occident divide, yet it was making headway among new, Euro-­American devotees—­whose entire constitution should have been antithetical to that of Orientals. The subcommittee’s reports and discussions about cannabis reflected longstanding misconceptions. First of all, it was (still) viewed as a quintessential Oriental drug, one that Oriental people were/are particularly attracted to due to their innate immorality, irrationality, backwardness, and mental incapacity. Subcommittee member Dr. Antoine Porot, of the Algiers School of Psychiatry, stated it thusly: The North African native has a peculiar propensity toward drug addiction. It has been said that he is a born drug addict. . . . ​It must be recognized that his essentially passive temperament leaves him without defense against temptation. He lives from day to day, at the mercy of his instincts and desires. He has no idea of making provision for his future, and abandons himself to the satisfaction of his immediate needs.37

Dr. Joules Bouquet, inspector of pharmacies in Tunis Hospitals, concurred. Confirming that the natural propensity of Orientals to cannabis was incurable, he stated: “Repeated prohibitions from the imams, edicts and penalties from the emirs and sultans, all were in vain. Hashish triumphed and triumphs still, for it is precisely owing to their special mentality that Muslims became and remained devotees of the drug.”38 In general terms, the experts sitting on the subcommittee viewed “Oriental addicts” as contemptible people of low social standing, steeped in indolence and unproductivity, and incapable of paying even basic attention to personal hygiene issues. These views were congruent with many European and indigenous colonial perceptions, wherein cannabis was regarded as a low-­ class “native” drug that undercut modernity and the attendant “capitalist ethic of the nobility of work.”39 For example, Mazhar Osman Uzman, subcommittee member and director and chief medical officer at the neuropsychiatric home in Istanbul, suggested that “the upper classes never use hashish, which they consider degrading, and the middle classes loathe drugs and avoid them like the plague.”40 Hashish users belonged to the “lowest classes,” and were “idlers, parasites and degenerates.” Lacking

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“the elementary rules of cleanliness,” “their appearance is disorderly and dirty”; “they are content with a filthy hovel as a lodging”; “they are . . . ​beset with diseases, outcome of their vice”; and “they do not shrink from the most unprincipled and degrading acts to procure funds.” They were, in short, an “unproductive burden on society.”41 The experts also reaffirmed the hashish and insanity theory, applying it exclusively to the Orient. Bouquet, for instance, claimed that nine-­tenths of the “lunatics” in Tunisia were hashish addicts, pointing to statistics prepared in the 1910s by Dr. Warnock at Egypt’s Abbasiyya hospital for the insane to demonstrate the prevalence of the problem in the region.42 Porot, for his part, agreed with Bouquet. He claimed that Orientals were more prone to hashish-­provoked insanity than other “races”: the native’s “entirely instinctive way of life, the fact that his behavior is dictated solely by immediate reactions, and his fundamentally impulsive nature, soon give to his crises of intoxication a violent and tragic character,” Porot asserted.43 Affirming the link between cannabis and madness, Mazhar Osman Uzman provided an updated version of the medieval Assassins myth featuring the Shiite Ismaili-­Nizari sect and their leader, the Old Man of the Mountain. Known for their acts of spectacular violence—­“the most terrifying ever seen [until that time]”44—­members of the sect were referred to as fedayeen (“devotees” or “those who sacrifice themselves”). Their story was picked up locally in the Levant by the crusaders and their European observers. The story of the Assassins was first popularized in Europe by Marco Polo’s fourteenth-­century travelogue, Livre des Merveilles du Monde, amplified by a chain of European transmitters; later still, it was canonized by the spate of scholarly treatises on the sect published during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries across Europe, particularly in France.45 In 1809, Sylvestre de Sacy, the most prominent French philologist and Orientalist of his time,46 established an etymological connection between the word assassins and the Arabic designation of hashishiyyin (“hashish eaters”) for the Nizaris. Hence, he (wrongly) identified an unspecified “intoxicating potion” mentioned by Marco Polo as hashish and posited that the sect’s leaders gave their disciples hashish, so as to indoctrinate them into committing savage acts of murder. While de Sacy embraced Marco Polo’s account, he added his own contribution in the form of a “secret garden of paradise.” Bodily pleasures, that is, were supposedly procured for the would-­be fida’is by their mischievous and beguiling leader, the Old Man,


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with the aid of hashish, as part of their indoctrination and training.47 The impact of de Sacy’s theory was clear: his conclusions about the medieval Nizaris and their etymological connection to (and devious use of) hashish offered “certified ‘facts’ about the Orient and hashish that . . . ​scholars, scientists, and policymakers absorbed, echoed, and built upon for centuries.”48 de Sacy’s direct association of the Shiite Nizaris with hashish and hashish-­ induced frenzy was utterly false. It was based on prejudiced contemporary Sunni polemics against the Shiites, and on the fantasies of medieval Europeans fueled by an “imaginative ignorance” of Islam.49 Hashishiyyin was by no means a literal description of the sect’s drug-­consuming habits. Rather, it was a deeply offensive term, which the Nizaris’ Sunni detractors employed in an abusive, figurative sense to emphasize the low social status of hashish users and by extension the sect’s immorality, profanity, and enmity to Islam. As Franz Rosenthal suggests, “the reason for the choice of Hashishiyah might have been in the first place the low and disreputable character attributed to hashish eaters [in the medieval Middle East], rather than the sectarians’ devotion to the drug.”50 Still, in the 1930s, when cannabis was interfacing with colonialism, Orientalism, and burgeoning international drug-­control regimes, the Assassins narrative was conventional wisdom. “A text of virtually mythic status and power,”51 which is “continually reinterpreted and translated into the language and symbols congruent with the specific historical stage of culture,”52 this Assassins narrative was adapted to different sociopolitical contexts and was introduced in many localities around the world—­in the United States and in Mexico, in Palestine and in England—­as an authoritative historical statement of cannabis-­induced madness and acts of violence.53 Returning to the subcommittee’s Uzman, his passage on “cannabis addiction in Turkey” clearly echoed themes of the Assassins myth: It is well-­known throughout the East that the Sheiks of the “Tekkes” [Sufi Orders] secured machine-­like obedience from hashish addicts and made them act as they pleased; a mere word from the Sheikh was enough to cause addicts to throw themselves over a precipice, the sooner to achieve their dream of paradise. . . . ​ Only a fraction of those [Sufis] on whom addiction has laid so firm a hold can be brought back to a normal state. Even they retain a more or less marked streak of abnormality in their character.54

The subcommittee’s endorsement of the Oriental hashish and insanity theory was accompanied by a second viewpoint: that cannabis use led to unbridled (homo-­)sexuality among Muslims. Indeed, committee deliberations

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on hashish reveal an obsession with Arab sexuality, much the same as that of their nineteenth-­century Orientalist predecessors.55 Bouquet explained that an underlying cause of hashish use among Oriental peoples was to reinvigorate depleted sexual drives. “These people, weakened from their youth by sexual excesses of all kinds,” Bouquet suggested, “cannot resign themselves to the sexual consequences of advancing age.” Such people were weakened not by labor, “but by sexual excesses,” as “they early turn to aphrodisiacs [such as cannabis].”56 On another occasion, Bouquet focused on Egypt and held: the natives take drugs in the hope that they will enable them to increase, maintain, or regenerate, their sexual powers. . . . ​In Egypt it can be said that ninety percent of addicts have been intentional addicts but that the reason that these thousands of people took to drugs was that they believed them to be a potent sex-­stimulant.57

Clearly, the subcommittee’s expert opinion on cannabis drew from earlier colonial understandings of cannabis and cannabis intoxication. However, these understandings were not suitably evidenced. After all, the underlying proposition—­that Oriental peoples were exclusively predisposed to cannabis because cannabis aligned with their mentality—­did not sit well with the dawning realization that “a large proportion of the population in the various continents is in fact addicted to hemp,” especially in the United States and Canada, where marijuana had had “terrible effects . . . ​on criminality.”58 Resolving this contradiction proved a difficult if not impossible task for the subcommittee members. Bouquet, for instance, found it hard to abandon the racial-­cum-­racist explanation that cannabis and Oriental peoples had gone hand-­in-­hand since time immemorial, that their indolence and thirst for carnal pleasure drew them to cannabis in the same way that insects are drawn to light. But, to make allowances for the fact that cannabis had, in fact, found a path into the minds and hearts of non-­Orientals as well, he was prepared to readjust this explanation. “It has been established beyond dispute,” he reaffirmed, “that the use of Cannabis to induce a special form of intoxication is of Asiatic origin.”59 Note that the emphasis here is on a “special form” of intoxication. The understanding here is that while non-­Orientals, and even North Americans, had been found to be attracted to the forbidden drug, their intoxication would likely be more benign and more manageable than that of Orientals. Indeed, there are many Europeans in Tunisia, Bouquet observed—­French, Spaniards, Italians, Maltese, and Greeks. Yet, those who had sampled cannabis “do not appear to have been


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driven to commit violent anti-­social acts while under the influence of the drug.” He explained, “the effect of cannabis [on these Europeans] is different from that generally found among Oriental addicts”; in short, cannabis intoxication, he concluded, was “a question of racial susceptibility,” or “a question of race receptiveness.”60 “The question arises,” he mused on another occasion, “whether the effects [of cannabis] differ according to race.”61 The problem presented to Bouquet and his fellow subcommittee experts did not end here. Because, if, as Bouquet claimed, non-­Orientals could be considered immune to the special form of cannabis violent madness, how, then, could one explain, as the OAC cautioned at the time, the “increasing use of Indian hemp (chiefly in the form of marijuana cigarettes) throughout the territory of the U.S., and the terrible effects of this form of drug addiction on criminality.”62 The experts’ answer to this conundrum was an attempt to achieve two mutually exclusive objectives at the same time: they tried to revise knowledge about cannabis, while retaining the dichotomies at the heart of the Oriental-­Occidental divide. Uncritically accepting the racial marijuana moral panic orchestrated by Anslinger and the FBN in in the 1930s, subcommittee experts concluded that it was not white Americans of European “blood” who were falling prey to the “killer weed,” but the country’s (despised, disenfranchised) minority groups, especially, but not exclusively, Mexicans and blacks: Public opinion and the authorities [in the US] have become alarmed at the spread of this form of [marijuana] addiction . . . [which] increased enormously [in recent years] . . . ​ and spread especially among the younger generations of the Latin American population, Mexican, Turkish, [and] Philippine immigrant circles, and negroes. . . . ​It has been found that among the[se] contaminated elements of the population the abuse of the drug produces an unfortunate propensity to violence, and even crime.63

That the new proposals put forward by the subcommittee of experts (still) rested on tenuous foundations can be gleaned from heated exchanges in 1938 between Bouquet and Thomas Wentworth Russell. The latter was better known as Russell Pasha, Cairo’s chief of police, and later the head of Egypt’s Central Narcotics Intelligence Bureau (maktab al-­mukhabarat al-­`amm li-­l-­ mawad al-­mukhaddirat, CNIB) between 1929 and 1946. Russell was not part of the subcommittee, and for the most part was not involved in its deliberations. Yet, widely considered a knowledgeable expert on the subject of cannabis, and with an international reputation thanks to the successful drug

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war he had waged in Egypt, Russell was invited to participate in the subcommittee’s discussions during the fifteenth meeting of the OAC in June 1938.64 Russell was quite progressive for the time, at least with regard to matters concerning cannabis and its effects. Russell spent nearly forty-­five years in Egypt (1902–­1946) in various colonial capacities—­first as inspector of interior, a position that enabled him to serve in virtually every province in Egypt, then as assistant commandant of Alexandria Police, and finally as head of Cairo Police and head of the CNIB.65 His longstanding experience in Egyptian affairs earned him, in addition to the esteem of local politicians, a deep knowledge of the country and its people, including their hashish use habits, which, as he concluded, were relatively innocuous as compared to their (ab)use of “white drugs,” opiates, and cocaine.66 It is also likely that Russell was well aware, like other British officials in Egypt at the time, of the cannabis debate in the British Raj, where prohibition was ruled out due to the understanding that entrenched practices in the country like cannabis use cannot be possibly stamped out.67 True, at his annual appearances before the league, as Egypt’s representative on the OAC, Russell repeatedly lamented the hashish problem in Egypt, and “frequently padded out stories of the CN[I]B’s exploits with tales of cannabis.”68 Despite his passionate endorsement of the anticannabis agenda—­ which no doubt forced governments into action against this drug, while also providing the CNIB with valuable funds and resources—­he elegantly repudiated the claim that hashish was causing material damage to Egyptian society. In a 1930 report to the league he stated that hashish was “the vice of the city slums and did comparatively little harm,” adding: “in the villages there were a few hashish smokers who were looked upon rather as a joke . . . ​in the same way as the village ‘drunk’ is regarded in the English village.”69 Nor was Russell shy in speaking out against the proposition, widely accepted during the interwar period, that hashish intoxication, especially among “Orientals” but also other “unruly races,” was conducive to criminal behavior and frenzied insanity. At the fifteenth meeting of the OAC, held in June 1938, Russell, representing the Egyptian government, communicated his “personal impression that hashish addiction was not leading to any particular crime wave.” On the contrary, Russell observed, the hashish addict “was a tiresome type of individual,” not the kind that would make a dangerous criminal. As such, “it would not be true to say that much serious crime was due to hashish addiction.”70


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In making his case against conventional cannabis tropes, Russell was prepared to confront, head-­on, Harry J. Anslinger. The United States was not a member of the League of Nations, but Anslinger, maintaining an extra-­official presence as an observer on the OAC, consistently called for an uncompromising system of international drug control based on rigorous prohibition.71 In the US proper, “mushrooming fears of drugs were blatantly manipulated” by figures such as Anslinger, yet he amplified “antidrug discourse to the shrill tone of Dr. Strangelove’s fictionalized anticommunist phobia of ‘bodily fluids.’”72 His antimarijuana crusade, exceptionally blatant and racially charged, extended throughout his thirty-­ two-­ year career. He linked marijuana use (mostly by Mexicans and Blacks in the South and Southwest of the US) with “murders, suicides, robberies, criminal assaults, holdups, burglaries, and deeds of maniacal insanity.”73 The terms killer weed and reefer madness, which invoked the supposed evils of marijuana, owed their provenance to Anslinger’s campaigns throughout the 1930s.74 In keeping with these ideas, in 1937 (the same year the Federal Marihuana Tax Act was signed into law in the US) Anslinger informed the OAC that several “cases of violent crime in the USA in [the previous year] . . . ​were directly traceable to the use of cannabis.”75 A year later he informed the OAC: “the drug [marijuana] maintains its ancient, worldwide tradition of murder, assault, rape, physical and mental deterioration . . . [and] its use is associated with dementia and crime.”76 Russell, however, would have none of this. He quickly dismissed Anslinger’s claim with a sarcastic observation. He remarked, “hashish addiction could be extremely dangerous,” although in most cases hashish addicts tended to lapse “into a state of jovial idiocy” rather than “homicidal insanity.”77 Russell also refused to tolerate Bouquet’s ideas during subcommittee proceedings, and especially those that connected Orientals to cannabis in terms of irresistible and excessive racial indolence, (homo-­)sexuality, and violent disposition. Russell strongly opposed such notions and made this clear to the subcommittee experts. In language quite atypical for a refined English gentleman of the time, he meticulously and methodically demolished the empirical, historical, and conceptual premises of Bouquet’s arguments. First and foremost, Russell focused on temporality. Hashish addiction among Oriental Arabs was not, he argued, an ancient and perennial issue, but a purely modern phenomenon, and a fairly recent one at that. It had nothing to do with fixed pathological mentalities but rather with the crucial task of placing the problem in a proper historical context.

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In Egypt, Russell explained, large-­scale hashish addiction was traceable to the development of modern irrigation and cultivation systems in the Nile Valley, not to the ancient past. Thousands of square miles of the valley, Russell went on to say, had gradually been converted to perennial irrigation; with the land watered and cultivated all the year round instead of once a year, it had thus become a breeding ground for parasitic diseases such as bilharzia, ancylostomiasis, and malaria. The effect of these diseases, especially the first two, had been, as Russell suggested, a great diminution in the strength and working efficiency of the Egyptian peasant. His “physical and sexual powers being sapped,” the fellah, “in his ignorance . . . ​has looked around for some stimulant to replace his lost energies which form his code of honor.”78 This accounted for why hashing smoking spread. In retrospect, Russell’s explanation of the modern Egyptian’s allure to hashish may be questionable, yet his attempt to place the phenomena in a concrete historical context—­as opposed to attributing it to their radical alterity and to fixed racial, cultural, and mental attributes—­is admirable. The desire of the fellahin to hashish was, he claimed, not a self-­perpetuating force of nature. It was a provisional and a potentially short-­term problem, one that would be resolved once their bodies stopped hosting debilitating diseases. Indeed, like many others within and outside the league, including the subcommittee experts, Russell was an advocate of modern science.79 Optimism, he thought, was not naiveté on his part; rather, it was a realistic assessment supported by recent history. After all, “thirty-­five years ago,” he said, “drug addiction in the villages was practically unknown . . . ​and the fellah . . . ​did his twelve hours day without thinking of or needing a stimulant. ”80 Russell was also blunt with respect to Bouquet’s broad generalizations about “Arabs.” Egyptians and Tunisians were not one and the same people, he insisted. On the contrary—­they were “of totally different characters and habits.” Bouquet contended that lower-­class Tunisians got high because there they were irredeemably indolent—­“laziness is the basic element in the character of Muslims,” he insisted. Russell strongly opposed this view, saying that it does not apply to Egyptian peasants. “In point of fact, the fellahin of Egypt were a sober race, who did not touch alcohol. . . . ​The Egyptian fellah was on the whole an industrious person, did not drink alcohol, seldom nowadays had more than one wife and was fond of his children.”81


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Conclusion The Bouquet-­Russell debate may have been a big fuss over a trifle. As Kozma suggests, neither questioned “the idea that gross generalizations can be made about inherent pathologies of entire populations. . . . ​Outside of history, outside of time and context, what Russell and Bouquet [were] actually debating was whether or not ‘the Arab’ was inherently lazy, or whether hashish made him one.”82 This may very well be true. Still, the Russell-­ Bouquet debate can be interpreted in a different light if viewed from the perspective of “diagnostic events,” à la anthropologist Sally Falk Moore. The latter deployed this concept to describe moments when established explanations and collective mythologies can no longer function smoothly.83 Practices undertaken to alter these established rules and understandings are thus “events that reveal ongoing contests, competitions, conflicts, and the effort to prevent, suppress, and repress these.”84 The exchange between Bouquet and Russell (as well as the deliberations of the 1934–­1939 Subcommittee on Cannabis) can likewise be read in this light. Confronted with knowledge about cannabis that seemed neither reliable nor useful to understand contemporary problems, the OAC appointed a subcommittee of experts to generate new data and enhanced knowledge base. Members, however, found earlier collective perceptions and understandings of cannabis formidable, and they eventually succumbed to them. Moments such as the Bouquet-­Russell (or Anslinger-­Russell) polemic showcased the powerful contradictions and tensions underlying the reconfigured knowledge, as well as the effort to conceal certain facts and truths. Immediately after the Bouquet-­Russell debate, the subcommittee chairman suggested that Bouquet, in consultation with Russell, “might be willing to redraft his text in such a way as to present factual data without hurting the susceptibilities in either country.”85 To the best of my knowledge, neither Russell nor Bouquet followed through. This effort to conceal difference helps explain why no attempts were made to produce alternative (let alone indigenous) ideas about cannabis that may refute dominant forms of knowledge grounded in Western modernity and/or interwar colonialism. As I have argued elsewhere, Jews in Mandatory Palestine were receptive to these forms of knowledge about cannabis. Consequently, they avoided hashish smoking almost entirely, viewing the habit as the exclusive domain of Oriental societies and the source of many of their afflictions—­and, hence,

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as a threat to the Zionist project in Palestine.86 A similar logic applies to other places around the world at the same time—­Mexico, European countries, and the United States, for example.87 As mentioned, the global prohibition of cannabis was one of the lasting legacies of the League of Nations.88 Yet, it appears that another legacy of the league—­a forum “in which colonial knowledge was produced and exchanged within and across imperial centers”89—­has been the global entrenchment of fanciful and misleading concepts about cannabis throughout much of the twentieth century. Ironically, then, biased agendas and fanciful ideologies of the interwar period, couched in “neutral” scientific language, played a pivotal role in determining global positions and policies regarding cannabis. However, as more and more people have had firsthand experience with the drug, they found that the nature of their intoxication was at odds with longstanding notions of it, notions which have their roots in the age of empire. This perhaps explains, at least in part, the foundations of the recent increasing tide of cannabis decriminalization and/or legalization around the world. Notes 1. Kathryn Meyer and Terry Parssinen, introduction to Webs of Smoke: Smugglers, Warlords, Spies, and the History of the International Drug Trade (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002). 2. James Mills, Cannabis Nation: Control and Consumption in Britain, 1928–­ 2008 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 61. 3. Liat Kozma, “Cannabis Prohibition in Egypt, 1880–­ 1939: From Local Ban to League of Nations Diplomacy,” Middle Eastern Studies 47 (2011): 455. See also Tom Blickman, Dave Bewley-­Taylor, and Martin Jelsma, The Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition: The History of Cannabis in the U.N. Drug Control System and Options for Reform (Amsterdam: Transnational Institute, 2014), 10–­11. 4. See, for example, Robert Kendell, “Cannabis Condemned: The Proscription of Indian Hemp,” Addiction 98 (2003): 143–­151; James Mills, Cannabis Britannica: Empire, Trade, and Prohibition, 1800–­1928 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 52–­187; James Mills, “Colonial Africa and the International Politics of Cannabis: Egypt, South Africa and the Origins of Global Control,” in Drugs and Empires: Essays in Modern Imperialism and Intoxication, c. 1500—­c. 1930, ed. James Mills and Patricia Barton (London: Palgrave, 2007), 165–­184; and William B. McAllister, Drug Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century: An International History (London: Routledge, 2000), 57–­78. 5.  Liat Kozma, “The League of Nations and the Debate over Cannabis Prohibition,” History Compass 9 (2011): 61–­70.


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6.  Kozma, “The League of Nations,” 67. 7. Bernard S. Cohn, Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 3–­15. 8. I am extremely grateful to Liat Kozma for graciously sharing with me many of these reports. 9.  See, for example, Liat Kozma, Global Women, Colonial Ports: Prostitution in the Interwar Middle East (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2017); Magaly Rodríguez García, Davide Rodogno, and Liat Kozma, eds., The League of Nations’ Work on Social Issues: Visions, Endeavors and Experiments (Geneva: United Nations Publications, 2016); Keith David Watenpaugh, “The League of Nations’ Rescue of Armenian Genocide Survivors and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism, 1920–­1927,” American Historical Review 115 (2010): 1315–­1339; and Susan Pedersen, “Back to the League of Nations,” American Historical Review 112 (2007): 1091–­1117. 10.  Magaly Rodríguez García, Davide Rodogno, and Liat Kozma, introduction to The League of Nations’ Work on Social Issues, 27 11. Kozma, Global Women, Colonial Ports, 24. See also García, Rodogno, and Kozma, introduction to The League of Nations’ Work, 24–­25. 12.  The exclusion of colonial subjects from the league was not unique to the interwar period, however. For instance, previously in India, “colonial officials increasingly disparaged the scholarly participation of Indians in favor of consolidating scientific capital by a select, if often seriously deficient European elite.” Nicholas B. Dirks, Foreword to Cohn, Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge, xvi. 13.  Cyrus Schayegh, The Middle East and the Making of the Modern World (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017), 135; and Klaas Dykmann, “How International Was the Secretariat of the League of Nations?” International History Review 37 (2015): 727. 14.  In Britain, for example, “negligible numbers of white British subjects were convicted in [the interwar] period, mainly because very few of them had any contact with the drug.” Mills, Cannabis Nation, 20. 15.  Kozma, “Cannabis Prohibition in Egypt,” 454; Mills, Cannabis Britannica, 166–­177. 16. Mills, Cannabis Britannica, 171. 17.  John Warnock, “Twenty-­Eight Years’ Lunacy Experience in Egypt (1895–­1923),” British Journal of Psychiatry 70 (1924): 579–­612; see also John Warnock, “Insanity from Hasheesh,” Journal of Mental Science 49 (1903): 96–­110. 18. Mills, Cannabis Britannica, 183–­184. 19.  David A. Guba, “Antoine Isaac Silvestre de Sacy and the Myth of the Hachichins: Orientalizing Hashish in Nineteenth-­Century France,” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs 30 (2016): 52.

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20.  Warnock, “Twenty-­Eight Years’ Lunacy Experience,” 595. 21. Bruce Lincoln, “An Early Moment in the Discourse of ‘Terrorism’: Reflections of a Tale from Marco Polo,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 48 (2006): 252. 22.  Warnock, “Twenty-­Eight Years’ Lunacy Experience,” 595–­596. See also Mills, Cannabis Britannica, 170. 23. Richard C. Keller, Colonial Madness: Psychiatry in French North Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 22. The same is true as regards British colonial psychiatry in India; and see James H. Mills, Madness, Cannabis and Colonialism: The “Native Only” Lunatic Asylums of British India, 1857–­1900 (New York: Palgrave, 2000), 43–­65; and Nile Green, “Breaking the Begging Bowl: Morals, Drugs, and Madness in the Fate of the Muslim Faqīr,” South Asian History and Culture 5 (2014): 226–­245. 24.  Blickman, Bewley-­Taylor, and Jelsma, Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition, 15. 25. Mills, Cannabis Nation, 41–­42. 26.  League of Nations Archive (LNA), Opium Advisory Committee (OAC), box 3237, dossier 27405, document 36624, note prepared on seizures and cases of illicit traffic incorporated in the summary of illicit transactions and seizures for the use of the subcommittee on seizures, 9.4.1932. 27. Mills, Cannabis Nation, 44. It remains unclear how that figure was arrived at. 28.  Kozma, “League of Nations,” 64. 29.  Marcus Boon, The Road of Excess: A History of Writers on Drugs (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 123–­132; Isaac Campos, Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012); Susan L. Speaker, “‘The Struggle of Mankind Against its Deadliest Foe’: Themes of Counter-­ Subversion in Anti-­ Narcotic Campaigns, 1920–­ 1940,” Journal of Social History 34 (2001): 591–­610; Jerome L. Himmelstein, “From Killer Weed to Drop-­Out Drug: The Changing Ideology of Marihuana,” Contemporary Crises 7 (1983): 13–­38; and Larry Sloman, Reefer Madness: The History of Marijuana in America (Indianapolis: Bobb-­Merrill, 1979). 30.  Marty Roth, “Victorian Highs: Detection, Drugs, and Empire,” in High Anxieties: Cultural Studies in Addiction, ed. Janet Farrell Brodie and Marc Redfield (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 86. 31. Mills, Cannabis Nation, 47. For a detailed account of “the main problems with which the Subcommittee faced,” see LNA, OAC, O.C./Cannabis/7, Subcommittee on Cannabis, Advisory Committee on Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs, 22.4.1939. 32.  Kozma, “League of Nations,” 63. For the identity and expertise of these experts, see LNA, OAC, box 4928, dossier 6043, Situation as regards the control of cannabis (hemp) and drugs derived from Cannabis, O.C. 1542 (K), 1.


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33.  This move, from diplomats to scientists and experts, seems to have been symptomatic of the League Humanitarian Operation since the early 1930s; in the same period, the body’s work against prostitution was also taken up by the latter, as “they could criticize national governments more freely in the League’s institutions”; Kozma, Global Women, Colonial Ports, 41. 34.  LNA, OAC, O.C. 1542, preliminary notes on the chief aspects of the problem of Indian hemp and the laws relating thereto in force in certain countries, 4, 12. 35. Mills, Cannabis Nation, 48. 36.  Blickman, Bewley-­Taylor, and Jelsma, Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition, 14. 37. LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/12, Cannabis addiction in Algeria, 8.5.1939, 4. 38.  LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/3, Present state of documentation concerning cannabis and the problems to which it gives rise, 12.4.1939, 5. 39.  Green, “Breaking the Begging Bowl,” 232. 40.  LON, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/8, 3. 41.  LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/3, Present state of documentation concerning cannabis and the problems to which it gives rise, 12.4.1939, 69; LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/8, Cannabis addiction in Turkey, report submitted by Mazhar Osman Uzman, 27.4.1939, 1–­2. 42.  LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/3, Present state of documentation concerning cannabis and the problems to which it gives rise, 12.4.1939, 80. 43. LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/12, Cannabis addiction in Algeria, 8.5.1939, 4. 44. Amin Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (New York: Schocken Books, 1987), 98. 45.  Guba, “Silvestre de Sacy,” 50–­74; Juliette Wood, “The Old Man of the Mountain in Medieval Folklore,” Folklore 99 (1988): 78–­87. 46.  As Edward Said observed in Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1979), 129: “Every major Arabist in Europe during the nineteenth century traced his intellectual authority back to him. Universities and academics in France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and especially Germany were dotted with the students who formed themselves at his feet and through the anthological tableaux provided by his work.” 47. Farhad Daftary, “‘Order of the Assassins’: J. von Hammer and the Orientalist Misrepresentations of the Nizari Ismailis,” Iranian Studies 39 (2006): 75. 48.  Guba, “Silvestre de Sacy,” 51. 49.  Daftary, “Order of the Assassins,” 74.

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50. Franz Rosenthal, The Herb: Hashish Versus Medieval Muslim Society (Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1971), 43. The apparent misinterpretation by de Sacy is also confirmed by the fact that “dope intoxication, a markedly pacific state characterized by impaired concentration, would be a positive liability in a man who had been commissioned to plunge a dagger into somebody’s heart.” Stuart Walton, Intoxicology: A Cultural History of Drink and Drugs (London: Dean Street Press, 2016), chap. 3. 51.  Lincoln, “Early Moment in the Discourse of ‘Terrorism,’” 242 52. Łukasz Kamieński, Shooting Up: A Short History of Drugs and War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 38. 53.  For instance, in the 1930s and 1940s, Anslinger enthusiastically embraced the Assassins myth to advance his antimarijuana crusade in the United States. In fact, Anslinger’s most famous tract “Marijuana: Assassin of Youth,” published in 1937, makes explicit reference to the sect to buttress his “killer weed” and “reefer madness” propositions. See Emily Dufton, Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America (New York: Basic Books, 2017), 3–­4; Boon, Road of Excess, 123–­132; Campos, Home Grown, 11–­12; and Mills, Cannabis Nation, 28–­29. 54. LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/8, Cannabis addiction in Turkey, report submitted by Mazhar Osman Uzman, 27.4.1939, 3–­4. 55. Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (New York: Routledge, 1995); and Ann L. Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002). 56. LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C.1724, Observations on the causes of drug-­addiction in North Africa, 24.1.1939, 5. 57.  LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/3, Present state of documentation concerning cannabis and the problems to which it gives rise, 12.4.1939, 73. 58.  LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/7, Present position in regard cannabis: results obtained and problems solved, 22.4.1939, 2; LNA, OAC, O.C. 1542, preliminary notes on the chief aspects of the problem of Indian Hemp and the Laws relating thereto in force in certain countries, 11; LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/3, Present state of documentation concerning cannabis and the problems to which it gives rise, 12.4.1939, 69. 59.  LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/3, 68. 60.  LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/3, 74–­75; LNA, OAC, O.C.s/c Cannabis Sat./Indian/4th session/P.V.1, Subcommittee to consider questions in regard to Indian Hemp and Indian Hemp Drugs, 15.6.1938, 5. 61.  LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/7, Present position in regard cannabis: results obtained and problems solved, 22.4.1939, 8. It appears that French


Haggai Ram

perceptions of opium use in the colonies during the interwar years rested on similar racial assumptions. See, for example, Aro Velmet, “From Universal Relaxant to Oriental Vice: Race and French Perceptions of Opium Use in the Moment of Global Control,” in Prohibitions and Psychoactive Substances in History, Culture and Theory, ed. Susannah Wilson (New York: Routledge, 2019), 33–­50. 62. LNA, OAC, O.C. 1542, preliminary notes on the chief aspects of the problem of Indian Hemp and the Laws relating thereto in force in certain countries, 11. The OAC is referring here to the moral panic of “reefer madness” or “killer weed” in 1930s United States. 63.  LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C./Cannabis/3, Present state of documentation concerning cannabis and the problems to which it gives rise, 12.4.1939, 74. 64.  Kozma, “League of Nations,” 66–­67. 65.  Thomas Russell Pasha, Egyptian Service, 1902–­1946 (London: J. Murray, 1949); and P. J. V. Rolo, “Russell, Sir Thomas Wentworth (1879–­1954),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), https://­www​.­oxforddnb​.­com​/­search​ ?­q=Russell%2C+Sir+Thomas+Wentworth​&­searchBtn=Search​&­isQuickSearch=true​. 66. Mills, Cannabis Nation, 36–­49. 67.  Hagggai Ram, Intoxicating Zion: A Social History of Hashish in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2020), chap. 1. 68. Mills, Cannabis Nation, 40. 69.  Cited in Mills, Cannabis Nation, 40–­41. 70. LNA, OAC, Subcommittee to study questions in regard to Indian hemp and Indian hemp drugs, O.C./S/C. Can.Sat.Indian/4th session, 3rd meeting, 18.6.1938, 4. 71. Anslinger’s increased activity at the OAC and the Subcommittee on Cannabis can be traced back to his own endeavor to passing federal legislation against the drug in the United States. 72.  Paul Gootenberg, “Talking About the Flow: Drugs, Borders, and the Discourse of Drug Control,” Cultural Critique 71 (2009): 36. 73.  Harry J. Anslinger with Courtney Ryley Cooper, “Marijuana: Assassin of Youth,” American Magazine, July 1937, http://­www​.­druglibrary​.­org​/­schaffer​/­history​/­e1930​ /­mjassassinrd​.­htm​. 74.  On Anslinger’s relentless and vicious war on marijuana, see for example, Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs (New York: Bloomsbury, 2015). 75.  LNA, OAC, O.C./s/c.Cann.Sat.Ind./3rd Session, Special committee to study questions in regard to Indian Hemp and Indian Hemp drugs, 2.6.1937, 9–­10.

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76.  Cited in Blickman, Bewley-­Taylor, and Jelsma, Rise and Decline of Cannabis Prohibition, 14. 77.  LNA, OAC, O.C./s/c.Cann.Sat.Ind./3rd Session, Special committee to study questions in regard to Indian Hemp and Indian Hemp drugs, 2.6.1937, 9–­10. 78.  LNA, Subcommittee on Cannabis, O.C. 1724 Addendum, 24.1.1939; LNA, OAC, OC/cannabis/4th session/P.V.1, Subcommittee to Consider Questions in Regard to Indian Hemp and Indian Hemp Drugs, Provisional Minutes, Forth Session, First Meeting, 15.6.1938. 79. The interwar period, as Kozma observes in Global Women, Colonial Ports, 14, “was also an era of solid faith in science and the belief that social sciences could be recruited for the service of humanity. This belief stemmed from a sincere concern for the well-­being of men and women at the margins of society, with equally sincere anxieties about the destabilization of class and race boundaries.” 80. LNA, OAC, C.l95. M. l05.1938 .XI. (O.C./A.R.l937/5), Traffic in Opium and other dangerous drugs, annual reports by government for 1937, 20.5.1938, 192. 81. LNA, OAC, O.C.s/c Cannabis Sat./Indian/4th session/P.V.1, Subcommittee to consider questions in regard to Indian Hemp and Indian Hemp Drugs, 15.6.1938, 11–­12. 82.  Kozma, “League of Nations,” 67. 83. Sally Falk Moore “Explaining the Present: Theoretical Dilemmas in Processual Ethnography,” American Ethnologist 14 (1987): 727–­736. 84.  Moore, “Explaining the Present,” 730. 85.  LNA, OAC, O.C./S/C Cannabis Sat./Indian/4th Session/P.V.1, Subcommittee to consider questions in regard to Indian Hemp and Indian Hemp drugs, provisional minutes, 15.6.1938, 17. 86. Haggai Ram, “Hashishophobia and the Jewish Ethnic Question in Mandatory Palestine and the State of Israel,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 47 (2020): 832–848; and Haggai Ram, “Hashish Traffickers, Hashish Consumers, and Colonial Knowledge in Mandatory Palestine,” Middle Eastern Studies 52 (2016): 546–­563. 87. Campos, Home Grown; and Benjamin T. Smith, “The Dialectics of Dope: Leopoldo Salazar Viniegra, the Myth of Marijuana, and Mexico’s State Drug Monopoly,” in Wilson, Prohibitions and Psychoactive Substances, 111–­132. 88. Philippe Bourmaud, “Turf Wars at the League of Nations: International Anti-­ Cannabis Policies and Oversight in Syria and Lebanon, 1919–­ 1939,” in García, Rodogno, and Kozma, The League of Nations’ Work on Social Issues, 75. 89.  Kozma, “League of Nations,” 63.

6  A Historical Approach to the Criminalization of Marijuana Use in Mexico José Domingo Schievenini

This chapter analyzes changes in government policies toward cannabis products over the course of Mexican history. It argues that transitions in political attitudes regarding cannabis have been linked to the evolving nature of the government itself, such that structural variations in the characteristics of the state have resulted in consequential shifts in policies relating to the plant. This chapter covers a long historical process: it encompasses the colonial period, when the country was under Spanish rule (1521–­1821); its first century as an independent nation (1821–­1910); the Mexican Revolution (1910–­1920), and the earliest phase of the postrevolutionary state (1920–­ 1934). Within the framework of these historical periods, this chapter is divided into four sections, each of which examines the dynamics characterizing the transitions, as well as the ruptures and continuities in the history of cannabis in Mexico. The first section focuses on the transformation cannabis underwent in the eyes of the government during the territory’s long transition from a colony to an independent state. The second section documents governmental discrepancies in the marijuana-­related legislation during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including the Porfiriato (during which Porfirio Díaz ruled from 1876 to 1911). Within the context of the Mexican Revolution, the third section examines the reasoning behind drug control in the 1917 Constitution, which forms the basis for the contemporary Mexican state. The final section analyzes the manner in which the postrevolutionary governments interpreted the 1917 Constitution regarding drugs, leading to coercive legal enforcement measures against marijuana and resulting in legislation that moved toward criminalization, the consequences of which are still being felt today.


José Domingo Schievenini

In the wake of an epidemic of violence that is directly linked to the prohibition of narcotics, there has been a growing effort over the past decade to examine the history of drugs in Mexico. This chapter draws together the previous research on the history of cannabis and also provides fresh perspectives and new documentary evidence, much of it translated from Spanish to English for the first time. Cannabis governance in the colonial period, the nineteenth century, and during the revolution has been previously explored by other scholars.1 However, the first half of the twentieth century (specifically, the legal framework relating to marijuana during the initial postrevolutionary decades) has been less thoroughly explored; this chapter will draw on new evidence to provide a fuller picture of prohibition’s evolution.2 From Spanish Colonialism to the First Century of Mexican Independence No evidence has been found to indicate that the botanical genus Cannabis existed on the American continent prior to the Spanish conquest. The presence of this plant during the sixteenth century in what is now Mexico seems to coincide with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors and those who followed in their wake to establish an empire. The evidence suggests that between 1530 and 1535 hemp was planted in the vicinity of present-­day Mexico City.3 From this point until the end of the eighteenth century, the Spanish monarchy issued at least eighteen regulations and ordinances designed to promote the cultivation of hemp and related manufacturing activities in New Spain.4 None of these was designed to establish an industry for the production of medicinal or psychoactive substances but rather for the manufacture of fiber to be used for rope, rigging, and sails on the empire’s ships, clothing for sailors, and sacks for the transport of dry goods.5 For various reasons, mainly technical and economic, the hemp industry failed to prosper.6 Nevertheless, the Cannabis genus spread, adapting to the climate and soil conditions of New Spain.7 During the period between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, there is no record that any part of this plant was smoked for its psychoactive properties. This may explain why there were no legal prohibitions on its cultivation or use prior to the mid-­nineteenth century. However, this does not tell the whole story of its regulation during the colonial period. As a result of inquisitorial proceedings relating to the consumption of plants, an

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edict issued in 1769 marked the first formal prohibition relating indirectly to cannabis in Mexican territory. This inquisitorial measure was specifically designed “to banish idolatry, superstition, and abuse by the Indians” and to punish those who sinned against the Catholic faith by using plants or concoctions and, therefore, “gravely offended God our Lord.” Among others, these sins included “performing superstitious cures [through] the use of pipiltzintzintli.”8 Pipiltzintzintli, a Nahuatl word (the language of the Aztecs), refers to a concoction containing various herbal ingredients, among which, it has been argued, were hemp seeds and flowers.9 According to the edict, these herbal practices “led to entering into a pact with the devil,” and the punishment was set at twenty-­five lashes to the “indio” who committed the sin.10 As early as the sixteenth century, government edicts and inquisitorial records reveal how the use of traditional plants and herbs by indigenous people, as well as the various potions and substances they concocted therefrom, were a matter of concern for the colonial authorities.11 This repression formed part of the cultural imperialism that defined the colonial period. The initial armed offensive leading to territorial occupation was followed by a “spiritual conquest” characterized by the introduction of Christianity and Hispanic customs in an effort to replace the ideas and beliefs of the indigenous people.12 As cannabis came to be integrated into local concoctions, it found itself on the wrong side of colonial prejudices. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, a growing segment of the creole elite in New Spain began to experience a cultural distancing from Europe, in addition to an increasing awareness of the wealth within the territory they inhabited. This “Mexican enlightenment” is considered to be the genesis of the movement for independence from Spain, which was finally achieved in 1821, after an eleven-­year war.13 Independence was the first radical transformation of the political and social structures in Mexican history. The founding of the new nation brought with it renewed zeal in the field of science and medicine. In 1846 the Farmacopea Mexicana [Mexican Pharmacopeia] was published. It was the first locally produced pharmacopoeia designed to chart the country’s botanical heritage.14 In it, “cannabis índica” is referred to as “hemp of the country or mariguana,” whereas “cannabis sativa” is simply called “hemp” [cáñamo]. Both entries appear in the “most common elementary medicines” section. Thus, the term mariguana was introduced to the world, although the spellings marihuana or marijuana have since become more common.


José Domingo Schievenini

The idea that marijuana formed part of Mexico’s indigenous herbal catalogue and was the source of potentially useful medicines became well-­ established in the early decades after independence. The plant was proudly displayed by the Mexican government at the World Fairs in Paris on two occasions (185515 and 188716). What had been introduced as an industrial crop, and then used in psychoactive concoctions by the indigenous population during the colonial era, became a symbol of the new nation’s natural bounty. Marijuana’s pharmacological complexity was again articulated in the revised 1874 edition of the Farmacopea Mexicana and was widely discussed in the medical field.17 As in the previous 1846 version, the manual differentiated between hemp and marijuana. The former was botanically identified as “cannabis sativa” and the latter as “cannabis índica.” It was specified that in Mexico both had therapeutic uses but added the neutral caveat that the “índica” variety had “narcotic” properties.18 The positive, or at least neutral, characterization of cannabis in Mexico continued throughout the nineteenth century. During the 1880s physicians concluded that the plant had a number of therapeutic uses. Certain concoctions were prescribed for stomach disorders, cephalgia, and asthma, and others were used to alleviate irritation in the urinary tract caused by gonorrhea. Marijuana oil was recommended for topical use in the treatment of hemorrhoids. “Cannabis extract” was even found useful in the treatment of neuroses, with the warning that its use could cause “hallucinations.”19 The articulation of the complexity of cannabis by Mexico’s scientific community falls within the wider context of medical professionalization during the second half of the nineteenth century. Public health was one of the government’s main concerns, and Mexican medical professionals took advantage of this arena to work closely with the political elites.20 The faith-­ based, Catholic precepts of medicine that predominated during the colonial period moved into the background, and the traditions of indigenous healers and herbalists were dismissed as both primitive and uncivilized.21 The rising medical professionals sought to monopolize the field by incorporating the latest advances in therapeutics. Affirmations regarding cannabis products, that, at the time, were recognized in various modern nations as legitimate pharmaceuticals, were therefore testimonials reflecting on their own competence and authority. The alliance between the state and the medical profession crystalized in three sanitary codes enacted in 1891, 1894, and 1902.22 These codes

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recognized the medical use of various herbs and narcotic substances, several of which are prohibited drugs today. However, their use was reserved to those recognized as members of Mexico’s new modern medical elite. The list of substances that pharmacies could keep in stock included caffeine, cocaine, codeine, morphine, elixir and coca wine, Dover powders, concentrated opium juice, hemp seeds, and various cannabis products. Marijuana appeared on the “list of medicinal plants and animals that gatherers can only sell to pharmacists.” While still considered to be the source of useful medicines, these codes nonetheless ensured that plant products were made available only with a prescription signed by a licensed physician. The sanitary codes allowed pharmacies to dispense two grams of “haschich” or “tincture of haschich,” a half gram of “cannabis alcohol extract,” and a third of a gram of “cannabinone.”23 Despite the underlying moral prejudice against indigenous psychoactive plants, the useful colonial crop had become a controlled medicinal substance in independent Mexico. First Prohibitions of Recreational Marijuana As the second half of the nineteenth century progressed, cannabis spread among the disadvantaged sectors of Mexican society. The plant was widely available at a very low cost in popular markets or could be grown at virtually no expense on any rural hillside or on the patios outside homes. One of the first historical documents to mention the recreational habit of smoking marijuana in Mexico is found in the book, Lecciones de Farmacología [Pharmacology Lessons], written by the physician, Leonardo Oliva. Acknowledging the various medicinal uses of marijuana, he writes that “certain Mexicans smoke the leaves of the plant” thus causing “physical and moral hallucinations.”24 In spite of the medicinal properties recognized in the various editions of the Farmacopea Mexicana and in the sanitary codes, certain elements began to refer to nonmedicinal consumption as a vice—­for instance, as a type of social and moral transgression. This disdain for the plant was not surprising. During the initial decades of independent Mexico, a powerful and far-­reaching conservative oligarchy romanticized the country’s Hispanic past and Catholic values. Based on this perspective, they expressed contempt for drugs and vices generally associated with the lower classes.25 After decades of political uncertainty, in 1857 a new Constitution was adopted, thus marking the beginning of Mexico as a modern, liberal state.


José Domingo Schievenini

As a consequence of this Constitution, the conflict between conservatives and liberals came to a head during the Reform War (1857–­1861) as a result of which the victorious liberals proceeded to establish a secular, republican state. After less than half a century as an independent country, the Reform War constituted the second major structural transformation in Mexican history. From this time onward, while conservatives and their postulates never completely disappeared from the political and social scene, their voices and power base were pushed into constant opposition to the newly established secular state.26 These voices often made themselves felt locally in both state and municipal governments. At the same time, in practice many local leaders who publicly embraced the liberal cause exhibited a hybrid ideology incorporating conservative ideas, along with racist and classist attitudes more typical of the colonial period.27 Under the terms of the 1857 Constitution, health and sanitary measures fell within the jurisdiction of the local authorities, rather than the central government.28 As moral concerns grew regarding the nontherapeutic consumption of cannabis preparations, efforts at control began to crop up throughout the country. The first recorded formal prohibition dates back to 1869 when regulations governing the sale of marijuana were established in Mexico City.29 Those caught possessing the plant were subject to a sentence of up to one month in jail. In 1871, the city council of Guanajuato determined that “the sale of marihuana is prohibited except in pharmacies, where it will not be dispatched, except with the prescription of a physician whose professional license has been approved by the local Council.”30 This prohibitive measure was justified due to “the serious evils caused by the use of the grass commonly known as marihuana and taking into account the obligation that has been imposed to promote the public welfare.” The protection of the collective good, or what the authorities considered to be the collective good, resulted in the denial of the right to do as one pleases with one’s body. In 1882, the sale of the plant “Rosa María, commonly known as mariguana,” was prohibited under the local criminal code in Oaxaca. This measure can be explained, in part, by the authorities’ concern with insubordination and desertion by members of the armed forces, both of which were attributed to cannabis consumption.31 Accordingly, the state government issued specific orders suppressing its sale in drugstores and strictly prohibiting its use in military barracks.32

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The collective good was also alluded to in an 1896 regulation in the state of Querétaro, as a result of which the cultivation and sale of marijuana were prohibited. The decree stated that the cause of the prohibition was the “misuse that some people make of the plant [which] is not only harmful to themselves, but also to the society in which they live.” Violation of the law was punishable by up to fifteen days in jail, and it was stipulated that this decree would be the object of “popular action.” Citizens were empowered to anonymously report any suspect, thus entitling them to half the amount of the fine imposed on the offender.33 The authorities in Querétaro had not simply characterized cannabis as a threat to the state, but also as a danger to the people whom they expected to police users for the good of the community. Regulations continued to be imposed well into the twentieth century. In 1904, the state of Zacatecas prohibited “the sale of the plant commonly known as marihuana, except in drugstores where it can be sold only as a medicinal plant and by medical prescription.”34 In 1905 the state of Nuevo León specified that “gatherers in the wild may only sell mariguana to pharmacies holding official permits.”35 Neither of these two measures mentions a specific reason or legal rationale justifying the prohibition. Similarly, a record corresponding to Mexico City, dating from 1909, abstractly insisted on the need to view marijuana as a plant that should be banned.36 The governor promoting this measure, Guillermo de Landa y Escandón, was also instrumental in creating the “Mutual Aid and Moralizing Society” [Sociedad Mutualista y Moralizadora], which was aimed at encouraging healthy habits and combating vice.37 These local regulations prohibiting marijuana were enforced during the Porfiriato, which refers to the period when General Porfirio Díaz ruled Mexico. The Porfiriato is regarded as a time during which “order and progress” were pursued in an effort to modernize the country.38 Many federal laws were adopted during that period, among them the aforementioned sanitary codes of 1891, 1894 and 1902, which allowed for the medicinal use of cannabis based on scientific premise, as well as two codes of criminal procedure, in 1880 and 1894, which enforced the Federal Penal Code of 1871. These criminal statutes were based on liberal legal theory and, therefore, abolished the ecclesiastical courts dating back to colonial times and, in addition, following the spirit of the 1857 Constitution, established the principle of the equality of all Mexican citizens.39 The Federal Penal Code of 1871, in force during the entire Porfiriato, the revolution, and the first postrevolutionary decade


José Domingo Schievenini

(1920–­1929), did not criminalize the production, sale, or use of drugs in general or of marijuana in particular, but it did require the sanitary and pharmaceutical control of drugs and medicines.40 However, both sanitary and penal codes in effect during the Porfiriato were the first tangible results in terms of drug control at the nationwide level: formal control based on administrative and pharmaceutical guidelines, far removed from the judicial sphere. One of the principal objectives of the Porfiriato was to put an end to the political strife and social chaos marking the first few decades of independent Mexico. To this end, the state attempted to give the appearance of respect for the rule of law. The penal system cracked down especially hard on theft which, along with assaults resulting in injury, were the most commonly prosecuted crimes at that time.41 Following the precepts of liberalism, the Mexican state vigorously protected private property as the central component to maintaining social order. Intoxicating substances, such as marijuana, were not a major concern requiring attention on the part of the federal government. The federal laws adopted during the Porfiriato tended to be both liberal and positivist in nature but were being applied in a country that had neither liberal customs nor traditions. Three centuries of social, cultural, and political life under Catholic control had permeated the entire Mexican governance structure. Consequently, local authorities, many of whom had roots in conservatism, often exercised the option of promulgating laws within their respective jurisdictions that suited their particular ideologies, provided such ideologies did not go so far as to violate the federal pact established in the Constitution nor give rise to a confrontation with the president, Porfirio Díaz. The local laws against marijuana fell within this purview. Cannabis, while considered to be medicinal under the canons of nineteenth-­century liberal and scientific thought, was prohibited in specific localities due to its potential misuse as an intoxicant, thus resulting in a vice. Dating back to the colonial period, the idea of vice was usually associated with drunkenness caused by alcoholic beverages. However, toward the end of the nineteenth century, the country’s press expanded the concept to include the use of other intoxicants, encompassing marijuana as well as opium and morphine.42 According to one of the best known criminologists during the Porfiriato, Carlos Roumagnac, the marijuana smoker “becomes an actual lunatic and, once he has fallen into the vice, surrenders himself until he succumbs.”43 In those localities in which cannabis was prohibited, the stereotypical marijuana smoker, usually indigenous or a poor mestizo,

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was characterized as being lazy, dreamily unrealistic, thievish, and, above all, given over to vice.44 The negative characterization of marijuana users was widely propagated in the press over several decades, systematically relating such use not only with vice but also with violence and madness.45 Neither these newspaper articles nor the voices raised in opposition to marijuana found backing or support in the federal laws based on the dominant liberal philosophy of the time, the priorities of which were oriented toward the development of a modern state. However, this sensationalist reporting and the groups opposed to marijuana were influential in the promulgation of local laws focusing on the “serious evils” caused by the plant and that sought to protect the so-­called public welfare by prohibiting its nontherapeutic use. The Sanitary Tyranny and the National Prohibition of Cannabis The start of the revolution in 1910 brought an end to the thirty-­four-­year Porfiriato dictatorship. Out of a total population of fifteen million people, approximately one million died during the ten-­year armed phase of the conflict.46 The various factions involved in the revolution comprised a combination of social classes. This intermingling at close quarters provided the middle-­class revolutionaries with an intimate view into the lives and customs of the lower classes, thus favoring a widespread and violent revolt in favor of democracy and social rights.47 These circumstances set the stage for the third structural transformation in the history of Mexico. The Constitutional Convention of 1916–­1917 ushered in the postrevolutionary period and with it a commitment by the political elites to reunify the nation. In seeking to explain away the turmoil of the previous decade, cannabis became one of the culprits. During the deliberations around the new constitution, the deputy-­president of the Sanitary Council, José María Rodríguez, boldly asserted that “the degeneration of the Mexican race is a fact, as demonstrated by the statistical data.” Rodríguez believed drugs to be a cause of this “degeneration” and had a clear sense of the measures that needed to be adopted to reverse the trend: the time had come to “correct this disease of the race originated mainly by medicinal substances such as opium, morphine, ether, cocaine, and marihuana.” Rodríguez warned that strict measures would be required to effectively counteract “the abuse in the sale of these substances which are so harmful to health that, at present, they have caused disasters of such magnitude so as to have multiplied mortality


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to the extent that it is one of the highest in the world.”48 For Rodríguez the consequences of the consumption of these “substances that degenerate the race” were as serious as the effects of the infectious disease epidemics that had swept the country in previous decades, including bubonic plague and yellow fever.49 The proposals presented by Rodríguez called for urgently establishing a type of national sanitary “tyranny” for the control of an “already degenerate, primitive race,” and for the protection of a “mestizo” population nearing degeneration and approaching “racial disease” caused by alcohol and drugs.50 The protection of the “race” had been a topic of discussion in Mexico since the nineteenth century and while it was, in fact, often an abstract debate subject to rhetorical devices, it was not entirely lacking in scientific pretentions, as can be observed, for example, in the arguments presented by those who demanded anthropometric studies so as to determine the level of “dangerousness” posed by certain individuals in an attempt to explain the biological origins of criminal activity.51 At the time of the constitutional convention and during the ensuing process of national consolidation, the manner in which the term race was used sought to encompass and harmonize the concept of that which was “indigenous” and that which was “mestizo.” The indigenous was found among groups that maintained certain characteristics, not only phenotypical but also linguistic and cultural, and geographically located for the most part in marginalized zones into which they had been forced to withdraw—­ for example, the Lacandon in Chiapas, the Maya in Quintana Roo, and the Yaquis in Sonora.52 From the start of the colonial period and up through the nineteenth century, to the extent that the indigenous populations became immersed in Hispanic and Catholic culture, they were deemed to be mestizo; however, after the revolution, other characteristics were used to determine ethnic identity: in addition to speaking Spanish, emphasis was placed on clothing, social organization, and national awareness. Since those are social attributes, rather than genetic or racial characteristics, a certain degree of “acculturation” gave rise to a dynamic in which the indigenous population became mestizo.53 The socio-­political role of race took shape as a significant variable in the construction of a national identity in Mexico during the twentieth century. The constitutional demand for a “tyranny” which, within the ambit of health concerns, was designed to protect the “race,” is an example of

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the importance of that variable; but it is also demonstrative of how the political elites served as spokespersons for concerns that unintentionally offered evidence as to the existence of a structurally displaced population. The ideas regarding degeneration were not an exclusively Mexican phenomenon. Rather, they drew on medical, legal, and political discourses circulating globally between the two world wars in which nineteenth-­century notions of race intermingled with twentieth-­century pseudosciences such as eugenics.54 Many of these ideas were drawn into Latin American political debates and adapted to perpetuate hierarchies that excluded the indigenous and mestizo populations from wealth and power. Within this discursive context, the presumably scientific position adopted by Representative Rodriguez regarding the control of drugs that allegedly degenerate the race was endorsed by almost all the delegates and incorporated into the final text of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 (which abrogated the Constitution of 1857). Article 73 required the Federal Congress to design and implement a “campaign against alcoholism and against the sale of substances that poison the individual and degenerate the race.”55 More than a century later, this national campaign is still embedded in the Mexican Constitution. The only change is that the term “degenerate the race” was replaced with “degenerate the human species.”56 Upon the adoption of the 1917 Constitution, action on marijuana was no longer a matter to be handled by the local authorities, as had been the case during the nineteenth century and the Porfiriato. Given the perceived threat of racial degeneration, these matters were now a concern for the national government itself. In addition, Mexico was a signatory to the 1912 Hague Opium Convention, which became enshrined in international relations with the establishment of the League of Nations in 1919.57 A wider context would come to play a role in the shaping of attitudes and approaches toward cannabis during the 1920s, as the national government began to participate more actively on the global stage. However, local and internal considerations remained just as important. The first law to emanate from the constitutional mandate for the control of substances was a 1920 decree, explicitly titled “Provisions on the sale of products that can be used to promote vices which degenerate the race and on the cultivation of plants that can be used for the same purpose.”58 Pushing for the approval of this decree were President Venustiano Carranza and his personal physician, the aforementioned Representative José María


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Rodríguez.59 In matters of moral virtue and combatting vice, Carranza’s views were based less on Catholic principles and more on ideas advocated by US Protestants, with whom he had maintained close ties over the years.60 Under the 1920 decree, opium, morphine, codeine, and heroin were still considered medicinal substances, subject to strict controls on their importation and sale. Marijuana, however, was no longer on the list as a regulated medicine (although the 1902 sanitary code was still in effect at the time, with cannabis and some of its byproducts listed for their medicinal value). Federal law imposed a fine on the sale of these substances without permits and on anyone found guilty of marijuana possession. If unable to pay the fine, the offender was subject to a fifteen-­day jail sentence. Repressive legal measures relating to marijuana were now being enforced at the national level. The sense that the nation’s social problems were due to physical and moral degeneration, and that this degeneration was linked to dangerous marginal groups given to drug consumption, suited the interests of a political elite seeking to reestablish a government and claim it for themselves. The drugs of the poor were convenient scapegoats for the failure of state-­building in the aftermath of the revolution, a failure that had more to do with internecine conflicts among the elite themselves. Casting blame on drugs was also a convenient scapegoat for evading the state’s responsibility with respect to the marginalization and abandonment of social sectors which, under the terms of both the 1857 and 1917 Constitutions, were to be treated as equals. The 1917 Constitution and the 1920 antimarijuana decree reflected the governments that created them, as both can be seen as aspirational in a period of ongoing instability and unrest when rival generals continued to vie for power through armed violence, assassinations, and coups. There may have been broad consensus that a large sector of Mexican society needed to be rescued from its “degeneration,” but as long as there was no agreement as to who was to do this, marijuana consumers were labeled as deviant. If the 1917 and 1920 laws fundamentally changed the legal position of marijuana consumers in Mexico (deeming them degenerate and dissolute), then what followed in the 1920s and 1930s imposed a firm and steady criminal identity on them. The Postrevolutionary Governments In the aftermath of the revolution, the upper-­middle class took control of the nation, overseeing the popular sectors and repressing them as necessary.

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During the presidency of Plutarco Elías Calles (1924–­1928) and the following six years when he acted behind the scenes as the country’s political boss (a period known as the Maximato), Mexico experienced a period of relative political continuity and socioeconomic stability.61 In 1929, the National Revolutionary Party (PNR) was founded, which after finally changing its name to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), would hold on to the presidency until the year 2000. During the presidency of Plutarco Elías Calles, and the ensuing Maximato, the emergence of institutions and laws set Mexico on a course designed to settle the postrevolutionary state. Alleged and perceived enemies of the nation were targeted. In broad outline, this helps to explain such phenomenon as the Cristero Rebellion (1926–­1929), in response to the government’s efforts to further limit the temporal power and influence of the Catholic church.62 In the postrevolutionary years, there was little space for those who stood in the way of Mexico’s emerging state. On a smaller scale, producers, merchants, and consumers of prohibited drugs who, forming part of society’s popular sectors, only a few years earlier, during the revolution, had amply demonstrated their subversive power, now found themselves the targets of concerted official action. One example of the postrevolutionary institutional order was the formulation of new national health and criminal laws which abrogated regulations established during the Porfiriato. These new laws referred back to nineteenth-­century Federalism, but were implemented and enforced by an increasingly centralized state: in 1926, a sanitary code was promulgated, and in 1929 and 1931 new penal codes were issued. A list of substances considered to be “enervating drugs” [drogas enervantes] appeared in the 1926 sanitary code. The list coincided with the drugs subject to control in the international conventions of The Hague in 1912, and the one held in Geneva in 1925: “opium in its various forms, opium prepared for smoking, morphine, cocaine, heroin, poppies, coca leaves, and marihuana in any of its forms.” It also banned all by-­products that contained any of these substances which “being used as a vice, poison the individual or degenerate the race.” Supplementing the above, a separate article specifically ratified the official position toward cannabis: “It is hereby prohibited within the Mexican Republic, to import, export, process, possess, use or consume marijuana in any form (including cannabis índica extract).”63 With the adoption of these measures, the medicinal uses of cannabis, recognized since the nineteenth century, were completely rejected by the new Mexican state.


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The 1926 sanitary code also established that users of “enervating drugs” would be confined in the federal drug addicts hospital [Hospital Federal de Toxicómanos], which was actually a pavilion inside La Castañeda psychiatric asylum in Mexico City. Problematic opium, morphine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana users were accused by neighbors and relatives or were arrested while consuming in public places and then locked up for treatment. Approximately a third of the internees were there for smoking marijuana.64 The detention of individuals relating to prohibited drugs in general and marijuana in particular was in the hands of both the health and police authorities. In addition to this overlapping jurisdiction, the authorities found it difficult to differentiate between a simple consumer and a drug addict [toxicómano].65 Furthermore, no guidelines were established to differentiate a “possessor” for purposes of consumption from a “possessor” for purposes of sale. In this regard, the Supreme Court would rule that, if it were proven at trial that the accused, besides being in possession of a prohibited drug, was an addict, he or she would not be punished but instead treated as a sick person and sent for rehabilitation.66 The police, the legal authorities, and health officials had been brought together by the state to incarcerate cannabis consumers, either in jail or in a hospital. In everyday life, determining whether or not the accused was a drug addict was supposedly based on expert medical opinion. The pathological symptoms of drug addiction [toxicomanía] varied, depending on the substance. In the case of detainees for heroin and morphine use, the medical expert would look for a weak physical constitution and forearms showing signs of the use of syringes or injections; if faced with an alleged case of cocaine addiction, the nostrils, eyes, and eyelids were analyzed. With marijuana, the physician checked the trachea for irritation caused by smoke and examined the color and texture of the fingertips for blisters that could be caused by holding the final portion of a burning cannabis joint. Several reports suggest that marijuana addiction was diagnosed through “decreased pharyngeal reflex,” “signs of hyperemia,” or when “mucous, ocular and pharyngeal reflexes were diminished.”67 Pathological indications were also sought in the user’s psychiatric profile for a diagnosis of “acute marijuana disorder” [marihuanismo agudo].68 Depending on clinical opinions, some consumers ended up in jail while others were taken to La Castañeda psychiatric asylum. With the advent of the 1926 sanitary code—­and even more clearly with the 1929 and 1931 penal codes—­medical expertise became a

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police tool, central to the identification of those deemed by the state to be detrimental to Mexican society. The Public Sanitary Department established an antidrug police force, launching a concerted attack on the illegal substances.69 Consumers were not the main target: as the 1920s and 1930s progressed, drug producers and traffickers were making their presence felt in various parts of the country.70 After its organizational development and operational start-­up in the capital, the antidrug arm of the sanitary police was sent into more than fifty municipalities, working closely with both the local police and the army. This unit was authorized to enter commercial establishments, factories, industrial plants, as well as private homes.71 While the intent was to attack the production and sale of marijuana, the arrest of users was a form of collateral damage that the Mexican state showed no real interest in rectifying. If, for example, an individual grew a cannabis plant in their home, either for medicinal or recreational use within the protected range of personal freedoms established in the Constitution, the sanitary-­judicial coercive apparatus was allowed to enter and search the property.72 By way of example, there was the case of a seventy-­year-­old man who was arrested when the police searched his home in a poor neighborhood. The officers found and seized flowerpots containing marijuana plants. At trial, the defendant argued that “he was not acting with bad intent, that he simply grew the marijuana for his own use, and sometimes sold it as a very effective remedy for rheumatism.”73 This argument, however, was not enough to have the charges dropped. In another similar case, an individual who, in his village, was nicknamed “Pothead” [El Marihuano], used his small plot of farmland to raise corn interspersed with cannabis. Two local soldiers were sent to pull out the marijuana plants and arrest El Marihuano who then spent several months in jail.74 Likewise, public parks were subject to constant raids for the purpose of arresting “vagrants” who—­in the terminology employed by the press—­were in possession of the “evil weed” and accused of being “bothersome disrupters of public order” or even referred to as “amoral idlers given over to vice with unspeakable shamelessness.”75 The de facto criminalization of marijuana users became evident with the enforcement of the 1926 sanitary code. On the one hand, there was criminalization under the guise of pathology and, on the other, criminalization which, in practice, failed to differentiate between the cultivation, trafficking, and use of marijuana. Furthermore, the repressive nature of the legal


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framework manifest itself not only through the enforcement of the sanitary code but was supplemented by and became increasingly robust with the penal reforms enacted between 1929 and 1931. In 1929 a new federal penal code was adopted, and the idea of “Crimes Against Health” was reinterpreted. Crimes of this type were a legal concept that nominally existed under the previous 1871 penal code which, in matters relating to the protection of health, established punishments only for those who produced or sold adulterated medicines, beverages, or foods, or who sold pharmaceutical products without the corresponding license.76 However, the 1929 code included a wide range of marijuana-­related activities under the heading of “Crimes Against Health,” which officially became subject to punitive action by the Mexican state, thus making any type of use, simple possession (regardless of the amount), or the cultivation of the cannabis plant (including hemp) a federal crime. This new array of deviant behaviors was influenced by the guidelines established in international drug control conventions, as well as by the Pan-­American Scientific Congresses, which held out the “social defense” theory as a justification for legal punishment.77 Essentially, this was a theory of criminal law that advocated the need for more severe punishments based on the sociobiological characteristics of certain individuals, generally those belonging to the poor and marginalized sectors of society. In addition to the international trends, this new spectrum of deviant behaviors coincided with the rebuilding of a nation in ruins in the aftermath of a revolution, thus requiring a new relationship between government and society, even when this relationship might be tainted with authoritarianism. The population was growing exponentially, especially in the cities,78 and both the need for social order and the struggle for control of the public space were priorities for the new Mexican state.79 Begging, vagrancy, public drunkenness, and prostitution, for example, were types of behavior particularly subject to repression.80 Likewise, the prosecution of the users of an already legally and medically stigmatized drug—­such as marijuana—­was a useful strategy for gaining control of the public space and, above all, for the policing and discipline of increasingly wider social sectors, specifically those classified a priori as being dangerous. The 1929 law was soon replaced by the 1931 federal penal code. To a large extent, the postrevolutionary governments sought legitimacy by raising the flag of regime change and, therefore, it was important for them to

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modify the manner in which power was exercised through institutions and laws, even if such laws were hastily drafted without much forethought and contained careless inconsistencies. Such was the case of the 1929 penal code, which remained in effect for only two years. With respect to the “Crimes Against Health,” during the drafting of the 1931 penal code, Gregorio Oneto, a renowned Mexican psychiatrist and director of a private clinic for the treatment of drug addicts in Mexico City, recommended that special attention be given to the fact that “marijuana is an intoxicant of the spirit which degenerates the race, kills and drives people mad, [and consequently] the use of marijuana constitutes a ‘crime against health.’” He affirmed that crimes of this type, like all those which “poison the spirit, must be equated with homicide.”81 This warning, which implicitly relates back to age-­old Catholic concerns regarding the condition of the spirit, combined with secular notions as to the protection of health, formed part of a long open letter addressed to the commission of experts responsible for drafting the new 1931 penal code, which incorporated the opinions expressed by this psychiatric expert. In the new 1931 federal penal code, which is still in effect, the section corresponding to “Crimes Against Health” settled the de jure criminalization of marijuana users in Mexico. Prison sentences of up to five years were established for “whoever plants, cultivates, trades, possesses, buys, sells, supplies free of charge and, in general, carries out any act of acquisition, supply or trafficking of seeds or plants that have enervating properties.” While the new law did not make any explicit reference to the protection of the human spirit as had been suggested by the psychiatrist, Gregorio Oneto, it did incorporate language reflecting both the moralistic tone and notions relating to degeneration found in the 1917 Constitution, characterizing prohibited drugs as being “prepared for a vice by those who poison the individual and degenerate the race.” Marijuana, as could be expected, was listed among those prohibited drugs.82 As of the federal penal code of 1931, it became manifestly clear that the Mexican government no longer viewed hemp as evidence of rural bounty, as it once had in the nineteenth century, nor as a medicinal plant, as it had during the Porfiriato. In sharp contrast to the former perspectives, and replicating the strategy adopted years earlier against the poppy plant, by the end of the 1930s the government began launching missions to locate and eradicate marijuana fields across the country. Toward the conclusion of the 1940s, up to three million square meters of marijuana fields were


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destroyed in a single year.83 Together with this eradication program, stricter controls along the border with the United States were implemented; the prosecution of local drug trafficking increased, and above all additional measures designed to intimidate and punish users were put into place. As of the 1940s, more than any other criminal offense, “Crimes Against Health” accounted for the largest number of arrests, prosecutions, and prison sentences nationwide.84 The reasons and incentives behind the Mexican government’s decision to conduct a war on people who cultivated, sold, or used marijuana must be seen within the broader context of postrevolutionary institutional development over several decades. In the historiography relating to drugs, the debate has barely begun as to whether or not the fight against drug trafficking—­i.e., the war on the cultivation, sale, and use of drugs—­was a decisive element in the Mexican state-­building process during the second half of the twentieth century.85 Conclusion Ever since its arrival to what is now Mexico, and over the next five centuries, the botanical genus Cannabis has attracted the attention of the governmental authorities in both a positive and a negative way. From the perspective of cultural imperialism, during the colonial period the use of plants with psychoactive properties was viewed as immoral, thus establishing the groundwork for subsequently classifying such use as a vice that “degenerates the race.” When independence was achieved, for a short time cannabis distanced itself from that negative image and became a symbol of the country’s ecological potential, and its therapeutic uses were officially recognized. With the consolidation of a liberal state, cannabis was seen not merely as a therapeutic remedy but also as a pharmaceutical product available to the Mexican population which, in theory, or at least from the perspective of the 1857 Constitution, consisted of free and modern citizens. However, vestiges of colonial conservatism remained dominant in some state and municipal jurisdictions, and local laws prohibiting the plant were enacted. During the second half of the nineteenth century, some local governments began to identify legitimate and illegitimate uses of cannabis preparations wherein medicinal products were classified as the former, while those that also could be used recreationally were deemed to be a social hazard.

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The Mexican Revolution led to the subsequent promulgation of the Constitution of 1917. Resting on this new constitutional basis, a wide range of federal laws was enacted. Insofar as drugs are concerned, these laws nominally accepted the juridical framework established during the Porfiriato (specifically the sanitary code and the penal code) but abandoned what had previously been an administrative approach and adopted punitive criteria. When taken together, these postrevolutionary laws charged individuals who handled cannabis products with three crimes. The first was that of degenerating the race, a crime that had first been established in the 1920 antimarijuana decree. The second was engaging in vice and poisoning the body and the spirit of the individual, following the 1926 sanitary code. The third misdemeanor was a crime against an abstract concept of health, which first appeared in the penal code of 1929, and was fully fleshed out in the revised version of 1931. Health, race, mental illness, and vice thus intermingled with notions of the individual’s place in the nation and responsibilities to the state. With so much work to do in building a new Mexican state, and in molding the characteristics of a modern citizen, the stereotype of the addled and incapable marijuana consumer was made to appear as an enemy, with neither the proper racial spirit nor the vigor required to participate. Consequently, such individuals were now subject to the full force of that state. Despite the lack of scientific justification behind the antimarijuana laws, they have remained remarkably robust since the 1930s, to the point that cannabis possession is currently one of the crimes to which the judicial system (including the police, prosecutorial, and correctional systems) allocates the largest percentage of its material and human resources.86 Still, the reasoning behind these laws was questionable from the outset, given that the 1917 Constitution sought to prevent authoritarian punishment, established that every citizen is entitled to a fair and unbiased judicial proceedings, and that, if convicted, the penalty must be proportional to the actual damage caused.87 The punishments meted out to those who use cannabis have been maintained and increased throughout the twentieth century and the first two decades of this century.88 However, despite more than a century of prohibition, a recent shift in political thinking occurred in 2018, when the Mexican Supreme Court surprisingly ruled that the punishment for the consumption of marijuana was unconstitutional, given that it violated the fundamental right to the free development of one’s personality.89 Accordingly,


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the penalties established in the “Crimes Against Health” section of the federal penal code of 1931 now appear to be an illegitimate use of state power. Based on this jurisprudence, and as part of a change in the national security paradigm, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office on December 1, 2018, has officially declared that this administration intends to change the legal framework with respect to prohibited drugs.90 Given its stated policy of rectifying the nation’s longstanding unjust socioeconomic structures, this new Mexican government has repeatedly proclaimed itself to be “The Fourth Transformation” (the first being independence; the second, the reform period; and the third, the state which emerged from the revolution). Within the ideological framework of this transformation, a bill has been presented in Congress that aims to decriminalize marijuana users. It would also, as in the case of Canada and Uruguay, enable the national regulation of the production, sale, and consumption of cannabis.91 This proposal seeks to establish a new public drug policy that prioritizes human rights and initiates a strategy of indirect engagement with the illicit drugs market. If indeed the current administration adopts a new approach toward cannabis, this may suggest a wider, broader transformation in the politics of the state, a transformation that may foreshadow a new period in Mexican history. Notes 1.  The most comprehensive reference on the history of marijuana in Latin America is by Isaac Campos, focusing exclusively on the Mexican case from 1521 to 1920: Isaac Campos, Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012). A subsequent study that contributes to several lines of research conducted by Isaac Campos is: Domingo Schievenini, “La criminalización del consumo de marihuana en México, 1912–­ 1961” (PhD diss., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2018). 2. There are other noteworthy works covering the topic of drugs in Mexico from a historical perspective (without focusing particularly on cannabis): Luis Astorga, Drogas sin fronteras (Mexico City: Grijalbo, 2003); and Ricardo Pérez Montfort, Tolerancia y prohibición. Aproximaciones a la historia social y cultural de las drogas en México, 1840–­1940 (Mexico City: Penguin, 2016). 3.  Fray Juan de Torquemada, Monarquía Indiana, vol. 2 (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas/Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1983), 359–­361. 4.  These ordinances can be found in the “Industria y Comercio” and “Reales Cédulas” sections of the Archivo General de la Nación (Mexico City). For further details see: Schievenini, “La Criminalización,” 100–­109.

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5. Campos, Home Grown, 1. 6. Ramón Serrera, Lino y cáñamo en Nueva España. Cultivo y manufactura de lino y cáñamo en Nueva España (1777–­1800) (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-­Americanos de Sevilla, 1974), 191, 263–­265; Campos, Home Grown, 52–­56. 7. Campos, Home Grown, 52–­64. 8.  Francisco Antonio Lorenzana, Edicto XII. Expedido en nombre del Provisor de Indios, el Doctor Don Manuel Joaquín Barrientos, para desterrar idolatrías, supersticiones y otros abusos de los indios (Mexico City: Imprenta del Sup. Gobierno del Br. D. Joseph Antonio de Hogal, 1770), 65–­73. 9.  Nidia Olvera and Domingo Schievenini, “Denominaciones indígenas de la marihuana en México. Investigación documental de la relación entre el pipiltzintzintli y la planta cannabis (siglos XVI–­XIX),” Cultura y Droga 22, no. 24 (January 2017): 59–­77; Campos, Home Grown, 44–­60. 10. Lorenzana, Edicto, 69. 11. These documents were located in the sections “Instituciones Coloniales” and “Inquisición” of the Archivo General de la Nación (Mexico City). See: Olvera and Schievenini, “Denominaciones indígenas de la marihuana en México,” 65–­68. 12.  See Robert Ricard, The Spiritual Conquest of Mexico, trans. Lesley Bird (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1966); and Mark Christensen, “Missionizing Mexico: Ecclesiastics, Native, and the Spread of Christianity,” in A Companion to the Early Modern Catholic Global Missions, ed. Ronnie Po-­Chia Hsia (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 17–­40. 13.  Luis Villoro, El proceso ideológico de la revolución de independencia (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1967), 33–­67; and Mónica Díaz, “The Education of Natives, Creole Clerics, and the Mexican Enlightenment,” Colonial Latin American Review 24, no. 1 (2015): 60–­83. 14.  Academia Farmacéutica de la Capital de la República, Farmacopea mexicana formada y publicada por la Academia Farmacéutica de la Capital de la República (Mexico City: Manuel de la Vega Press, 1846), n.p. 15. “Exposición Universal de 1855 en París,” El Siglo Diez y Nueve, September 3, 1855. 16.  Archivo Histórico del Estado de Querétaro, section “Poder Ejecutivo”/“Fomento IV,” file 1. 17.  Liliana Schifter, “Las Farmacopeas Mexicanas en la construcción de la identidad nacional,” Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Farmacéuticas 45, no. 2 (April 2014): 43–­54. 18. Sociedad Farmacéutica Mexicana, Nueva farmacopea mexicana (Mexico City: Imprenta de Ignacio Escalante, 1874), 72. 19.  Genaro Pérez, “La marihuana: breve estudio sobre esta planta” (MD thesis, Facultad de Medicina de México, 1886), 46–­48.


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20. Claudia Agostoni, Monuments of Progress: Modernization and Public Health in Mexico City, 1876–­ 1910 (Calgary: University of Calgary Press/University Press of Colorado/Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2003), 57–­58, 145–­153. 21.  Claudia Agostoni, “Médicos científicos y médicos ilícitos en la Ciudad de México durante el Porfiriato,” Estudios de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea de México 148, no. 19 (January 1999): 13–­33. 22.  Schievenini, “La criminalización,” 133–­143. 23.  Código Sanitario de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Mexico City: Imprenta del Gobierno Federal, 1902), 251, 267–­274. 24.  Leonardo Oliva, Lecciones de Farmacología: por el catedrático del ramo en la Universidad de Guadalajara (Mexico City: Tipografía de Rodríguez, 1853), 1, 2, 8–­10. 25.  Domingo Schievenini, “A Small Distinction with a Big Difference: Prohibiting ‘Drugs’ but not Alcohol, from the Conquest to Constitutional Law,” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs 34, no. 2 (Spring 2020): 15–­47. 26. See Charles Hale, The Transformation of Liberalism in Late Nineteenth-­ Century Mexico (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989). 27.  See William Raat, “Ideas and Society in Don Porfirio’s Mexico,” The Americas 30, no. 1 (1973): 32–­53; and Paul Garner, Porfirio Díaz (London: Routledge, 2014), 68–­130. 28.  Constitución Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Mexico City: Imprenta Oficial, 1857), article 72. 29. Archivo Histórico del Ex-­ Ayuntamiento de la Ciudad de México, section “Bandos,” file 39/12. 30.  Archivo Histórico del Ayuntamiento de Guanajuato, section “Bandos y Avisos,” file 1871/16. 31. Pérez, “La marihuana: breve estudio sobre esta planta,” 60. 32.  Colección de leyes, decretos, circulares y otras disposiciones dictadas por el gobierno del estado, vol. 11 (Oaxaca: Imprenta del Estado en la Escuela de Artes y Oficios, 1887), 300–­301. 33.  Miguel Lámbarri, Directorio General de la ciudad de Querétaro y almanaque para el presente siglo (Querétaro: Tipografía de Miguel Lámbarri, 1903), 112. 34. “Dictámenes de comisiones,” Diario Oficial del Estado de Zacatecas, April 4, 1904. 35.  Colección de leyes, decretos y circulares expedidos por el Gobierno del Estado de Nuevo León desde enero de 1905 hasta el 31 de diciembre de 1906 (Mexico City: Edición Oficial, 1907), 36. 36.  “La venta de la peligrosa marihuana,” El Imparcial, January 23, 1909.

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37. “Nuestros propósitos y nuestras ideas,” El Obrero Mexicano, October 9, 1909; April 21, 1911. 38.  Leopoldo Zea, Positivism in Mexico, trans. Josephine Schulte (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974), xiv; Garner, Porfirio, 163–­196. 39.  Elisa Speckman, Crimen y castigo. Legislación penal, interpretaciones de la criminalidad y administración de justicia (Ciudad de México, 1872–­1910) (Mexico City: Colegio de México/Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2002), 13–­19. 40.  Código Penal para el Distrito Federal y territorio de la Baja-­California sobre delitos del fuero común y para toda la República sobre delitos contra la Federación (Mexico City: Edición Oficial, 1871), articles 843–­852. 41. Speckman, Crimen y castigo, 62–­66. 42. Campos, Home Grown, 86, 103–­104. 43.  Carlos Roumagnac, Los criminales en México. Ensayo de psicología criminal (Mexico City: El Fénix, 1904). 44. Antonio Septién, Memoria estadística del Estado de Querétaro (Querétaro: Tipografía González y Legarreta, 1875), 294–­297. 45. Campos, Home Grown, 86–­104. 46. Alan Knight, La revolución cósmica: Utopías, regiones y resultados (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2015), 15–­47. 47.  Rodolfo Reyes, Memorias mexicanas (1899–­1914) (Mexico City: Colofón, 2015), 70. 48.  Diario de los debates del Congreso Constituyente 1916–­1917, vol. 3 (Mexico City: Secretaría de Cultura/Instituto Nacional de Estudios Históricos de las Revoluciones de México, 2017), 136. 49.  Diario de los debates del Congreso Constituyente 1916–­1917, 106–­109. 50.  Diario de los debates del Congreso Constituyente 1916–­1917, 109. 51. Speckman, Crimen y castigo, 105–­114. 52.  Manuel Gamio, Forjando patria (Mexico City: Porrúa Hermanos, 1916), 307–­323; and Alan Knight, “Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo: Mexico, 1910–­1940,” in The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–­1940 (Critical Reflections on Latin America Series), ed. Richard Graham (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), 73–­74. 53.  Knight, “Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo,” 73–­84. 54.  See Nancy Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics. Race, Gender, and Nation in Latin America (New York: Cornell University Press, 1991); and Marius Turda and Aron Gillette, Latin Eugenics in Comparative Perspective (London: Bloomsbury, 2016).


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55.  Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Mexico City: Edición Oficial, 1917), article 73. 56.  “Decreto por el que se adiciona la base cuarta de la fracción XVI del artículo 73 de la Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos,” Diario Oficial de la Federación, June 6, 1971. 57.  “Decreto por el que se promulga la Convención Internacional del Opio y el protocolo respectivo celebrados en La Haya, Países Bajos, el 23 de enero de 1912,” Diario Oficial de la Federación, March 18, 1927. The Hague Convention, despite having been signed by the Mexican government in 1912, was not ratified by the Senate until 1924 and was published in the Diario Oficial (Official Gazette) in 1927. 58.  “Disposiciones sobre el cultivo y comercio de productos que degeneran la raza,” Diario Oficial de la Federación, March 15, 1920. 59. Campos, Home Grown, 198–­199. 60.  Cecilia Autrique, “La prohibición del alcohol en Estados Unidos y sus efectos en México, 1920–­1933” (PhD diss., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2015), 100–­107. 61.  See Jürgen Buchenau, Plutarco Elías Calles and the Mexican Revolution (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007). 62. See Julia Young, Mexican Exodus: Emigrants, Exiles, and Refugees of the Cristero War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015). 63.  Código Sanitario de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Mexico City: Edición Oficial, 1926), articles 198–­200. 64. José Luis Pérez, “Toxicomanías,” in Los pacientes del Manicomio la Castañeda y sus diagnósticos: Una historia de la clínica psiquiátrica en México, 1910–­1968, ed. Andrés Ríos (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas/Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2017), 384. 65.  Toxicómano was the term used in both the health and criminal law. 66.  Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, Semanario Judicial de la Federación, July 14, 1932; April 4, 1935. 67.  Nidia Olvera, “Policías, toxicómanos y traficantes: control de drogas en la Ciudad de México (1920–­1943)” (Master’s thesis, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, 2016), 143–­144. 68.  Eliseo Ramírez, Obras Completas, vol. 3 (Mexico City: El Colegio Nacional, 1988), 266–­276. 69.  Memoria de los trabajos realizados por el Departamento de Salud Pública, 1925–­1928, vol. 2 (Mexico City: Ediciones del Departamento de Salubridad Pública, 1928), 452.

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70. Astorga, Drogas sin fronteras, 22–­57. 71.  Memoria de los trabajos realizados por el Departamento de Salud Pública, 1925–­1928, vol. 1 (Mexico City: Ediciones del Departamento de Salubridad Pública, 1928). 72.  Archivo Histórico de la Secretaría de Salud, section “Salubridad Pública-­Servicio Jurídico,” box 6, file 1. 73. Archivo Histórico Casa Cultura Jurídica de Querétaro, section “Juzgado de Distrito-­Penal,” box 87/1938, file 44. 74. Archivo Histórico Casa Cultura Jurídica de Querétaro, section “Juzgado de Distrito-­Penal,” box 77/1936, file 12. 75.  “Marihuanos y vagos,” El Porvenir, July 1, 1931; “No más viciosos en la Alameda Central,” El Nacional, August 9, 1931; “Licenciosos consumidores de enervantes,” El Nacional, May 28, 1934; and “Por veintidós cigarrillos de mota fue sentenciado a sufrir ocho años de cárcel,” El Nacional, June 22, 1934. 76.  Código Penal para el Distrito Federal y territorio de la Baja-­California sobre delitos del fuero común y para toda la República sobre delitos contra la Federación, 1871, articles 843–­852. 77.  Saydi Núñez, “El homicidio en el Distrito Federal. Un estudio sobre la violencia y la justicia durante la posrevolución (1920–­1940)” (PhD diss., Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, 2012), 18; and Schievenini, “La criminalización,” 211–­230. 78. Núñez, “El homicidio en el Distrito Federal,” 84–­87. 79. See Pablo Piccato, City of Suspects: Crime in Mexico City, 1900–­1931 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001). 80. Núñez, “El homicidio en el Distrito Federal,” 92–­94; Piccato, City of Suspects, 17–­ 72; and Enrique Ochoa, “Coercion, Reform, and the Welfare State: The Campaign against ‘Begging’ in Mexico City during the 1930s.” The Americas 58, no. 1 (2001): 39–­64. 81.  Gregorio Oneto, La mariguana ante la psiquiatría y el Código Penal (Mexico City: Congreso de la Asociación Médica Panamericana, 1931), 47. 82.  Código Penal para el Distrito y Territorio Federales en materia de Fuero Común y para toda la República en materia del Fuero Federal (Mexico City: Talleres Gráficos de la Nación, 1931), article 194. 83.  Luis Rodríguez, “La lucha del Estado Mexicano contra la producción, tenencia y tráfico ilícito de estupefacientes,” Criminalia 36, no. 12 (1970): 836–­865. 84. Pablo Piccato, “Estadísticas del crimen en México: Series históricas, 1901–­2001,” Columbia University, 2003, accessed April 16, 2020, http://­www​.­columbia​.­edu​/­~pp143​ /­estadisticascrimen​/­EstadisticasSigloXX​.­htm​.


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85.  See Schievenini, “La criminalización,” 586–­587; Carlos Pérez Ricart, “U.S. Pressure and Mexican Anti-­ Drug Efforts from 1940 to 1980. Importing the War on Drugs?” in Beyond the Drug War in Mexico: Human Rights, the Public Sphere and Justice, ed. Wil Pansters, Benjamin Smith, and Peter Watt (New York: Routledge, 2017), 33–­52; and Benjamin Smith, “The Rise and Fall of Narcopopulism: Drugs, Politics, and Society in Sinaloa, 1930–­1980,” Journal for the Study of Radicalism 7, no. 2 (2013): 125–­165. 86.  Catalina Pérez. “Procesamiento de los delitos contra la salud en México,” Senado de la República, March 2016, http://­www​.­senado​.­gob​.­mx​/­comisiones​/­relext_orgint​ /­ungass​/­docs​/­presentaciones​/­Catalina​-­Perez​-­Correa​-­senado​-­UNGASS​.­pdf​. 87.  Articles 14, 16, and 23 of the original 1917 Constitution. (Currently Article 22, summarizes the protection of those rights). 88.  “Dictamen que reforma y adiciona los artículos 193, 194 y 197 del Código Penal Federal,” Diario Oficial de la Federación, November 14, 1947; “Decreto que reforma los artículos 15, 85, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198 y 199 del Código Penal Federal,” Diario Oficial de la Federación, March 8, 1968; and “Decreto de reformas al Código Penal Federal en relación con estupefacientes y psicotrópicos,” Diario Oficial de la Federación, December 31, 1974. 89.  Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación, “Inconstitucionalidad de la prohibición absoluta al consumo lúdico o recreativo de marihuana prevista por la Ley General de Salud,” Semanario Judicial de la Federación. This ruling came up for a vote on October 31, 2018 but was not published until February 22, 2019. 90.  Plan Nacional de Desarrollo, 2019–­2024 (Mexico City: Presidencia de la República, 2019), 18–­26. 91.  “Mexico: President-­Elect Amlo’s Moves Toward Marijuana Legalization,” Guardian, November 8, 2018, https://­www​.­theguardian​.­com​/­world​/­2018​/­nov​/­08​/­mexico​ -­amlo​-­marijuana​-­cannabis​-­legalization​-­rollback​.

7  Reefer Madness Past and Present: Dr. Leopoldo Salazar Viniegra, Mexico, and the United States, ca. 1938–2018 Isaac Campos

We are in the midst of a revolution in cannabis culture and policy in North America. In the United States, cannabis has gained widespread acceptance, whether measured by public opinion polls, legalization successes, or the availability of medical marijuana in more than half of the country. In Mexico, a medical and recreational legalization process is underway. In Canada, the drug is legal nationwide. Marijuana is big business, a designer lifestyle accessory, and a source of inspiration for Hollywood moguls. It has even been touted on the pages of the New York Times as a performance-­enhancing drug—­for parents.1 A century ago in North America, cannabis was widely reported to cause madness, violence, and crime. In Mexico, it was prohibited nationally in 1920 as a drug that threatened to “degenerate the race.”2 Seventeen years later, national prohibition came to the United States, fueled by stories of axe-­ wielding marijuana maniacs. This of course is hardly the only instance of a drug’s reputation radically evolving over time. But in the modern world such evolutions have more often been from miracle drug to menace, not the other way around. This disjuncture between marijuana’s early-­twentieth century-­ reputation and its post-­1960s one has thus been, in short, quite extraordinary.3 That fact has not been lost on either scholars or activists. Over the last half century, the existence of this disjuncture has been highlighted repeatedly in textbooks, trade paperbacks, and policy debates—­ and to great effect. In fact, marijuana’s great historical disjuncture, at least in the way it has so far been framed, has proved a tremendous asset to the marijuana-­ reform movement. In the United States, the movie Reefer Madness has been emblematic of this process.4 In the early 1970s, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws rereleased the absurd 1936 film, with all of its marijuana violence and insanity, in order to directly confront the old


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stereotypes with mockery. It was a brilliant stroke. The film became a cult classic, and today new warnings about marijuana’s potential dangers are effectively denounced by critics as reefer madness hysteria before they can gain much political traction.5 In Mexico, the cognate emblem, and the subject of this essay, has been Dr. Leopoldo Salazar Viniegra. Salazar was a clever, iconoclastic (and now legendary) figure in Mexico. In 1938, at the height of the so-­called reefer madness era in the United States, Salazar scandalized his country by claiming that marijuana did not cause insanity, violence, or any other extraordinary effects, and should therefore be legally available much like tobacco. As will become clear, his ideas were quite ingenious, though their full depth and significance were drowned out during his time, and in much of the subsequent accounts, both by the scandals that surrounded his work and by the contemporary political utility of a more simple, unambiguous story. The following pages will demonstrate that Salazar constructed one of the most cogent and sophisticated explanations for the early-­twentieth-­century “myth of marijuana” as he called it. However, his story also helps illustrate how marijuana’s great historical disjuncture has been misinterpreted, but to great historical effect. As so often happens, the fable has mattered more than the facts. *



August 3–­5, 2018: Expoweed Mexico. The website features an animated soldier of the Mexican Revolution with a Zapata-­style mustache, in green, and ammunition belts over his shoulders laden with joints rather than bullets. He’s holding a jar of medicinal cannabis in one hand and a massive marijuana bud, like a bouquet, in the other.6 Expoweed has become an annual affair in Mexico. In 2017 a basic pass for admission cost $1,839 pesos (about $100 USD), though one could also opt for the Expoweed passport which cost twice as much but included admission to the afterparty. Expoweed, far removed from the marginal spaces traditionally associated with marijuana in Mexico, is without a doubt a transnational, industry affair. Yet, in the midst of the 2017 event’s nearly 35,000 square feet of glitzy bongs, rolling papers, vaporizers, hip T-­shirts, hats, bumper stickers, standup comedy, traditional Indian dances, and scantily clad girls (in green, of course), there was an academic gathering of sorts. It was a tribute to Dr. Leopoldo Salazar Viniegra, the early-­ twentieth-­ century psychiatrist who had first

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challenged the marijuana stereotypes. There he was celebrated as a visionary and a man far ahead of his time. Indeed, none other than Luis Astorga, the dean of Mexican drug studies, was there to make the case.7 Salazar has become something of a legend in Mexico. During the 1930s, as a young, highly-­trained and well-­respected psychiatrist and public servant, he bravely attacked Mexico’s conventional wisdom on drugs with a confidence and flair that inspired comparisons to Louis Pasteur. He is probably most famous for creating a state morphine monopoly to serve the needs of opiate addicts. The plan, which closely resembled the kinds of maintenance policies championed by many drug-­policy reformers today, went into effect in 1940 but was rescinded a few months later under pressure from the United States. The much-­resented US intervention, combined with the disastrous results of punitive drug-­war policies since then, has enhanced the significance of this episode (and Salazar’s profile) in today’s drug-­policy debates in Mexico, providing it with a particularly poignant symbolism.8 With respect to marijuana, which constituted his second line of attack on the drugs status quo, he was never able to go beyond the research and publicity stage—­ though, tellingly, that alone produced at least as much domestic controversy as his plan for the state to provide opiate addicts with cheap, high-­quality morphine. As the front page of El Universal screamed on October 22, 1938: “DOCTORS OF THE ACADEMY SMOKED DOÑA JUANITA.” “Poor slandered and lovely mariguana bush!,” cried out Leopoldo Salazar Viniegra before the indisputable seriousness of the Academy [of Medicine] at the conclusion of an erudite essay—­thirty four single spaced pages—­in which he turned into the most sincere apologist for the fierce and smelly “Juanita.”

According to the front-­page report by Jacobo Dalevuelta (now legendary in his own right), Salazar capped off his talk by offering what appeared to be normal cigarettes to some colleagues from the academy, but which turned out to contain “the green soul of white dreams.” These, an informant reported, were smoked “deliciously.” The episode would eventually top Excelsior’s list of the year’s “greatest scandals and polemics.”9 Marijuana was, after all, the “weed of madness,” the drug that had supposedly driven the Empress Carlota mad in the 1860s, and the inspiration for countless brawls and horrific crimes since then. Just three puffs from a marijuana cigarette were supposedly “enough to make the strongest mind reel and undermine reason in the most impulsive and implacable of dementias.”10


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Salazar was either very brave or had himself gone mad to so brazenly challenge a century of entrenched discourse in Mexico. His critics were quite happy to suggest the latter. “With respect to the doctor who makes panegyrics about marihuana,” Excelsior reported, “our informant tells us that when he is asked a particular question he forgets and has to ask [about it] various times and one observes him rambling and with strange symptoms.”11 Salazar was well aware of the challenge. More than a decade of clinical experience had shown him how embedded marijuana’s wicked reputation was. The families who brought in their loved ones believed it. The patients believed it. The doctors believed it. Though, as Salazar insisted that night in front of the Academy of Medicine, in all his clinical experience, there was not one case of psychosis that could be definitively blamed on marijuana. I went back to the clinical files to check on this. Among the thousands of surviving records from the National Psychiatric Hospital, usually called simply La Castañeda, there are indeed very few that deal at all with marijuana, much less with marijuana alone.12 Like Salazar, I was also struck by how often cases of “cannabis psychosis” might have been attributed to other sources. Roberto was typical of such cases. He had begun drinking alcohol at a young age. Later, he joined the army where he both began abusing alcohol and smoking marijuana. Eventually, he developed a host of psychotic symptoms. Despite years of drinking, some of it very heavily, the diagnosis was “exogenous toxifrenia (marihuana).”13 Cecilio’s was a similar case. He was a mason who drank between two and three liters of pulque a day. Both of his parents had been alcoholics. He eventually attacked a woman savagely with a metal bar. In his various interviews he was unclear about his marijuana use, sometimes admitting to having smoked it, though on other occasions denying it. Yet, in the end, he was diagnosed with “exogenous toxifrenia (alcohol and probably marihuana).”14 Or take José M. who had suffered from gonorrhea and malaria. He drank large quantities of alcohol and smoked marijuana daily. His family members attributed his problems to the latter, though in the hospital he was caught smoking marijuana on various occasions (it was often smuggled in) and yet never showed any signs of excitement or other abnormal behavior.15 It was, in short, an intellectual and cultural atmosphere dominated by the belief that marijuana was a likely and typical cause of mental illness. Yet, science now suggests that any one of the many life challenges typically faced by such patients might have been the cause of their mental

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disturbance. Childhood trauma is positively correlated with later bouts of mental illness, as are alcohol abuse and syphilis. Psychosis also can arise through genetic predisposition.16 Salazar would have found none of this surprising. His theories had been inspired by the enormous gap between marijuana’s reputation in Mexico and what he had observed in his clinical experience. “In all of those patients who family members or non-­specialist physicians considered mentally disturbed due to the use of marijuana,” he argued, “carful observation, in all cases, succeeded in identifying a well-­defined ailment, and the original hypothesis could not be sustained.”17 All of this deeply entrenched belief was, in short, a fantasy. Yet somehow everyone believed it. This drew the attention of Jorge Segura Millán, a young medical student who was at first skeptical of Salazar’s views but ultimately decided to dedicate his thesis, directed by Salazar, to the subject. Together they would spend a year testing the controversial psychiatrist’s theories at La Castañeda and the associated National Hospital for Drug Addictions.18 The result was a long, fascinating study that at times makes for very entertaining reading. After a brief but quite erudite history of the cannabis plant, the thesis describes a number of experiments that were performed on dogs. To conduct these, the researchers had special crates constructed with a sliding, “guillotine-­style” front door, and a glass top through which the sometimes very stoned dogs could be observed. “Dog #2,” for example, was placed in a box in which 9.5 grams of cannabis were burned. After four minutes the dog was prostrate, slobbering, had bloodshot eyes, and no longer responded when called. After fourteen minutes the researchers opened the door. The furry subject staggered out and walked in a drunken fashion from side to side, banging into a number of objects. It finally settled on playing peacefully with the laboratory rabbits, though eventually would fight with the other dogs over food.19 But at the heart of the study were many, sometimes ethically dubious experiments with humans. These sought to prove that marijuana had few real effects beyond some physiological manifestations like bloodshot eyes, dry mouth, and increased heart rate. In Salazar’s view, these curious effects, while hardly violence and madness, were nonetheless the key to understanding how the marijuana myths had been sustained over so many years. He argued that these symptoms, which replicated those that normally


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accompanied strong emotions, made users highly susceptible to what he called “suggestion,” meaning the expectations of users, family members, and the wider culture. Indeed, this was really the most innovative portion of his argument, as it drew on the most cutting-­edge psychological research into the physiological origins of emotions.20 It was this theory that dictated the quite controversial methods that Salazar and Segura Millán utilized in their research. These involved carefully rolling cigarettes to mimic the commercial product but filling them half with marijuana, half with tobacco. These trick cigarettes were then given to unsuspecting subjects, from marijuana novices to the mentally ill, to gauge their reaction. Segura admitted that some considered this mode of investigation “immoral,” but, he argued, “understanding the scientific end that was sought, they would find it justified.” The goal was simply to erase the factor of suggestion, and this was, in their view, the only way to do it.21 Salazar was clearly less concerned about appearances. At one point he left a pack of these trick cigarettes lying around his home. A nephew of his found them and, thinking they were simply tobacco, smoked them with friends who ranged in age from nine to fourteen. The children soon felt their hearts racing and became so nauseous and anxious that they confessed the whole thing. Today, of course, in an atmosphere of comparable societal tolerance for marijuana, this would get just about any researcher fired. But in 1938 Mexico, at a time when most people thought marijuana caused madness, Salazar reported on this accident enthusiastically before the Academy of Medicine because, he emphasized, it proved beyond a doubt that the marijuana in the cigarettes was very active!22 However, as Salazar would also emphasize in his presentation to the academy, and as Segura’s longer thesis demonstrates, many of the unsuspecting subjects didn’t even notice they were smoking cannabis. If they complained of anything, they usually mentioned a rapid heart rate and dry mouth. To demonstrate this, Salazar highlighted the experience he and his colleague, Dr. Francisco Elizarrás, had at a meeting of the Mexican Neurological and Psychiatric Society. In the midst of that august gathering, they graciously offered the trick cigarettes to the doctors sitting near them, proving “that the marijuana was without a doubt effective.” For soon there appeared a reddening of the conjunctivas and the drying of the mouth that forced our colleagues to run their tongues repeatedly over their lips. And, nonetheless, during the discussions, that were frequently lively, we couldn’t

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detect changes of either quantity or quality in the smokers, who proceeded in their normal manner, that is to say, with neither unaccustomed slowness or brilliance. One of them was surprised . . . ​because, quite unlike him, at the end of the session he had been overtaken by an unusually strong appetite.23

Again, for Salazar, marijuana did not produce any remarkable effects, whether good or bad. As much as the knife-­wielding marihuano, or marijuana addict, was a myth, so were the artificial paradises that supposedly inspired poets and artists to new heights. Responses beyond the normal physical symptoms were, he argued, a product of suggestion. Though Salazar did not make any specific reference to the scientific literature on this, his work was clearly influenced by the raging debate in psychology on the origins of emotions. In the late nineteenth century, William James and Carl Lange had each proposed that emotions were essentially the psychological manifestations of specific physiological changes. Where previously it had been argued that emotion came first and the physical response second, the so-­called James-­Lange theory suggested that it was the other way around and, indeed, that the physical response was the emotion itself. The 1920s saw a number of challenges to this view, most prominently from Harvard’s Walter Bradford Cannon. Especially influential for Cannon was work done by the Spanish physician Gregorio Marañon. In 1922, Marañon published experimental results that suggested that physiological cues alone were not enough to trigger an emotional response. His research involved injecting subjects with adrenaline, a substance that produces the same kinds of physical responses linked to emotions—­rapid heart rate, flushed face, dry mouth, and so on—­and asked them to reflect on how they felt. Most of them simply reported their physical state without a clear emotional component, often noting that they felt “as if” they were having a kind of emotional reaction even though they knew that they weren’t. However, he also found that some of the patients could be induced to have a full-­blown emotional reaction if they were primed beforehand with emotional stimuli like remembrances of deceased parents. This led Marañon to conclude that James-­Lange had it wrong, and that full-­blown emotion only existed when the physical symptoms were matched with some cognitive explanation for those symptoms. These results were publicized widely by Cannon in his critiques of James-­ Lange and then were replicated in the early 1930s by other researchers.24 Salazar, surely influenced by these developments, forwarded a very similar theory with respect to marijuana. He argued that it was no accident


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that users of marijuana were so prone to “suggestion” given the drug’s real physiological effects: Vasomotor [phenomena] translated as tachycardia, palpitations, paleness of the face, redness of the conjunctivas, paresthesia in the members consisting of a sensation of fatness. Now then, these phenomena are of a purely emotional nature; furthermore, they are emotion itself given that the latter cannot exist without the existence of the former; one can add others of the same origin even though they don’t always occur in emotional states; dizziness and a vertiginous sensation and others that, though not strictly of the vasomotor order, typically accompany the emotions: these are tremors and dryness of the mucous membranes, principally of the mouth and nose. These phenomena, I repeat, are real and constant in varying degrees and duration; from them is derived the anxious state that almost always overtakes the [user] of marihuana, above all when it involves non-­habituated subjects who are using for the first time.

“Through suggestion,” he went on, “fear, happiness, bravery and anger are awakened.” Marijuana would thus not only consistently produce certain organic, physical reactions on the central nervous system but also a psychological reaction driven by suggestion due to the “the great number of representations that it brings with it.”25 The experiments provided considerable evidence to support this argument. When marijuana-­naïve subjects experienced any effects at all (some of them didn’t), they tended to be those consistent physiological manifestations. A few behaved unusually but nothing like the aggression or madness that Mexican lore suggested should accompany marijuana intoxication. A certain “Dr. A. V.,” for example, smoked two of the trick cigarettes in succession and about ninety minutes later experienced extreme hunger. Though he did not normally drink alcohol, he felt compelled to slip into a cantina to drink a beer and eat some sandwiches.26 Further supporting Salazar’s theory were the reactions of some of the novices when later told the cigarette they had smoked contained marijuana. Upon hearing this, one of the doctors claimed he had experienced unusual facility for forwarding his arguments. The wife of another professor said she had managed to stand for a very long time waiting for her husband to get home yet hadn’t gotten tired. Some of those who had been given pure tobacco, but were told that it was marijuana, also attributed various odd symptoms to the experience, like migraines, sleepiness, and clumsiness.27 Other experiments involved having nonusers take the drug but with their consent. These incorporated a huge diversity of subjects, including

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students, clerks, doctors, laborers, and the researchers themselves, but produced none of the extraordinary outcomes attributed to the drug. “We’ve observed various phenomena, some of them real and some attributable to suggestion, but, in general, few when dealing with even-­keeled and cultured people.” Most of these subjects actually found the experience disagreeable and, if they smoked a second time, it was because the researchers insisted that they do so.28 Finally, experiments were done on mental patients using both the trick cigarettes and some of pure marijuana. Six patients were utilized for this, chosen specifically because the nature of their ailments made them likely to have “exaggerated” reactions to the supposed effects of the drug. These included two maniacs whose “agitation” was of “medium intensity”; two paraphrenics; and two paralytics (presumably what today is called “conversion disorder”). These patients showed no change in their behavior whatsoever, and only the paraphrenic wanted to keep using it afterward, though he insisted it had no effect on him.29 In sum, Salazar argued that user experiences were almost wholly a product of suggestion fueled by the formidable reputation the drug had developed over the years whether in Mexico, the United States, or North Africa. In Tunisia, he explained, cannabis smoking was an “archaic custom” maintained by the stories weaved by Muslim bards and books like The One Thousand and One Nights. In addition, and drawing from the work Dr. J. Bouquet, an internationally known cannabis expert, he noted that given, “the proverbial indolence of the Muslims for whom work is [considered] the most awful of illnesses, their excessive pride, greedy for pleasures that they can only enjoy in feeble proportion . . . ​for their disordered imagination it is marihuana that is best suited to stimulate their imaginative faculties.” He added: These perform their ritual, meeting to smoke with the deliberate and firm aim of making themselves happy and content. And with good reason, as these are almost always miserable people to whom reality denies all pleasure and felicity! They explode in contagious gales of laughter that overcome all; imaginative debaucheries or propitious libations evoke extravagant and lustful acts; these could occur on any given vulgar and explicable occasion, but the stories disseminated by them, now considerably adulterated, are seized by the legend and, in the mouths of journalists and literary folklorists who don’t wear the chlamys of the scientific investigator because it is not their mission, it is deformed and blown out of proportion; and that is how the myth is born of the marihuano who feels like a bird and [stories of] other hallucinations and delusions; they paint paradises suited to


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each person’s temperament and pastimes: for the courtesan it is sexual pleasure; for the man of letters, fire; for the poet or painter, inspiration, and for the philosopher, abstract relations that previously he could not perceive; for the coward it is bravery, and for the murderer it is refuge in impunity.

This, he explained, had the maximum effect in the United States due to the youth of the country and the stifling conformist way of life there. In Mexico, it had an impact for the same reasons as in the Muslim world: because the poor had to look for happiness in fantasy.30 Salazar capped off his extraordinary performance before the academy by handing out some trick cigarettes to various colleagues. Over the coming weeks the headlines would fan the controversy. On October 24, in El Universal, Dr. Manuel Guevara Oropesa, president of the Mexican Association of Neurology and Psychiatry, published a rebuttal to Salazar Viniegra’s views, while El Nacional featured a lawyer’s claims that Salazar should be jailed for encouraging marijuana use (there was certainly some justification in the penal code). At the end of the month, the journal Criminalia published Salazar’s paper in full, along with an alternate viewpoint from another Mexico City physician.31 In November, the controversy continued. On the first, the front page of Excelsior announced in bold type, “Dr. Salazar Viniegra Is Accused of Giving Marijuana to the Crazies.” There followed testimony from the father of a young patient at La Castañeda who said that his son had been turned into a marijuana addict at the hospital. Soon after, the director of the Hospital for Drug Addicts, Dr. Fernando Rosales, wrote in to complain that the information in the piece had been “inexact,” claiming that no one had been obliged to smoke marijuana, though, as we’ve seen, this was clearly false. He would reiterate this argument in a private meeting with inquisitive US consular officials while noting that he had led his own experiments on marijuana like those conducted by Salazar and had come to similar conclusions. He also insisted that patients at the hospital were not allowed to smoke marijuana except during experiments. Later, in mid-­November, US Vice-­Consul Norman L. Christianson attended one of these experimental sessions. There, according to Christianson, Dr. Rosales and Segura admitted that they had indeed done experiments with the drug on the patients at the insane asylum. He also seems to have smoked some marijuana himself while observing several other inconsistencies. At Dr. Rosales’ direction one of the patients gave Mr. Christianson a marijuana cigarette, which was puffed a few times and given back to the patient. The patient

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said that after one has smoked two or three marijuana cigarettes he prefers them to any other. However, Dr. Rosales said that they had proved marijuana is less habit forming than tobacco. The three smokers appeared to be completely normal after smoking one marijuana cigarette apiece. When we first arrived at Dr. Rosales’ office, he asked an assistant if any of the patients had marijuana in their possession. No one admitted having it, and so Dr.  Rosales sent over to another office to get a small amount. It appears that Dr.  Rosales expected the patients to have marijuana although he stated to Mr. Christianson on November 4, 1938, that the treatment at the hospital consisted partly in forbidding the patients to smoke the plant. Mr. Christianson believes that Dr. Rosales and Jorge Segura Millán are so certain of the correctness of their theory about marijuana’s harmlessness that they are not concerned if some of the patients smoke it occasionally.32

In late November, a piece in El Universal seemed to openly mock Salazar’s views, leading Ambassador James Stewart to comment that, “Ridicule is no doubt the best weapon with which to combat the dangerous theories of Dr. Salazar Viniegra.”33 US officials made a translation of Salazar’s “Myth of Marijuana,” and in the section where Salazar noted that his views were based on “14 years of continuous practice in the Insane Asylum,” someone scrawled in pencil: “Possibly 14 years incarceration.”34 Salazar was no doubt gifted, but it is also fair to say that he was at times so reckless that it blunted the impact of his ideas. After the fireworks of the fall, Salazar’s theories had no discernable impact on Mexican marijuana policy, at least during his lifetime. But was he right? I’ve argued elsewhere that, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, various factors in Mexican history combined to create a cultural setting conducive to violent responses to marijuana’s natural effects. Not because marijuana necessarily causes violence, but because the social and cultural circumstances of the drug’s use in Mexico on some occasions produced violent results.35 In addition, I have also argued, following from the more recent science on the drug, that marijuana’s links to “madness” derived from those natural effects being psychotomimetic and from the still unexplained correlation between cannabis use and schizophrenia.36 Clearly, there is a kinship in our points of view, but they are also quite distinct. In part, the difference stems from our respective moments in time. While we both have sought to explain the overwhelming belief in Mexico that marijuana caused violence, madness, and other extraordinary effects, Salazar was writing in the very thick of those deeply entrenched discourses. If he could


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simply show that marijuana did not produce “VISIONS, AGGRESSION, AND HALLUCINATIONS,” as Segura’s thesis repeatedly emphasized in capital letters, then he had won the argument. Countering the widespread belief in these extreme outcomes was the goal. My work has been written in a diametrically opposed atmosphere. Today, at least in popular discourse, such claims are often waved off as simply reefer madness hysteria, even though Salazar’s work helps to illustrate that neither is it quite that simple. Consider that Salazar and Segura reported a number of their subjects having adverse reactions to cannabis. We’ve already seen how Salazar’s nephew and friends became panicked and nauseous from the trick cigarettes. But there were a number of other subjects who experienced similar adverse reactions from both swallowed and smoked cannabis. “J. I. A.,” for example, who was described as a “pure marijuana addict,” experienced a few moments of anxiety with fear after taking four grams of the fluid extract. “S. P.,” an employee of the psychiatric hospital, and not an addict of any kind, took half a gram of the extract and experienced nothing unusual. But with a gram he became nervous: Extreme thirst with extremely dry mouth, not habituated to intoxicating drinks he felt the necessity to drink something for his thirst and he went to a bar, but he had to leave without drinking the beer because he found himself extremely nervous and he had a feeling of intense fear; generalized sweating, intense congestion of the face and eyes, but without the ability to explain it, which made him think that everyone recognized in his face that he was intoxicated. He did not present hallucinations, visions, or aggressiveness; on the contrary, he says that he did not want to run into or make any friends for fear of being discovered. He notes that the streets seemed to get longer. He went to bed two hours earlier than normal, slept deeply until the next day when he woke up completely fine. He did not have any of the discomforts that alcoholic intoxication leaves. He notes that he did not experience any pleasure, rather, on the contrary, he is disposed to never [use] it again.37

There were other cases of this kind, but because the aim was to prove that marijuana did not produce madness or violence, they were easily written off. Segura himself smoked two of the marijuana cigarettes as was recommended to him by seasoned users and had an intense anxiety reaction accompanied by significant fear. Another medical student, after smoking a similar amount, also became very frightened. A female subject responded in a similar way. Another very experienced and unusually articulate user described such bad reactions in detail. “When there is a certain excess, one

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is overcome by a very specific mental state, one experiences a feeling of inferiority which is translated into a kind of fear mixed with shame and depressing ideas, marked by a certain mental propensity to believe in syncope or collapse, which in my case has never occurred but which I have witnessed in a neophyte.”38 Finally, and of particular importance, were various negative outcomes when cannabis was mixed with alcohol. One female subject was given cigarettes of marijuana mixed with tobacco after having already ingested several cocktails. She soon began vomiting and entered into “a spasmodic crisis of laughing and crying,” along with convulsions, before falling into a deep sleep. Her friend had a similar reaction of wild laughter and intense convulsions. These were explained as being simply the symptoms of alcoholic intoxication in the first, and hysteria in the second, and thus having had nothing to do with the cannabis.39 To prove it, various subjects were given large doses of alcohol followed by marijuana. Two subjects were asked to drink about 10 ounces of mescal over the course of an hour. While one of the subjects continued to act normally, the second, “F. L. M.,” swayed about completely drunk, and with slurred speech bragged that he was the “better drug addict” of the two. Each was then given a pure marijuana cigarette to smoke. F. L. M. had to lie down, leading the other to comment that his friend lacked stamina. This nearly provoked a fight and the two had to be separated. Segura explained that F. L. M. had previously been in prison and was known for acting like that when he was drinking, thus the role of marijuana was totally discounted. And, to be clear, various other subjects mixed alcohol and marijuana to no ill effect.40 But under questioning, many of the more seasoned users, while emphasizing never having experienced “visions, hallucinations, or aggression” while using marijuana alone, argued that the combination of alcohol and marijuana indeed produced violence. E. L., a thirty-­year-­old heroin addict, noted that, “when marihuanos mix marijuana with alcohol they become very irritable and quarrelsome.” S. R., another heroin addict, claimed that while he’d never seen a pure marihuano be aggressive, “He’s seen alcoholics who mix that intoxication with marijuana, and who when they are completely drunk get worked up ‘like crazies.’” J. G., a thirty-­nine-­year-­old marihuano, similarly reported that people who mixed alcohol with marijuana wind up “acting like madmen.” J. V. E., another thirty-­two-­year-­old heroin addict, admitted that when he mixed marijuana


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with alcohol there followed “brutalities, fights, and seeing things differently.” Several others reported similar outcomes in themselves.41 Salazar considered this information unimportant because, he argued, alcohol produced similar effects on its own.42 But we now know that the relationship between alcohol and aggression is also culturally constructed. Alcohol does not lead to violence in all or even most contexts. Indeed, all drug use outcomes are to some degree or another dictated by culturally determined user expectations, the circumstances of the drug’s use, and the pharmacology of the substance.43 Today, for example, mixing alcohol with marijuana is not generally considered a cause of violence. Drug use outcomes are, in short, very much overdetermined. Proving that a drug, on its own, does not produce extreme behavioral outcomes does not actually tell us very much because it is quite unusual for a drug to do so. Thus, we are left with many very messy histories and no simple answers. Consider, for instance, Adolfo. He was born in 1894 in the thick of a rapidly modernizing Mexico City. Life would not be easy for him. He was one of seven children born to an “extremely nervous” mother. Of his six siblings, one was born dead, two others (twins) died before the age of three of yellow fever, and two others would become heroin addicts. When Adolfo was seven his father abandoned the family, leaving them in “a bad way” (en malas circunstancias), and he and his brothers were turned over to an orphanage. Adolfo was a timid and cowardly child. He feared his father, never daring to look up at him when they spoke. His intellectual abilities had always been extremely limited, and he never managed to become more than a mediocre student. At twelve, he worked as an apprentice for a tailor until he fell off a ladder, hit his head, and was dazed for a long time after. He then left that job to become an assistant for a curtain maker. Around this time, he began hanging out in second rate theatres (tiatruchos) and partying till the middle of the night. At fourteen he tried marijuana with very unpleasant results. As he described it to the staff at La Castañeda: “he saw a long road without end that he walked daily, he felt nervous, slamming himself against the ground, provoking quarrels with his friends and forcing them to fight.” This was a classic manifestation of “marijuana madness” as it was known in Mexico. But marijuana was hardly Adolfo’s only problem during this period. He was living like a vagabond and was detained (enganchado), probably illegally, and sent to work on a plantation in the coastal state of Campeche where he contracted malaria and suffered from sores all over his

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body. There he almost starved to death while begging for the scraps necessary for survival. In 1916 he joined the army where his comrades would try and get him to drink more alcohol and smoke more marijuana. It was typical of soldiers to force marijuana on their mentally unstable comrades just to see what would happen.44 Adolfo managed to hold them off, but at some point he contracted both gonorrhea and syphilis. By the time he got back to living with his mother, he was exhibiting symptoms of some kind of serious mental illness. He was having trouble sleeping, suffering from buzzing in his ears, which he described as a kind of “ringing of spirits,” and hallucinating visions of huge faces and animals. His mother reported that he’d become lazy; he claimed that he’d already done plenty of labor in his life and therefore didn’t need to do more. All of this provoked his first visit to La Castañeda where he was diagnosed with “alcoholic psychosis.” A second visit in 1924 produced a diagnosis of “exogenous toxifrenia (alcohol and marihuana).” A final visit a year later involved increasingly paranoid delusions and resulted in a diagnosis of “Paranoid dementia praecox.”45 Adolfo had lived a difficult life involving some childhood trauma, a nervous mother, drinking from an early age, all-­night partying, a severe blow to the head, a stint in the army, malaria, syphilis, forced labor, and near starvation. More recent research suggests that any of one these factors might have played some causal role in his mental illness. Most of the cases I examined contained similarly complex backstories. In Mexico, marijuana was used overwhelmingly by the country’s most marginal people for whom life was often very hard indeed. In short, a very far cry from Expoweed 2018. Salazar was aware of this and was thus pushing back against the lurid, simplistic, and exploitative portrayals of marijuana’s effects in public discourse. He was certainly correct to do so, and in most ways he was right. He made the fascinating suggestion that marijuana, because of its peculiar physiological effects, was especially likely to produce emotional responses onto which cultural messages might be grafted.46 However, Salazar, who famously advocated for marijuana legalization, understood that this theory could be read in more than one way. “One could say, of course, that given that marijuana opens the door to all of these suggestive influences, its repression is justified; but this is only true in part, for it is more likely to be successfully done away with when the truth strips it of its tempting attributes and it loses its efficacy as sorcery.”47 In other words, by revealing the truth and stripping marijuana of its magical reputation for inciting both great harms


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and pleasures, the ultimate goal of eliminating its use might actually be achieved. *



The 1960s then radically altered marijuana’s historical trajectory. In the United States, its use was adopted by a new generation in an atmosphere in which powerful psychotomimetic drugs, principally LSD, were being touted as tools of mind expansion and psychic health. Pushing the boundaries of madness became a way of breaking down mental barriers and potentially revolutionizing society. At the same time, decades of demonization and association with marginal groups made marijuana highly attractive to this emerging counterculture. As Norman Mailer put it, marijuana became the “wedding ring” that connected black and white culture: So no wonder that in certain cities of America, in New York of course, and New Orleans, in Chicago and San Francisco and Los Angeles, in such cities as Paris and Mexico, D.F., this particular part of a generation was attracted to what the Negro had to offer. In such places as Greenwich Village, a ménage-­à-­trois was completed—­the bohemian and the juvenile delinquent came face-­to-­face with the Negro, and the hipster was a fact in American life. If marijuana was the wedding ring, the child was the language of Hip for its argot gave expression to abstract states of feeling which all could share, at least all who were Hip.48

There were still the occasional reports of cannabis psychosis, but these were overwhelmed by its very noisy countercultural adoption and celebration by a highly privileged baby-­boomer generation.49 Soon marijuana’s reputation was transformed, “from killer weed to drop-­out drug,” and a new mythology was propagated suggesting that its demonization in the United States was a global anomaly.50 Scholars and activists sought an explanation for what was now a very obvious disjuncture in marijuana’s twentieth-­century history, and various theories—­ the “Mexican hypothesis,” the “Anslinger hypothesis,” and the “hemp conspiracy”—­were born, none of which even entertained the idea that there might have been any truth in the old stereotypes.51 In the midst of all of this, the film Reefer Madness was rereleased, and together these factors simplified marijuana’s twentieth-­century disjuncture into an unambiguous and, not coincidentally, politically-­potent story. All of this reflects the widespread tendency in modern society to see drugs as neat pharmacological vessels that produce specific results regardless of the surrounding circumstances of their use.

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But, despite the resulting cultural climate, one highly conducive to positive marijuana experiences, something like reefer madness, though incredibly rare, nonetheless still manages to break out. Two recent cases, both in the first few months after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, illustrate the point. In the early morning hours of March 11, 2014, a college student named Levy Thamba jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony after ingesting a marijuana cookie containing 65 mgs of THC, or 6.5 servings. Before taking his fatal dive, Thamba, whose speech had become erratic, had begun tearing things from the walls and acting hostile.52 A month later, a man named Richard Kirk ingested some portion of a “Karma Kandy Orange Ginger,” a marijuana edible about the size of a Tootsie Roll that contained ten servings of THC. Soon he became extremely aggressive. His wife called 911. Richard had consumed marijuana, she said. He was raging. He insisted she shoot him with the gun still locked in its safe. He was hallucinating and ranting about the end of the world. He was trying to get into the children’s room. Kirk eventually unlocked the gun safe and shot his wife in the head while she was on the phone with 911. He would later plead not guilty of murder by reason of insanity. It was madness, he said, and cannabis had produced it. His lawyers had expert witnesses ready to testify that marijuana was at least partially to blame. “It is my professional opinion,” stated Dr. Andrew A. Monte, MD, a medical toxicologist at the University of Colorado Hospital, “that Mr. Kirk was intoxicated with THC leading to delirium and psychotic-­like symptoms at the time of the homicide.”53 In the end, Kirk pursued a plea bargain in order, he said, to spare his children from having to testify, but he continued to insist that the Karma Kandy had driven him temporarily mad. Indeed, his children have maintained that position in a lawsuit against Karma Kandy’s manufacturer. Though, as with so many cases from the past, there was also reason to suspect the cannabis was simply a useful excuse for murder. The prosecution found that Kirk and his wife were under considerable financial stress and that she had recently confessed to a friend that she was scared of her husband.54 Nonetheless, shortly thereafter, and given that both Thamba and Kirk had bought small edibles containing huge doses of THC, Colorado wisely passed new regulations that required such products to be packaged in no more than single-­serving doses. Colorado also began its Good to Know cannabis safety campaign to accurately warn users of potential “bad reactions” to the drug:


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The symptoms of using too much marijuana are similar to the typical effects of using marijuana, but more severe. These symptoms may include: extreme confusion, anxiety, paranoia, panic, fast heart rate, delusions or hallucinations, increased blood pressure and severe nausea/vomiting. If someone is having trouble breathing, has pale skin, or is unresponsive, call 911.55

Symptomatic of nearly half a century of claims that reefer madness is total nonsense, these potentially dangerous outcomes were initially introduced in the campaign by the playful heading, “Oops, You Had Too Much” Arguably this approach, one of truthful nonchalance, is a wise one. Users suffering from a temporary psychotomimetic reaction to the drug are surely much better off thinking, “oops I’ve had too much,” than that they are going mad, as they would have a century ago in Mexico.56 For many readers this will be deeply unsettling, but mostly because we have difficulty facing up to the very messy nature of drugs. As Paracelsus noted in the sixteenth century, and as countless observers have done since then in some way or another, “in all things there is poison, and there is nothing without a poison. It depends only upon the dose whether a poison is poison or not.”57 This should be obvious enough from the stream of warnings that accompany virtually any pharmaceutical advertisement on television. Though we need to add that, in addition to the dose, the danger of drugs depends on who is taking them and under what circumstances. Again, most of us recognize that the same dose of alcohol has very different effects at a fraternity party than at a faculty gathering. But, for some, when it comes to recreational drugs, substances taken for that old bugaboo, pleasure, any risk of the poison, however small, is too much risk, even in the face of the massive harms done by prohibition, including the many thousands of murders and lives destroyed by the resulting illicit markets. Thus, all sides have their reasons to ignore the truth: for those moved primarily by the harms of prohibition, the argument is best simplified, and the outliers downplayed. For those more disturbed by the occasional bad reactions, and perhaps ignorant or insensitive to the full range of harms done by prohibition, the problem becomes about little more than the outliers.58 Through it all, we have arrived at a fascinating historical conjuncture in part created by the widespread misreading of marijuana’s twentieth-­century disjuncture. Had Colorado voters been provided a ballot initiative in 2012 that included the potential bad reactions as described by the Good to Know campaign, legalization surely would have failed. Given the enormous harms

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produced by marijuana prohibition in both the United States and abroad over the last century, we should probably be thankful for this oversight. But such potential effects were also clearly overlooked when manufacturers were allowed to sell single-­serving-­sized edibles that contained ten servings of THC. Only after two terrible tragedies was reality thrust upon regulators, leading to what is a relatively enlightened, regulated system with legitimate warnings about marijuana’s potential psychotomimetic effects. In Mexico, Salazar Viniegra is often touted as the man who, far ahead of his time, understood that marijuana was harmless. In truth, Salazar was the first Mexican, indeed perhaps the first man in North America, to discern the immense complexity of marijuana’s effects and their relationship to behavioral outcomes. Even if he did not have it all right, we would do well to emulate his willingness to honestly engage all of that messy complexity. Notes 1.  “State Marijuana Laws in 2019 Map,” Governing​.­com, http://­www​.­governing​.­com​ /­gov​-­data​/­state​-­marijuana​-­laws​-­map​-­medical​-­recreational​.­html; Reuters, “Mexico’s Incoming Government Moves to Legalize Marijuana,” CBC, November 8, 2018, https://­www​.­cbc​.­ca​/­news​/­world​/­mexico​-­marijuana​-­legal​-­bill​-­1​.­4898122; Dan Bilefsky, “Legalizing Recreational Marijuana, Canada Begins a National Experiment,” October 17, 2018, https://­www​.­nytimes​.­com​/­2018​/­10​/­17​/­world​/­canada​/­marijuana​-­pot​-­cann​ abis​-­legalization​.­html; Mark Wolfe, “Pot for Parents,” New York Times, September 7, 2012, http://­www​.­nytimes​.­com​/­2012​/­09​/­08​/­opinion​/­how​-­pot​-­helps​-­parenting​.­html​.­ On Cannabis and fashion, see “About,” Broccoli, accessed October 18, 2020, https://­ broccolimag​.­com​/­about​/­​.­On marijuana’s evolving legal status in Latin America, see: Elizabeth Gonzalez, “Weekly Chart: Where Does Latin America Stand on Marijuana Legalization?” Americas Society Council of the Americas, April 13, 2017, https://­www​.­as​ -­coa​.­org​/­articles​/­weekly​-­chart​-­where​-­does​-­latin​-­america​-­stand​-­marijuana​-­legalization​. 2. Isaac Campos, Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012), 200–­201. 3. David F. Musto, The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); and Joseph F. Spillane, Cocaine: From Medical Marvel to Modern Menace, 1884–­1920 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000). As Spillane notes, cocaine experienced a short-­lived reincarnation as a soft drug in the 1970s, and Musto has commented on the ebbs and flows of temperance sentiment with regard to alcohol in the United States. But the total evolution of cannabis’ reputation in the United States still strikes me as quite unusual and more like that of early modern tobacco, which was at first violently proscribed in many locations only to later gain widespread acceptance. On early modern drugs,


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see Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants (New York: Random House, 1992); and David T. Courtwright, Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001). 4.  Reefer Madness, G&H Productions, 1936. 5.  On the history of Reefer Madness, see Stuart Samuels, Midnight Movies (New York: Collier Books, 1983), 92–­104. For examples of the phrase as a useful tool of marijuana policy reformers, see, for example: Miriam Boeri, “Re-­Criminalizing Cannabis Is Worse than 1930s ‘Reefer Madness,’” The Conversation, January 18, 2018, http://­ theconversation​.­com​/­re​-­criminalizing​-­cannabis​-­is​-­worse​-­than​-­1930s​-­reefer​-­madness​ -­89821; “Reefer Madness Propaganda Still Exists? ‘Weed Is Making People Lose Their Minds And Memories,’” Zenpype, October 30, 2017, https://­zenpype​.­com​/­reefer​ -­m adness​ -­p ropaganda​ -­s till​ -­e xists​ -­w eed​ -­i s​ -­m aking​ -­p eople​ -­l ose​ -­t heir​ -­m inds​ -­a nd​ -­memories​/­; Jeremy Daw, “100% of New Cannabis Addiction Reports Show Signs of Reefer Madness,” Weedist, September 16, 2014, http://­www​.­weedist​.­com​/­2014​/­09​ /­100​-­new​-­cannabis​-­addiction​-­reports​-­show​-­signs​-­reefer​-­madness​/­​. 6. “Expoweed Mexico 2019, the largest cannabis fair in Mexico,” The Mazatlán Post, August 2, 2019, https://­themazatlanpost​.­com​/­2019​/­08​/­02​/­expoweed​-­mexico​-­2019​-­the​ -­largest​-­cannabis​-­fair​-­in​-­mexico​/­​. 7. Pedro Villa y Caña, “Recuerdan a médico mexicano que desmitificó efectos de marihuana,” El Universal, August 18, 2017, http://­www​.­eluniversal​.­com​.­mx​/­nacion​ /­sociedad​/­recuerdan​-­medico​-­mexicano​-­que​-­desmitifico​-­efectos​-­de​-­marihuana​. 8.  For more on the incident, see Isaac Campos, “A Diplomatic Failure: The Mexican Role in the Demise of the 1940 Reglamento Federal de Toxicomanias, Third World Quarterly 39, no. 2 (2018): 232–­ 247. For examples of the incident’s continued salience in today’s drug-­policy debates, see “Conspiró EU contra doctor mexicano que abogaba por legalizar la mariguana,” El Diario mx, May 5, 2013, http://­diario​.­mx​ /­Nacional​/­2013​-­05​-­05_8f431afb​/­conspiro​-­eu​-­contra​-­doctor​-­mexicano​-­que​-­abogaba​ -­por​-­legalizar​-­la​-­mariguana​/­​.­Sometimes Salazar’s opiate dispensary plan is conflated with his views on marijuana. See, for example, Efraín Mariano, “Inauguración de ExpoWeed México 2017,” Nación Cannabis, August 18, 2017, https://­nacioncannabis​ .­com​/­honran​-­leopoldo​-­salazar​-­viniegra​-­la​-­inauguracion​-­la​-­expoweed​-­mexico​-­2017​/­​. 9. “Médicos académicos fumaron ‘Dña Juanita,’” El Universal, October 22, 1938, 1; “Escándalos y polémicas que dieron calor al mexicano 1938,” Excelsior (Magazine Dominical), January 1, 1939, 1. 10. Campos, Home Grown, quote on 153. 11.  “Se acusa al Dr. Salazar Viniegra de dar mariguana a los locos de la Castañeda” Excelsior, November 1, 1938.

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12. Andrés Ríos Molina and a team of researchers examined a sample of the National Mental Hospital’s population between 1910 and 1968. They examined 20 percent (12,296) of the more than 61,000 total cases. A diagnosis of some kind of mental disorder was found in 10,641 of the sampled files. Of those, 116 were linked to marijuana in some way. By comparison, 2,055 were connected to alcohol. I worked with Ximena López Carrillo, who was a lead researcher on Ríos Molino’s project, to do our own survey of the archive’s records. We looked at every person who was labeled as a “drug addict” (toxicómano) between 1910 and 1940. Of those 469 cases, 69 were connected to marijuana in some way. However, only 30 were connected to marijuana by itself (the majority were linked to alcohol or other drugs as well). And of those 30, only 22 were concluded to actually have symptoms of mental illness under examination. These numbers jibe with a 1920 study done by the doctors Adolfo Nieto and Eliseo Ramírez. They found that between 1911 and 1920, there were only eight cases in the mental hospital connected in any way to marijuana. Of these, only two were exclusively marijuana users. Among the others there were four alcoholics, one alcoholic/opium user, and one morphine abuser. See Andrés Ríos Molina and Ximena López Carrillo, Introducción to Los pacientes del Manicomio la Castañeda y sus diagnósticos: Una historia de la clínica psiquiátrica en México, 1910–­1968, ed. Andrés Ríos Molina (México: UNAM/Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 2017), 19–­21; D. D. Adolfo M. Nieto and Eliseo Ramírez, “Notas acerca del uso de la marihuana en el Ejército,” Sección Octava, Medicina y Cirugía Militares, Memoria del VI Congreso Médico Nacional, verificado en la ciudad de Toluca del 14 al 21 de Abril de 1920, Tomo II (México: Imprenta Politecnica, 1921), 575. 13.  RT, Manicomio General (MG), Expedientes Clínicos (EC), Caja (C.) 161, Expediente (Exp.) 9175, Archivo Histórico de la Secretaría de Salubridad y Asistencia, Mexico City [hereafter, simply AHSSA]. As I’ve done here (i.e., “RT”), and as is requested by the archive, only the initials of patients will be provided in the footnotes in order to protect their identities. 14.  CGE, MG, EC, C. 193, Exp. 10751, AHSSA. 15.  JMS, MG, EC, C. 107, Exp. 6499, AHSSA. 16.  On trauma, mental illness, and cannabis, see Ingo Shäfer and Helen L. Fischer, “Childhood Trauma and Psychosis—­What Is the Evidence?” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience 13, no. 3 (2011): 360–­365; J. E. Houston et al., “Cannabis Use and Psychosis: Re-­Visiting the Role of Childhood Trauma,” Psychological Medicine 41, no. 11 (2011): 2339–­2348; Michelle Harley et al., “Cannabis Use and Childhood Trauma Interact Additively to Increase the Risk of Psychotic Symptoms in Adolescence,” Psychological Medicine 40, no. 10 (2010): 1627–­1634. For a recent article on alcohol and psychosis, see Jonna Perälä et al., “Alcohol-­Induced Psychotic Disorder and Delirium in the General Population,” British Journal of Psychiatry 197, no. 3 (2010): 200–­206. On syphilis: Fabian Friedrich et al., “Manifest Psychosis in Neurosyphilis,” General


Isaac Campos

Hospital Psychiatry 31, no. 4 (2009): 379–­381. On the genetics of schizophrenia: Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, “Biological Insights from 108 Schizophrenia-­Associated Genetic Loci,” Nature 511, no. 7510 (2014): 421–­427. 17.  Leopoldo Salazar Viniegra, “El mito de la marihuana,” Criminalia 5, no. 4 (1938): 207. 18.  Jorge Segura Millán, La marihuana: Estudio medico y social (México, D. F.: Editorial Cultura, 1939), 7. 19.  Segura Millán, La marihuana, 38–­39. 20.  This part of Salazar’s work has also been almost completely ignored by the scholarship, presumably because the scandals surrounding him, and his calls for marijuana legalization, have tended to overshadow everything else. Luis Astorga provided one of the first detailed accounts of Salazar’s marijuana theories and covered many of the key elements, but he missed this question of suggestion. See his El siglo de las drogas (México, D. F.: Espasa-­Calpe, 1996), 50–­53. See also Ricardo Pérez Montfort, Tolerancia y prohibición: Aproximaciones a la historia social y cultural de las drogas en México, 1840–­ 1940 (México: Penguin Random House, 2016), 287–­289. In my previous work on marijuana in Mexico prior to 1920, and as I describe later in this essay, I have argued that the cultural environment was critical to marijuana use outcomes in Mexico, though for different reasons than those forwarded by Salazar. See Campos, Home Grown. 21.  Segura Millán, La marihuana, 50. 22.  Salazar Viniegra, “El mito de la marihuana,” 216. 23.  Salazar Viniegra, “El mito de la marihuana,” 216. 24. For the original critique in which Cannon draws on Marañon, see Walter B. Cannon, “The James-­Lange Theory of Emotions: A Critical Examination and an Alternative Theory,” American Journal of Psychology 39, no. 1 (1927): 106–­124. See also Gregorio Marañon, “Contribution a l’étude de l’action émotive de l’adrénaline,” Revue Francaise d’ Endocrinologie 2 (1924): 301–­325. In Spanish: “Contribución al estudio de la acción emotiva de la adrenalina,” Estudios de Psicología, no. 21 (1985): 75–­89. For the replications, see Hadley Cantril and William A. Hunt, “Emotional Effects Produced by the Injection of Adrenalin,” American Journal of Psychology 44, no. 2 (1932): 300–­307; and Carney Landis and William A. Hunt, “Adrenalin and Emotion,” Psychological Review 39, no. 5 (1932): 467–­485. For a good summary of the debate, see Peter J. Lang, “The Varieties of Emotional Experience: A Meditation on James-­Lange Theory,” Psychological Review 101, no. 2 (1994): 211–­221. Eventually, in 1962, in a now famous study, Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer would build on Marañon’s work, demonstrating their ability to graft different emotions (either anger or euphoria) onto the physiological arousal of subjects who had received surreptitious injections of adrenaline. Stanley Schachter and Jerome E. Singer, “Cognitive,

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Social, and Physiological Determinants of Emotional State,” Psychological Review 69, no. 5 (1962): 379–­99. On Marañon’s influence, see Randolph R. Cornelius, “Gregorio Marañon’s Two-­Factory Theory of Emotion,” Personality and Social Psychhology Bulletin 17, no. 1 (1991): 65–­69. 25.  Salazar Viniegra, “El mito de la marihuana,” 233–­235. Strangely, Salazar compares marijuana to atropine in this regard, rather than adrenaline (218). Marañon had done some experiments with atropine and, at one point, suggests its action is the same as that of adrenaline. But later, in the same article, he insists that adrenaline is the only substance that could produce physical reactions similar to those of the emotions. Salazar’s specific influences thus remain somewhat in doubt. See Marañon, “Contribución al estudio,” 77, 88. On marijuana’s effect on heartrate and blood pressure, see Stephen Sidney, “Cardiovascular Consequences of Marijuana Use,” Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 42 (2002): 64S–­70S. 26.  Segura Millán, La marihuana, 47–­48. 27.  Salazar Viniegra, “El mito de la marihuana,” 216–­217. 28.  Salazar Viniegra, “El mito de la marihuana,” 217–­218. 29.  Salazar Viniegra, “El mito de la marihuana,” 218–­219. 30.  Salazar Viniegra, “El mito de la marihuana,” 235–­236. 31. Daniels to the Sec. of State, “A Prominent Mexican Physician Contradicts Dr. Viniegra’s Marihuana Theories,” October 24, 1938; Mex-­LSV; BNDD; RG 170; NARA; Stewart to the Secretary of State, October 27, 1938; Mex-­LSV; BNDD; RG 170; NARA. Salazar Viniegra, “Mito de la marihuana”; Gregorio Oneto Barenque, “La marihuana ante la psiquiatría y el código penal,” Criminalia 5, no. 4 (1938): 239–­256. 32.  Stewart to the Secretary of State, November 18, 1938; Mex-­LSV; BNDD; RG 170; NARA. 33.  Letter from James B. Stewart to the Secretary of State, “An Article Ridiculing Dr. Salazar Viniegra’s Defense of Marihuana,” October 24, 1938; Mex-­LSV; BNDD; RG 170; NARA. 34. Stewart to the Secretary of State, December 12, 1938; Mex-­LSV; BNDD; RG 170; NARA. 35. Campos, Home Grown. 36. Campos, Home Grown, 29–38. 37.  Segura Millán, La marihuana, 86. 38.  Segura Millán, La marihuana, 99–­102, 113. 39.  Segura Millán, La marihuana, 88–­89.


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40.  Segura Millán, La marihuana, 89–­93. 41.  Segura Millán, La marihuana, 105–­111. 42.  Salazar Viniegra, “El mito de la marihuana,” 219. 43.  Craig MacAndrew and Robert B. Edgerton, Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation (Clinton Corners, NY: Percheron Press, 2003); and Richard DeGrandpre, The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World’s Most Troubled Drug Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006). 44. Campos, Home Grown, 171. 45.  ATP, MG, EC., C. 118, Exp. 7006, AHSSA. 46. I’m not aware of any work that has considered much less tested this theory, though theories of constructed emotion are alive and well and, indeed, have been considerably strengthened by the most recent neuroscience research. See Lisa Feldman Barrett, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain (Boston: Mariner Books, 2018). 47.  Salazar Viniegra, “El mito de la marihuana,” 237. 48. Norman Mailer, “The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster,” Dissent, June 20, 2007, https://­www​.­dissentmagazine​.­org​/­online_articles​/­the​-­white​ -­negro​-­fall​-­1957​. 49.  On cases of “cannabis psychosis” from that era, see Campos, Home Grown, 19–­24. 50.  Jerome L Himmelstein, “From Killer Weed to Drop-­Out Drug: The Changing Ideology of Marihuana,” Contemporary Crises 7, no. 1 (1983): 13–­38. On the United States as exception, see Allen Ginsberg, “First Manifesto to End the Bringdown,” in The Marihuana Papers, ed. David Solomon (New York: New American Library, 1968), 238–­239. 51.  On the evolution of this literature, see my “Mexicans and the Origins of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States: A Reassessment,” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs 32 (2018): 6–­37. 52.  John Ingold, “Denver Coroner: Man Fell to Death After Eating Marijuana Cookies,” Denver Post, April 2, 2014, https://­www​.­denverpost​.­com​/­2014​/­04​/­02​/­denver​ -­coroner​-­man​-­fell​-­to​-­death​-­after​-­eating​-­marijuana​-­cookies​/­​. 53. Jesse Paul, “Richard Kirk, Colorado Man Accused in Slaying of His Wife, Pleads Guilty to Second-­ Degree Murder,” Cannabist, February 3, 2017, http://­www​ .­t hecannabist​ .­c o​ /­2 017​ /­0 2​ /­0 3​ /­r ichard​ -­k irk​ -­c olorado​ -­m urder​ -­m arijuana​ -­c andy​ -­intoxication​/­72996​/­; “Comparing the Timelines,” Denver Post, accessed June 24, 2019, http://­extras​.­denverpost​.­com​/­projects​/­2014​/­timelines​/­observatory_park_timeline​ _mobile​.­html; and Jordan Steffen, “A Preview of Pot’s Possible Role in Denver Murder Insanity Defense,” Cannabist, September 26, 2015, http://­www​.­thecannabist​.­co​/­2015​ /­09​/­26​/­marijuana​-­richard​-­kirk​-­insanity​-­defense​-­richard​-­kirk​/­41503​/­​.

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54. “Richard Kirk Motion to Admit Statements of Victims to Pursuants,” accessed June 24, 2019, http://­www​.­documentcloud​.­org​/­documents​/­3116124​-­Richard​-­Kirk​ -­Motion​-­to​-­Admit​-­Statements​-­of​.­html​. 55.  http://­goodtoknowcolorado​.­com​/­before​-­you​-­use​/­safe​-­use​#­oops​-­you​-­had​-­too​ -­much​.­This link is no longer functioning. The updated site with similar safety tips can be found here: Responsibility Grows Here, accessed June 24, 2019, https://­ responsibilitygrowshere​.­com​/­​. 56.  Nearly fifty years ago, Andrew Weil, based in his own clinical experience, argued that when users suffering from adverse cannabis reactions were simply reassured that everything would be OK, as opposed to being told that they were experiencing “acute toxic psychosis,” they tended to recover quite swiftly. See A. T. Weil, “Adverse Reactions to Marihuana. Classification and Suggested Treatment,” New England Journal of Medicine 282, no. 18 (1970): 997–­1000. 57. Campos, Home Grown, 43. 58. For a recent example, see Alex Berenson, Tell Your Children: Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence (New York: Free Press, 2019).


8  Smuggler’s Paradise: The Hash Trade and Drug Control in the Building of the Afghan State, ca. 1923–1974 James Bradford

Afghanistan has often been defined by the illicit opium trade, a perception which has grown increasingly common since the US-­led invasion and rebuilding effort that commenced in 2001. After hostilities began, opium production rapidly inched upward, reaching a peak in 2007, and at its height the crop accounted for 90 percent of the world’s illicit opium and about 4 percent of the nation’s GDP.1 Cannabis in Afghanistan, meanwhile, has received far less attention in media and policy circles, even though it remains a valuable part of the trade in illicit drugs in Afghanistan.2 In recent years, several historians and authors, including C. J. Charpentier, Martin Booth, David MacDonald, and Nigel Allen, have examined Afghanistan’s drug history and policy development in the 1960s,3 but none with sufficient depth or any effort to place the events of that decade into wider historical and economic contexts. Based on archival research conducted at the National Archives in the United States (NARA II), the UK National Archives at Kew, and the National Archives of Afghanistan (Arshaf-­e-­Milli) in Kabul, this chapter will address this lack of historical analysis. I argue that the modern conditions and circumstances, which witnessed mass opium production, were established during the reign of Amanullah Khan (1919–­1928), a period characterized by the rapid, chaotic, and contentious expansion of state power. Hashish played a vital role in the legal and economic policies of the state during the early twentieth century, being viewed not only as a product to be strictly controlled in the domestic market but also actively promoted for export. This changed as time passed. When drug tourists began to arrive in the 1960s, they discovered a thriving hashish industry and soon set about connecting ever more effectively with far-­flung consumers. Establishing such a chain between Afghanistan and markets to the country’s west (Iran and Europe/America) linked geographically segregated regions of supply and


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demand, transforming production and consumption in the process.4 Once created, this chain also acted as a conduit for opium products. Moreover, the growing threat of the illicit hashish trade transformed the role drug control played in the formation of the Afghan state; hashish remained an important and lucrative export, yet by the 1960s the state was increasingly conforming to international pressures to suppress the illicit hashish trade. The ascent of hashish and opium emerged, that is, as the rest of the Afghan economy struggled, and social and political conflict fomented. Ever since, both hashish and opium have constituted major considerations in the development of national and international policy. From Baba Ku to Amanalla Khan: Cannabis in Afghan History Oral histories firmly locate hashish consumption in Afghan mythology, although there is minimal evidence of hashish cultivation and use in Afghan texts from premodern eras. According to cannabis researcher Robert Connell Clarke, Baba Ku, a central Asian herbal healer visited Afghanistan to heal plague victims by administering balls of charas (a localized form of hashish found throughout central Asia). The story of Baba Ku, perhaps apocryphal, highlights how knowledge about the plant and its psychoactive and medicinal properties was disseminated and, additionally, how he taught Afghans how to smoke using a water pipe, the chillum.5 Work by the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), a nonprofit Kabul-­based think tank, traced the existence of a Baba Qu-­ye Mastan to the early twentieth century. According to the AAN, the more recent Baba Qu is still remembered as a “generous and chivalrous man, who would always provide lavish hospitality of food and chars to anyone in need,” and is apparently still praised by those who smoke chillums, colloquially known as charsis (charas smokers). Apparently, near his tomb in the province of Balkh, followers built a chillumkhana (chillum house), and to this day, visitors are expected smoke charas in his honor.6 References to Baba Ku in Afghan popular myths or legends certainly strengthen the notion that Aghans have long understood the medicinal and recreational uses of cannabis. Written sources from the British empire confirm that cannabis preparations were indeed a familiar feature of the Afghan society in the nineteenth century. T. L. Pennel, a British medical missionary, observed that faqirs, Islamic ascetics, or Sufis, “like the Hindu Sadhus . . . ​are much addicted to the use of intoxicants (though rarely alcohol), and charas and bhang (Indian

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hemp) are constantly smoked with tobacco in their chillums. When thus intoxicated they are known as mast, and are believed by the populace to be possessed by divinity, and to have miraculous powers.”7 Mountstuart Elphinstone, a Scottish historian and diplomat, made passing references to cannabis, particularly its use among the lower classes, where bhang, and opium, were used “to the utmost excess.”8 Such glimpses into practices of consumption, however, must be balanced against silences with respect to material records about sources of supply or trade. Considering the growth of production of such psychoactive substances in South Asia during the nineteenth century,9 and given the commercial and social connections between Afghanistan, India, central Asia and China, it is certainly tempting to speculate that Afghan entrepreneurs participated in the drug trade.10 However, it was not until the rule of Amanullah Khan (1919–­1928) that clear evidence emerged buttressing how hashish and opium had established themselves as significant exports for the fledgling Afghan economy. Amanullah Khan took the Afghan throne in 1919 and embarked on a series of aggressive social and economic programs aimed at modernizing his country. The task was monumental. Afghanistan was wracked by poverty, with a weak if not nonexistent healthcare system, limited access to education, and an administrative system plagued by inefficiencies and corruption.11 For the new king, the challenge was to drive comprehensive “educational, social, and cultural change.”12 As a first step he tackled constitutional change and passed the Fundamental Law in 1923. The first of its kind in Afghan history, it served as foundational legislation that defined the king’s authority, the duties of the administration, and the rights of Afghan citizens.13 He also initiated bureaucratic and legal reforms aimed at centralizing and institutionalizing “the administration of justice.”14 The penal code of 1924–­1925, for instance, placed the consumption of opium, and other drugs such as charse and bhang, under government regulation. In Article 125, both the production and use of alcohol and drugs were forbidden by law.15 Smokers of hash, users of bhang, and opium eaters under the age of twenty-­five would receive anywhere from twenty-­five to thirty-­nine lashes as a deterrent to further use. Older consumers faced a worse fate still (between fifty and seventy-­five lashes).16 Besides these draconian penalties, he also imposed steep taxes on these products as a means of further deterring consumption. As table 8.1 indicates, the Amanullah government applied steep tax penalties toward the use and trade of drugs, especially opium.


James Bradford

Table 8.1 Taxes on drugs. Drug


Tobacco Snuff Charse and bhang Opium

15 (30 in Kabul) 20 (50 in Kabul) 50 100

Source: Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 33.

The new penal code represented an important step in Amanullah’s attempt to increase the power of the state, by giving it the moral authority to regulate and intervene in the behavior of individuals, a right traditionally held by the religious establishment.17 As the law indicated, the consumption of psychoactive substances in Afghanistan was a serious offence by the state and included the threat of harsh punishment. There is, however, little evidence whether the laws were enforced, and if they were, the extent of such enforcement. It is also difficult to say who exactly the laws were intended to target. The production of and trade in such substances in Afghanistan was another matter if the destination for the products was the export market. By the time Amanullah came to power, opium emerged as a key part of trade with British India, the country’s neighbor to the south, where the authorities estimated that Afghanistan was producing 25,900 pounds of opium per annum. Given the limited evidence or references to drug abuse in Afghanistan, it was assumed that most of production was feeding demand to the south.18 By the early twentieth century the smuggling of opium, charas, and bhang emerged as a significant concern for colonial officials on the frontier of British India. And while charas and bhang were prevalent among Afghan smugglers, illicit opium was the primary concern for British authorities. Smuggled drugs from Afghanistan undercut the legal market for opium and cannabis in British India and hurt colonial profit margins. For example, the average price of smuggled Afghan opium in the bazaars of the North-­West Frontier Province was around 65 rupees per seer, compared to 111 rupees per seer for British opium, and 151 for legally imported Afghan opium. British officials grew rightly concerned that with illegal Afghan opium at that price, “excise opium has little or no chance.”19 The colonial administration’s fear of Afghan opium in the British Indian marketplace illuminates some broader dimensions of the regional drug

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trade. Among the many reforms of Amanullah was the standardization of taxation on export and interregional trade.20 In Kabul, Kandahar, and areas of Turkestan under Afghan control, traders were required to pay a ten percent tax on opium for export. Charse, bhang, and opium were exempted from Article 125 in the penal code if the drugs were intended for trade abroad.21 Furthermore, the new tariff granted the government the authority to enforce the law in both urban and rural areas, unheard of among previous rulers of Afghanistan.22 This disparity between import and export taxes suggests that, while the new regime disapproved of drugs consumption among Afghans, it was far less troubled when it came to users abroad. Instead, foreign users were viewed as a lucrative opportunity for local producers—­and as a potential source of revenue to fill state coffers. The demand for Afghan opium and charas grew in India and China during the early twentieth century, and this forged critical and long-­standing connections among producers and traders in Afghanistan to markets beyond its borders. It seems, therefore, that Amanullah did not simply embrace opium and charas as exportable commodities to improve the financial situation of the Afghan economy. Encouraging connections between producers, suppliers, and traders across the country also served as a mechanism to integrate the emerging Afghan state.23 The expansion of the hashish trade into British India (and, by extension, the opium trade) via legal and extralegal methods reinforced Amanullah Khan’s state formation plans. The hashish trade, in particular, emerged as a conduit for capital growth through trade, reinforcing the role of drugs exports into the fabric of the Afghan state during this period. More important, these developments in the 1920s lay the foundation for the next stage of Afghan drugs history whereby the drug trade and drug control would be heavily influenced by global changes to the demand for drugs and new approaches to drug policy, altogether altering the relationship between hashish and the Afghan state. The West Comes to Afghanistan In the 1960s, Western Europe and the United States witnessed growth in the demand for psychoactive substances. Heroin consumption exploded in urban areas, American soldiers in Vietnam became opium addicts, and white, middle-­class youths embraced the use of psychedelic and psychotropic substances.24 As a result, the increased demand for psychoactive


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substances drove an expanding global narcotics trade and connected many parts of the world that had previously played minor roles.25 During the 1960s, as described by Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter, many educated, affluent youngsters left their homes in the West to explore the world and the alternatives to the societies they had grown up in. Large numbers traveled to Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan, as well Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia, to smoke hashish and opium, where they were readily available and inexpensive. Many travelers to Afghanistan, as well as other parts of Asia, believed they were undertaking mystical journeys of the mind and body. To smoke hash or opium in such “exotic and mystical” regions of the ancient east lent more gravity to perceptions of South and West Asia as havens for narcotic consumption. What’s more, many of these travelers were completely ignorant of the cultural nuances of drug consumption and trafficking, or knowledge of and adherence to local laws and customs; public norms were often overly simplified projections of “oriental” drug cultures.26 During the 1960s “Afghanistan lived up to the wildest fantasies of the hippies.” For adventure-­seeking travelers, mystical or not, Afghanistan was perceived differently than other stops along the infamous “Hippie Trail,” and many became convinced that hashish was “to Afghanistan what wine was to France.”27 In Kabul, Chicken Street in the Shahre-­Naw district grew famous for easily accessible hashish. The Noor and Mustafa Hotels were popular hangouts for travelers in search of mind-­altering substances. Moreover, the political climate was ideal for Kabul’s role as a drug using safe haven. Officially, opium and hashish were illegal,28 but drugs laws were rarely enforced, partially because consumption was not regarded by the government to be a significant social problem.29 Aside from its widespread availability in the markets of Kabul, there were also special tea-­houses (saqikhana) dedicated to hashish use.30 For Western tourists, Afghan hashish was among the best in the world. It was believed that there were twenty-­ five variations of the local product, some of which reputedly had extraordinarily high THC content.31 Moreover, both opium and hash were cheap; opium could be purchased in Kabul for $45 per kilogram; high-­quality hash would go for nearly $20 per kilogram. In 1971 alone, almost sixty thousand tourists flocked to Kabul, many to take advantage of the hash trade.32 The arrival of such a significant number of young Westerners created tensions, however. A cartoon in Karavan, a Dari-­language magazine that largely

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criticized the Afghan government, represented the hippies as a nuisance with a strident sense of entitlement (figure 8.1). A second cartoon from Afghan Millat, a magazine similar to Karavan, hinted at collusion between the authorities and the drugs tourists in ensuring that the latter got what they wanted. There were similarly critical stories in Western newspapers. The New York Times ran the story of Melanie R. (her real name was hidden for the story), a nineteen-­year-­old American college student, who dropped out of school and travelled to Asia, only to die of an overdose after smoking opium. A damning indictment of drugs tourism in Afghanistan, the article presented a rather less benign image of the authorities than that found in the cartoon above. The police, it reported, “appeared reluctant, embarrassed and incompetent,” as well as conspicuously hesitant to arrest the suspected dealer because it “might cause difficulties with people, likely to be powerful, who had clearly afforded him protection to run his narcotics haven and engage in wholesaling on the side.” When the police finally intervened to confiscate some drugs the journalist was convinced that “the seized opium and hashish would, true to Afghan form, reappear on the market before

Figure 8.1 Drawn out hashish protest: Give us our right. Source: Karavan, January 31, 1970. From the Library of Congress, Washington DC: “mazawhare hashish kashawn: huq maw raw badheed.” Images taken from Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 136.


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long.”33 The core conclusion was that Afghanistan was an easy place to get high quality drugs, and that the authorities were generally reluctant to do anything about it. For young Westerners eager to travel and keen to explore psychedelic experiences, the sensational New York Times article probably did more harm than good. But preparations of the plant were not simply produced for foreigners. Wazir Mohammad, an Afghan living near the Pakistan border told Levi that hashish was the opium of the people, and ideal for inducing sleep.34 Still, it was not the case that all Afghans agreed with this view. Many Afghanis

Figure 8.2 Hippie: “This is a memory I am going to take with myself!”; Police: “That is not a memory, it is chars (hash).” Source: Afghan Millat, 1971. From the Library of Congress, Washington DC. Images taken from Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 137.

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indeed argued that there was a growing domestic problem of hashish abuse in the 1970s, which was a byproduct of more and more Western hippies in the country.35 Asad Hassan Gobar, professor of neuropsychiatry at Kabul University, reported in 1976 that hashish was one of the more widely abused drugs in Afghanistan and a prominent source of psychotic breakdowns among locals. According to Gobar, thirteen percent of all psychiatric patients admitted to his institution were there because of the abuse of local drugs.36 He insisted that hashish was generally frowned upon by Afghans, who perceived it to be a likely cause of insanity.37 His class or professional prejudices may have shaped his medical opinions of the drug—­one that was overwhelmingly used by ordinary people. Whether based in science and in the medical literature or not, his antihashish report provided evidence there were mixed views related to the impact of the Afghan cannabis economy. The growing demand for cannabis products was certainly good for business in Afghanistan. By the end of the decade demand was so significant that the country’s reigning monarch, King Zahir Shah, issued an official edict in both 1969 and 1970 to encourage farmers to use fertilizers to increase hashish production. As a result, cannabis plantations flourished around Herat, Kandahar, and Mazar-­e-­Sharif, and the plants lined many of the major roads between Kabul and neighboring cities.38 For rural Afghans, the demand for hash was not simply an increasingly important source of income. The growth of the hashish trade helped many farmers gain access to agro-­industrial equipment, especially tractors, that in previously years were unattainable.39 Producers of all varieties shifted to methods that were more advantageous for handling larger volumes of hashish, although this could impact the quality of the product. For example, some producers abandoned the traditional cloth sieves that took longer to extract the cannabis resins in exchange and adopted metal sieves instead. This allowed them to gather more material, not all of which was high in psychoactive content. The outcome happened to be enormous batches that were less potent due to the amount of inert matter. Some traffickers mixed lower-­quality and higher-­quality resins, in turn, reducing the overall potency of the hashish. Others adulterated the drugs further by adding oils to mimic the texture and consistency of high-­grade hashish, primarily to make it feel sticky and as a means to mask the deficiencies in their product.40 The need to scale­up production to meet increasing demand meant that quantity started to trump quality.


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Throughout the country bazaars marketed hashish to Western tourists and Afghans alike. Moreover, the manner in which it was sold clearly demonstrated that it was understood that much of this cannabis was to be illicitly exported from Afghanistan. Peter Levi, in his travels to Afghanistan in the late 1960s, noted that in “Kandahar it was a big industry and even small children tried to sell us hash in its various forms. . . . ​Every kind of smuggling device was for sale, strings of hash beads, hash belts, hash-­heeled shoes and for all I know hash codpieces.”41 Hashish was becoming the first product to link Afghanistan with markets in the United States. On May 16, 1970, a raid on the Shak-­Foladi Hotel in Kabul seemed to confirm many of the growing fears of Western counternarcotics agents about the emerging role of Afghanistan in the global drug trade. Thirteen foreign nationals were arrested for possession of 100 grams of opium and 200 grams of hashish.42 It was at the time a significant bust, not because of the quantity of drugs seized, but rather because foreign nationals were involved. American agents were so concerned that psychoactive substances were being purchased in Afghanistan by drugs tourists for trafficking purposes that they convened a meeting with the Afghan authorities in 1971.43 Throughout the 1970s reports of hash seizures involving foreign travelers continued to proliferate in Afghan newspapers. In 1973 alone, two Italian tourists were caught with three kilograms of hash hidden in wooden statues,44 a German tourist was apprehended at the border near Herat with sixty kilos of cannabis products in the fuel tank of his car,45 and American and German tourists were discovered making liquid hash after their pressure cooker (used to process the product) exploded.46 As the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) had stationed an agent in Kabul in late 1970, these reports likely indicate increasing interdiction. But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that enforcement agencies were not a coherent or united presence. Starting as early as 1958, Afghan police officers were trained by a cadre of West German police in a wide array of police enforcement techniques and strategies. It was not clear that this was a success. According to BNDD agent Terry Burke, police officers were drawn from the bottom 10 percent of army conscripts, they were woefully underpaid, and were overwhelmingly illiterate. When they did show any effort in cracking down on the drug trade they were often placed on leave. As one German police officer noted, the foreign police trainers were doing very little other than turning the Afghan police into the “most highly organized criminal element in

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Afghanistan.”47 US counternarcotics efforts, on the other hand, were largely concerned with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. The group emerged in the 1960s in Southern California amidst the countercultural movement and was founded largely along the lines of using LSD to achieve a higher state of consciousness. Although the group formed with the intent to proselytize LSD as a spiritual tool, under the leadership of John Griggs, the brotherhood developed into some of the largest distributors of the LSD and hashish in the United States.48 The presence of the brotherhood in Afghanistan was seen by American counternarcotics agents as evidence of the emerging connection between Afghan sources and Western markets. The quantities of cannabis products sought by the brotherhood between 1970 to 1973 were so large that Afghan farmers had to alter their methods of production to meet demand. In particular, the brotherhood wanted to buy hash oil, which was easier to smuggle and far more potent.49 According to BNDD agent Terry Burke, the potential profits for trafficking Afghan hashish to the United States or Canada were substantial, with members of the brotherhood netting $80,000 for every 50 kilos sold in Montreal or New York. By 1972, the concern over the brotherhood’s dealings in Afghanistan led to an investigation by the BNDD, ultimately culminating in a joint raid with the Kabul police. BNDD and Kabul police confiscated almost 25 gallons of liquid hashish, estimated to be worth $6 million in the United States.50 The drug bust seemed to confirm many of the initial fears of American counternarcotics officials; the transition of Western hashish consumers—­ first from the hippie, to the seemingly more advanced entrepreneurial drug trafficker—­demonstrated that Afghanistan was now firmly on the map of the growing global illicit drug trade. By 1972, hashish politics became entangled with opium politics. Afghan opium was in high demand in Iran, and little of what found its way to the market there was shipped on to Europe or the United States. Iranian antinarcotics efforts therefore focused mostly on preventing Afghan opium from entering the country. American agents, however, were increasingly occupied by the cannabis trade because that product was perceived to dominate the trade to Western countries. In effect, there seemed to be a disconnection between the American fear of Afghan hashish and Iranian concern for Afghan opium that prevented a more collaborative enforcement effort. It was only in 1972, when Musa Shafiq took over as prime minister, that Afghanistan seemed to show more initiative in cracking down on the illicit


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drug trade. Under Shafiq, counternarcotics matters were reassigned to the ministry of the interior, and new antismuggling units were created, tasked with the sole purpose of cracking down on Afghan traffickers. Arrests of smugglers increased dramatically, from 72 in 1971 to 221 in 1972, increasing dramatically to 584 in 1973.51 Even these efforts to stop the drug trade seemed have little overall effect. Ultimately, hashish traffickers were laying the foundation for networks that would eventually be used for more lucrative and dangerous commodities. BNDD agent Terry Burke summed up this transformation: While of somewhat secondary significance relative to opium, hashish has been important in our enforcement efforts because of the smuggling systems that have spawned. The drug-­seeking hippie who came to Afghanistan a few years ago and spent his last few travelers checks to take home a kilo or so of Afghan hashish has been replaced by the well-­heeled young entrepreneur from the US.52

It is evident that by the early 1970s Afghanistan was becoming a popular spot for known drug smugglers, many with extensive criminal records in the United States. Well-­financed individuals and groups, such as those in the brotherhood, had a major role in transforming Afghanistan’s place in global narcotics networks. During this period, seizures included liquid hash, morphine, and heroin, and sting operations discovered large hash distilleries and morphine conversion laboratories.53 What this signified was that Afghans and their new foreign clientele were manufacturing the drugs into their purest forms to make transportation easier, more profitable, as well as, to aid concealment to “offset the increased detection efforts by international law enforcement elements.”54 By 1974, seizures of Afghan hashish increased dramatically in Iran, with most of the smugglers using Iran and its vast border with Afghanistan to traffic hashish to the United States and Europe. More important, in 1974 the Iranian authorities also confiscated 32.7 kilos of high-­grade heroin, the seizure of that product in Iranian history at that time, with was thought to be Afghan in origin and destined for markets in the West.55 In other words, by 1974, Iran was no longer just a consumer of Afghan opium, but more important, emerged as a transit country for Afghan hashish and opium to markets in the West. In this way, the period of the late 1960s and early 1970s was pivotal for the history of both hashish and opium in Afghanistan. On the one hand, for Western traffickers, Afghanistan was an ideal source for the illicit hashish and eventually opium trades, as high-­quality

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and abundant hashish and opium were available and the police were either incapable or unwilling to enforce counternarcotic measures. On the other hand, for Afghans, Western traffickers represented a potentially lucrative export trade. Not only were drug traffickers willing to buy larger and larger quantities, but in some cases, they were willing to finance improvements necessary to scale up production. Iran, in this case, reflects these profound changes. As Afghanistan emerged as a significant source for first hashish and eventually opium, for the global illicit drug trade, Iran evolved from a historic consumer of Afghan drugs to a point of transshipment. By the mid-­ 1970s Afghan production of illicit psychoactive substance was no longer simply feeding local and regional markets, as it was proving to be a significant source for consumers elsewhere. Contextualizing Afghan Politics and the Ascending Drug Economy Historian Thomas Gallant has argued that networks forged by pirates, bandits, and smugglers have played important roles in facilitating the spread of capitalism in the modern world.56 In the case of Afghanistan, drug tourists provided the earliest links to the markets in Europe and the United States. Although small in number to start with, Western travelers to the country increased awareness among Afghan producers and distributors that a larger market for psychoactive substances existed beyond Iran (where prohibition of opium in 1956 had first encouraged Afghan producers to look to export markets). Conversely, travelers returning to the United States and Europe brought with them the knowledge of an area of the world ideally suited for exploitation by those seeking to profit from trade in illicit products, as it had a weak state, lax controls, an abundance of product, and willing suppliers. The professionalization of the hash trade that followed marked the fundamental shift in Afghanistan’s place within the global narcotics trade, but it built on the earlier, less organized activities of the hippies. They connected Afghanistan to the world’s consumers of psychoactive substances, a connection that has grown ever since.57 But it must be remembered that the agency was not all with Westerners and that the growth of the commerce in cannabis substances, and later other drugs, was as much about the politics and culture of Afghanistan in the 1960s as it was about what was happening in Europe and the United States. The so-­called Decade of Democracy from 1963 to 1973 under King


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Zahir Shah was a tangled period in the history of the country.58 State-­ building and efforts at modernization in government and the economy had uneven impacts under Prime Minister Mohammed Daoud Khan, and eventually his unpopularity saw him forced from office in 1963.59 His successor, Muhammad Yusuf, sought to ease tensions by reforming the constitution and electoral process and by promoting free speech.60 The outcome was an increasingly divided politics, as critics from across the political spectrum turned on the government and exposed corruption and oppression, the failing economy, and a gap between rural and urban communities. Economist Francisco Thoumi has argued, in the Colombian context, that the emergence of the production and trafficking of cocaine was closely tied to deeply entrenched sociopolitical problems stemming from efforts by elites to maintain their dominance of colonial regimes of power. Groups excluded from both political and economic circles looked to generate an income however they could and found themselves disinclined to heed the commands of a government to which they had no loyalty. In other words, certain areas of Colombia thrived in the illicit drug trade due in part to the “de-­legitimation of its governmental system” weakening the power of the state and other civic institutions, and in turn, encouraging the cocaine trade to expand.61 Something very similar seems to have happened in Afghanistan. The illicit drug trade expanded during this period as the government proved unable to improve the political and economic situation in the country. It failed to alleviate growing unemployment and to implement effective policy responses to the challenges posed by its critics in the Decade of Democracy. As the state became increasingly impotent, and its economics proved to be flawed, it is little wonder that people looked beyond it. When they saw drugs tourists from the West traveling to them for products like hash that they grew easily, and when these were succeeded by well-­financed foreigners keen to improve their products and sell them on international markets, many Afghans did business as their own government had failed to provide similarly promising opportunities. From this historical perspective it seems too simplistic to view drugs production and trafficking in Afghanistan as a byproduct of the failure of the Afghan state.62 Instead, it seems more accurate to conclude that the failure of state-­building activities on the part of the government led to the emergence of many of the country’s agricultural regions as important parts of global commercial narcotics

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networks. Moreover, unlike the 1920s, when the state tried to expand through increased trade to South Asia, in the 1970s, the state’s reliance on foreign aid and investment forced it into an increasingly dichotomous relationship with drugs, where on the one hand, the illicit has trade was good for some Afghan farmers and traders, but on the other, it had to impose stricter forms of drug control to maintain access to foreign aid, such as that from the United States. In many ways, given the role of drugs in Afghanistan today, little has changed from Afghanistan’s past. Notes Much of this chapter stems from my recent book, James Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power: Afghanistan and the Global History of Drugs and Diplomacy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2019). 1.  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (hereafter referred to as UNODC), “Afghan Opium Crop Cultivation Rises Seven Per Cent in 2014; While Opiumction Could Climb by as Much as 17 Per Cent,” United Nations (website), November 12, 2014, https://­www​.­unodc​.­org​/­unodc​/­en​/­frontpage​/­2014​/­November​/­afghan​-­opium​ -­c rop​ -­c ultivation​ -­r ises​ -­s even​ -­p er​ -­c ent​ -­i n​ -­2 014​ -­w hile​ -­o pium​ -­p roduction​ -­c ould​ -­climb​-­by​-­as​-­much​-­as​-­17​-­per​-­cent​.­html​.­The total tonnage of opium produced was roughly 8,200. 2. According to the UNODC, Afghanistan produced between 1,200–­3,700 tons of hashish in 2010. See UNODC, Afghanistan Cannabis Survey 2010 (New York: United Nations, NODC, July 2011), 7. 3.  Nigel Allan, “Opium Production in Afghanistan and Pakistan” in Dangerous Harvest, ed. Michael Steinberg (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 133–­152; Martin Booth, Cannabis: A History (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003); and David Macdonald, Drugs in Afghanistan (London: Pluto Press, 2007). 4. Paul Gootenberg has written extensively on this process. See Paul Gootenberg, Andean Cocaine (Durham, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2008). 5.  Robert Connell Clarke, Hashish (Los Angeles: Red Eye Press, 1998), 41. According to Clarke, the legend of Baba Ku also mirrors of that of the thirteenth-­century Persian Sufi, Sheik Haidar. Haidar was said to be from present-­day Khorassan in northeast Iran (not too far from Baba Ku’s claimed origin of Samarkand) and is credited in Persian lore as the man who discovered hashish. It is quite possible that since both were proclaimed to have discovered hashish, and spent much of their lives exalting its use, they are likely regional incantations of the same “hashish origin myth, Sheik Haidar from a Persian perspective and Baba Ku from a Central Asian perspective” (42).


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6.  Obaid Ali, Jelena Bjelica, and Fabrizio Foschini, “The Myth of ‘Afghan Black: The Cultural History of Hashish Consumption in Afghanistan,’” Afghanistan Analysts Network, January 10, 2019, 2. Also see “The Cultural History of Hashish Consumption in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan Analysts Network, January 10, 2019. 7.  T. L. Pennell, Among the Wild Tribes of the Afghan Frontier (London: Seeley, 1908), 239. 8.  Montstuart Elphinstone, An Account of the Kingdom of Caubul and its Dependencies in Persia, Tartary, and India (London: Longman, 1815), 349. 9.  For more on drugs in South Asia, see Haq, M. Emdad-­ul Haq, Drugs in South Asia: From the Opium Trade to the Present Day (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000). 10.  See Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, Connecting Histories in Afghanistan: Market Relations and State Formation on a Colonial Frontier (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011). Hanifi notes that the Afghan king, Abdur Rahman Khan, monopolized an array of goods to compete with Indian merchants and expand Afghan commerce into the subcontinent. Although there is scant evidence, there are indications that opium and cannabis were part of this burgeoning export trade. 11.  For a more substantial analysis of Amanullah’s reforms, see Vartan Gregorian, The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1969), 441–­458. 12.  Richard Newell, The Politics of Afghanistan (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1972), 54. 13. Nawid, Senzil Nawid, Religious Response to Social Change in Afghanistan, 1919–­ 1929: King Amanullah and the Afghan Ulama (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1999), 9. 14. Gregorian, The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan, 248. 15. Gregorian lists the crimes and punishments for drug and alcohol use as under Article 91. Considering the numerous versions of the criminal code, this is not all too surprising. 16.  Nasrullah Staanekzai, Mowad Mokder dar Afghanistan (Kabul, 1382), 13–­14. Drugs in Afghanistan, 2003; and Article 131 of the criminal codes 14. 17. Gregorian, The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan, 250. 18.  John Palmer Gavit, Opium (New York: Brentano’s, 1927), 38. 19. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 38. 20. Gregorian, The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan, 253. 21. Staanekazi, Mowad Mokder, 14; Referencing article 125, 14. 22. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 33.

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23. Hanifi, Shah Mahmoud, Connecting Histories in Afghanistan: Market Relations and State Formation on a Colonial Frontier (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011), 136. 24.  William B. McAllister, Drug Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century: An International History (London: Routledge, 2000), 218. 25. McAllister, Drug Diplomacy, 211. 26. In many ways, the travelers’ naivete exemplified the orientalism inherent in Western culture. See Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979). 27.  Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter, Thai Stick: Surfers, Summers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 27–­29. 28.  C. J. Charpentier, “The Use of Haschish and Opium in Afghanistan,” Anthropos, Bd. 68, H 3/4 (1973): 484. 29. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 133. 30.  Charpentier, “The Use of Hashish,” 484. 31. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 134. 32. Catherine Lamour and Michael Lamberti, Les Grandes Manouevres de l’Opium (Paris: Seuill, 1972), 208. 33.  Henry Kamm, “World is a Carousel,” New York Times, November 17, 1972. 34.  Peter Levi, The Light Garden of the Angel King (London: Pallas Athene, 1999), 156. 35.  Charpentier, “The Use of Haschish,” 484. 36.  Asad Hassan Gobar, “Drug Abuse in Afghanistan,” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Bulletin on Narcotics, no. 2 (January 1, 1976): 2. 37.  Gobar, “Drug Abuse in Afghanistan,” 7. 38. Clarke, Hashish, 117. 39. Clarke, Hashish, 127. 40. Clarke, Hashish, 127–­129. 41. Levi, The Light Garden of the Angel King, 113. 42. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 139. 43. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 139. One of the more intriguing elements of the discussions between Afghan and American officials was that embassy officials were careful not to criticize Afghan desires to maintain their tradition of hospitality and openness. 44. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 139. News of this arrest appeared in the Kabul Times, January 29, 1973 (from the Library of Congress, Washington DC, here


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on referred to as LOC). This appeared next to a note of 28 kilos of hash being confiscated at the house of a local Kabul resident. 45. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 139. Kabul Times, July 4, 1973, LOC. 46. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 139. Kabul Times, December 6, 1973, LOC. 47. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 169. 48. For one of the more comprehensive narratives of the brotherhood, see Nic Schou. Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011). 49. Clarke, Hashish, 116. Clarke notes that the demand for hash oil also spurred a change in pricing schemes between traffickers and farmers. 50. BNDD, “July 1972 Brief: Trafficking and Enforcement,” 2. Files from former BNDD/DEA agent Terry Burke. 51. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 166. 52. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 140. 53. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 141. 54. Bradford, Poppies, Politics, and Power, 141. 55. Department of State, “Narcotics: Contributions to UN Fund for Drug Abuse Control,” December 1974, RG 59, Department of State, Records Relating to Iran, 1965–­1979. 56. In Thomas Gallant’s world historical examination of piracy and brigandage, he clearly demonstrates that these illegal groups and the networks they established were fundamental to the growth of global capitalism as well as the growth of nation states. See Thomas Gallant, “Brigandage, Piracy, Capitalism, and State Formation: Transnational Crime from a Historical World-­Systems Perspective,” in States and Illegal Practices, ed. J. Heyman and A. Smart (Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1999), 25–­62. 57. Steven Topik, Carlos Marichal, and Zephyr Frank, eds., From Silver to Cocaine: Latin American Commodity Chains and the Building of the World Economy, 1500–­2000 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 8. The authors’ focus on cocaine, sugar, and other colonial commodities helps to envision how these commodities became integral to the expansion of the capitalist system. The focus on the consumption and production of the product, not the national history, allowed for greater insight into the how cultures of consumption and production changed in response to shifting political frameworks. 58. Sabah al-­Din Kushaki, Daha-­yi Dimukrasi (Peshawar, Markaz-­I Nasrati Maiwand, 1986). Found in Jallil Babar, “Afghanistan: 1963–­1973” (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, Spring 2005).

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59. Ralph Magnus, “The Constitution of 1964: A Decade of Political Experimentation,” in Afghanistan in the 1970s, ed. Louis Dupree and Linette Albert (New York: Praeger, 1974), 53. 60.  Jallil Babar, “Afghanistan: 1963–­1973,” 104. 61.  For example, in Colombia, the production and trafficking of cocaine was closely tied to deeply entrenched sociopolitical problems stemming from the maintenance of colonial regimes of power. See Francisco Thoumi, “Why the Illegal Psychoactive Drug Economy Grew in Colombia,” Journal of Inter-­American Studies and World Affairs 34, no. 2 (Autumn 1992): 37–­62. 62.  Gretchen Peters, Seeds of Terror: How Heroin is Bankrolling the Taliban and al-­Qaeda (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2009).

9  “Hashers Don’t Read Das Kapital”: East Germany, Socialist Prohibition, and Global Cannabis Ned Richardson-­Little

Hashish. In the GDR there wasn’t anything like that. I could only try it when I was 21 when the Wall fell. But hashish in the GDR, that was as hard to get your hands on as explosives. —­Tube Tobias Herre, Wenn ich Macht hätte

It was nearly impossible to buy cannabis, let alone any other kind of illicit drugs, in the German Democratic Republic (GDR).1 Between its founding in 1949 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, only a select number of people with international connections could acquire small quantities of hashish; for the vast majority of East Germans, the end of state socialism brought with it the first chance to experiment with cannabis. One West German journalist recalled the experience of travelling to East Berlin in the 1980s with a discrete quantity of hashish. “Within three minutes, there were about 30 people around us: questions like ‘Is that pressed tobacco?’ ‘Don’t you inject that?’ ‘Does that make you addicted?’ ‘Can I smoke it with you?’” Soon it was quickly passed around and “somehow nobody got high.”2 The state claimed that the glorious socialist revolution was responsible for this dearth of drugs in contrast to the thriving public drug scenes in West Berlin, Frankfurt, or Hamburg, and they were not completely wrong: East Germans were protected from organized international drug trafficking primarily by the absence of hard currency. Rather than a lack of demand due to universal social bliss under socialism, international smugglers proved to be uninterested in being paid in nearly worthless ostmarks or bartering for East German consumer goods, so there was little incentive to sell cannabis or other illicit narcotics within the borders of the GDR itself. Cannabis usage remained negligible, if not nonexistent, in comparison to the West,


Ned Richardson-­Little

a product beyond the reach of those who lacked connections to someone who could personally bring it over from the West. For the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), however, cannabis represented the collapse of society under capitalism and was seen to undermine socialism as young people disappeared into the fog of addiction and criminality. In this way, hashish posed a threat to the almost drug-­free socialist state. In a speech in 1980, SED leader Erich Honecker spoke out against the Western “narcotics and hashish society” that was a natural byproduct of the capitalist order. “This appalling phenomenon” was the result of “those who bring the drug to the masses make profits up to a thousand percent.” Hash producers and sellers were compared to arms dealers who “calculate death into their business plans.”3 The East German state warned youths against narcotics, claiming that hashish was a gateway to heroin addiction—­a fate sure to befall those who decided to emigrate to the “golden West.” Far from embracing cannabis as liberatory or mind-­opening, East German media and state officials portrayed it as a poison with no redeeming political value that inevitably led to hard drugs. At first, cannabis usage in the West served as a grim source of fascination with the decline of capitalist civilization, but at the end of the 1960s, smugglers appeared at the borders of the GDR seeking to move hashish from production centers in Asia and the Middle East to consumers in the West, and in particular, the city of West Berlin at the center of the East German state. The boom in cannabis usage in the imperialist West was now a problem on the doorstep of the GDR. Academics have extensively studied the history of alcohol in the GDR, including the state’s simultaneous instrumentalization of working-­ class drinking cultures alongside public health campaigns against the evils of alcoholism. Yet, the role of cannabis as a political symbol in the Cold War Germanies has received almost no scholarly attention.4 Based on previously unused German archival records and media sources, this chapter presents the first history of cannabis in East Germany. Both an intervention into the history of drugs as well as the social and political history of the GDR, this chapter argues that East German elites feared cannabis as a threat to the socialist project that stemmed from the failures of the capitalist West. At the same time, however, they liberally borrowed from Western antidrug discourses, filtered through the lens of state socialist ideology, to justify the prohibition of cannabis as radically dangerous narcotic that had the potential to corrupt the youth of the GDR.

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Narcotics and the Early Cold War During the Second World War, there was widespread usage of illicit drugs by soldiers in combat theaters, and this proliferated in the postwar era into civilian society, particularly in the United States and Western Europe. Both sides of the Cold War thus portrayed and perceived narcotics as a social problem rooted in the flaws of their enemies abroad and deflected from domestic drug abuse at home by deeming it exceptional and alien. In the United States, antidrug crusaders had linked the use of cannabis and other narcotics to the threat of communism since the first Red Scare in 1917; and with the start of the Cold War, the notion that drugs were an insidious plot launched by the forces of communism was revived and transformed into a global conspiracy. According to antidrug czar Harry Anslinger, the US was besieged from all sides by those who aimed to import drugs in order to undermine the character of the American people.5 Anslinger claimed that global communism intended to “make narcotics a new ‘sixth’ column” to weaken and destroy selected targets in the drive for world domination; and he warned of “Red China’s long range dope-­and-­dialectic assault on America” and that Cuba’s Fidel Castro had “joined the hammer and sickle—­ and the narcotic needle,” by assisting the PRC in trafficking drugs into the US.6 In the United States in the early Cold War, communism and drugs merged into a unified threat that would destroy freedom and capitalism from within. In the Eastern Bloc, however, this view of narcotics was inverted. In its place, the West was viewed as the source of the global drug problem. Opiates and cannabis may have had their origins in the Middle East and Asia, but it was capitalist decadence and social decay that created a global market for such products. The socialist revolution, meanwhile, was claimed to have eliminated the social and economic conflicts that lay at the root of drug abuse in the West. Already in the 1920s, Soviet experts viewed narcotics as a holdover of the imperial era and addiction as a symptom of “the remnants of capitalism.”7 After the Second World War, this view was thoroughly entrenched: as a Soviet psychologist stated in 1959, “drug addiction does not present any serious danger in our country. The transformation of our way of life has removed its footing.”8 But even in the USSR, homegrown cannabis and opium products were produced and consumed by youth, and problems of addiction grew in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although not on the same scale of the


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trafficking in the West, in the Soviet Union and Poland there was a localized narcotics trade based on young people and countercultural behaviors.9 In Weimar Germany, hashish was popular with certain left-­wing intellectuals, including the literary theorist Walter Benjamin who wrote several essays about its salutary effects, but the state socialists leading the GDR saw it as decadent and destructive.10 Some scholars have argued that the antidrug attitudes since the Second World War can be traced to the Nazis, who claimed that racial undesirables produced a rampant “narcotic criminality,” which needed to be crushed by the state.11 While the Nazis used narcotics as a means of legitimizing persecution, the Third Reich was remarkably lenient on actual drug users not deemed racial enemies.12 In the case of cannabis, it remained too exotic to become a social issue compared to heroin or cocaine, both of which were produced by German companies as pharmaceutical drugs. When Germany was divided in 1949, the socialists in charge of the GDR were not the “Weimar psychonautic avant-­garde”13 but rather party apparatchiks, returning from exile in the USSR, whose views on drugs in general, and cannabis in particular, represented a blend of Eastern and Western prejudices. Like the Soviets, they saw narcotics as the product of capitalist decay; still, their understanding of how drugs functioned and the effects they had were strongly influenced by the propaganda from Western antidrug crusaders. As such, cannabis was deemed a dangerous narcotic with no beneficial qualities, the abuse of which was driven by capitalist inequality and would lead to immorality and madness. Already in 1951, the East German media highlighted the use of cannabis—­ the “newest cultural product from the USA”—­as evidence of the uncontrolled world of criminality that existed beyond the borders of the socialist bloc and the inferiority of the American way of life. A newspaper article in the (East) Berliner Zeitung warned readers that the United States was enmeshed in a global trafficking system that produced cigarettes, not filled with tobacco, but which “hide inside them one of the hardest drugs that are ruining people’s health today: Marijuana,” the drug notorious for producing “wild orgies” in Hollywood.14 East German media presented an image of cannabis causing madness, uncontrolled sexual lust, and violent crime was reminiscent of an earlier generation of American antimarijuana propaganda films like Reefer Madness (1936) or the Assassin of Youth (1937).15 According to East German authorities, as a narcotic, the dangers of cannabis were indistinguishable from those of cocaine or heroin. Dr. Gerhard Illing warned the readers of

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Neue Zeit, that all such drugs “destroy the individual and eradicate the inner and outer structure of the personality.”16 Yet in contrast to the American narratives, the East German horror stories of cannabis abuse and its negative social effects took an ideologically socialist turn. Marijuana-­induced psychosis led to immoral sexual behavior, but the depictions presented the link to violent crime as an economic function of addiction under capitalism. Teenagers were particularly at risk of addiction and many turned to “burglaries, muggings—­even murder” to get the needed cash for their expensive habit. As a result, youths in the capitalist system turned to career criminality or became a cog in the machine of American imperialism. The article concluded with a warning that youths “who take up marijuana cigarettes tend to end up in jail or in the imperialist colonial army.”17 Once dealers had extracted their profit, the state could use these victimized youth to enact violence abroad. On the question of race and cannabis, East Germany also soon diverged from American discourse. In 1949, the newspaper Neue Zeit ran an article on the problem of drug trafficking in refugee camps in the Western zones of occupation, which highlighted the “increasing consumption of marijuana cigarettes by American soldiers in the American Zone” and making sure to mention that, “The Negro soldiers [Negersoldaten] are deeply involved.”18 Such remarks closely tracked with the common association of cannabis with African Americans or Mexicans in the United States at the time.19 By the 1950s, however, instead of using cannabis to stigmatize racial minorities, it was used to highlight the structural racism of the United States in the Jim Crow era. An article on cannabis trafficking in West Germany mentioned how when a “blonde and charming” woman was caught selling marijuana to US occupation soldiers, she was sentenced to a relatively short prison term, with the court reasoning that the real guilty parties were “the negroes—­as is customary in the US.” Although the ultimate source of the drugs, according to American prosecutors, was communist China, which aimed to undermine US military readiness in Europe, the local cause of the marijuana trade could be traced through African Americans in the army.20 The Western Hashish Wave of the 1960s Cannabis remained rather rare in West Germany until the mid-­1960s, when it began to appear regularly in connection with trafficking to US occupation


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soldiers. By 1969, the media spoke of a “hashish wave” in the Federal Republic and a full social panic about the use and abuse of cannabis took hold.21 This panic was mirrored in the coverage of the West in the GDR: sensationalism about the wild effects of cannabis remained, but it was now tied to a picture of general social decay and the inability of the state to contain aberrant behavior. In the 1960s, cannabis was so exceedingly inaccessible in the GDR, it is probable that East German police and customs authorities would never have encountered marijuana or hashish in this era at all outside of media depictions. Initially, the GDR press blamed demand for marijuana cigarettes from American soldiers for the market in cannabis, thus making the US military occupation of West Germany culpable for its spread to general society.22 In 1965, the national SED party newspaper Neues Deutschland published an article titled: “The New Trend: Narcotics Parties,” in which it detailed the rising consumption of drugs in West Germany, describing marijuana cigarettes as “a mandatory accessory of many parties.” It claimed, “About 5,000 drug addicts are known to police. This does not even include the marijuana cigarette smokers, since their number cannot be determined at all.” The article quoted a man from Munich who was a regular attendee of such parties: “Marijuana makes you so beautifully uninhibited. . . . ​All moral concepts dissolve into nothingness.” It claimed that police were helpless in the face of this new trend since party goers kept to a code of silence.23 Early coverage of the spread of cannabis was limited to West Germany and the United States. By 1969, it grew into a problem for the capitalist West as a whole. East German media reprinted United Nations reports that a wave of drug abuse was sweeping the West and plans for a convention to cover newly developed on psychotropic drugs such as LSD. Articles on the UN discussions taking place in Geneva made sure to mention how an international drug smuggling ring had recently been discovered in Switzerland itself, and many kilograms of hashish had been seized.24 Even in social democratic Scandinavia, hashish smoking was becoming ubiquitous among young people. One article, entitled “Hellish Drugs in the ‘Welfare State,’” quoted a Swedish journalist claiming the country had become a “Hashish Eldorado.”25 A Neues Deutschland correspondent recounted a conversation with a Swedish youth who asked why there was no such problem in GDR: “He has probably not quite understood that the socialist social order and socialist democracy give little ground for such excesses.”26 Even

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the most egalitarian of capitalist societies were now beset by the ravages of drugs, according to this account. By the end of the 1960s, the face of cannabis use in West Germany shifted from US soldiers and wealthy partiers to the youth of the Federal Republic. Whole classes of school children in West Berlin and Hamburg were said to be using hashish due to the “dissatisfaction of the young people with the conditions in West Germany.”27 The rise was tied directly to the capitalist system: “Millions in the ‘free world’ swallow or inject drugs, fleeing their unsatisfactory existence they want to forget for a few hours.”28 Facing a bleak future in a capitalist society, young people chose narcotics to escape their dark reality, in contrast to the hopeful future expected by the children growing up under socialism where such abuse did not take place. Conceptions of the actual effects of cannabis continued to track with those in the West, albeit in a delayed fashion. In the 1950s, East German media portrayed cannabis as a hard drug on par with heroin or cocaine, which could cause madness, just as it had been depicted in the United States in the 1930s. Such ideas evolved with other fears in 1950s’ America, as antidrug crusaders characterized cannabis as a gateway drug—­one that would start youths on an inevitable path to harder drugs which were more widely accepted to be addictive and harmful. As Matthew Lassiter has argued, “as mass suburbanization intensified anxieties about the delinquency of affluent teenagers, political culture hyped marijuana-­as-­a-­gateway-­to-­heroin narrative.”29 In the 1960s, the idea that the use of cannabis directly led to heroin addiction also began to appear in the GDR. From a 1965 article in the national SED newspaper Neues Deutschland on the death of the nephew of former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan: “It had started with smoking Indian hemp (hashish). It can be bought in British student circles as easily as a glass of strong beer. Then [Joshua] Macmillan went on to heroin and cocaine to increase the feeling of ‘happiness.’”30 The media discourse about cannabis in the GDR adopted many similar Western tropes even if they were divorced from the forces of suburbanization and the racial politics that drove such notions in the United States. Prohibitionist Impulses with Socialist Characteristics American antidrug crusaders often stigmatized narcotics by linking them to communism, but in the late 1960s the consumption of drugs had in fact


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become a political act for left-­wing radicals. In the Federal Republic and West Berlin, smoking hashish was central to the rituals and performance of youth politics. Drugs such as marijuana, hashish, and LSD were seen as “consciousness expanding” and crucial to overcoming suffocating bourgeois social norms.31 For the emerging commune movement, collectively smoking cannabis symbolized the creation of new forms of noncapitalist communities. “The passing around of a joint symbolized the ideal of sharing and like-­mindedness, and the intoxication acted as a communal experience.”32 The hash pipe itself became a symbol of rebellion among the “extra-­parliamentary opposition,” (Außerparlamentarische Opposition—­APO) which was displayed ostentatiously at political events in 1968 at the height of the student revolt.33 One group in West Berlin called itself the Central Council of Roaming Hash Rebels, and in the mid-­1970s, as some in the drug scene moved on to join left-­wing militant groups, including the June 2nd Movement, the idea that drugs were a natural endpoint to student radicalism became common wisdom in the Federal Republic.34 According to the anticommunist theologian and psychoanalyst Rudolf Affemann: As the APO ran out of steam on its long march through the institutions, many turned from leftist ideology to drugs. This was particularly noticeable in Berlin municipalities. The reverse path is taken in rehab centers. Here drugs have been successfully replaced by neo-­Marxism. Apparently, drugs and ideology are interchangeable in both directions.35

For many West Germans, the explosion of the drug scene seemed to go hand-­ in-­hand with the rise of radical left-­wing politics and the rejection of established social norms. Drugs were not, however, regarded as a path to socialism for East German officials; instead, they served as a distraction. Rather than building disciplined cadres for the realization of communism, the West German counterculture appeared to be a diversion from revolution—­a move toward narcissism and personal self-­destruction. As one headline put it, “Hashers don’t read Das Kapital.”36 East German media warned that drug culture represented a “deadly freedom that only served capitalism.”37 Stoners living in a squatters commune were seen as degenerates more concerned with orgies than reading the classics of Marxism-­Leninism. Whereas the West saw communism behind its own drug wave, the GDR media claimed that the widespread use of cannabis was part of a wider sinister plot by the imperialist powers. “Hashish and marijuana are the creeping bitter-­sweet predecessors of the poison war

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plans,” being concocted by the military industrial complex. Under the cover of civilian production, West German corporations like Bayer were “researching ultra-­poisons, funded by a program from the West German War Ministry.”38 Later, in the 1970s, the Central Medical Bureau of the Ministry for State Security, the Stasi, spoke ominously of “manipulation of youth” by the Western states. In these renderings, narcotics and other chemicals were used to keep socialist civilian populations docile.39 Instead of expanding minds, the SED and the Stasi interpreted hashish and other drugs as a method for their ideological opponents to deter them from true path of socialism. Smuggling, Criminalization, and Medicalization The explosion of the youth drug in the West had minimal obvious effect on the GDR. East Germany’s currency outside the country was of little value, and few international smugglers were interested in bartering for GDR goods. East Germany, meanwhile, was not a major tourist destination and diaspora populations usually formed a vector for narcotics smuggling in the West—­ that is, the contract workers from abroad in the GDR came exclusively from the rest of the Eastern Bloc, where drugs were equally scarce.40 But the suppression of Mexican cannabis production shifted trafficking patterns and led to the expansion of the “hippie trail” leading from Central Asia to Western Europe as a primary source of hashish.41 The overland Balkan Route to Europe largely bypassed the GDR, since the most direct path from Yugoslavia to West Germany ran through Austria or Italy; however, West Berlin remained an issue, for it sat at the heart of the GDR. Surrounded by barbed wire, concrete walls, and armed guards, West Berlin was still the largest city in either Germany and it was a center for radical politics and the counterculture scene.42 The SED now had to worry about cannabis being smuggled to the West via the GDR even if international traffickers had no intention to sell to the local East Germans along the way. Until 1968, there had not been any seizures of smuggled drugs at the border of the GDR since the postwar black market in military morphine had been stamped out. The East German minister of justice, Hilde Benjamin—­ sister-­in-­law of Weimar-­era hashish experimenter Walter—­spoke that year of how drug crimes “characteristic of capitalist society,” had been eliminated from the GDR through the triumph of socialism.43 As hashish-­pipe-­ toting student radicals spoke of revolution in West Berlin in 1968, a single


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person was caught coming into East Germany with hashish. This number then grew to eight cases the following year. In 1970, however, smuggling attempts exploded: there were 328 seizures totaling 142 kg of drugs—­141 kg of which was hashish—­bound for West Berlin and, in some rare cases, West Germany, France, the Netherlands, or Sweden. In addition to the drugs themselves, border agents also confiscated 119 hashish pipes. The high point in this wave of trafficking came the following year when border officials seized 211 kg of hashish, after which drug seizures dropped to around 40 kg a year.44 This was alarming for East German officials, but it was also vastly smaller than the amounts moving through West Germany. In 1971, authorities in the Federal Republic seized 6,670 kg of hashish, nearly thirty-­ two times as much as their GDR counterparts.45 The explosion of trafficking at this time reflected an increase of general traffic between West Germany and West Berlin. The city of Berlin was legally still under occupation by the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union, so there were no border controls into West Berlin operated by the West German state. After the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, it was difficult to get to the city by land, but a new set of transit agreements in 1971 and 1972 opened up limited road traffic to the isolated city along specially designated East German highways and border checkpoints. This traffic created new possibilities for those trying their luck smuggling large quantities of hashish into the city. Those smuggling hashish across the border were divided into three groups. The first group carried drugs for personal use or to share with friends. Most caught at the border with a few grams of hashish often claimed an accident had occurred and were let off with a fine and the drugs were confiscated. A second group were individuals who travelled the hippie trail and decided to make some money through smuggling. For instance, in 1970 two West Germans were caught transporting 3.046 kg of hashish in their Volkswagen at the Hirschberg border crossing between Bavaria and Thuringia. The pair had bought the hashish from a street dealer in Kandahar while on a tourist trip to Afghanistan and decided to smuggle it to West Berlin for profit.46 A third and final group constituted parts of organized crime rings, most often based in West Berlin, Turkey, or the Levant. They smuggled in packages of 5–­20 kg and when caught were imprisoned for one to nine years, depending on the circumstances. Much of the organized drug smuggling centered on Schönefeld airport in East Berlin—­a short trip from the West Berlin border.47 The East

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German airline Interflug operated flights to a broad network of countries in the global south, including from the Levant, which was a major center for cannabis production. The majority of traffickers arrested at the GDR were Lebanese, Syrian, and Jordanian, but there were also a dozen other nationalities caught trying to get hashish across the border into West Berlin.48 While the uptick in drug consumption in the West prompted updates to the legal codes in the Federal Republic and the United States in the early 1970s, the rise of hashish seizures lead to reforms in East Germany.49 The only relevant law regarding drugs in the GDR was the 1929 opium law, which had been reinstated by the Soviet Occupation Authority in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. In 1973, the East German Parliament—­the Volkskammer—­passed the Narcotic Drugs Act, which criminalized production, trafficking, and consumption of cannabis products, cocaine, heroin, and all other narcotics listed in the United Nations conventions. This legislation created a new Central Bureau for Addictive Substances (CBAS) based in the Ministry of Health and a system of registration and forcible confinement for the few drug addicts in the GDR. As East German drug laws aligned with international standards, the SED also signed onto the Single Convention on Drugs and the Psychotropic Convention in 1975.50 In a few years, narcotics shifted from a problem exclusively in the capitalist world to one that required action at the borders of the GDR itself. As the law changed, official guidelines and definitions were needed as well. In 1975, a manual on narcotics was produced by the Addiction and Drug Effects Working Group at the Institute for Judicial Medicine and Criminology at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig and the Medical Academy of Erfurt. With almost no cases of cannabis use to study in the GDR, expert knowledge on drug use and misuse usually came from Western medical and legal sources, and East German experts reproduced American theories of cannabis as a gateway drug. While the “hashish-­experimenters” and “hashish-­only consumers” are relatively easy to re-­socialize with understanding support from the environment, the greatest danger arises from the “gatekeeper function” (transfer function or domino theory) of cannabis products. “Although hashish arouses an appetite for nirvana, it does not quench it,” but “heroin delivers what hash promises!” The drug career leads from hashish, hallucinogens, stimulants, and barbiturates to the opiates.51

Earlier sensational news coverage, that is, was now officially sanctioned expert medical and legal knowledge within the GDR.


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Not only was hashish portrayed as a pathway to more addictive, unhealthy behaviors, it was deliberately conflated with other forms of illegal cross-­border activity according to state security. The Stasi both interpreted and shaped a perception of a link between narcotics and the organized smuggling of people out of East Germany. The Berlin Wall was originally erected in 1961 to prevent emigration, and the SED employed lethal force to prevent unauthorized crossings of the German-­German border ever since. In 1978, the Stasi reported that “drug-­addicted members of the criminal trafficking gangs are unconscionably and in the grip of their drug addiction used as drivers in smuggling operations.”52 Those accused of conspiring to drive East German citizens to the West in the report were also involved in smuggling hashish (or LSD) to West Berlin—­or were actively stoned on drugs when they were in the process of trying to bring people across the border. There was no argument for cause and effect, just an effort to demonstrate that illicit smuggling of people and drugs were linked and that those who smoked hashish in West Berlin could also pose a security threat to the GDR. By the 1970s, many experts in the West had begun to question the dangerousness of cannabis and challenged the notion that its use inevitably led to harder drugs. American campaigns for marijuana legalization took off, as Emily Dufton argued: “because marijuana’s growing use among the white middle class made the drug seem less alien and far more relatable.”53 In East Germany, where such contact with recreational cannabis use had not taken place, East German experts broadly agreed with Western decriminalization advocates that the causes of drug addiction lay in social and economic conditions, but they still saw coercive state power and criminalization as essential for the eradication of drug use. In a report to the United Nations, the East German Central Bureau for Addictive Substances rejected the legalization of cannabis. “In the GDR, cannabis is regarded as a drug, the use or abuse as you like, may not be permitted. Therefore, in our opinion cannabis has to be a narcotic drug with all consequences—­now and in the future.”54 The legalization of cannabis was deemed out of the question, both in the GDR and internationally. Pistachios, Pushers, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall In the last decade of East Germany’s existence, the GDR proved to be one of the few countries in the Eastern Bloc that remained largely immune to the

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organized international drug trade. Contemporaneously, the Soviet Union faced serious problems with narcotics due to the occupation of Afghanistan and trafficking that ran through networks of soldiers. Large shipments of hashish began to move through the USSR toward the West. With the advent of reform under Mikhail Gorbachev in the mid-­1980s, Soviet officials began to openly discuss issues of youth drug use and addiction.55 By contrast, until East Germany’s border opening in 1989, it remained exceptionally difficult to acquire cannabis in the GDR. Those who were willing to transport hashish across the East German border (for minimal financial gain) were few. Some citizens were able to get access to cannabis through visiting tourists or connections to elites with the ability to cross borders freely, such as embassy workers or family members of diplomats.56 Certainly a few recorded cases held that workers brought in small quantities: one Stasi informant reported that a group of Italian contractors were selling hashish in a bar in Rostock.57 Another Stasi operation arrested some Angolan contract workers smuggling hashish into West Berlin, and who happened to send a small portion to their friends in the GDR as a favor.58 Aside from these rare examples, cannabis remained an unfamiliar problem for East German law enforcement, who understood consumption as a foreign phenomenon. By the 1980s, however, smuggling had grown more complicated, as trafficking methods became increasingly creative. The Helsinki Accords, signed in 1975, increased the flow of people between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc, and the GDR sought to trade beyond just its socialist allies in Europe. According to the Stasi, while addictive drugs were neither a “social nor a health-­political problem,” caution was needed due to the “GDR’s openness to the world, demonstrated by the increasing numbers of visitors and traffic, which represents a potential threat to GDR citizens so long as narcotics are abuses in the non-­socialist world and in Berlin (West).”59 In 1983, a representative of the customs inspection complained at length to the Stasi about the challenges faced at the border: There have constantly been cases, only the day before yesterday, when drugs coming from Africa were hiding in dried fish. Dehydrated fish has the characteristic of being particularly pleasant to smell, the whole corridor stinks afterwards. There is a fruit from the Arab lands called pistachios, that’s a kind of nut or almond. There they have done the idiotic work to take these pistachios out of the shell, by the basket, and fill them with hashish. We have had cases where hashish has been made into cherries and grapes, stamped, dyed and of course some real cherries and grapes have been stacked on top.60


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Despite such accounts, international hashish smuggling was no longer considered a major problem, and GDR authorities were usually seizing between 15–­40 kg a year at the border. By way of comparison, in 1986, the American Drug Enforcement Administration seized 825 tons of cannabis.61 Although traffic into the GDR was contained, the SED faced an increasing amount of dissent at home; in 1984, a wave of applications from East German citizens formally requested to emigrate to the West. Over the course of the decade, the SED thus sought to provide a lurid image of how narcotics in the West ruined the lives of young people. GDR youths were delivered this message in schools, and anyone looking to exit the country were warned by state officials that such a decision resulted in homelessness and drug abuse.62 Books, such as At the End of the Rainbow Rides Death: Background on the Abuse of Drugs in the Capitalist World and Death, Robbery, Terror, Drugs: Criminality under Imperialism Today, aimed to frighten young people about the hellscape of life across the wall.63 The “pusher”—­a nefarious figure that preyed on young people and familiar from American drug war tropes from the late 1960s—­now entered the GDR antidrug landscape.64 In 1989, the Berliner Zeitung warned readers that in the West, “hashish or marijuana, the ‘soft’ drugs, are abundantly available [and] dealers mix ‘soft’ with ‘hard’ drugs to make their victims more quickly addicted.”65 As earlier, in the case of the adopted “gateway theory” in the 1960s and the idea that cannabis caused madness in the 1950s, rhetorical devices and scientific arguments developed elsewhere gradually entered GDR discourse with a ten-­to twenty-­year time delay. On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall opened, and drugs arrived in the GDR with more regularity. At first, narcotics coming into the country was one of several hot-­button issues that SED media—­which initially still retained a press monopoly—­warned about. Because of the newly opened border, drugs, along with a flood of neo-­Nazis and exploitative speculators, would trickle into the country. The party newspaper Neues Deutschland claimed that dealers were already plying their trade in schoolyards, less than three weeks after the opening of the Berlin Wall; these drug peddlers were selling five or six hashish joints for 100 Deutschmarks, the same amount provided by the Federal Republic as “welcoming money” to any East German who visited the West.66 Such joints, it was argued, would invariably lead to heroin addiction and death by overdose, much like it had for West German youths. These hyperbolic claims acted as a last-­ditch effort by the SED to forestall change. Even in January 1990, when the party officially transformed from the SED to the

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Party of Democratic Socialism in advance of reluctantly convened elections, its leader tried to prevent the abolition of the Ministry of State Security on the grounds that it protected the country from “terrorism, neo-­fascism, narcotics and environmental criminality.”67 Beyond the propaganda, drug trafficking and misuse grew into a genuine concern among the population as a public drug culture emerged. The women’s magazine Für Dich published a cover story called “Dangers of Addiction—­ Here at Home?”68 Shortly before the first democratic elections in March 1990, the interim government publicly announced that the import of drugs had become a serious public health problem, one that they had not been prepared for.69 During 1990, the East German media regularly published on the threat of hashish joints, but the sensationalism of the past was replaced by a more practical concern about youth experimentation. The People’s Police in East Berlin established a Narcotics Working Group—­the first such GDR law enforcement division—­headed up by Major Günter Kowalschek, who said that normal access to hard currency and free movement increased the dangers of drugs. In contrast to the earlier scare-­mongering about capitalist pushers, Kowalschek explained to the Berliner Zeitung that the main importers were West Germans with small quantities who would pass hashish around “as has been observed at restaurants and discos.”70 While the drug was not immediately addictive, he did warn that it could lead to emotional dependence and, in time, depression and suicidal thoughts. Cannabis had now arrived in the GDR, and in public discourse, it shifted from being a terrifying plague emanating from the capitalist world to an everyday health problem facing parents and teens. Conclusion Although cannabis prohibition is often associated with puritanical Protestantism and American racist stereotyping, the example of the GDR shows how neither was required for the demonization of hashish as a danger to morality and society. At the same time, the notion that left-­wing politics and communism were inherently linked to the embrace of cannabis as a mind-­opening or socially subversive (depending on your framing) substance remains problematic in light of the SED’s stringent prohibitionism, which was specifically grounded in the political demands of the socialist project. Cannabis and its demonization provided a useful means of demarcating the


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moral differences between the virtuous socialist East and the decadent consumerist West in the early years of German division. Propaganda against the evils of hashish went hand-­in-­hand with the ongoing campaign to secure legitimacy for the East Germany and for the SED. At the same time, the East German discourse around cannabis represented a hybrid of the Soviet ideological rejection of drugs on socialist grounds combined with the sensationalist depictions of cannabis causing madness, the hashish to heroin gateway and the image of the pusher driving youths from marijuana to hard drugs for profit derived from American antidrug propaganda. The example of East and West Germany shows the centrality of ideology in shaping narcotic controls and prohibition. At the same time, certain cultural perceptions bridged the Cold War divide: as in the West, cannabis provoked the same fear of social destabilization, uncontrollable youth, and immoral consumption, but from a radically different ideological perspective. Yet, these fears were reflected through an ideological lens of Marxism-­Leninism and the structures of actual trafficking decisively shaped by East Germany’s relative disconnect from the global economy. The example of the GDR also highlights how the question of recreational narcotics use deeply split the Left in the late twentieth century between the counterculture, which embraced it, and Marxist-­Leninists who sided with their Western ideological rivals to oppose it. Notes 1. Official numbers put the number of those addicted to drugs in East Germany at around one hundred, mostly pharmaceutical opiates and benzodiazepines. See Tilmann Holzer, Die Geburt der Drogenpolitik aus dem Geist der Rassenhygiene: deutsche Drogenpolitik von 1933 bis 1972 (Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2007), 498–­499. 2. Michael Knodt, “Was keiner feiert: 25 Jahre Hasch im Osten,” Vice, November 26, 2014, https://­www​.­vice​.­com​/­de​/­article​/­yv4nqv​/­was​-­keiner​-­feiert​-­25​-­jahre​-­hasch​-­im​ -­osten​-­388​. 3.  “Beratung des Sekretariats des Zentralkomitees der SED mit den 1. Sekretären der Kreisleitungen,” Berliner Zeitung, January 26, 1980, 3. 4. Although cannabis was difficult to come by, intoxicants were a common part of GDR life: consumption of alcohol was very high, and alcoholism was seen as a major social and health problem. See Gundula Barsch, Von Herrengedeck und Kumpeltod: Die Drogengeschichte der DDR. Band 1: Alkohol—­der Geist aus der Flasche (Geesthacht: Neuland, 2009); Dieter Unger, Alkoholismus in der DDR: die Geschichte des Umganges mit alkoholkranken Menschen in der ehemaligen DDR im Zeitraum 1949 bis 1989 (Halle: Projekte-­Verlag Cornelius, 2011); and Thomas Kochan, Blauer Würger:

“Hashers Don’t Read Das Kapital” 221

so trank die DDR (Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 2011). East German youth also consumed psychopharmaceuticals recreationally, for example, combining Faustan (the GDR brand of benzodiazepine) with alcohol. Brigitte Deja-­Lölhöffel, Freizeit in der DDR (Berlin: Holzapfel, 1986), 66. 5. On the mythical Chinese communist opium network of US drug czar Harry Ansligner, see: Kathleen Frydl, The Drug Wars in America, 1940–­1973 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 60–­85. 6.  Quotes from Matthew R. Pembleton, Containing Addiction: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Origins of America’s Global Drug War (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2017), 20; and Jonathan Marshall, “Cooking the Books: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the China Lobby and Cold War Propaganda, 1950–­1962,” Asia-­ Pacific Journal 11, no. 37 (2013). 7.  Pavel Vasilyev, “Drug Addiction: Late Imperial and Early Soviet Russia,” in Global Anti-­Vice Activism, 1890–­1950: Fighting Drinks, Drugs, and “Immorality,” ed. Jessica R. Pliley, Robert Kramm, and Harald Fischer-­Tiné (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 187. 8. Brandon Gray Miller, “The New Soviet ‘Narkoman’: Drugs and Youth in Post-­ Stalinist Russia,” Region 4, no. 1 (2015): 45. 9. On the case of socialist Poland, see Krzysztof Krajewski, “Drugs, Markets and Criminal Justice in Poland,” Crime, Law & Social Change 40 (2003): 273–­293. 10.  Walter Benjamin and Marcus Boon, On Hashish (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006). 11. Werner Pieper, Nazis on Speed, Drogen im 3. Reich (Münchenstein: Grüne Kraft, 2016). 12.  Jonathan Lewy, “Vice in the Third Reich,” in Life and Times in Nazi Germany, ed. Lisa Pine (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016), 49–­74. 13.  Scott J. Thompson, “From ‘Rausch’ to Rebellion: Walter Benjamin’s On Hashish and the Aesthetic Dimensions of Prohibitionist Realism,” Journal of Cognitive Liberties 1 (2000): 32. 14.  “Job mit erotischen Träumen: Marihuana—­das neueste Kulturprodukt aus den USA,” Berliner Zeitung, November 18, 1951, 3. 15. Emily Dufton, Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America (New York: Basic Books, 2017), 3–­4. 16.  Gerhard Illing, “Rauschgifte zerstören den Charakter,” Neue Zeit, July 25, 1951, 3. 17.  “Job mit erotischen Träumen: Marihuana—­das neueste Kulturprodukt aus den USA,” Berliner Zeitung, November 18, 1951, 3. 18.  “Rauschgifthandel in DP-­Lagern,” Neue Zeit, May 25, 1949, 2.


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19. Shane Blackman, Chilling Out: The Cultural Politics of Substance Consumption, Youth and Drug Policy (Maidenhead, UK: McGraw-­Hill, 2004), 14–­18. 20.  “Job mit erotischen Träumen: Marihuana—­das neueste Kulturprodukt aus den USA,” Berliner Zeitung, November 18, 1951, 3. 21.  Detlef Briesen, Drogenkonsum und Drogenpolitik in Deutschland und den USA: ein historischer Vergleich (Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 2005), 283–­289. 22. “Fünf Mark pro ‘Stäbchen’: Lebhafter Rauschgifthandel in Westdeutschland—­ Hauptkunden: US-­Soldaten,” Neue Zeit, April 7, 1965, 2. 23.  Gerd Salka, “Die neue Masche: Rauschgiftpartys,” Neues Deutschland, September 26, 1965, 12. 24. “Rauschgift-­Mißbrauch in der westlichen Welt alarmierend: Jugend besonders gefährdet -­UNO bereitet Kontrolle vor,” Berliner Zeitung, January 29, 1969, 5. 25. “Höllendroge in ‘Wohlfahrtsstaat,’” Berliner Zeitung, September 3, 1969, 7. 26.  Jochen Preußler, “Rauschgiftwelle über Skandinavien,” Neues Deutschland, January 4, 1969, 15. 27. “Schüler nehmen Haschisch,” Neue Zeit, August 3, 1969, 2. 28. “Höllendroge in ‘Wohlfahrtsstaat,’” Berliner Zeitung, September 3, 1969, 7. 29.  Matthew D. Lassiter, “Impossible Criminals: The Suburban Imperatives of America’s War on Drugs,” Journal of American History 102, no. 1 (2015): 128. 30. Cläre Einhorn, “Das große Geschäft mit den süßen Traumen,” Neues Deutschland, June 13, 1965, 12. 31.  As an example from the era, see Ronald Steckel, Bewusstseinserweiternde Drogen: eine Aufforderung zur Diskussion (Berlin: Edition Voltaire, 1969). 32.  Detlef Siegfried, 1968 in der Bundesrepublik: Protest, Revolte, Gegenkultur (Ditzingen: Reclam, 2018), 36. 33.  Joachim Scharloth, 1968: Eine Kommunikationsgeschichte (Paderborn: Verlag Wilhelm Fink, 2012), 326. 34. Klaus Weinhauer, “Drug Consumption in London and Western Berlin During the 1960s and 1970s: Local and Transnational Perspectives,” Social History of Alcohol and Drugs 21, no. 2 (2006): 199. 35.  Rudolf Affemann, “Krise der Jugend—­Krise der Gesellschaft?” Therapiewoche 26, no. 8 (1976): 1190–­1201. 36. Günter Böhme, “Hascher lesen nicht mehr das Kapital!” Neues Deutschland, October 27, 1970, 6. This phrase was used repeatedly in the GDR media, but it originated from the West Germany left-­wing magazine konkret.

“Hashers Don’t Read Das Kapital” 223

37. Böhme, “Hascher lesen nicht mehr das Kapital!” 6. 38. “Höllendroge in ‘Wohlfahrtsstaat,’” Berliner Zeitung, September 3, 1969, 7. 39. Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service (Bundesbeauftragte für die Stasi-­Unterlagen—­BStU) ZMD-­973, 107. 40. On international migration and the spread of narcotics in postwar West Germany and other Western European states, see Robert P. Stephens, Germans on Drugs: The Complications of Modernization in Hamburg (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007), 70. 41.  Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter, Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 26–­27; and Stephens, Germans on Drugs, 72. 42.  Weinhauer, “Drug Consumption in London and Western Berlin,” 187–­224. 43. Quoted in German Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv—­BArch) BArch DL 203/12 Die Bekämpfung des Rauschgiftschmuggels über die Grenzen der DDR durch den Zollfahndungsdienst (1971), 5 and Anlage 17. 44.  BStU HA VI 16858 Vorlage zu Problemen der Bekämpfung des Schmuggels mit Suchtmitteln in der DDR. (11.04.1979) and BArch DL 203/12 Die Bekämpfung des Rauschgiftschmuggels Anlage 17. 45.  Jan Wriedt, Von den Anfängen der Drogengesetzgebung bis zum Betäubungsmittelgesetz vom 1.1.1972 (Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 2006), 161. 46.  BStU HA IX 1273, 32–­33. 47.  On drug smuggling and the East Berlin airport, see Susanne Fechner, Flughafen Berlin-­Schönefeld Drehscheibe des Drogenhandels Ost-­ West: Bedeutung und Rolle des Flughafens Berlin-­Schönefeld im Zeitraum 1970 bis 1989 (Saarbrücken: AV Akademikerverlag, 2015). 48.  BArch DL 203/12 Die Bekämpfung des Rauschgiftschmuggels über die Grenzen der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik durch den Zollfahndungsdienst (1971). 49.  In the United States, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and in West Germany, the Narcotics Act of 1971. 50.  BArch DQ 1/15259 Gesetzgebung zur Suchtmittelprävention sowie Beitritt der DDR zu multilateralen Verträgen zu Suchtmitteln. 51.  BStU HA VI 15817 Suchtmittel: Wirkungsweise forensische Bedeutung Schnellnachweis (April 10, 1975). 52. BStU HA IX 1273 Dokumentation zum Rauschgiftschmuggel und zum Mißbrauch Rauschgiftsüchtiger durch kriminelle Menschenhändlerbanden in Westberlin und in der DDR (September 13, 1978), 3.


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53. Dufton, Grass Roots, 59. 54.  BArch DQ 1/15254 Anlage 2. 55.  John M. Kramer, “Drug Abuse in Eastern Europe: An Emerging Issue of Public Policy,” Slavic Review 49, no. 1 (1990): 19–­31, 23. 56.  In his memoir of growing up in East Berlin, Maxim Leo describes a friend in Prenzlauer Berg who held parties attended by the children of Western diplomats where hashish was available. Maxim Leo, Haltet euer Herz bereit: eine ostdeutsche Familiengeschichte (Munich: Heyne, 2009), 238–­239. 57.  BStU HA II 28137 IMB “Mischa” (April 22, 1987), 16. 58.  BStU HA VI 4676, 171–­173. 59.  BStU HA VI 16858 Vorlage zu Problemen der Bekämpfung des Schmuggels mit Suchtmittels in der DDR (April 11, 1979), 68. 60.  Quoted in Jörn-­Michael Goll, Kontrollierte Kontrolleure: die Bedeutung der Zollverwaltung für die “politisch-­operative Arbeit” des Ministeriums für Staatssicherheit der DDR. (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011), 200. 61.  Statistic on DEA seizures cited in BStU HA VII 4386. 62.  Author’s correspondence with Antje K., May 2, 2019. 63. Peter Jacobs, Auf dem Regenbogen reitet der Tod: Hintergründe des Rauschgiftmissbrauchs in der kapitalistischen Welt (Berlin: Verlag Neues Leben, 1984); and Dieter Bohndorf and Reinhard Gelbhaar, Mord, Raub, Terror, Drogen: Kriminalität im Imperialismus heute (Berlin: Dietz, 1987). 64.  Lassiter, “Impossible Criminals,” 128. 65. “Der natürliche Tod der Heike S. Chronik eines authentischen Falles aus der BRD,” Berliner Zeitung, September 21, 1989, 4. 66.  “Offene Grenze—­freie Bahn?” Neues Deutschland, November 25, 1989, 9. 67.  Cited in “Niederlage für Modrow-­Regierung,” Die Bundesregierung, January 12, 1990, https://­www​.­bundesregierung​.­de​/­breg​-­de​/­aktuelles​/­niederlage​-­fuer​-­modrow​ -­regie​rung​-­462908​. 68.  “Rausch—­Suchtgefahr hierzulande?” Für Dich, March 1990. 69.  “Wenig vorbereitet auf illegale Drogenszene,” Berliner Zeitung, March 16, 1990, 2. 70.  “Wenn der Joint die Runde macht,” Berliner Zeitung, April 4, 1990, 15.

10  The Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in Nigeria and the Indian Hemp Decree of 1966 Gernot Klantschnig

In 2019, governments in Ghana and Senegal considered cannabis reform policies, including drug harm reduction measures, while the West African Commission on Drugs (WACD) more generally was a driving force behind health-­focused drug policy in the subregion.1 The reforms, which amounted to liberalization, appeared to align with recent policy changes elsewhere in the world, yet the majority of West African states remained strongly committed to punitive and law-­enforcement-­driven policy. Among these states, Nigeria in particular has taken a leadership role in maintaining strict regulations regarding cannabis. Its government and key drug agency have continued to support prohibition-­dominated drug and cannabis control across the continent, despite growing international and domestic expert pressures and the fact that a former Nigerian head of state chaired the reform-­minded WACD. Stretching back to the 1950s and 1960s, this chapter examines how these prohibitionist tendencies were entrenched. Nigeria and sub-­Saharan Africa have arguably played a minor role in drug histories until recently. This is both true for traditional and new drug histories, the latter of which have been so important in the study of Asia and Latin America.2 The first waves of research on drugs, other than alcohol, in Africa were relatively short-­lived.3 First, cannabis studies were conducted by medical researchers in the 1960s and by some anthropologists in the 1970s.4 A second wave of research on cannabis and other drugs in Africa coincided with a growing UN and European donor interest in the African cocaine and heroin transit trade in the second half of the 1990s, meaning it was strongly shaped by policy interests and law enforcement sources. The major report commissioned by the UN at the time was The Drug Nexus in Africa.5 The research at its core started to highlight the historical and social dimensions of drugs, particularly cannabis and khat, which


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had largely been ignored by medical and policy research before.6 This chapter and the other Africa-­focused contributions in this volume form part of a third wave of research that has emerged over the last ten years, and which questions policy and state narratives as well as the local and changing historical meanings of drugs.7 Based on archival, medical, government, and news sources, the following pages use a chronological structure to develop several aims. First, I will sketch a view of West African cannabis use before 1960, the year of the country’s liberation from British colonial rule, and then seek to explain why Nigeria’s colonial government did not perceive cannabis as a policy problem. Thereafter, I will examine how patterns and perceptions of cannabis use and trade only started to change in independent Nigeria in the early 1960s, as experts began to explore the dangers of cannabis and addiction and gave the substance more national publicity. Yet, the doctors’ views (I will focus on Dr. Thomas Adeoye Lambo in this chapter) were soon sidelined by military leaders’ anxieties about cannabis, an understanding of which I’ll develop here as well. Attempts to medicalize the cannabis problem thus failed to be reflected in independent Nigeria’s first drug policy, the repressive Indian Hemp Decree of 1966. Instead, cannabis use and cultivation served as important symbols of national crisis, social decline, and political disorder, including eruptions of violence that shook the Western region of Nigeria in the mid-­1960s and eventually led to the Nigerian civil war.8 For Nigerian policy-­makers, cannabis’s role in this national crisis required a different solution than the one doctors proposed. Cannabis’s association with this crisis and subsequent state responses have entrenched features of Nigerian drug policy, which helps explain Nigeria’s continued support for repressive and prohibitionist policy and opposition to reform. Cannabis Use in West Africa Before 1960 Documented uses of cannabis are largely unavailable in West Africa before the nineteenth century. In North and Southern Africa cannabis production and use were well-­established for centuries; and the trans-­Saharan trade route allowed for the dispersion of other drugs, such as kolanuts, across the West African subregion and to the Mediterranean from the thirteenth century onward.9 Cannabis resin or hashish, which was widely used in North Africa, likely spread along the same route to West Africa. Geographer Chris

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Duvall has recently suggested that African slaves transported cannabis, as well as smoking paraphernalia, to the Americas during the Atlantic slave trade and that the term marijuana likely derived from West and central African terms for cannabis, particularly diamba.10 Available material evidence about cannabis in West Africa grows stronger after 1900, although scholars are still compiling data and developing new narratives.11 Sierra Leoneans, for instance, played a critical role in the cultivation and distribution of cannabis along the West African coast since the 1920s.12 Unfortunately, gaps still exist: the use and trade of cannabis in the interwar years, for example. In later years, the expansion in use and cultivation of cannabis has often been attributed to the return of West African soldiers from locations such as India and Burma, where they had served in the imperial forces during World War II and developed the habit of smoking cannabis.13 According to Nigerian police reports of the 1950s, the laboring class, especially “seamen and others connected with ports,” as well as “ex-­ servicemen and touts showing foreign seamen around,” were the largest group of cannabis users.14 Generally speaking, much of the country’s cannabis was in transit, arriving from India and being shipped onward to the UK, but a sizeable share was also smoked in West African port cities, such as Lagos. And until the late 1950s, cannabis was perceived as a fringe habit of urban deviants at ports who mostly smoked so-­called Indian hemp not only as an aid to physical labor but also for recreational reasons. In contrast to its urban use, little remains known about the use and cultivation of cannabis in rural areas. After its postwar introduction as an experimental crop on a few plots close to urban centers, such as Lagos, it reportedly spread to other parts of the country. In Nigeria’s Western Region, cannabis cultivation slowly established itself as a way of economic diversification when prices for other agricultural crops, in particular for cocoa, declined from the late 1950s onward.15 In 1960, the country gained independence from Great Britain and when cocoa’s decline accelerated in the 1960s, cannabis filled some of the gaps in agricultural production, and this was also supported by growing local demand for the drug. Yet, until the early 1960s only a few cannabis farms had been identified by the police. One of the key narratives that has been developed, based on primary evidence, focuses on colonialism. In the 1920s, various colonial authorities displayed greater interest in the control of cannabis, opium, and coca products. Kolanuts and alcohol were of most interest to West African and British


Gernot Klantschnig

Nigeria, 1960


Niger River

Kaduna Northern Region Benue River

Ibadan Abeokuta Lagos

Western Region

Niger River Enugu Eastern Region

Figure 10.1 Nigeria, 1960.

colonial officials. The lucrative kola trade had been regulated and taxed at least since the end of the eighteenth century, especially by states administering foreign trade, such as Asante, for instance, in today’s Ghana.16 Alcohol use had long been prohibited in West Africa’s Muslim societies, and it became the subject of intense international debates and domestic control at the end of the nineteenth century. The trade and production of distilled spirits served as the prime target of state regulation and to some extent as a template for later restrictions on drugs such as opium and cannabis.17 Nigerian control efforts, led by British officials, commenced only after the national and international debates on alcohol had calmed. In 1927, the first Dangerous Drugs Ordinance restricted the use and trade of cannabis, opium, and coca products to medical and scientific purposes and put them under the supervisory powers of the chief medical officer of the colony. The law criminalized all other unlicensed use and trade in the drugs.18 In

The Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in Nigeria 229

1935, the Nigerian ordinance was replaced by a slightly amended law, which remained until the late 1980s.19 Compared to the regulation of alcohol, the 1927 and 1935 drug ordinances did not grow out of British colonial anxieties about threats to Nigerian health or a paternalistic concern to protect Africans from foreign and potent substances. The drugs’ benefits to large trading companies and the state’s tax incomes were not considered, either.20 Nigeria’s chief medical officer often forwarded a straightforward message to international drug control bodies, as did most of his counterparts in other parts of West Africa. It was simply that the colony did not have a drug problem. According to a statement in 1923: No dangerous drug within the meaning of the Act is grown or manufactured in Nigeria. Cases of the drug habit are exceedingly rare both among the native and alien population. There are no Chinese and very few Indians. No illicit traffic in drugs is believed to exist and Police and Customs report that there have been no infractions of the law and consequently no prosecutions.21

Cannabis and other internationally controlled drugs were not associated with an “alien” ethnic group in interwar West Africa, thus setting it apart from common patterns in the history of drug control; for instance, Neil Carrier describes such colonial concerns about khat use by the “alien Somali” population in Kenya.22 In Nigeria, such cannabis-­related discourses were absent in the 1920s and 1930s. Without a perceived drug problem, Nigeria’s first drug law was aimed at satisfying obligations related to international conventions rather than offering a response to domestic pressures, real or perceived.23 In effect, the 1927 Nigerian ordinance was a direct response to the 1925 Geneva Opium Convention, and the 1935 ordinance a result of the 1931 Geneva Convention. These laws were reproductions of imperial blueprints, such as the Hong Kong Drug Ordinance, which circulated as a template among colonies at the time.24 Despite their origins in international drug control, the colonial administration’s local concerns about the availability of illegal substances in West Africa mattered. The Nigerian police reported Indian hemp seizures since the 1930s; and after World War II police officials provided explicit warnings of the cannabis threat and extensive evidence of cannabis use and cultivation, thereafter leading to the 1953 establishment of a police antinarcotics squad tasked with the cannabis trade in Nigeria’s Western Region.25 The squad discovered ninety-­seven cases of possession and cultivation of cannabis in the first five months after its inception.26 The colonial government,


Gernot Klantschnig

even with these police reports, chose not to investigate Nigeria’s cannabis use and cultivation. Official government documents throughout the 1940s and 1950s repeated the pattern set in previous decades. “Indian Hemp does not grow in Nigeria and is not cultivated,” declared reports to international drug bodies.27 Even the expansion of colonial welfare policy under a new “development paradigm” from the early 1950s onward did not change the government’s perception. Whereas colonial officials investigated “new” social problems, such as “juvenile delinquency,” during the expansion of the late colonial state, they were uninterested in Indian hemp use in urban Nigeria.28 Colonial administrators were clearly not concerned about cannabis in the 1950s. The seized quantities were relatively small and did not attract much public and media attention. The colonial state also lacked the resources to act more forcefully. The antinarcotics squad, part of the colonial police, was the only expense made and the squad’s survival was often in doubt. (It was disbanded less than five years after its establishment despite growing cannabis arrests and seizures.29) It’s worth noting that cannabis use was not regarded as a major drug problem in Britain in the 1950s.30 London, that is, being the colonial administrator of Nigeria, did not direct the Lagos government to investigate cannabis use in Nigeria, and officials in the colonial administration did not feel the need to campaign against cannabis.31 Finally, cannabis did not yet serve as a symbol of resistance to colonial rule and the state. The link between cannabis use with urban deviance, and its use by ex-­ soldiers during the Nigerian anticolonial movement, has led some scholars to speculate that cannabis was inextricably countercultural and nationalist.32 However, such a label is only valid to a limited extent in the case of 1950s Nigeria, because the colonial regime had been reluctant to attack cannabis and this did not afford Nigerians an opportunity to critique the state through smoking cannabis.33 Changing Patterns and Perceptions in the 1960s Police reporting on Nigerian cannabis use and cultivation expanded significantly in the first half of the 1960s, and media coverage sensationalized a “hemp boom” in Lagos.34 Seizures of cannabis at the time indicate a steady increase. While the police seized merely 823 kilograms of cannabis nationwide in 1961, this figure jumped to an astounding 7.2 tons the year after. Twenty-­eight cannabis farms were also identified in 1962. This

The Origins of Cannabis Prohibition in Nigeria 231

annual figure increased more gradually until 1966, when the Indian Hemp Decree was introduced.35 On average, the police arrested three hundred to five hundred Nigerians for possession of or cultivating of cannabis annually during the first half of the 1960s, the majority in Lagos, a steep increase compared to the cases identified by the narcotics squad in the early 1950s.36 Such abrupt increases in police seizures do not necessarily mean similarly rapid increases in cannabis cultivation and use. Arrest and seizure data provided by the police during this period also reflect the capacity and levels of vigilance of police work. It is likely that actual cannabis use and cultivation increased steadily after the war but that the police, the government, and the media only took note of this rise in the first half of the 1960s, when they appeared to discover a boom in cannabis smoking. Several long-­term reasons explained the steady increase of cannabis use, cultivation, and arrests from the late 1940s onward. A downturn in the cocoa industry mattered, especially as the prices for cocoa declined; this was a key factor. Even today, Nigeria’s center of cannabis cultivation remains in its so-­ called cocoa belt. The new crop was also cheap and easy to produce in this part of Nigeria’s fertile forest belt, as contemporary observers mention.37 In addition to agricultural diversification, the expansion of cannabis cultivation was also driven by expanding local demand for the drug. The low cost of smoking cannabis mattered, too, as Lagos retail prices amounted to a fraction of prices elsewhere. Due to these reasons, cannabis spread from a fringe habit of ex-­soldiers and port workers, often used as an aid to physical labor, to other many more social classes. As was the case in other countries, Nigerian newspapers soon took up reporting on cannabis, often with an intention to dramatize the extent of drug use and cultivation. Even traditionally moderate papers, such as state-­ owned Daily Times produced lurid coverage through regular descriptions of the “hemp boom in Lagos.”38 Most of these articles were based on minimal evidence about Lagosian cannabis use, aside from reported police arrests and seizures. Instead, stories reflected emerging popular perceptions of cannabis linking the spread of cannabis smoking to urban deviance as in the 1950s and to political violence and crisis in Nigeria’s Western Region prior to the civil war (1967–­1970). In reportage, a discourse on cannabis’s danger to Nigerian youth and especially its threat of radicalizing young people in the Western Region was also prevalent. Articles also associated cannabis smoking youths with the political violence that erupted in Western Nigeria


Gernot Klantschnig

during the contested elections of the early 1960s, when this part of the country was placed under a state of emergency. In this context, the West African Pilot published opinion pieces reiterating concerns about Lagos schoolchildren being hemp addicts. In an encounter with a thirteen-­year-­ old schoolboy, a journalist was told, “Madam, no so, I see-­am-­o, they say we schoolchildren even grow it too.”39 The opinion pieces exemplified fear and political instability and also played on campaign themes from the 1964 election, which reportedly saw political parties pay for violent young thugs—­many of them believed to be poor young men smoking cannabis.40 The Pilot warned about the deteriorating situation, that “young criminals [were] training fast” and that cannabis use was directly linked to the imagined “gang violence” and criminal activities in the Western Region: Already there is a tremendous lot of criminals in the West. You do not need to be told about it because the acts of lawlessness and hooliganism now in that region tell the absolute story. Imagine when the young criminals in training here in Lagos conjointly manipulate their business with their hardened ones in that region. Nigeria will not be a safe place for you and me to live in.41

Such claims about cannabis use among young people involved in crime, violence, and especially the political turmoil in the Western Region in Nigeria were bolstered by meagre evidence and may be regarded as imaginaries of the anxious urban middle-­class elites. Still, hemp smoking was undoubtedly becoming popular among young people in southwestern Nigeria. But instead of its use in imagined gang warfare, cannabis started to become popular in Lagosian bars and nightclubs at the time. In this context, young people were of a social class quite different from the violent thugs depicted in newspaper articles, and they indulged in cannabis smoking for its glamorous and foreign nature. They were not exclusively male, considering many female club-­goers in Lagos were smoking the weed.42 Unlike more traditional substances such as alcohol, cannabis was associated with modernity and glamour among some young people in Lagos. The Lagos music scene in the 1950s and 1960s influenced perceptions of cannabis. The young Fela Kuti, while struggling to establish himself in Nigeria’s music scene as a highlife-­jazz musician, started smoking cannabis in 1966 in Lagos (though he had first encountered the habit as a student in London’s jazz clubs in the 1950s).43 He was not alone. In the late 1960s, a highlife subgenre called toye became increasingly popular in the Lagos club scene, which took its name from a slang word for cannabis.44 An important

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toye exponent was Orlando Owoh—­or more commonly known as “Dr. Ganja”—­whose music fused highlife with Yoruba juju music.45 These Westernized and well-­educated musicians, as well as their patrons, were partly attracted to smoking cannabis because of the drug’s association with foreignness, in particular American jazz and jazz clubs, and due to the glamour associated with cannabis. In this sense, cannabis had developed a new meaning among some young Lagosians.46 By the mid-­1960s, cannabis use spread across social classes in urban centers such as Lagos, but perceptions of it had become much more diverse. It remained a habit closely associated with urban deviant groups—­now especially young men involved in the political violence in Nigeria’s Western Region. Still, cannabis use was not only a symbol of youth crisis and decline; it also represented modernity, particularly for young Lagosians, who saw it as a new and foreign item of consumption and distinction. In addition, it was medical professionals who tried to most vigorously intervene into these deliberations, as they began to describe an emerging medical cannabis problem, which eventually helped to bring cannabis onto the national policy agenda in the early 1960s. Doctors and Addiction The influence of Nigerian doctors was comparable to the medical profession’s interaction with drug policymaking in other countries, which of course included doctors and pharmacists in Britain.47 In Nigeria of the 1950s and 1960s, psychiatrists explored drug addiction as a sphere of expertise. Psychiatric doctors as Thomas Adeoye Lambo, the acknowledged founder of African psychiatry, were decisive in defining Nigeria’s drug problem on an expert level, and his ideas and work played an important role in international medical circles as well.48 Addiction to cannabis, more specifically, constituted part of the expanding and professionalizing field of West African psychiatry.49 Lambo was one of the first psychiatrists to engage with cannabis-­using patients and investigate their potential levels of addiction, making reference to the existence of African cannabis use as early as 1955.50 In 1965, he published a ground-­breaking study on addiction in West Africa, which appeared in both the leading West African medical journal as well as the UN’s main drug research bulletin.51 It ultimately helped establish cannabis use and addiction as a medical problem in West Africa. Lambo’s view


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of cannabis shared similarities with that of the police and media. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, he saw most of his drug-­using patients coming from the deviant social classes or what he called “marginal Africans,” such as ex-­soldiers, migrant workers, and political thugs.52 His emphasis on “marginal Africans” using cannabis was in line with popular perceptions even though actual users of cannabis in the 1960s came from a wider range of social classes and cannabis was not exclusive to the poor. Some of Lambo’s colleagues acknowledged that cannabis smoking had spread to various social classes, and some of the doctors admitted to having smoked the drug themselves.53 In fact, more well-­off and respectable social groups, such as students, accounted for more than a third of Lambo’s own patients by 1965, but he skillfully hid them in his classifications because they failed to suit his view of cannabis and his theory of African addiction.54 While he agreed with popular ideas about the social origins of cannabis users, Lambo did not see Nigerian drug use as a consequence of the users’ criminal psychology or simply the availability of drugs, as was often the case in media and police portrayals. He opted for multifactor sociological explanations of drug use. In his view, “changing socio-­economic and demographic patterns, the psychological and cultural receptivity of the individual, accessibility of certain drugs, overt group identification and other psycho-­sociological factors” were vital considerations. He noted that “drug addiction, like crime, is the product of many variables.”55 Lambo’s work was strongly influenced by his reading of contemporaneous sociologists and anthropologists, including Clyde Mitchell.56 According to Lambo’s interpretation of Mitchell, rapid socioeconomic changes, or “detribalisation,” led to “new and stressful life situations . . . ​for the ‘marginal African.’” In particular, migrant workers, who had been extensively studied by Mitchell, were vulnerable to these stressful situations and were drawn to drug use in urban areas without the social controls of rural areas being in place. Lambo also argued that migrants, with their extensive social contacts in urban and rural areas, were the main agents of spreading drug use.57 Essentially, Lambo proposed a sociological anomie argument blended with a medical contamination theory of cannabis use. Lambo’s and his associates’ work on drug use and addiction did not make a direct link between cannabis use and mental illness or madness. While this link would become popular in public discourse on drug use in Nigeria at the time, Lambo stated that “cannabis taken over a long period

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does not necessarily produce permanent disturbance of personality, nevertheless in some people it does give rise to various types of impairments of mental health which could be classified clinically.”58 This relatively differentiated view of drugs and mental illness set Lambo apart from a growing number of media reports at the time, which saw smokers behaving irrationally and violently due to their habit.59 According to the West African Pilot, reporting in May 1966, “a man, whose eyes were as red as fire, [who] manhandled a soldier, tore his clothes before he was over-­powered. . . . ​The man roared, ‘leave me alone: Indian Hemp gives me strength. I have been smoking it for long.’”60 Ironically, such views and news reports on Indian hemp as the “killer of soul” gained momentum when Lambo started to make public announcements about the dangers of cannabis. The fact that psychiatrists publicly discussed cannabis strengthened the public and media perception of cannabis causing insanity, even though the doctors did not make these causal links.61 Lambo’s interpretation of cannabis addiction in West Africa challenged popular perceptions in Nigeria and established views in international medical circles: In practice it is hard to determine whether the abuse of drugs as we now encounter in the West African meets all the accepted criteria of addiction. As far as my experience goes, our evidence is less conclusive about whether the habitual abusers of Cannabis in West Africa are in the strictest sense addicts.

He declared that the WHO-­defined criteria for addiction at the time, such as physical and physiological dependence, compulsive use of increasing doses of cannabis, as well as the classical withdrawal syndrome, were not observed in his patients. Lambo broadened the definition of addiction for the purpose of his research to include “social and occupational impairment” of drug users. In that way, cannabis addiction existed as a “social disease” in Nigeria.62 Lambo’s depiction of cannabis addiction attempted to define Nigeria’s drug problems and policies partly in local cultural and sociological terms.63 Yet Lambo did not create his ideas about Nigeria’s drug problem in isolation; he borrowed heavily from Western ideas of addiction and social science, much of which he had encountered during his earlier studies and work in Birmingham and London. Similar to the Nigerian nationalist political elite at the time, Lambo drew on foreign ideas of social change, addiction, and dangerous drugs to challenge the government and media’s perceptions of cannabis use and addiction. In hindsight, Lambo’s ideas have left an


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important legacy in Nigeria and West Africa. His multifaceted approach to drug user treatment became the norm in hospitals in Nigeria and beyond, and Nigeria’s psychiatric hospitals continue to practice it.64 His work was not only spread in medical debates but also through public campaigning, such as his lectures on World Health Days and their reproductions in the national media.65 As mentioned before, these public statements were often misrepresented and helped to strengthen the public misperception of cannabis being linked to insanity.66 Failed Medicalization: Soldiers, Coups, and Crisis In 1966, a military junta took control of Nigeria after political violence erupted and it led to a civil war a year later. The short-­lived government’s subsequent policies on drugs concentrated on the immediate and total elimination of deviant and criminal sections of urban society rather than the medical and social issues mentioned by Dr. Lambo. More precisely, the peculiar development of Nigerian drug control and the conceptualization of its cannabis problem were strongly shaped by military intervention in politics. The military officers who overthrew Nigeria’s first independent government, for instance, did so with a claim to social and political reform of a crisis-­ridden Nigeria. The well-­known first public announcement after the coup d’état by Major Nzeogwu, one of the leaders of the so-­called revolution, asserted: You are hereby warned that looting, arson, homosexuality, rape, embezzlement, bribery or corruption, obstruction of the revolution, sabotage, subversion, false alarms and assistance to foreign invaders, are all offences punishable by death sentence. . . . ​Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent; those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers or VIPs at least, the tribalists, the nepotists, those that make the country look big for nothing before international circles, those that have corrupted our society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their words and deeds.67

While the coup was partly motivated by nationalist revolutionary zeal, the military regime of General Ironsi also needed to promote its reformist image to maintain a level of legitimacy.68 Whereas Lambo’s views on cannabis and addiction highlighted some of cannabis’ complexities, including dangers, particularly in the West African context, the subsequent 1966 Indian Hemp Decree, as discussed earlier, shared very little in common with these views. The major impact of the doctors’ deliberations was to help place

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cannabis on the national policy agenda and to make the Nigerian government aware of international debates about addiction. Nevertheless, while psychiatrists were crucial to create and intensify public concern, they had little impact on the subsequent government policy. In 1966, one of the military governors illustrated this direct link between the national and political crisis and cannabis use among youth: The machinery of [the civilian] government was not functioning as well as it should. There was corruption. In some cases schools did not work as hard as they should. The standard of discipline was lax. For example, there was widespread indulgence in the smoking of Indian hemp, even among school-­children.69

Cannabis became not only a symbol of the wider national crisis, as it had been depicted in the media, but also of the indiscipline that the new military rulers faced within their own ranks. Relatively widespread use of cannabis among soldiers was reported since the early 1960s.70 Cannabis was therefore nothing new for the military rank and file and its leadership was acutely aware, too. In fact, General Ironsi’s lack of control over elements of the military led to another coup that ended the brief regime as well as Ironsi’s life after six months in power.71 The 1966 regime’s concern with social reform, indiscipline, and Indian hemp was therefore also driven by its attempts to reestablish full control over the state and especially the armed forces. As a military-­style policy of social reform, the Indian Hemp Decree of 1966 was introduced soon after the soldiers intervened in politics. The decree instituted harsh penalties, such as the death penalty for cultivating and twenty-­ one years imprisonment for the importation of cannabis, as well as tough penalties for use and possession. Aside from the increase in drug-­related penalties, which were a way to demonstrate the government’s determination, it was also the first drug law that solely focused on one substance. In essence, the decree tried to tackle a complex social problem with the elimination of the supply of drugs and criminals rather than addressing the vague and long-­ term aspects of drug control mentioned by Lambo and other experts at the time.72 In comparable global cases beyond Africa, medical expertise was durable enough to soften the interpretations of criminal justice officials and sometimes prohibitionist regulators. By contrast, Nigerian police officials monopolized drug control in 1966, a year that witnessed coups and counter-­coups, and in the years following.73 So why was a group of prominent doctors around Lambo, who had been successful at domesticating a


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foreign and repressive medical discipline such as psychiatry, not also able to influence early postcolonial policy on drug use, addiction, and treatment? First, Lambo’s solution to cannabis addiction—­including a mixture of medical, educational, legal, and long-­term socioeconomic adjustments—­ was impractical to implement as a drug policy in Nigeria.74 Second, Lambo’s impact on the medical field of psychiatry might have been more profound had it not been for the first military intervention in politics in 1966 (six years after independence). That year the 1966 Indian Hemp Decree became part of the regime’s reforms of Nigeria’s social, political, and economic system, which had broken down at the end of the First Republic, in their eyes. The new regime drew on the already established discourse on cannabis’s danger to Nigerian youth and especially its threat of making young people more prone to engage in political violence.75 In short, the subsequent implementation of independent Nigeria’s first drug policy was interrupted by political events, especially the Nigerian civil war that started in 1967. The war shifted the political focus to other areas and also further popularized the use of cannabis among the main instigators of the decree, the military.76 In subsequent years the use and cultivation of cannabis became more widespread for a range of economic, political, and social reasons and despite the harsh laws introduced by the military regime, the state lacked the power to successfully shape Nigerians’ attitudes and behaviors toward cannabis. In order to bring government policy more in line with the realities of cannabis use and cultivation and popular attitudes toward it, the decree was amended in 1975 and its penalties were reduced.77 While popular attitudes might have changed and cannabis became Nigeria’s and West Africa’s illegal drug of choice, the 1966 Indian Hemp Decree, the colonial Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, and, above all, the military-­inspired approach to social reform nonetheless remained the basis of Nigeria’s punitive and supply-­oriented drug control system. Conclusions The debates about cannabis in Nigeria furnish perspective on more recent perceptions and state attempts to control drugs. Lambo’s ideas about cannabis, mental health, and addiction, for instance, remain features of African and Western medical debates today. The medical profession’s attempt to confront the government’s indifference about the health dimensions of drug use

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and trade are reflected in contemporary discussions about a more balanced approach to drug control in Nigeria and on the regional level, such as through the reform-­minded West African Commission on Drugs (WACD). Interestingly, there is much less of a national debate about drugs and fewer contesting views in Nigeria today than in the 1960s, in part because a dominant policy discourse has become institutionalized and has been supported with foreign help since the 1980s.78 This institutionalization also explains Nigeria’s current reluctance to consider policy reforms, as stated at the outset of this chapter. The Nigerian story reveals several lessons about cannabis regulation. It shows that domestic debates on cannabis and other drugs have had a long history in West Africa and that some of the originally foreign drugs have become culturally embedded domestically, even though cannabis in 1960s’ Nigeria was only beginning to become a local drug. The example of Fela Kuti says much about the changed perceptions and growing embeddedness of cannabis, as musicians like him smoked the drug in the 1960s in part because it was a glamorous foreign intoxicant, but twenty years later cannabis helped to make his performance genuinely “African” and also acted as a sign of opposition to the oppressive state.79 This move away from cannabis as a representation of a foreign modernity toward it becoming a traditional—­ even if still illegal—­consumer item, mirrors in many ways Dimitri van den Bersselaar’s argument about the changing perceptions of imported gin in West Africa a few decades earlier.80 This chapter also demonstrates how changed perceptions of cannabis and policy reflected in many ways the transformations of the African state writ large. A relatively powerless colonial state, or what historian Frederick Cooper has termed a “gatekeeper state,” was administratively too weak and reluctant to investigate and make cannabis into a major policy problem before 1960.81 When this state became more interventionist and started to follow the “development paradigm” more actively in the course of 1950s, parts of the strengthened medical profession began to explore cannabis and addiction as a newfound area of expertise. Doctors’ campaigns helped to place cannabis use on the policy agenda in the 1960s. The breakdown of state power and instability, in 1966 and afterward, led to the intervention of the military into politics and with it a strengthening of the authoritarian state and repressive cannabis policies six years after independence. The local meanings of foreign concepts such as addiction have been well-­described in the literature on Europe and North America. Similarly, the


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meanings of imported drinks and how they became domestically appropriated has received much attention in the social history of alcohol in Africa.82 In the field of illicit drugs in Africa such understandings are rarer, and this chapter engaged with the interplay of domestic and foreign ideas of drugs and their control in the Nigerian case.83 This chapter also highlighted the changing understandings of cannabis among users, including young musicians and their patrons in Lagos; it has examined state officials and doctors, such as Lambo who used Western-­derived medical notions of addiction. The same is true, to some extent, of the soldiers that introduced the first national drug policy in independent Nigeria in 1966, as they combined internationally dominant ideas on drug supply control with a specific concern about cannabis smoking and instability in Nigeria as well as a discipline problem within the Nigerian military. However, the state’s attempts to shape the meanings of cannabis—­particularly as a dangerous drug driving youth to be violent and undisciplined—­were rarely accepted by the growing number of Nigerian cannabis users and cultivators. Notes 1.  West African Commission on Drugs (WACD), Not Just in Transit: Drugs, the State and Society in West Africa. (Geneva: Kofi Annan Foundation, June 2014), http://­ www​.­wacommissionondrugs​.­org​/­report​/­​.­WACD is modelled on its Latin American counterpart and initiated by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Jamie Bridge and Maria-­Goretti, “Drug Laws in West Africa: A Review and Summary,” West Africa Commission on Drugs Briefing Paper (November 2017). 2. Paul Gootenberg and Isaac Campos, “Toward a New Drug History of Latin America: A Research Frontier at the Center of Debates,” Hispanic American Historical Review 95 (2015): 1–­35. African case studies have been exceptional in collections that have been part of the third wave of drug histories over the last fifteen years. See Paul Gootenberg, Cocaine: Global Histories (Abingdon, UK: Routledge 1999); James Mills and Patricia Barton, Drugs and Empires (New York: Palgrave 2007); and Jordan Goodman, Paul E. Lovejoy, and Andrew Sherratt, eds., Consuming Habits: Global and Historical Perspectives on How Cultures Define Drugs (London: Routledge, 2007). 3.  For a summary of waves of historical writing on alcohol in Africa, see Justin Willis, “Drinking Power: Alcohol and History in Africa,” History Compass 3 (2005): 1–­13. 4. Thomas Adeoye Lambo, “Medical and Social Problems of Drug Addiction in West Africa: With Special Emphasis on Psychiatric Aspects,” Bulletin on Narcotics 17 (1965): 3–­13; Tolani Asuni, “Sociopsychiatric Problems of Cannabis in Nigeria,”

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Bulletin on Narcotics 16 (1964): 17–­28; B. du Toit, Cannabis in Africa: A Survey of Its Distribution in Africa, and a Study of Cannabis Use and Users in Multiethnic South Africa (Rotterdam, Netherlands: Balkema 1980); and Vera Rubin, ed., Cannabis and Culture (The Hague: Mouton De Gruyter, 1975). 5. UNDCP (United Nations Drug Control Programme), The Drugs Nexus in Africa (Vienna: UNDCP, 1999). 6. Henry Bernstein, “Ghana’s Drug Economy: Some Preliminary Data,” Review of African Political Economy 26 (1999): 13–­32; Axel Klein, “Nigeria & the Drugs War,” Review of African Political Economy 26 (1999): 51–­73; and David Anderson, Susan Beckerleg, Degol Hailu, and Axel Klein, The Khat Controversy: Stimulating the Debate on Drugs (Oxford: Berg, 2007). 7. Gernot Klantschnig, Neil Carrier, and Charles Ambler, Drugs in Africa: Histories and Ethnographies of Use, Trade and Control (New York: Palgrave, 2014). 8.  Eghosa Osaghae, Crippled Giant: Nigeria since Independence (London: Hurst, 1998), 42–­47. 9. Paul Lovejoy, “Kola in the History of West Africa,” Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines 20 (1980): 97–­134; and G. Klantschnig and N. Carrier, Africa and the War on Drugs (London: Zed Books, 2012). 10.  Chris Duvall, Cannabis (London: Reaktion Books, 2014). 11.  Royal Botanic Gardens, “The Useful Plants of Nigeria,” Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information, Additional Series IX (1909). For some mentions of cannabis use, also see the Report and Minutes of Evidence of the Committee Appointed to Investigate the Liquor Traffic in Southern Nigeria (London, 1909). 12.  Emmanuel Akyeampong, “Diaspora and Drug Trafficking in West Africa,” African Affairs 104 (2005): 432–­434. 13. Tolani Asuni, “Sociopsychiatric Problems of Cannabis in Nigeria,” Bulletin on Narcotics 16 (1964): 17–­28; Emmanuel Akyeampong, “Diaspora and Drug Trafficking in West Africa,” 434; UNDCP, Drugs Nexus, 21. 14.  Nigeria National Archives, Ibadan (NAI), MH30/Volume V, Letter from deputy commissioner of police CID to permanent secretary of the Ministry of National Resources and Social Service on Annual Report: Dangerous Drugs, June 2, 1955; and MH30/s.4/Volume II, Letter from deputy commissioner of police CID to permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, April 20, 1955. 15. “Indian Hemp Lands Man in the Court,” West African Pilot (Lagos), June 30, 1953, 168; NAI: MH30/Volume V, Letter from deputy commissioner of police CID to permanent secretary of the Ministry of National Resources and Social Service on annual report: Dangerous Drugs, June 2, 1955.


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16.  Sections (2) to (5) of this paper are reworked and based on Gernot Klantschnig, “Histories of Cannabis Use and Control in Nigeria, 1927–­67,” in Klantschnig et al., Drugs in Africa, 69–­88; Paul Lovejoy, Caravans of Kola: The Hausa Kola Trade, 1700–­ 1900 (Zaria, Nigeria: Ahmadu Bello University Press, 1980); and Paul Lovejoy, “Kola Nuts: the Coffee of the Central Sudan” in Consuming Habits: Global and Historical Perspectives on How Cultures Define Drugs, ed. Jordan Goodman, Paul Lovejoy, and Andrew Sherratt (London: Routledge, 2007), 98–­120. 17.  Charles Ambler, “The Drug Empire: Control of Drugs in Africa, a Global Perspective” in Klantschnig et al., Drugs in Africa; and Dimitri van den Bersselaar, King of Drinks: Schnapps Gin from Modernity to Tradition (Leiden: Brill, 2007). 18.  NAI: CSO26/03712/Volume IV, Letter from attorney general to Chief Secretary’s Office, Lagos, March 30, 1926, including enclosures on the 1926 Draft Dangerous Drugs Ordinance; CSO26/03712/Volume VI, an ordinance to regulate the importation, exportation, manufacture, sale, and use of opium and other dangerous drugs, April 27, 1927, No 16. of 1927. 19. Nigeria Colonial Government, Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, Number 12 (July 2, 1935). 20. See: “Opium Cultivated in Africa,” New York Times, December 1, 1882, http://­ query​.­nytimes​.­com​/­gst​/­abstract​.­html​?­res=F70F1FFD3E5411738DDDA80894DA415B8 284F0D3​. 21.  UK National Archives (UKNA): FO371/9238, HBS Montgomery, director of medical and sanitary service, report by the Government of Nigeria for the Calendar Year 1922 on the Traffic in Opium and Dangerous Drugs, April 3, 1923. 22. Neil Carrier, “A Respectable Chew? Highs and Lows in the History of Kenyan Khat,” in Klantschnig et al., Drugs in Africa, 105–­123. 23.  Etannibi Alemika, Narcotic Drugs Control Policy in Nigeria (Ibadan, Nigeria: Development Policy Centre, 1998). 24. NAI: MH30/Volume I, Circular from Colonial Office (Cunliffe-­ Lister) to CSO Lagos, May 31, 1933. 25.  NAI: AR5/P1, Nigeria Police, Annual Reports 1957, 18; 1960, 14 and 1962, 14; “Indian Hemp Lands Man in the Court,” West African Pilot, June 30, 1953, 168. 26.  NAI: AR5/P1, Nigeria Police, Annual Report 1953–­1954, 23. 27.  NAI: MH30/s4/Volume I, Report of the Government of Nigeria, for the calendar year 1952. 28.  Laurent Fourchard, “Lagos and the Invention of Juvenile Delinquency in Nigeria, 1920–­60,” Journal of African History 47 (2006): 115–­137.

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29.  NAI: AR5/P1, Nigeria Police, Annual Report 1954–­55, 25; Nigeria Police, General Report and Survey on the Nigeria Police Force, 1958, 32; Annual Report of the Nigeria Police, 1960, 31. 30.  Martin Booth, Cannabis: A History (London: Doubleday, 2003); and J. Mills, Cannabis Britannica: Empire, Trade, and Prohibition 1800–­1928 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). 31.  Simon Heap, “Living on the Proceeds of a Grog Shop: Liquor Revenue in Nigeria” in Alcohol in Africa: Mixing Business, Pleasure and Politics, ed. Deborah Bryceson (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2002), 139–­159. Carrier, “A Respectable Chew,” 105–­123; and Ambler, “The Drug Empire.” 32.  Akyeampong, “Diaspora and Drug Trafficking in West Africa,” 434. 33. James Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985); and Emmanuel Akyeampong, “What’s in a Drink? Class Struggle, Popular Culture and the Politics of Akpeteshie (Local Gin) in Ghana, 1930–­67,” Journal of African History 37 (1996): 215–­236. 34.  “Hemp Boom in Lagos,” Daily Times, May 22, 1964, 16. 35.  West African Pilot, February 24, 1966, 1; West African Pilot, May 28, 1966, 1; and Asuni, “Sociopsychiatric Problems,” 20–­23. 36. Gernot Klantschnig, Crime Drugs and the State in Africa: The Nigerian Connection (Leiden, Dordrecht: Brill, Republic of Letters, 2013); and Olabisi Odejide, “Drug Abuse in Nigeria: Nature, Extent, Policy Formulation and Role of the NDLEA,” in Epidemiology and Control of Substance Abuse in Nigeria, ed. Isidore Obot (Jos: CRISA, 1993), 166–­174. 37.  Asuni, “Sociopsychiatric Problems,” 20–­21. 38. “Indian Hemp, the Weed that Ruins our Society,” New Nigerian, October 31, 1967, 6; “Hemp Boom in Lagos,” Daily Times, May 22, 1964, 16. 39.  “Most Scholars Hemp Addicts?” West African Pilot, May 26, 1966, 6. 40. Osaghae, Crippled Giant. 41.  “Young Criminals Training Fast,” West African Pilot, January 6, 1966, 6. 42.  Asuni, “Sociopsychiatric Problems,” 20. 43.  Michael Veal, Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000). 44.  Christopher Waterman, Juju: A Social History and Ethnography of an African Popular Music (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990). 45. Veal, Fela, 136–­137.


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46. Booth, Cannabis: A History, 228–­233; Axel Klein, “‘Have a Piss, Drink Ogogoro, Smoke Igbo, but Don’t Take Gbana’—­Hard and Soft Drugs in Nigeria: A Critical Comparison of Official Policies and the View on the Street,” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 33 (2001): 111–­119. 47.  Virgina Berridge, Opium and the People: Opiate Use and Drug Control Policy in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century England (London: Free Association, 1999); and David Musto, The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999). 48.  Ambler, “The Drug Empire.” 49.  Jonathan Sadowsky, Imperial Bedlam: Institutions of Madness in Colonial Southwest Nigeria (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999); and Matthew Heaton, Black Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization and the Globalization of Psychiatry (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2013). 50.  Thomas Adeoye Lambo, “Neuropsychiatric Observations in the Western Region of Nigeria,” British Medical Journal 2 (1956): 1388–­1394; Thomas Adeoye Lambo, “Further Neuropsychiatric Observations in Nigeria,” British Medical Journal 2 (1960): 1696–­ 1704; and Thomas Adeoye Lambo, First Pan-­ African Psychiatric Conference, Abeokuta, Nigeria (Ibadan, Nigeria: Government Printer, 1961). 51. Thomas Adeoye Lambo, “Medical and Social Problems of Drug Addiction in West Africa: With Special Emphasis on Psychiatric Aspects,” Bulletin on Narcotics 17 (1965): 3–­13; Thomas Adeoye Lambo, “Medical and Social Problems of Drug Addiction in West Africa: With Special Emphasis on Psychiatric Aspects,” West African Medical Journal 14 (1965): 236–­254. 52.  Lambo, “Medical and Social Problems,” West African Medical Journal, 237. 53.  Personal communication, psychiatrist, September 24, 2010. 54. Lambo, West African Medical Journal, 245. 55. Lambo, West African Medical Journal, 253. 56.  Clyde Mitchell, The Causes of Labour Migration (S.T.R.C), 1961. 57. Lambo, West African Medical Journal, 240–­247. 58. Lambo, West African Medical Journal, 249–­250. 59.  Lambo’s observations were also directed toward a long-­standing medical debate about the links between cannabis use and mental illness. Berridge, Opium and the People, 209–­224. 60.  “Hemp Addict Chases Army Officers with Matchet,” West African Pilot, May 24, 1966.

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61.  “Indian Hemp—­Killer of Soul,” West African Pilot, April 12, 1966; and “Dr. Lambo Prescribes Pill for Social Ills,” West African Pilot, April 11, 1966. 62. Lambo, West African Medical Journal, 237. For a discussion of shifting ideas of drug use, addiction, and the disease model, see Room and Alexander’s work, Robin Room, “Cultural Framing of Addiction,” Janus Head 6 (2003): 221–­ 234; Bruce Alexander, The Globalization of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit (Oxford: University Press, 2010). 63. Sadowsky, Imperial Bedlam, 42–­43. 64.  Femi Oyebode, “Thomas Adeoye Lambo OBE, Obituary,” Psychiatrist 28 (2004): 469. 65.  “Dr. Lambo Prescribes Pill for Social Ills,” West African Pilot, April 11, 1966, 1. 66.  “Indian Hemp—­Killer of Soul,” West African Pilot, April 12, 1966. 67.  “Nzeogwu Announces Martial Law in the North and Promulgates Ten Decrees,” in T. Kirk-­Greene, Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria: A Documentary Sourcebook, 1966–­1970 (Aldershot, UK: Gregg Revivals, 1993). 68. Robin Luckham, The Nigerian Military: A Sociological Analysis of Authority & Revolt, 1960–­67 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971). 69.  Quoted in New Nigerian, February 7, 1966, and reprinted in Luckham, Nigerian Military, 283. 70. “Army Officer Held Smoking Hemp,” West African Pilot, June 1, 1966, 1. Aro Psychiatric Hospital case files. 71. Luckham, The Nigerian Military, 252–­287. 72. Nigeria Colonial Government, Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, Number 12 (July 1, 1935), article 20. Nigeria Federal Military Government, Indian Hemp Decree, Number 19 (March 31, 1966), articles 2–­7. 73. Berridge, Opium and the People; Bernstein, “Ghana’s Drug Economy,” 23–­24. 74. Lambo, West African Medical Journal, 242–­247, 251–­252. Note that the fact that Lambo’s work highlighted the complexities of drug use and control does not mean that medical initiatives were not repressive. The coerced admission of drug users or electroconvulsive therapy are just two of the most obvious repressive features of Nigerian drug treatment then and now. 75.  “Most Scholars Hemp Addicts?” West African Pilot, May 26, 1966, 6. 76. Alemika, Narcotic Drugs Control Policy in Nigeria, 32. 77. Nigeria Federal Military Government, Indian Hemp Amendment Decree, Number 34, October 24, 1975.


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78. Gernot Klantschnig, “Politics of Drug Control in Nigeria: Exclusion, Repression and Obstacles to Policy Change,” International Journal of Drug Policy 30 (2016): 132–­139. 79.  Klein, “Hard and Soft Drugs in Nigeria,” 111–­119. 80. See van den Bersselaar, King of Drinks; and Dimitri van den Bersselaar, “Who Belongs to the ‘Star People?’ Negotiating Beer and Gin Advertising in West Africa, 1949–­1975,” Journal of African History 52 (2011): 385–­408. 81. Fred Cooper, Africa Since 1940: The Past of the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). 82.  Akyeampong, “Diaspora and Drug Trafficking in West Africa,” 429–­447; van den Bersselaar, King of Drinks; Room, “Cultural Framing”; and Harry Levine, “The Discovery of Addiction: Changing Conceptions of Habitual Drunkenness in America,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol 39 (1978): 143–­174. 83.  Akyeampong, “Diaspora and Drug Trafficking in West Africa”; David Anderson and Neil Carrier, “Khat in Colonial Kenya: A History of Prohibition and Control,” Journal of African History 50 (2009): 377–­397; Stephen Ellis, “West Africa’s International Drug Trade,” African Affairs 108 (2009): 171–­196.

11  Cannabis, Counterculture, and Criminals: The Rise of Smuggling in the Netherlands, ca. 1962–1976 Stephen Snelders

The illegal cannabis trade was just fitting in the whole Dutch pirate smuggling ethos. —­Simon Vinkenoog, Dutch writer, poet, and psychedelics user

Illegal cannabis use increased enormously in the Netherlands from the mid-­ 1960s onward. In the following two decades the country changed from a staunch upholder of the international regime of drug prohibition into an international idiosyncrasy. A revision by Parliament of the regulatory drugs act, the Opiumwet (Opium Act), decriminalized in 1976 the possession of small amounts of cannabis of up to 30 grams for personal use. Though legally still a civil offense punishable with up to one month in prison, in practice possession for personal use has since been tolerated. At the same time, however, Dutch policymakers left the supply side of the cannabis market unregulated. The new regulatory regime of 1976 had unintended consequences, such as the tolerated concentration of retail in the so-­called coffee shops and their expansive growth in the 1980s, and the cultural transformation of cannabis use as an act of resistance into an act of everyday consumption. These unintended consequences were made possible by the rise of a successful illegal supply side that transformed the Netherlands into a major importer and transit hub, and from the 1980s onward also a producer, of cannabis—­despite the fact that Dutch law enforcement agencies continued their (mostly unsuccessful) fight against this largescale illegal cannabis trade. Already before 1976 Dutch smugglers had built international networks to supply European cannabis markets. Here, the foundations were laid for a successful Dutch cannabis trade that would lead to growing fears about the rise of organized crime and even the undermining of the democratic state in the country.


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This chapter will discuss the rise of cannabis smuggling in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It will be argued that the smugglers’ foundation in broader Dutch society was a major reason for their successes. They were socially embedded in relational networks and institutional environments, and they were culturally embedded in the new hippie counterculture and also, most importantly, in longer existing maritime and criminal cultures.1 The counterculture of the 1960s produced smugglers who perceived cannabis use and trade in the context of a rebellion against straight society. These smugglers were minimally commercial driven, at least in the beginning, bringing in small supplies for their own use and that of their friends and acquaintances.2 Yet, by 1971 the illegal cannabis market became an increasingly enticing and profitable business for more commercially minded smugglers; so enticing that criminal entrepreneurs moved in. The operations of these smugglers were further stimulated by the favorable conditions in the Netherlands for their operations. Apart from the increasing demand side, these conditions included the geographical position of the Netherlands, the connections of criminal entrepreneurs with Dutch maritime trading culture, and the socioeconomic and political situation in supply countries such as Lebanon and Morocco. Ironically, the cultural and criminal deviance at the foundation of Dutch cannabis smuggling helped normalize cannabis use in the Netherlands by 1980. The Explosion in Demand Since the Second World War there had been a growing consumption of cannabis in the public domain in the Netherlands. Initially limited to American soldiers, Surinamese migrants from the Dutch colony in Guyana and hipster artists and youngsters, consumption started to explode in the second half of the 1960s.3 The indigenous variety was not consumed, even though use of this plant had a tradition of medical use going back at least to the early eighteenth century.4 The cannabis that came into fashion after the war was illegally imported from abroad. Illegally, since the import had been prohibited in the revised second Opium Act of 1928. It took until 1953 before a further revision of the act also prohibited use and possession of the drug. Both were declared illegal and made liable to a maximum of four years in prison.5

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In the early 1960s it seemed to policy makers and law enforcement officers in Europe that the drug problem was under control. The drug regulatory regime implemented after the First World War was held to be a success, and the illegal drug trade contained. The UN Committee on Narcotic Drugs stated in 1962: “In Europe there is not a drug problem.”6 In that year the Dutch police reported only a few drug seizures: of opium smuggled in by Chinese seamen, and of cannabis smuggled in for instance from Tangier in Morocco.7 The next year only five arrests were made: four seamen were caught with small amounts of opium or cannabis, and in Amsterdam two Algerians were taken in custody for the possession of hashish. According to the Ministry of Justice there was only a small amount of drug smuggling and abuse in the country, and this centered on Chinese smoking opium, and on a few beatniks and American soldiers stationed in West Germany buying cannabis for personal use in the larger cities.8 A far larger problem for the Dutch authorities was the hundreds of iatrogenic addicts trying to get morphine on false prescriptions.9 The prosecution of cannabis users varied in extent, and it did not have a high priority in the first two decades after the war.10 This would change in the second half of the 1960s with the growth of the counterculture in the Netherlands. This led, as will be seen below, to an explosive expansion in the internal demand for cannabis. At the same time, the city of Amsterdam became a destination for alternative tourism. Tourists were attracted by stories about the transformation of the city in a “magical center” and the liberal availability of cannabis and other drugs. But even before 1965, Amsterdam was considered a center of the illegal narcotics trade, and the Amsterdam police created a narcotics section in 1947. Until 1966 however this unit consisted of only two detectives.11 These two detectives were far from idle, however, and they kept a close watch on pharmacists, Chinese opium dens and lodgings, ships docking in the harbor, bars frequented by suspected dealers from Suriname, and the bohemian beatnik scene of Amsterdam.12 After Parliament made possession and use of cannabis illegal in 1953, police raids and eight-­ month prison sentences for possession of minimal amounts (as low as one marihuana cigarette) became the norm. Still, trade was limited. In November 1965, the police finally caught “a well-­known drugs trafficker” and found 1 kilo of marihuana and 1.5 kilos of hashish in his possession. This was considered a major victory for law enforcement.13


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By that time, the trend was starting to change and the drug problem became uncontainable. From 1964 onward the national figures for offenses against the Opium Act increased. Figure 11.1 shows the increase in the illegal import, distribution, and consumption of drugs. Looking at these figures the year 1967 was especially a turning point. Most of the offenses over the next five years were related to cannabis: 76 percent in 1967, 86 percent in 1972. In five years the number of offenses multiplied almost by a factor of eight (see figure 11.2). At this time, domestic production of cannabis was insignificant, meaning the drug had to be imported. Up until the early 1970s both the number of arrested importers and the seized amounts of cannabis were relatively small (see figure 11.3). Dutch law enforcement maintained (and continues to assume) that it catches one-­tenth of all smuggled goods.14 This percentage is completely arbitrary: its origins can be traced to the interwar period when the military police responsible for border control already assumed this percentage.15 However, one has to begin with a baseline, whether as police officer or as historian. If we work with the one in ten concept, in 1968 approximately 1,000 kilograms of cannabis (ten times the amount of seizures) 2500 2000


Series 1 Series 2


Series 3













Figure 11.1 Offenses against the Opium Act, 1964–­1972. Source: K. H. Meijring, Recht en verdovende middelen (VUGA-­Boekerij, 1974), 115, 118.

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1800 1600 1400 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0







Figure 11.2 Offences against the Opium Act in relation to cannabis, 1967–­1972. Source: Meijring, Recht en verdovende middelen, 120.

90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 1967




Figure 11.3 Arrested importers of illegal drugs, 1967–­1972. Source: Meijring, Recht en verdovende middelen, 120.




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0 1967






Figure 11.4 Seizures of marihuana and hashish in kilograms. Source: Meijring, Recht en verdovende middelen, 22.

was smuggled into the Netherlands. In 1971 this had doubled into 2,000 kilograms, and in 1972 the number from 1968 had multiplied by twenty into 20,000 kilograms. The increase in users started to translate into a significant increase in smuggled cannabis. The first single seizure of over a hundred kilograms took place in 1971 when 110 kilograms of hashish from Morocco, imported via plane by a consortium of Rotterdam criminal entrepreneurs, was seized.16 In 1972, 225 kilograms of hashish was discovered in the false sides of crates containing vases, ashtrays, and press-­papers imported from Karachi in Pakistan.17 In 1973, the total of seizures had risen to almost 6,000 kilograms.18 How did this increased supply relate to changes in the demand-­side of the market? Certainly, the number of cannabis users increased in the five years from 1967 to 1972. However, estimations at the time varied widely. A field study held in 1967 and 1968 estimated a (rather unreliable) total of between 13,500 and 24,000 illegal drug users, mainly consumers of cannabis.19 Other studies more or less repeated this number. For instance, one calculated in 1970 an estimated 20,000 users; another 15,000 users in Amsterdam and 7,000 in Rotterdam.20 These estimates concerned regular users. In 1971, two surveys suggested that 2 to 2.6 percent of the total population had used

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drugs.21 This meant that 260,000 to 300,000 people had at least smoked one cannabis joint. In the same year, another report estimated 30,000 regular users and a total of 100,000 to 200,000 people that had incidentally smoked cannabis.22 The estimated percentages of users in secondary education were even higher, varying between 4 and 20 percent of all pupils in 1971–­1973, ninety per cent of whom had used cannabis.23 There were of course huge regional differences. The percentage of illegal drug users among the total Dutch population was estimated in 1970 at between 1.9 and 3.4 percent, but among the Amsterdam youth in 1972 at almost one-­third.24 How much cannabis was needed to supply this demand? Let us suppose that on average all regular users smoked one joint per day. While there is no telling precisely how much cannabis was in a joint, a recent American study estimated on average 0.32 grams.25 If one gram provided three joints, that one regular user in 1970 smoked daily, making for at least 365 joints or 122 grams of cannabis per year, and that there were 20,000 regular users, that would make for a needed supply of 2,400 kilos. Since in that year 274 kilos were seized, this nicely fits in the one-­in-­ten hypothesis, but this does not account for the enormous increase of seizures starting in 1972, unless most of this was exported again to, for instance, the UK or West Germany. Nevertheless, demand and supply in the early 1970s had both started to hit off. At this time cannabis use in the Netherlands was still limited to countercultural youth, or to youngsters who liked to think themselves as alternative. Drug use was learnt from peers at schools. Smoking a joint, much like growing out one’s hair, was part of the youth culture.26 Rotterdam undercover police detectives estimated that 70 to 80 percent of the more than 60,000 visitors to the June 1970 pop festival in Kralingen smoked hashish and marihuana. This festival had been organized as the Dutch answer to Woodstock, with famous American psychedelic rock bands Jefferson Airplane and the Byrds as chief attractions. “Especially at night one had the impression to have been caught in a nomad camp, where at the camp fire the as such recognizable hashish pipe with precious stuff circulated,” one of the undercover detectives reported.27 A visitor at this festival was a young school dropout named Klaas Bruinsma who later became notorious as a cannabis smuggler and a “godfather” of Dutch crime: a typical case of a future villain becoming familiarized with drugs in the youth culture.28 In the early 1970s, however, Dutch cannabis use was still not normalized to the extent it would be later. It took another decade before Amsterdam


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psychologist and drug user Herman Cohen would mourn the demise of the hashish culture and the transformation of cannabis into a normal consumer product. And this normalization was dependent on the organization of a sufficient and structural illegal supply, which was triggered itself by the expansion of cannabis use in the youth culture. Normalization grew out of deviance. The Expansion of Supply Since the 1960s, the rise of the illegal distribution of drugs demonstrated commonalities among Western countries. The criminologists Dorn, Murji, and South distinguished three phases in the 1960s and 1970s. In the first phase, described by them as “the good old days,” the illegal supply of drugs was driven less by the profit motive than by the motivation to keep oneself and one’s friends supplied. Often beliefs in the consciousness expanding effects of drug use were associated. In a second phase, more commercially inclined traffickers involved themselves in operations that were sidelines to legitimate, as well as illegitimate, business interests. In the 1970s, professional criminals then took over the drug markets—­a professionalization accompanied by the use of intimidation and violence. This was the third and final phase.29 These phases are useful in mapping the rise of Dutch cannabis smuggling, but they need to be detailed and modified to some extent. I will argue that this rise took off from two different subcultures in Dutch society. One was a new one, the hippie counterculture. The other was an older one that was essential to Dutch society: maritime culture. Cannabis smuggling was taken up by seamen and embedded in harbor districts. Later, criminal entrepreneurs active in these same harbor districts started to work with their relations in the maritime and transport industry, such as fishermen, to expand illegal drug supply. A fourth group that moved in using the Netherlands as hub for the cannabis trade were smugglers from other countries such as Pakistan. All of these groups made profitable use of the geographical location and infrastructure that accorded the Netherlands an important place in global and European trade. Culture and economy combined gave drug smuggling in the Netherlands its shapes and advantages. The Good Old Days?: The Hippie Trail The great expansion of the Dutch cannabis market started in 1967, if we extrapolate from the increased numbers of arrests and seizures shown

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above. Herman Cohen closely observed the vicissitudes of the market at the time. In 1967, he did not notice any shortage of supply in Amsterdam, apart from one period of two weeks in which increased police activity made the retail dealers cautious for a short time. Supply was small scale and almost incidental, dependent on individual adventurers who could handle a few kilograms at a time.30 These were either people out on the hippie trail or sailors smuggling goods. In 1966, the biggest catch for the police was a Dutch engineer who tried to bring 7 kilograms of marijuana from Tangiers into the country.31 Cohen’s observations show that supply first became scarce at the few moments that the police temporarily cracked down on the retail, and second, in wintertime (for example in January and December 1968) when the cold weather halted traffic on the hippie trail. Third, supply dried up when demand suddenly surged, as in the summer of 1969, when a stream of young tourists eager to explore the Magic Centre of Amsterdam filled the city.32 Retail trade rested largely in the hands of individual dealers with small profit margins, for whom dealing was part of their life style and partly meant to finance their own consumption, apart from the presence of a few opportunists who tried to cheat their customers with an inferior product. Cohen only found three middlemen who imported in larger bulk and supplied the retailers. All three, however, had already stopped their activities.33 One of Cohen’s middlemen might have been a musician from New York who was arrested by the Amsterdam police in January 1968 with 25 kilograms of hashish.34 As a consequence of the small scale of the smuggling, the quality of the smuggled product was far from standardized. One batch of cannabis, even when produced in the same area, could contain five times as much THC (considered an important psychoactive ingredient) as the next one.35 Interestingly, this lack of a reliable product did not seem to have any effect on the demand for the drug. Smoking had become an integral part of a deviant subcultural lifestyle, and inferior cannabis was better than no cannabis at all. Smugglers on the hippie trail were socially embedded in the alternative culture of smokers, both on a relational level (their buyers were friends and acquaintances, and their friends and acquaintances) as on an institutional level (they met their relations in certain public spaces frequented by the youth culture such as bars, youth centers, concert halls, and parks). These smugglers can often be described as minimally commercial driven. Furthermore, it was relatively easy for them to build up a relational embeddedness in exporting countries. Geographically closest to the Netherlands


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were Morocco and Lebanon. Lebanese hashish had become cheap and easy available to Western European smugglers after the Six-­Day War between Israel and the Arab countries in 1967. As a consequence of the war, the smuggling routes between Lebanon and Egypt had been cut off, leading to a significant decrease in the price of Lebanese hashish.36 In Morocco by the early 1970s, cannabis from the Rif Mountains was smuggled on a regular basis into Europe. The memoirs of English drug dealer Nigel “Leaf” Fielding are only one example of the ease with which an intrepid entrepreneur could buy kilograms of cannabis in these and other countries and smuggle them to Europe. His experiences are pretty representative for other European smugglers. In 1969 or 1970 Fielding, a university dropout hiking through Europe, met a compatriot in Florence who kept a stash of 8 kilograms of Lebanese hashish under his bed. The compatriot, named “John,” had visited Beirut nine months before and had met an American in his hotel who had been offered the 8 kilograms but was too scared of the police to execute the deal. In his place, John went to the hills of Baalbek, a region in Lebanon that was the center of cannabis cultivation. There he bought 16 kilograms from a farmer; back in Beirut he gave eight of them to the American, and the other eight he smuggled to Florence. With similar ease one could buy cannabis in other producing countries, if one was prepared to run a few risks. Fielding’s hippie trail brought him to Thailand, where the presence of American soldiers had stimulated the growth of an underground drug economy. He went to a village, bought a few kilograms of cannabis, and smuggled the drugs without problem in his backpack on a plane from Malaysia to Heathrow. Buying cannabis in Morocco was also unproblematic. In 1973 Fielding took a boat from Spain to Tangier where he was addressed by a local hustler who brought him to Ketama in the Rif Mountains, another center of cannabis cultivation. Here Fielding was laughed at because he only wanted to buy half a kilogram—­such a small amount he could easily have bought in Tangier.37 Hippie smugglers such as Fielding were important in establishing the connections between the demand market among the countercultural youth in Europe and the supply markets overseas. Being themselves members of the counterculture, they could easily distribute their products in their home countries once they had smuggled them in their cars or backpacks into Europe. They were embedded in a relational network that spanned from the hippie and youth cultures in the Netherlands, Britain, and other

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Western European countries to the cannabis farmers of Morocco, Lebanon, and other parts of the third world. Old Traditions: Maritime Smuggling The hippie cannabis smuggler could often be described as minimally commercial driven. However, even in the good old days, the profit motive was a bigger motive for another type of cannabis smuggler that preceded the hippie type and was deeply rooted and culturally embedded in Dutch maritime history and society. This type of smuggler had existed since the introduction of the first Opium Act in 1920. More broadly, the type had existed since the beginnings of the Netherlands as an independent state and a global maritime player. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, trading companies tried to maintain their legal monopoly on overseas trade, including that in psychotropic drugs such as opium, and chocolate and coffee. However “to the great irritation of the authorities . . . ​by far the greatest competition to the [Dutch East India] Company [VOC] in the opium trade was probably provided by its own servants engaged in a clandestine trade in the drug. Being a high-­value, low-­bulk item, opium was clearly suited for the trade,” and a nice earning on the side for poorly paid sailors.38 In 1689 the English pirate crew of William Dampier sold in Malacca three to four hundred pounds of opium from Sumatra to a Dutchman who was not allowed by the VOC to trade in the drug.39 On the other side of the globe, in the West Indies, sailors also pursued small smuggling and trading ventures and were considered the weakest link in the monopoly chain of the Dutch West India Company.40 After the introduction of the Opium Act, the smuggling of opium flourished under the Chinese seamen in the service of the Dutch shipping companies, bringing the drug from the East to the Chinatowns of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.41 Maritime smuggling was a time-­honored cultural legacy transmitted among seamen, and smuggling cannabis was integrated in this cultural legacy. Cannabis smuggling propped up the Dutch supply until end of the 1960s. On the routes across the ocean, sailors had plenty of opportunity to buy contraband in port towns and bring it to the Netherlands. One such sailor was Rode Kees (Red Kees), a red-­haired Dutchman who worked on the shipping lines to Indonesia and was a reliable source of supply for users in the Amsterdam beatnik-­scene. He was relationally and institutionally embedded


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through his contacts in the pubs and bars of the port towns where one met dealers as well as customers.42 Red Kees does not pop up in police records, since he was never arrested. Another example is the Indonesian sailor who was caught in August 1966 in Amsterdam with 4 kilograms of hashish.43 The activities of these sailors became of increasing interest to entrepreneurs with legitimate as well as illegitimate business interests when the demand for cannabis started to grow. For example Blonde Greet (Fair-­Headed Greet) was a woman who ran a café, De Zeemeeuw (The Seagull) on Zeedijk Street in the notorious Amsterdam red-­light district close to the harbor. According to her daughter (who later became notorious herself as the business partner of drug kingpin Klaas Bruinsma), Blonde Greet bought cannabis from sailors on the ship lines to Indonesia in both the Amsterdam and Rotterdam harbors and sold the drug again to retailers, thereby doubling the price: 500 guilders per kilo for buying, 1,000 guilders per kilo selling.44 The harbor districts of the port towns, with their long tradition of illegal trade, distrust of authority, and shadowy business deals, offered the ideal social and cultural environment for the distribution of cannabis. They were also the places where new types would enter the world of cannabis smuggling: the sideliners and then the professional criminals.45 The role of Blonde Greet in these and other transactions reveals how smuggling was not a purely masculine activity.46 New Types of Smugglers In 1970, cannabis smuggling was not yet a core business for professionals. But the small-­scale smugglers of the good old days could never supply the expanding market with enough cannabis for its needs. By the early 1970s, a new phase started, in which supply inexorably multiplied. In a closer look at smugglers arrested in 1972, four types of smugglers are recognizable. Two of them, the sailor-­smuggler and the counterculture-­smuggler, we already met in the 1960s. The other two types, the organized traffickers and the criminal opportunists, heralded the future and supplied the expanding market. Type 1: Individual Sailor-­Smugglers This type continued to operate. For instance, in February 1972 four Pakistani crewmembers of a West German cargo ship were arrested in the harbor of Rotterdam carrying 20 kilograms of hashish.47 These sailors continued to

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make use of the old-­fashioned maritime networks, in this case connecting cultivators and traders in Pakistan with the Dutch cannabis market. Although 20 kilograms was a sizeable quantity in the 1960s, by 1972 this kind of smuggling was becoming relatively small scale. Type 2: Small-­Scale Hippie Smugglers Also relatively small scale were the quantities of cannabis that could be supplied by individual smugglers from the counterculture. Nevertheless, this type also kept operating, albeit not always successful. A twenty-­five-­year-­old student of the University of Amsterdam was caught in Beirut attempting to smuggle 900 grams of hashish out of the country.48 A painter from the city of Delft regularly drove in his car to Morocco returning with stacks of hashish. The police caught him when coming back in his hometown with ten kilograms hidden in the chassis beams of the car.49 A twenty-­seven-­year-­ old television technician from Rotterdam drove with 22 kilos of Lebanese hashish from Lebanon to the Netherlands and was caught halfway at the Greek border.50 A twenty-­one-­year-­old was caught at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, arriving from Karachi in Pakistan with 8 kilograms of hashish in the false bottoms of his trunk.51 Afghanistan became another source of supply—­in June 1972 an Englishman was arrested at Schiphol Airport with 10 kilos of hashish in the false bottoms of his trunks.52 Type 3: Foreign Traders From the seizures, we can deduct that individual hippie and sailor smugglers could bring in quantities of up to 20 kilograms of cannabis hidden on ships, in cars, or in airplane luggage. Taken together this must have accounted for a sizeable import. However, as Cohen had observed, these smugglers could not guarantee a regular supply of standardized quality. The expanding market therefore needed new types of supply. A third commercial-­driven type spotted its chances for export to and transit in the Netherlands, making use of the excellent transportation infrastructure of the country. In 1972 the Amsterdam police rolled up the biggest organization of hashish smugglers the country had by then known: ten Pakistani men and one Englishwoman were arrested. The degree of professionalism was until then unheard of. Retail dealers had been arrested with uncommonly large supplies of up to tens of kilos of hashish in their possession. The police followed the trail from the dealers to their


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supplier, a forty-­two-­year-­old Pakistani mechanic living in Amsterdam. In his bike shed, the police discovered not only 42 kilograms of hashish but also documentation for the import of fruit through the Schiphol Airport. It was found that a Pakistani company imported orange crates from its home country to the Netherlands. The papers were in order, there was only one thing that was suspect: the crates were much too heavy for the oranges they seemingly contained. On closer investigation, cannabis was found hidden in false bottoms and walls in the orange crates. Later the drug was also found in cargos of onyx and woodcarvings, other imports of the company. All in all the company had imported millions of guilders’ worth of cannabis and had distributed the drug to warehouses. In the orange crates alone almost 2,000 kilos of hashish had been smuggled in.53 The size of this operation dwarfed the amounts of what could be handled by sailor and hippie smugglers. The Pakistani smuggling operation was not new in itself. A similar cargo of 89 pounds of hashish hidden in orange crates on a flight from Pakistan had been seized by British customs in 1967. Pakistani immigrants had built up smuggling networks between Britain and Pakistan, using immigrants’ underground banking networks to buy cannabis in Pakistan, smuggle it to Britain through the airport of Lahore, and send back consumer goods.54 It seems that the Pakistani networks now made use of the possibilities created by the surging demand for cannabis and had expanded their operations to the Netherlands. Type 4: Native Criminal Entrepreneurs However since the bulk of hashish was so much heavier than that of for instance heroin, another drug that became increasingly popular at the time and was smuggled in by plane, smuggling by sea offered even better business opportunities, especially for imports from Morocco and Lebanon. Native Dutch criminal entrepreneurs and opportunists started to grab these opportunities using their relations within maritime networks. The background of these adventurers was not so much the counterculture (although most of them were young enough to have some sort of associations with this culture), nor were they carrying on the traditions of the sailor-­smugglers (despite making use of maritime networks). Their background was the criminal underworld of the larger Dutch cities, especially in the western part of the country. (In the south of the country kindred criminal opportunists

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started to move in at this time on amphetamine smuggling.)55 To them, the profits of the illegal drug trade were of course highly enticing. These criminals were not always big guns or even successful in their operations. A minor example was the thirty-­nine-­year-­old unemployed administrator Nicolaas J. M. V. from Voorburg, a suburb of The Hague, who had a criminal record (or, according to one newspaper account, “a difficult youth”). He was also in possession of a pilot’s license. With financing from a café owner in the city of Terneuzen, Nicolaas flew in a sports aircraft to Beirut and Morocco to buy hashish. The Terneuzen bar connection demonstrates how such a criminal opportunist could embed his operations in existing networks and places. The city, a port town on the Dutch-­Belgian border, had a longstanding reputation as a smuggling center. The embeddedness in maritime networks showed when Nicolaas, on not receiving financial compensation for his airplane flights, went to Terneuzen to confront the bar owner and received from him 50 kilograms of hashish brought to the bar by sailors. Unfortunately for Nicolaas, he was then caught in possession of the hashish by police detectives in Amsterdam, and this terminated his career.56 Operating on a bigger scale and more deeply embedded in maritime networks were three business men from Rotterdam who, in September 1972, were given jail sentences of eighteen months (for two of them) and nine months (for one) for the smuggling of hashish. These sentences were the results of a year of judicial struggle in which the court of The Hague finally decided that hashish was forbidden under the Opium Act, even when it could not be proven that the drug was made of the dried tops of the cannabis plant. The case of these businessmen concerned the largest seizure of hashish until then: an amount of 110 kilograms in the year before.57 The newspapers were quick to dub this group the “Great Hashish Conspiracy.” A seizure of this size would in short time be considered small-­fry; however, it was a first visible example of how the criminal underworld was moving in on the profitable cannabis trade. Three traders and one sales representative from Rotterdam, aged between twenty-­six and thirty-­two, developed an ingenious method to fly hashish in planes from Morocco and Libya to the Netherlands. The hashish was hidden among other goods that were meant for transit through the harbor of Rotterdam, such as wooden horses from Iceland or machine components. The paperwork was in order. During the transport by car from the airport to


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the Rotterdam harbor, the crates were changed for identical looking ones, but without the drugs. On April 27, 1971 the trick failed to work, however, and customs intercepted the drugs and arrested four people. They were part of an international network: the broker of the drugs was a Dutchman living in Beirut. The drugs were flown to the airports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam via Belgium and West Germany to evade suspicion. By the time of the arrests, at least 330 kilograms had been smuggled into the Netherlands—­more than any caught up to that time by customs and police. The drugs were distributed in the Netherlands by an extensive network, including a café owner in Rotterdam and a contact on the other side of the country, in Venlo near the German border. The Venlo contact redistributed the drugs to West Germany and other parts of Europe, which showed that the Netherlands was developing into a transit hub for the illegal drugs trade. The businessmen were part of the Rotterdam criminal milieu: one of them was a former boxer and now organizer of boxing matches. During the trial, fights erupted between visitors on the public gallery who clearly had some scores to settle.58 Ex-­boxer “Aadje V,” by then in his early thirties, was the connecting person between investors, smugglers, and producers. During the trial, Aadje showed himself untouched by his temporary setback. He even suggested, to loud cheers of his friends on the gallery, a solution to the whole problem of the illegal drug trade: legalization of soft drugs, which would earn the Dutch state at least 450 million guilders each year.59 Aadje was not so much a representative of an alternative counterculture, as this proposal suggests, as of the criminal milieu of Rotterdam, born and bred in the working-­class quarter of Crooswijk. He and other criminal opportunists were starting to link demand and supply. A similar development was happening in Amsterdam, where Blonde Greet had started out by buying hashish from sailors on the ships to and from Indonesia. However, to meet demand she needed bigger supplies and she started working with the husband of one of her friends, a top figure in the criminal underworld of Amsterdam’s harbor district around the Nieuwmarkt and the Zeedijk. Simon Adriaanse was known in the milieu as Frits van de Wereld (De Wereld was a café on the Zeedijk), signifying his extensive connections over the world: he was a smuggler and had started with the illegal import of cigarettes. Frits belonged to a select group of criminal entrepreneurs who more or less controlled the Zeedijk district around 1965. In the words of the stepson of one of them, this made the district [until the heroin epidemic of 1972] a “safe and self-­regulating

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neighborhood with hardly any trouble for the police.”60 Frits was a typical entrepreneur who liked to handle side-­lines. Not only a smuggler but also a pimp and the owner of illegal gambling houses in the red-­light district, he was keen on moving in on the expanding cannabis market and had funds to invest in bigger operations than those possible for the old small-­ scale smugglers. Frits was able to import batches of 3,000 kilograms that his associates picked up in the harbors of the maritime province of Zeeland in the south of the country and that middlemen, such as Blonde Greet, sold for him. Later he would also act, again using Blonde Greet, as a broker for Chinese networks in the heroin trade with Malaysia.61 He was further involved in the famous Lammie case of 1974, in which the Dutch navy chased the eponymous fishing boat with 10,000 kilograms of hashish from Lebanon on board. The Lammie transport had been organized by Frits with the help of fishermen and acquaintances from his maritime network. Chased and shot at by a naval vessel and about to be entered, the captain sank the Lammie himself. Frits van de Wereld had organized this transport together with the fish trader Jacques Stroek, exemplifying the connection between criminal and maritime networks in the expansion of cannabis smuggling.62 Later Frits van de Wereld became the mentor of Klaas Bruinsma, dubbed the godfather of Dutch drug smuggling and trade by police and press. After 1976 the smuggling of cannabis took place with the use of whole freight containers.63 Conclusion In a short time, smuggling networks developed to cater to the surging demand for cannabis among Dutch youth. The first phase of illegal cannabis smuggling in the Netherlands was still quite limited, partly based on the tradition of small-­scale smuggling by sailors, and partly on the needs and drives of a new generation of countercultural activists with antiestablishment views and the need to supply drugs to themselves and their friends. But already by 1971–­1972 bigger networks were in operation. Pakistani entrepreneurs used airplanes for larger deliveries to Europe, in a similar way as the Chinese triads provided heroin. In the cannabis trade these networks were overshadowed by new combinations in which criminal entrepreneurs from the low quarters of the big cities used their skills, their funds, and their contacts with transporters (e.g., fishermen) and retailers to develop the import of cannabis from producing countries on a scale that had not yet been witnessed.


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How best to explain this success? First, of course, by the geographic position of the Netherlands on international transit routes—­well connected by sea and land and with an excellent transport infrastructure. As necessary, however, was the embeddedness of smugglers from criminal environments in the Dutch maritime and transport world, linking upper-­and underworld. Here maritime and criminal traditions came together, and we may agree with the words of Dutch poet and cannabis user Simon Vinkenoog that the illegal cannabis trade “was just fitting in the whole Dutch pirate smuggling ethos.”64 By 1972 the cannabis smugglers were deeply embedded in broader Dutch society, both in the emerging counterculture and in the maritime world, and they performed a crucial role in the development of global trade and the normalization of cannabis use in the Netherlands. Notes 1.  For the concept of the social embeddedness of crime, see Henk Van de Bunt, Dina Siegel, and Damián Zaitch, “The Social Embeddedness of Organized Crime,” in The Oxford Handbook of Organized Crime, ed. Letizia Paoli (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 321–­339. Social embeddedness focuses on relational networks and structural (institutions, places, environments, etc.) embeddedness. I am also interested in cultural embeddedness from a historical-­anthropological perspective that focuses on shared meanings, values, and attitudes. 2.  A concept of minimally commercial smuggling is used here that is similar to conceptualizations of a social supply or a minimally commercial supply in retail dealing as developed in R. Coomber and L. Moyle, “Beyond Drug Dealing: Developing and Extending the Concept of ‘Social Supply’ of Illicit Drugs to ‘Minimally Commercial Supply,’” Drugs Education, Policy and Prevention 21, no. 10 (June 2013): 157–­164. Compare also the typology in Nicholas Dorn, Karim Murji, and Nigel South, Traffickers: Drug Markets and Law Enforcement (London: Routledge, 1992), which describes, among other types, trading charities that operate primarily from ideological motivation and mutual societies of networks of user/dealers based on friendship ties. The tension and often the fusion between idealistic and commercial motivations for cannabis trafficking can be observed in many Western countries in the 1960s and 1970s. See, for instance, the history of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love: Stewart Tendler and David May, The Brotherhood of Eternal Love: From Flower Power to Hippie Mafia (London: Cyan Books, 2007); and Nicolas Schou, Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2010). 3. On the early history of cannabis use in the Netherlands, see Nicole Maalsté, Het kruid, de krant en de kroongetuigen. De geschiedenis van hennep van 1950 tot 1970 (Utrecht: Stichting WGU, 1993); Marcel de Kort, Tussen patiënt en delinquent. Geschiedenis van het

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Nederlandse drugsbeleid (Hilversum: Verloren, 1995), 163–­171; Stephen Snelders, “Het gebruik van psychedelische middelen in Nederland in de jaren zestig. Een hoofdstuk uit de sociale geschiedenis van druggebruik,” Tijdschrift voor Sociale Geschiedenis 21, no. 1 (February 1995): 37–­60. 4. Cannabis is mentioned in a Dutch pharmacopeia as early as 1714, and it only disappears from medical and pharmaceutical textbooks and journals in the 1950s. See the seventh edition of the Pharmacopoea Amstelredamensis, of d’ Amsterdammer apotheek, in welke allerlei medicamenten, tot Amsterdam in ‘t gebruik zynde, konstiglyk bereyd worden (Amsterdam: Jan ten Hoorn, 1714). 5.  Tom Blom, Opiumwetgeving en drugsbeleid (Deventer: Wolters Kluwer, 2015), 20–­21. 6. National Archive, The Hague, archive nr. 2.05.118, Ministry of Foreign Affairs 1955–­1964 (hereafter FA 55–­64), nr. 26033. 7.  FA 55–­64, nr. 26033. 8.  FA 55–­64, nr. 26069. 9.  FA 55–­64, nr. 26069. 10.  De Kort, Tussen patiënt en delinquent, 163–­171. 11. Dirk J. Korf and Marcel de Kort, Drugshandel en drugsbestrijding (Criminologisch Instituut Bonger, University of Amsterdam, 1990), 51. The immediate reason for doubling the section to four detectives in 1966 was the prohibition of LSD: archive Gemeentepolitie Amsterdam [hereafter: GPA], Annual report Bureau Verdovende Middelen 1966, Stadsarchief Amsterdam, arch. nr. 5225A, nr. 5146. 12.  For example, GPA nr. 5147. 13.  Annual report 1965, GPA nr. 5146. 14.  De Kort, Tussen patiënt en delinquent, 113–­114; public prosecutor Gerrit van der Burg in De Telegraaf, April 10, 2018. 15. Diederik J. H. N. den Beer Portugael, De Marechaussee grijpt in (Utrecht: A.W. Bruna, 1954), 170. 16.  NRC Handelsblad, May 1, 1971. 17.  Jan A. Blaauw, Narcoticabrigade. De eindeloze strijd tegen drugshandelaren (Baarn: De Fontein, 1997), 163. 18. Jan A. Blaauw, “De bestrijding van de georganiseerde misdaad in Nederland,” Algemeen Politieblad 123 (1974): 229. 19.  Herman Cohen, Psychologie, sociale psychologie en sociologie van het deviante druggebruik. Een tussentijds rapport (Instituut voor Sociale Geneeskunde, University of Amsterdam, 1969), 42.


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20.  Aloha, January 29, 1971; report Rotterdam Youth Council in archive—­Simon Vinkenoog, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, archive. nr. ARCH01561, nr. 004.52. 21. Ivan Gadourek and J. L. Jessen, “Prescription and Acceptance of Drug-­Taking Habits in the Netherlands,” Mens en Maatschappij 46, no. 4 (December1971): 389. 22.  Louk H. C. Hulsman, Ruimte in het drugbeleid. Rapport van een werkgroep van de Stichting Algemeen Centraal Bureau voor de Geestelijke Volksgezondheid (Meppel: Boom, 1971), 22–­23. 23. Wouter Buikhuisen, H. Timmerman, and J. De Jong, De ontwikkeling van het druggebruik onder middelbare scholieren tussen 1969 en 1973 (Criminologisch Instituut, University of Groningen, n.d.); De Kort, Tussen patiënt en delinquent, 186. 24.  De Kort, Tussen patiënt en delinquent, 314. 25. Greg Ridegeway and Beau Kilmer, “Bayesian Inference for the Distribution of Grams of Marijuana in a Joint,” Drug Alcohol Dependency 165 (2016): 175–­180. The state of Washington now assumes that an average smoker consumes one joint every three days; however, within a counterculture where smoking is pretty much part of a lifestyle and a social bonding mechanism, we can assume daily consumption. 26.  Ed Leuw, “Het gebruik van cannabis onder leerlingen van voortgezet onderwijs: een poging tot interpretative,” Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Criminologie 14 (1972): 243–­274. 27.  De Kort, Tussen patiënt en delinquent, 182. 28.  For more on Bruinsma see Stephen Snelders, Drug Smuggler Nation: Narcotics and the Netherlands, 1920–1995 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2021). 29.  Dorn et al., Traffickers, 3–­41. 30. Maalsté, Kruid, 117. 31.  Archive Ministry of Foreign Affairs 1965–­1974, National Archive, The Hague, nr. 2.05.313, report over 1966 in map nr. 24354. 32.  Herman Cohen, Drugs, druggebruikers en drug-­scene (Alphen aan den Rijn: Samsom, 1975), 73, 118. 33. Cohen, Drugs, druggebruikers en drug-­scene, 82–­83, 123. 34.  GPA nr. 5148. 35. Herman Cohen, “De hasjcultuur anno 1980: een overlijdensbericht,” Druggebruiken: verslaving en hulpverlening, ed. C. J. M. Goos and H. J. van der Wal (Samsom: Alphen aan den Rijn, 1981), 18. 36.  See the contribution of Haggai Ram to this volume. 37.  Leaf Fielding, To Live Outside the Law: A Memoir (London: Serpent’s Tail, 2012), 107–­117, 183, 210, 232–­234.

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38. Om Prakash, The Dutch East India Company and the Economy of Bengal, 1630–­ 1729 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985), 154. 39. William Dampier, Dampier’s Voyages, ed. John Mansfield, vol. 2 (London: E. Grant Richards, 1906), 88–­89. 40. Wim Klooster, Illicit Riches: Dutch Trade in the Caribbean, 1648–­1795 (Leiden: KITLV Press, 1998), 68–­69. 41. Snelders, Drug Smuggler Nation. 42.  Personal communication cannabis user Hans Plomp, March 29, 2017. 43.  Annual report 1966, GPA nr. 5146. 44.  Bart Middelburg, De Godmother: de criminele carrière van Thea Moear, medeoprichter van de Bruinsma-­groep (Amsterdam: Pandora, 2004), 24–­25. 45. As they would in the 1990s for the distribution of Colombian cocaine: see Damián Zaitch, “From Cali to Rotterdam: Perceptions of Colombian Cocaine Traffickers on the Dutch Port,” Crime, Law & Social Change 38, no. 3 (October 2002): 239–­266. 46.  On gender aspects of drug trafficking, see the special issue: Gender and Critical Drug Studies of The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs 31 (2017): 7–­143. 47.  Het Parool, February 3, 1972. 48.  Trouw, November 13, 1972. 49.  Het Parool, November 23, 1972. 50.  De Volkskrant, April 10, 1972. 51.  De Volkskrant, February 12, 1972. 52.  De Volkskrant, August 4, 1972. For the ease with which to buy cannabis in Afghanistan, see the contribution of James Bradford tot his volume. 53.  Trouw, November 10, 1972. 54.  Martin Booth, Cannabis: A History (London: Bantam Books, 2004), 379–­380. 55. Snelders, Drug Smuggler Nation. 56.  NRC Handelsblad, August 22, 1972; De Telegraaf, August 22, 1972. 57. Blaauw, Narcoticabrigade, 162. 58.  Het Vrije Volk, April30, 1971; De Telegraaf, May 14, 1971; Het Vrije Volk, May 25, 1971; De Telegraaf, June 11, 1971; Het Vrije Volk, September 8, 1971; De Telegraaf, September 15, 1971; De Telegraaf, September 8, 1971; De Telegraaf, October 16, 1971; Het Vrije Volk, October 16, 1971; Het Vrije Volk, October 29, 1971; Nederlands Dagblad, October 23, 1971; and Het Vrije Volk, November 5, 1971.


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59.  Het Vrije Volk, October 16, 1971. 60.  Bas van Hout, De jacht op ‘de erven Bruinsma’ en de Delta-­organisatie: hoe de CID-­ Haarlem het IRT opblies (Amsterdam: PS, 2000), 29–­ 30. See also: Guus Meershoek, “Terug naar de burgers. Wijkteams en buurtregie 1965–­2004,” in Waakzaam in Amsterdam, Hoofdstad en politie vanaf 1275, ed. Piet de Rooy (Amsterdam: Boom, 2011), 539. 61. Middelburg, Godmother, 24–­26. 62. Middelburg, Godmother, 29–­31; Petrus Paulus Hendricius Maria Klerks, Groot in de hasj. Theorie en praktijk van de georganiseerde criminaliteit (Antwerpen: Samsom, 2000), 99–­100; “De jacht op de Lammie,” Andere Tijden, accessed August 21, 2018, https://­www​.­anderetijden​.­nl​/­aflevering​/­402​/­De​-­jacht​-­op​-­de​-­Lammie​. 63.  Van Hout, Jacht, 30; Snelders, Drug Smuggler Nation. 64.  Cited in Nicole Maalsté, Kruid, 114. An expanded version of this paper is published in Drug Smuggler Nation.


12  “We Smoke Flowers”: On “Being High” in Postrevolutionary Iran Maziyar Ghiabi

‫برگ سبزی است تحفه درویش‬ The green leaf is the dervish’s gift. —­Ancient Persian proverb

Marco Polo’s travels through the Iranian Plateau provoked a stream of tales and impressions in his contemporaries. His alleged encounter with the “old man of the mountain,” the leader of the Ismaili Naziri sect Hasan-­e Sabbah, in the surroundings of Alamut, the citadel-­castle presiding over a vast constellation of citadels stretching from Syria into Eastern Iran on the road from Central Asia to the Anatolian peninsula, sowed the seed of fascination with hashish and its use among people of the Orient. A mysterious encounter to be sure, Marco Polo described how this sect was so devoted to carrying out the leader’s orders that it must have been the hashish.1 It mattered little that the Ismaili Naziri sect had a long-­lasting conflict on geopolitical and ideological grounds with the central caliphate in Baghdad, then the capital of the Abbasid dynasty (750–­1258 CE), and with the Seljuk empire in Anatolia and across the Iranian Plateau. Hence, some argue, their appellative hashishiyun or hashāshin, “those on hashish,” from where the Latinized word “assassin” may derive.2 This mythological origin spread across the Mediterranean Sea through the reports of Christian missionaries, voyageurs, and traders to the East. It became a recurrent trope regarding the faithfulness of Oriental militants and the incredible intoxication of their drugs. Yet, Marco Polo was wrong, not simply for spicing up his traveler’s tales, but because he did not pay heed to the role of cannabis in the Iranian Plateau’s history and science. He ignored the setting and set of intoxication and chemical calibration.


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This mixture of religious allure, pursuit of pleasure, and self-­care has remained a distinctive trait in Iranians’ practice of contemporary Iran’s cannabis culture. By 2000, a specific product occupied center stage in Iranian cannabis culture: gol, meaning “flower.” Cannabis dealers in Tehran started marketing gol as a new cannabis type, which resembled that consumed in North America, with a high THC content. North American drug culture’s influence was not an oddity within the Iranian scene, of course. In the late 1990s, kerak (a heroin derivate) appeared in Iran, thus replicating the crack (cocaine-­base) boom on the other side of the Atlantic. The semantic connection between kerak and crack worked as a marketing expedient to showcase the heroin-­based kerak as a more global, modern product than traditional heroin.3 From a chemical perspective, gol did not differ from Iranian cannabis weed, except for a general trend toward higher THC potency that mimicked the trends tendency emerging in Europe and North America. Gol reached great popularity in a few years, partly bolstered by the common belief that it was less harmful and less addictive (ectiyadavar) than hashish. By the 2010s, it was ubiquitous on university campuses and in the capital’s artsy scenes. As the organic food trend grew in Tehran too, urbanites and students described “gol as a herbal product, not a drug [mavadd-­e mokhadder].” Comparisons with the hashish smokers, when brought up in the exchanges, would be met by the classist and ethical distinction that “we are not addicts [ma moctad nistim] like the bangi [hashish smoker], we smoke flowers [gol mikeshim].”4 The following chapter—­one I have conceived as transdisciplinary—­dwells on the importance of “being high” among Iranians living in the postrevolutionary (post-­1979) era. It unpacks what I call the rhetoric of smoke, a term to help define the ambiguity surrounding the place of cannabis in popular and state-­led discourses, including pro-­and anticannabis propaganda.5 The chapter argues that a smokescreen lies behind an untapped historical anthropology of intoxication, coexisting with new forms of political practice vis-­à-­vis cannabis. All of these have been largely left aside because of monopolizing attention given to opium in Asia’s (and Iran’s) drugs history. Engaging with the class(ist), gendered, and environmental dimensions of cannabis culture, the chapter reassembles the meaning of “being high” within the ecology of postrevolutionary Iran through a semantic analysis, attentive to language, historical references, symbolism (semiotics) of consumption, offering an historical anthropology of ambiguity and chemical calibration in modern drug consumption.6 In doing so, it connects the

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genealogical trajectories in the premodern and modern period with ethnographic portraits from cannabis users and fieldwork observations from so-­called Iranian free zones of intoxication gathered since 2012.7 In nuce, these cases exemplify defining elements of Iran’s contemporary cannabis culture: the breaks and continuity with the premodern historical experience of intoxication; the quasi-legality of cannabis in its link with changes in perception of time, introduction of new technologies, and updating of scientific and medical knowledge; and the pursuit of meaning/experience and well-­being among ordinary consumers. Rather than showcasing a singularity, the chapter seeks historical and anthropological connections between the local experience of being high with that of inebriation elsewhere. Cannabis Genealogy and the Science of Chemical Calibration Cannabis has long been ubiquitous and ambiguous in the history of the Iranian Plateau, those territories that sit between the southern Caucasus, the Mesopotamian region on the west, the Persian Gulf in the south, and the Oxus in Central Asia. Historiographers and scientists living in the Persianate world debated its primordial origins and its place in the ethical, social, and medical life of times past. The Greek historian Herodotus noted that the Sak people—­a proto-­Aryan group loosely identifiable with the Iranians—­ fumigated cannabis seeds to relax, rest, as well as to intoxicate themselves in the pursuit of pleasure.8 Less clear are the references to cannabis mixed with wine among Zoroastrian priests, a beverage with otherworldly potentials. In the Book of Arva, a Mazdean priest earned the privilege of visiting the other world after drinking a beverage of mang (a possible equivalent of bang, the Middle Persian word for cannabis), therefore reaching a higher status of knowledge.9 The book holds that in order to perform the three solemn precepts of Zoroastrianism of thinking well, speaking well, and acting well, Zoroaster’s wife asked the Mazdean priest to fetch the substance so that she could abide by the essential rule of Zoroastrianism. The ambivalent place of cannabis remained unsolved as, according to Zoroaster himself, bang—­in other words, cannabis—­remained a culpable intoxicant to be forbidden, for it caused unmitigated ecstasy and had a narcotizing effect.10 And so cannabis was a well-­known substance in the pre-­Islamic era, not simply under the rubric of the ecstatic pursuit of experience. The Avesta, the principle liturgical text in Zoroastrianism, blames the use of cannabis in


Maziyar Ghiabi


Caspian Sea







Persian Gulf




Gulf of Oman

Figure 12.1 Map of Iran.

the sinful practice of abortion, where it served to anesthetize women giving birth. Even the great Persian poet Ferdowsi (940–­1020 CE), author of the epic tales of the Shahnameh (Book of the Kings),11 narrates that the caesarean birth of a gigantic child, later to become the epic’s hero Rostam, succeeded because his mother Rudabeh was given cannabis by the physician. This poetic reference had more scientific and medical appraisals from Ferdowsi’s contemporaries. The Iranian physicians and philosophers Ibn Rushd (Razhes) (854–­930 CE) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980–­1037 CE) discussed the medicinal use of cannabis, prescribing it for migraine, especially when opium did not produce the desired results.12 Ibn Rushd prescribed it for epilepsy, flatulence, dandruff, and ear problems, whereas Avicenna administered it for a variety of conditions in a mixture of “ambergris, aloe wood, juniper and poppy head, saffron . . . ​of each one quarter gram complete: and

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of the chief ingredient of that which dreamers call asrar [mysteries, i.e., hashish] a weight equal to all . . . ​mixed into a mass with honey.”13 This historical background expanded during the Middle Ages and has continued in the modern era. Pilgrims departing from the Iranian Plateau to perform the mandatory religious duty to visit Mecca would take cannabis products and exchange them with locals on arrival, perhaps in the form of macjun, pastries mixed with cannabis resin or other derivatives, an ante tempore recipe for “space cakes.”14 To do so, it was essential to obtain hashish oil (rowgan-­e bang) from cannabis’s most delicate dried leaves and buds. Pressed and then heated over a flame, the residue emerging on the surface of the water was skimmed off and put in a bottle. Consuming it required mixing a few drops with a yogurt drink, known hence as dug-­e vahdat (the drink of unity with God). This form of intoxication fell in the interstice between spiritual discovery and physical therapy, a trait that remains genealogically alive today. The rhetoric of smoke and the public secrecy surrounding cannabis is the setting for the experience of being high. And, in line with their long history of experimentation with intoxicants, Iranians have multifarious ways of conceiving the high in the Persian language. The two most common are cheti and na’shehgi, which suggests different meanings and different types of “high” and imply different ways of interacting with the environment, the setting world. Asked what is to be chet, one said: “Chet budan? To be chet is like being an ass, thoroughly confused (ghij-­o-­vij), or incomprehensible and unable to follow basic conversations. But you get fixated on things and can get some work done very well and in an orderly way.” The worst examples regarding cheti include fear: upon approach, a person shies away and can’t respond, you become “little little.” Na’shegi (the state of being na’sheh) is just a different story: “All your cells say damet garm, ‘you’re amazing’ [literally, your breath is warm, you’re alive]! You turn into a harraf, talkative and garrulous, and you’re calm, you convince people of anything and can flirt all your way through. So all is good and beautiful!” The idea of the high relates to outcomes. Not all consumers calibrate their intake of cannabis based on boosting productivity and enhancing work performance. Some consume cannabis for its therapeutic value, in virtue of a medicalized mindset in assessing personal well-­being. But self-­ therapy is complementary to what I define as chemical calibration. It is particularly relevant among people with prior experience of substance abuse. Jamshid, an aristocrat descending from one of Iran’s early modern


Maziyar Ghiabi

dynasties, recounted in an interview how “bang [hashish] is an essential part of my recovery. After years of opium smoking—­I think I smoked for about thirty years—­I had to give up because if I had carried on, my heart wouldn’t have lasted that long.” Giving up the opium habit meant Jamshid had no evening ritual and no boost in mood, with a feeling of void filling his evening. “I was like one of those French intellectuals of the nineteenth century,” he confessed. “I had le spleen baudelairien [in French], couldn’t get interested in conversations, music or anything else. Evenings were just intolerable. So a friend brought me some hashish—­not some dirty dust [ataa-­ashghal], the best stuff from Mazar [Mazar-­e Sharif in Afghanistan]. When I was a student in the US I had tried a lot of weed, but now it’s different. Bang is my daru, my medicine for the evening.”15 Another young man, known to his friends as Shelang [hose], had struggled to give up shisheh, crystal meth, a drug that has gained great popularity in Iran since the mid-­2000s. In his mid-­thirties, Shelang progressively shifted to hashish, in his own words “to treat his bi-­hali, lack of energy/lack of mood.” Shelang explained to me, “Bang is an ancient medicine, even Ferdowsi wrote about it in the Shahnameh.” His individual inquiries into medical cannabis research convinced him to cultivate cannabis strains with high CBD content. His use of cannabis was “calculated,” ru hesab, as he used it “to manage and give direction” to his LSD trip, which he planned on a monthly basis as part of his itinerary of recovery from the after-­effects of heavy crystal meth use. While “going up in the trip” he would smoke a few joints of Afghan hash to balance the psychedelic initiation; and when “coming down” he would smoke tariyak, opium, because it helped to “open up our thoughts [afkar baz konim] about the things we saw and the experience.” Thus, the pursuit of the high is a multitrack road. Being high as in na’sheh is not always the consumer’s objective. It is complicated. The use of cannabis as a remedy is common—­as much as drinking alcohol is considered as way out of opiate addiction. Or take cheti. One pursues it when in need of ordering, crafting, and elaborating the details of something, be it clearing a messy room, gardening, or working on a video clip. Cheti enables, in other words, repetitive and otherwise laborious and boring activities, requiring indulgent patience on minutiae. And this polydrug experimentation related to pursuit of the high has a genealogical origin in Iran’s cannabis culture. By the turn of the twentieth century, smoking had enabled a degree of sophistication in the way Iranians consumed cannabis products, which included the use of chelem/

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chalim (chillum), qalian (waterpipes), or chopoq (clay pipes with a wooden straw).16 It is unclear whether smoking practices emerged from local indigenous traditions or were imported from the Indian subcontinent. Cannabis consumers, however, ingeniously experimented with modes of intoxication/ inebriation. They mixed cannabis with opium and smoked it using a vafur, the opium pipe, in a mixture called ruh-­al-­ajenna (fairies’ spirit).17 Also, the smokers of charas, the residue obtained from fresh cannabis flowers, would burn it on a pin-­head above a mirror. The melting charas liquefied on the mirror’s surface whirling in a smoke captured through a wooden tube. While ejecting the smoke, the person would then lick the remaining hashish oil on the mirror board, gazing into the reflections of one’s double overloaded in smoke.18 Self-­observation of one’s intoxication magnified the feeling of inebriation. This, and other less eccentric tricks, resulted from a careful assessment of the potential of cannabis’s constituents, well-­known already in the Safavid era’s bang-­khaneh, “hashish house,” where the drug would be either inhaled, eaten, or drunk.19 The bang-­khaneh moved to new urban locations after facing both popular and legislative opposition. In the early 1900s, coffeehouses located in working-­class neighborhoods of major cities served—­on request—­the notorious abgusht-­e hashish, the stew cooked with cannabis resin. This delicacy, which in its sober version represents a traditional dish on the Iranian Plateau, was also known as the abgusht-­e vahdat, “the stew of unity [with god]” similar to the yogurt drink previously discussed.20 Groups of Sufis, dervishes, and antinomian mystics devoted to the love of Ali, the first of the Shia Imams, cooked a similar recipe on the twenty-­first day of the holy month of Ramadan, in a tradition still practiced though repressed by the state. Gathering around the summit of the Bibi Shahr Banu mount, the worshippers mourned the death of Imam Ali while celebrating the revelation of prophet Muhammad; both events fell on the same day of the lunar calendar and people celebrated, distributing the stew and lighting their chillums. Hashish was the medium through which they could reach unity, vahdat, with the reality of god, bypassing human feelings and uncertainties, in a practice not too dissimilar from the Indian Sadhus. One observer, the English Orientalist Edward Browne, reported that the slang name for the hash was agha seyyed, “Sir Seyyed,” seyyed being the appellative used for the Prophet Mohamad’s descendants who wore a green hat, green (sabzak) being one of the many words Iranians have used to refer to cannabis.


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Spiritualizing consumption (as described above) underwent profound changes in the modern period. In 1925, the old-­fashioned monarchy of Qajar dynasty (1789–­1925) came to an end when overthrown by a coup d’état led by the Cossack brigadier Reza Khan, who declared himself shah (1925–­1941). The modernizing state that Reza Shah intended to run regarded the use of intoxicants as an old, retrograde pastime. His main concern was opium, which generated significant revenues for the state and employed large numbers of people in the agricultural sector.21 Under Reza Shah’s rule, opium was monopolized and its revenues used to build up the new state. Attempts at regulating consumption were haphazard and short-­term. Once Western Allies sent Reza Shah into exile, his young son Mohammad Reza succeeded him. His reign (1941–­1979) was when drug prohibition took shape. In 1955, two years after the US-­UK coup d’etat against Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq, which would bring the Mohammad Reza back to power, the shah approved the Opium Ban Law, the first systematic prohibition of the poppy. In May 1959, fifty years after the Iranian Parliament had approved the first drugs laws under the momentum of the nascent opium control regime, the Iranian government added cannabis and its derivates to the list of illegal drugs, applying equivalent sanctions to those envisaged for opium. This push continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s, with Iran’s antinarcotic efforts targeting opiates as well as cannabis, the latter being an increasing concern of the American ally that wanted to intercept the flow of cannabis on its way westward from the hippie trail originating in Afghanistan. With the introduction of drug control laws, the state prohibited the use and trade of cannabis along with that of opiates, following the general push for ever stricter regulation on non-­European intoxicants such as opium and cannabis. Prohibition meant that cultural knowledge of cannabis consumption became progressively limited and confined to the underground or, for that matter, out of the public space. Class(ist), gender(ed), and environmental rationales informed and influenced its ecology of consumption throughout the twentieth and twenty-­first centuries. Hashish Versus Marijuana: Class(ist), Gender(ed) Environments of Consumption There is a fog of ignorance around the nature and place of cannabis products in today’s Iran. This status is itself the result of cultural abstruseness and

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political ambiguity, which results in ontological indetermination. From a cultural viewpoint, this is best exemplified in the way people relate and judge different derivatives of the cannabis plant. Among the different derivatives consumed in the postrevolutionary period (1979–­present), the most popular are cannabis weed (i.e., geras, sabzak, alaf, jay) and hashish (i.e., bang, charas). Yet, from an ethical semantics point of view (i.e., the value assigned to things), most people (including drug consumers) believe that weed and hashish do not belong to the same family of substances. In my fieldwork—­ complemented by numerous reports—­ordinary consumers judge cannabis and its derivatives based on class(ist), gender(ed) environmental factors. In the traditional suburbs of major cities, drug consumers regarded hashish as a testimony to a person being khaki, literally “dusty” and meaning down-­to-­earth. The hashish smoker was thus part of the popular class, easy to talk to and hang out with but also regarded as unsophisticated and plebian. Still, the importance of being khaki linked to the ethics of chivalry (javanmardi) that reigned in popular neighborhoods. Earning a living from the informal/illegal economy did not preclude one’s dignity and moral standing within the community.22 Smoking hashish in corner alleys or in the neighborhood’s parks was a common pastime; this overlapped with the ethical duty of protecting the neighborhood from immoral intruders and preserving it from state encroachment, in the guise of law enforcers, tax collections, and the like. In postrevolutionary imagery hashish served as a signifier for wannabe-­ intellectuals and university students engaged with matters of political and social reform. And many university and high school students, not from working-­class families, sought social recognition as khaki, “down-­to-­earth.” They often did so by melting hashish balls with the cheap cigarettes of local Bahman Kuchik, the quintessential working class smoke, or purchasing the nakh coqabi (a single cigarette, “a loosie,” of Winston Red known to be a drier tobacco and therefore ideal for pokhtan, “cooking hash with tobacco”). Rather than using more expensive foreign tobacco and rolling on paper, these users emptied premade cigarettes and filled them with tobacco mixed with melted hashish, removing and lightening the cigarette’s filter. The perception of hashish as the drug of “educated people” stood in contrast to the abuse of heroin and crystal meth among the working class.23 In particular, drug users considered crystal meth (known as shisheh) as the antinomian of hashish. A young woman on meth had an original linguistic


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theory about this: “shisheh and hashish are the exact opposite, you can’t mix them and you can’t mix the people using them. When they wanted to look for a name for meth, they read hashish the other way around and so they came up with shisheh, it’s a palindrome.”24 Although prone to political imagination and utopian (and dystopian) reveries, hashish smokers were considered unreliable political actors, very much in the vein of the tales in Naguib Mahfouz’s narration of Adrift on the Nile (1994). Looking khaki—­ that is, down to earth—­did not result in direct political action and, among committed intellectuals, hashish was scheduled under the rubric of ecstatic talk with lazy action. For a majority of people, either drug users or not, hashish did belong to the cannabis family. Many people described hashish “as an opiate substance [afyuni]” or “a type of opium,” perhaps because of the dark complexion of hashish generally imported from Afghanistan (afghani). This link between hashish and opium bolstered a certain stigmatization of working-­class users as addicts and hashish as a highly addictive substance. The hashish smoker is the bangi: the stoned, confused, wishy-­washy individual. The negative image of the bangi was all the more vigorous among marijuana (weed) smokers. Weed, for its part, has seen a revival in Iran. Although certainly used from time immemorial (see the Zoroastrian reference in the introduction), it has become a consumption trend in competition with hashish in the early 2000s. As an indigenous plant of the plateau, cannabis plants grow in every Iranian region, but up until the late 1990s, few people would smoke weed. Considered an inexpensive, widespread plant, a common practice among Iranians would be to offer a bag of cannabis leaves and flowers from their orchard to guests who appreciated the product. A common Persian phrase, the green leaf is the dervish’s gift, refers to the honorific gifting of the dervishes’ only property, the sabzak, the green weed. For the sake of partying, however, people consumed other, more elaborate, intoxicants such as hashish, alcohol, and opiates. Weed was not a partiers’ product. Its seeds have been commonly used as appetizers—­smoked and salted and usually mixed with yogurt. In fact, the plant and its cultivation have never been outlawed in Iran, including in the postrevolutionary period. Repression of cannabis applied only when consumed or cultivated for purpose of intoxication or trafficking, leaving the existence of the plant in a grey zone of ecology. Weed was and remains deeply embedded in everyday Iranian cultural practices.

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Figure 12.2 Cannabis plant growing in downtown Tehran, September 2014.


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Take the example of gol once more. The appeal of gol conformed to gendered and environmental lines. While hashish had traditionally been regarded as a masculine substance—­hence connected to the ethics of javanmardi of popular suburbs—­young, urban women acquired a taste for gol. “I don’t smoke hashish, only gol [flower]!” is a recurrent expression in Tehran’s upper-­class parties and gatherings. In the villas located in Tehran’s northern districts, marijuana consumption mimicked the practices visible in American towns. Partly the byproduct of effective cultural connections between wealthy Tehranis who often visited and had family in North America, the use could also be explained by the Americanized marijuana industry, which deposed the indigenous practice of hashish consumption. Young women and men conceived of marijuana (gol) as product of the “outside,” a link to ways of being and forms of life outside the Islamic Republic. As a novelty (and one with a gendered and environmental nature) placed it opposition to the old-­fashioned, backward existence of opiate users. Being “a flower,” gol was not adulterated by the environment of the illicit economy’s smuggling practices across the Afghan-­Iranian border. It was described as “cleaner” and “unpolluted,” with fewer changes of adulteration. In film screenings and art exhibition nights, gol was a regular fixture. Beyond artistic scenes, university students confessed gol—­as hashish did in the 1970s—­gave them “an intellectual allure, opening brains for thought.” Because university social life existed within the Islamizing cultural boundaries, many students organized their social lives in underground, informal, unsanctioned venues, whether theater groups, musical bands, or poetry readings. In these environments, gender segregation and austere codes of conduct did not apply. Being already outside the frame of the law turned intoxication into an unsanctioned status, gol being widely consumed as a medium of sociality, aggregation and belonging. A Rhetoric of Smoke: Quasi Legality and Technological Dealing The ambivalent place of cannabis products—­hashish versus gol—­intersects with a rhetoric of smoke about the dangers and effects of the drug. Public officials do not miss the opportunity to reiterate the “murderous nature of cannabis.”25 This rhetoric is coupled with narratives emerging from drug journalism. Embedding themselves with charities carrying out welfare and health interventions—­ or with the police—­ in destitute areas of Tehran,

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journalists report so-­called tales from the field. Emotional and sensationalist, these narrations deploy linguistic and semantic features that interlock with the ideological, rhetorical combat of antinarcotics officials. By focusing on drugs, they commit a double mismatching: they level out difference between cannabis and other substances such as heroin and crystal meth; and they ignore the socioeconomic determinants behind the condition of poor and destitute people, highlighting the drugged nature of their condition. This rhetoric of smoke reclaims some of the argumentations familiar to cannabis—­and drugs—­historians. Reference to cannabis as a “gateway drug” recurs in journalism and public policy discussions.26 Hashish and gol consumption are linked to murder, death, or dangerous erratic behavior. For instance, in the suspicious death of a young woman, Setareh, the married man with whom she had had a long-­standing affair, explains to the judge: I had known that Setareh was addicted to hashish. . . . ​Her family too was aware of her addiction. As our relations grew stronger, I started spending most of my time with Setareh despite having a wife. We went to the North [Caspian Sea]. Setareh loved hashish and she smoked a lot, even a few times per day and this caused her death.

Following the autopsy of the young woman’s body, the report adds that “some hashish was found in Setareh’s stomach and bile.”27 The man had found her body on the beach in the middle of the night, claiming he could not understand why she had left the house so suddenly while he had fallen asleep. He implied that hashish was the culprit. This anecdote recalls themes of reefer madness,28 a strong trope. A man accused of the murder of his wife confesses to the judge that after a violent argument with his wife, the neighbors intervened to calm the situation. “Once they left [the neighbors], I went down in the parking lot and smoked some hashish.” He specified, “I never smoked drugs in front of my wife and that is why I went outside the flat,” adding: “Once I returned there I was not in my proper state of mind and, under the influence of the drug, I lost control. I went towards Narges [his wife] and took away our daughter. Then I took a knife from the kitchen and, from behind, stabbed her [wife] and then I harmed myself and passed out. I don’t recall anything after that. When I opened my eyes again I was in the hospital.”29 Instances of these types are abundant in the press and in the judicial reportages of violent crimes. Rather than expounding the link between cannabis and madness, as in the accounts reported by other drug historians, blaming


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cannabis is also an expedient, a tactic to decrease the burden of responsibility on the offender. The drug triggered violence, the argument goes, hence the crime was not premeditated and the offender not a violent individual per se. Islamic jurisprudence provides ground for this legalistic interpretation, sanity being a prerequisite of culpability. A person deemed insane or temporarily insane is not responsible for the actions he/she commits, as he/she does not hold control over their mind and the morality of his/her behavior.30 In adopting the nexus cannabis-­madness, those caught red-­handed committing a crime defend themselves reproducing the public, official script on drugs seconding the anticannabis statements of police and judiciary officials. However, the rhetoric of smoke—­the semantic ambiguity surrounding consumption of cannabis—­exists, paradoxically, as a public secret in the

Figure 12.3 Anticannabis poster in Arak, Markazi region, 2019. It is a pun: Mari-­javana spelled like marijuana means “the youth’s snake.” It adds below, “the snake that kills young people.”

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way Michael Taussig would articulate it.31 Rejecting the nuance of cannabis consumption coexists with its acceptance. This public secret operates on multiple levels.32 The Iranian state is the result of a compromise between republican institutions, such as parliament, presidency, electorate, and theological genesis—­essentially, the anointment of Islamic jurisprudence over political agents. Its approach to cannabis, too, follows this path. In a study demanding the religious exegesis of the acceptability of cannabis for medical, therapeutic treatment, the majority of high-­ranking clerics (marajec-­e taqlid) agreed that, if proven to do good to the person using it—­that is, if science proves the validity/utility of medical cannabis—­there is no religious prohibition against it.33 After all, Islamic jurists have historically been ambiguous about the status of cannabis, rarely applying the category of haram (forbidden) to its consumption. Its prohibition is the outcome of secular state formation processes and in dialogue with international regulations.34 Religion, too, mobilizes the rhetoric of smoke. This theological loophole has impacted regulation in Iran. Policing practices reveal ample toleration of cannabis use, again, in spite of fierce rhetoric. This condition qualifies as what I define as the rhetoric of smoke. Eager to uphold the successes of the drug eradication campaigns following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when the revolutionary state succeeded in rooting up poppy cultivation for the first time in Iran’s modern history, Islamic Republic officials are reluctant to acknowledge any form of domestic drug cultivation.35 When interviewed about the growth of domestic cannabis production, the line of response suggests: “cannabis originates outside the country, in the bordering regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.”36 This statement holds true in relation to hashish, which is mass produced across the border and imported through the established narco-­routes of opiate trafficking.37 Evidence of cannabis cultivation is widespread, however, in the countryside as well as through an attentive observation of the online marketing of cannabis products. This includes both weed (traditional cannabis) and gol. In most cases, production is not large-­scale and is responding to provincial demands, albeit there are few cases of farms that produce large-­scale quantities. Qalat serves as an example of a location where cannabis is freely available and cultivated on a large scale. In this small, hilly village, roughly 50 kilometers from Shiraz in the province of Fars, local peasants cultivate plots of land of cannabis for the purpose of selling it as gol and not hashish. One journalist defined Qalat as “Iran’s little Holland,”38 where cannabis is sold


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in local coffee shops located in the village, which has become a visiting hotspot for tourists. They purchase and/or smoke premium-­quality local cannabis, some of which is redistributed in other provinces. Qalat acts as a free zone undisturbed by policing and antinarcotics, and it becomes animated from the early evening to late at night. What distinguishes the village is not the widespread availability of cannabis, which exists across the country, but the large plots of cultivation and the atmosphere made up of coffee shops and music venues where visitors can consume cannabis freely. The other side of the cannabis business in modern Iran is online. There are numerous dedicated online cannabis portals (in Farsi) that provide seeds, of varied quality and types (including imported ones), and products to improved home cultivation. As cultivation of the cannabis plant remains legal, such enterprises operate in the interstices of the law. Instagram, for instance, is a medium of great versatility in this commerce. Being the only (Western) social media that has not been censored and filtered inside Iran, Instagram acts as Iranians’ main portal of virtual sociality (whereas Telegram—­another popular App—­is the main source of news distribution systems). Taken advantage of by small and medium dealers, consumers connect with dealers in the supply network who promote their business and advertise their products, despite Iran’s cyber policing (i.e., Polis-­e Fata). Rather than posting pictures on their account, dealers tend to use Instagram’s option of Story (e-­story in Persian), which maintains a short video or an image available to the followers for up to twenty-­four hours. Thus, one knows what is on the market and when it is available. Therefore, the virtual dimension becomes a space for circulation of supply and demand of ambivalent products, such as cannabis (in fact, dealers rarely promote heroin, opium, and crystal meth). This confirms how cannabis exists in a realm of “quasi legality.”39 Technology increases speed of communication, movement, delivery, and consumption. Public officials declared that the time to obtain drugs—­in particular hashish and cannabis—­has decreased from fifteen to seven minutes in any given place of the capital at any time.40 In the accounts of most smokers I met—­and the reportages of newspapers—­cannabis was the easiest thing to get hold of in the capital and provincial towns. Mediated channels speeded up the process in a way that does not differ from the practice of delivery companies like Deliveroo. A vignette can elucidate the praxis of dealing: The saqi (dealer in Persian) did not pick up the phone, he either responded via Instagram, Telegram, or called back from another mobile number, asking

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Figure 12.4 A petty-­dealer promoting a new arrival through an Instagram story, September 2018.

“how much and what?” If the saqi was familiar with the customer, he/she had a record or memory of what the customer preferred. Minutes later, a delivery boy reached the designated address, got payment, and left. Regular supply came with small tasters on the house, either to promote new products—­as had occurred with gol in the mid-­2000s—­or to boost customers’ affection for one’s business. That was the equivalent of a loyalty card. The ample availability of cannabis has indeed led to turf wars confirming that the drug was a lucrative, mass-­consumed product among rising drug entrepreneurs.41 There have not been systematic reviews of cannabis prices and consumption in the last ten years, but discussions with long-­term dealers and consumers confirmed that the price of cannabis has remained


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steady, maintaining the classist divide between cheaper imported hashish and more expensive domestically produced gol. In light of the skyrocketing inflation that had animated Iran’s economy following US unilateral sanctions under Donald J. Trump, the price of cannabis was comparatively low. Indeed, if put in perspective with general consumer goods, its price remained stable over recent years. In discussions with local dealers and consumers in Tehran, this was the trend that I came across with: “before the 2000, weed was just for amateurs, it had no price. In the 2000s, you could get a bag (1/2 kg) for 1,000 tuman [ca. 2 USD]. Then in the 2010s, it started to be sold per gram, from 1,000 tuman [0,10 USD] per gram upwards. Now gol sells for 50,000 tuman [0.80 USD] per gram.” Joking about the affordability of cannabis in Iran, one consumer/dealer revealed me, “You guys in Europe collect one by one the little pieces of your alaf, weed, or hash. I throw away 3 grams of gol every night. The ants love it.” Toleration of cannabis use has been a matter of fact. Despite the coexistence of multiple law enforcement agencies and of the voluntary forces, such as the Basij-­e Mosta’zafin, the volunteer paramilitary forces acting as security vigilantes, and the Gasht-­e Ershad, “the moral police,” there are few instances of police intervention for cannabis consumption. Alcohol, crystal meth, and heroin remained heavily policed, with arrests occurring on a large scale; while there was a general laxity toward cannabis, an approach that was not the result of classist bias (as in France and the United States where police tolerated middle-­ class smokers and punished racial minority offenders) but a premeditated policy of the state.42 One interlocutor, when asked if he or his friends had ever been arrested or stopped for cannabis smoking, responded emblematically: “Dastgir? Arrested? No one has ever been arrested for smoking weed. Once I was walking with my girlfriend and I passed her a joint just when two sepahi [pasdarans] turned the corner. I dropped my bag of weed in the bushes and kept walking. They looked at us smirking and didn’t say a word.” Scenes such this one were common and the rationale not hard to find. With widespread heroin and meth abuse, authorities were unconcerned about what some policymaker have defined “less harmful drugs,” such as cannabis (despite the rhetoric of smoke that they often adopted).43 Police targeted pauperized heroin and crystal meth users in extensive publicized operations, which aimed at introducing abusers into the system of “addiction treatment.”44 For cannabis, despite a rhetoric spelling the dangers of “addiction,” the authorities did

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not contemplate referral to rehab centers.45 Toleration of consumption was the norm. Changing Times in Cannabis Culture In its modern context, Iranian cannabis has occupied a place of ambiguity, surrounded by a rhetoric of smoke. Governmental control was loose, with tolerance of cannabis use being the norm in twenty-­first-­century postrevolutionary Iran. The existence of free zones of consumption and even of production, whether in the scattered countryside or in the hideouts of the urban setting, demonstrated that political and public health authorities have other priorities than cannabis. In their own way, Iranian authorities seemed to follow Mark Kleiman’s suggestion that a “grudging toleration” should inform drug policy.46 Yet, Kleiman’s suggestion seemed to apply to white, middle-­class consumers in North America, if one looked at the heavy hand of police and judicial repression on Black and Hispanic communities in the United States—­or in France. Unlike other substances in Iran, consuming cannabis has not generated the stigmatization of such labels as “addict” or “addiction.” Cannabis enjoys a “quasi-­legal” status because it has been benignly neglected and is considered by people and the authorities a lesser evil. And chemical calibration played a formative aspect of drug consumption and, for that matter, drug markets. Changing sociocultural settings brought new consumption practices, where cannabis consumption could act as a productive force, an agent of self-­improvement, and a sustainable habit in the face of widespread availability of heroin and methamphetamines. The use of mainstream advertisement techniques highlighting the different features of competing cannabis derivates informed the praxis of chemical calibration. In that way, many cattari, traditional herbalists sell under-­the-­counter cannabis products (i.e., hashish oil, gol) beside the legal bags of cannabis seeds, which are part of Persian traditional cuisine.47 Among the working class and more traditional groups hashish overlapped with rituals of the secular and spiritual type. In the secular ritual, male consumers smoked hashish in the Azadi Footbal stadium and its surroundings where Tehran’s two contending teams, Esteqlal and Persepolis, play weekly. In the spiritual ritual, Muharram, performances where local religious groups mourned publicly the martyrdom of the third Shica Imam, Husayn, and his family, were in


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certain circumstances attended by people highly intoxicated by hashish and gol.48 Local religious groups in different neighborhoods organize public performances with music, chants, drums rehearsing the tragedy of Karbala, the place where the Shia Imam was martyred in 680 CE. Being high during this ritual is both profane and spiritual: it is the result of modern pleasure-­ seeking, trivializing the sacred tragedy bestowing sense upon the Shia community; and yet it mirrors the antinomian practice of the premodern Sufis and Qalandars who intoxicated themselves amidst the most sacred of events.49 Environmental conditions molded chemical calibration. Meanwhile, a new cultural wave around cannabis, one which some could consider a prelude to its wider normalization, was visible in the form of tourism and domestic travel. The island of Hormoz, sitting at the mouth of the Persian Gulf with three thousand inhabitants, has become over the last years since the 2010s a popular destination for groups of local hippies. Between October and March, when the weather is cooler, young people camped on its pristine and isolated bays, at a safe distance from the gaze of the moral police. Gender mix, relaxed public morality, and loose law enforcement

Figure 12.5 One of Tehran’s popular smoking bams.

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complemented the easy availability of all possible narcotics and drugs. On arrival, local people offered their houses for short-­term rent, with bikes and motorcycles being also available. It did not take long before one could get hold of various type of hash, weed, gol with smoking paraphernalia such as pipes, waterpipes, and chillums. Prices were at the low end, despite customers being “outsiders with money,” as a local host described the many groups of Tehranis on tour. No lack of enforcement meant that set and setting made the visitors’ experience tranquil; in the words of a young woman, “this is our free chilling out space [in English].” Given Hormoz’s geopolitical position amidst ever higher tensions at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, cannabis was low on the priorities of the Iranian state. The revolutionary guards (IRGC) had established strategic sites in the surrounding islands for monitoring the international waterway, but they were rightly unconcerned with the wandering of hippies on the shores. In conclusion, the study of Hormoz, gol, and free zones in Iranian cannabis culture helps shed light on the government’s postrevolutionary approach. Iran’s peculiar way of putting cannabis outside the ethical order of the day was unique and yet part of a global negotiation over the use of cannabis since the establishment of the international drugs regulatory system.

Figure 12.6 Locals and visitors having a good time. Author’s archive, Hormoz Island, March 2018.


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Starting with the Pahlavi regime in the 1930s, governments adopted a reprimanding cultural attitude toward cannabis, made up of scapegoating, fear-­ mongering, and selective exemplary enforcement, while they presided over the merging and emergence of traditional and modern consumption, shaped by cultural and media representations and connections of the products and their consumers. This antagonistic, yet largely disembodied approach, determined a veil of knowledge over the nature of cannabis and its products. Meanwhile, it also lends a view into the culture of cannabis consumption, while it helps us understand the success and failure of Iranian cannabis regulation. Tolerance and ambiguity may have been the outcome of resilient and widespread practices of cannabis consumption, which progressively formed ideas about the place of cannabis in policy circles, ethical and scientific judgment, and public culture. This historical change and “anthropological mutation” feed in the way Iranian society reassesses the ethical responses toward cannabis and its consumers.50 As we have seen, classist and gendered environments of consumption distinguishes hashish and marijuana users. Consumption defines where one stands—­or imagines standing—­in the world. In other words, you are the cannabis you smoke. This fluidity of perceptions regarding cannabis and the multiplicity of consumer practices coexisted with an ambivalence in the way the state and its public institutions dealt with the cannabis phenomenon. Ambiguity over what is hashish, an ancient traditional intoxicant, well-­known since medieval times, is an example of how substances deriving from the same plant, cannabis, acquire diverging values by virtue of classist, gendered environmental inputs. This semantics of disjunction was part and parcel of the historical anthropology of cannabis, one that must be interpreted in its locality but connected to its global entanglements. Notes 1.  Marco Polo, Il Milione, vol. 228 (Milan: Bur, 2006), chap. 40. 2. For a detailed discussion of this theme, see Don Casto, “Marijuana and the Assassins—­An Etymological Investigation,” International Journal of the Addictions 5, no. 4 (December 1970): 747–­755. 3.  See Maziyar Ghiabi, Drugs Politics: Managing Disorder in the Islamic Republic of Iran (London: Cambridge University Press, 2019), chap. 7. 4. The song “Ye sigari bang, bang, bang” (a joint of hash, hash, hash) became a national hit in 2018/2019 when it came out on Instagram and was widely remade by

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groups of amateurish singers throughout the country. The clip consisted in point-­of-­ view shot of large groups of heroin and meth users gathering in the alleys of Shiraz’s central neighborhood, a notorious environment for addiction. See https://­www​.­aparat​ .­com​/­v​/­OXDrv​/­%D9%81%DB%8C%D9%84%D9%85_%DB%8C%D9%87_%D8%B3 %DB%8C%DA%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C_%D8%A8%D9%86%DA%AF_%D8 %A8%D9%86%DA%AF​. 5.  The expression smoke fails to capture the edibles, injectable, and other noninhaling versions of cannabis. 6.  For a discussion of historical anthropology, see William Templer and Alf Ludtke, The History of Everyday Life: Reconstructing Historical Experiences and Ways of Life (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995); and Edward Evan Evans-­Pritchard, Anthropology and History (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1961). 7.  I combine this material, made of twenty-­four in-­depth interviews (more than one hour), with long-­term immersion in the field and “deep hanging out” with cannabis consumers and a systematic review of media coverage on cannabis from 2010 to 2019. Cf. Clifford Geertz, “Deep Hanging Out,” New York Review of Books 45, no. 16 (1998). All my sources and interlocutors’ names and details have been anonymized to protect their identities. 8. Herodotus, Tarikh-­e Herodot (Herodotus’ History), vol. 4, trans. Hadi Hedayati (Tehran: University of Tehran Press, 1383 [2004]). 9.  Gnoli Gerardo; A. Saidi Sirjani, “Bang,” in Encyclopedia Iranica (1988). Available at https://­www​.­iranicaonline​.­org​/­articles​/­bang​-­middle​-­and​-­new​-­persian​-­in​-­book​-­pahlavi​ -­also​-­mang​-­arabicized​-­banj​-­a​-­kind​-­of​-­narcotic​-­plant​. 10.  Emam-­Ali Sha’abani; Roqayyeh Moradi Ghighloo, “E’tiyad Va Masraf-­E Mavadd­E Mokhadder Dar Qorun-­E Miyaneh-­Ye Tarikh-­E Iran” [“Addiction and Drug Consumption in the Middle Centuries of Iran’s History”], Tahqiqat-­e Tarikh-­e Ejtema’i 5, no. 2 (1394 [2015]). 11.  The book is the repository of pre-­Islamic Persian mythologies-­cum-­histories. 12.  Ali Gorji and Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri, “History of Headache in Medieval Persian Medicine,” Lancet Neurology 1, no. 8 (2002): 510–­515; Avicenna, The Canon of Medicine (Great Books of the Islamic World, 1999). 13.  Anthony Richard Neligan, “The Opium Question with Special Reference to Persia,” The Lancet 221, no. 5453 (March 1928). See Maziyar Ghiabi et al., “Islam and Cannabis: Legalisation and Religious Debate in Iran,” International Journal of Drug Policy 56 (June 2018): 121–­127; Gabriel G Nahas, “Hashish in Islam 9th to 18th Century,” Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 58, no. 9 (December 1982): 814–­831. 14.  Pierre-­Arnaud Chouvy and Kenza Afsahi, “Hashish Revival in Morocco,” International Journal of Drug Policy 25, no. 3 (May 2014): 416–­423; Nahas, “Hashish in


Maziyar Ghiabi

Islam,” 814–­831; and Franz Rosenthal, The Herb: Hashish Versus Medieval Muslim Society (Leiden: Brill, 1971). 15.  Recalling the French poet Charles Baudelaire’s words, quand le ciel bas et lourd pèse comme un couvercle [“when the sky, low and heavy, weighted like a lid”]. 16.  Some scholars argue that, in Iran, smoking did not start with tobacco but rather with hashish. For an overview of the debate around this issue, see Willem Floor, “The Art of Smoking in Iran and Other Uses of Tobacco,” Iranian Studies 35, no. 1–­3 (2002): 47–­85. 17.  Sirjani, “Bang,” in Encyclopedia Iranica. 18.  Kuhi Kermani Hossein, Tariyak Va Tariyaki Dar Iran (Opium and the Opium Addict in Iran) (Tehran: Elmi Publisher, 1324 [1945]), 19. 19.  Zohreh Ruhi, Anthropology & Culture, January 21, 2018. Accessed July 29, 2019, https://­a nthropologyandculture​.­c om​ /­% d8%aa%d9%86%e2%80%8c%d8%a8% d8%a7%d8%b1%da%af%db%8c​ -­% d8%af%d8%b1​ -­% d8%b9%d8%b5%d8%b1​ -­%d8%b5%d9%81%d9%88%db%8c​/­​.­ “Tan-­ Baregi Dar Doureh-­ Ye Safavi” [“Punishment in the Safavid Era”], Anthropology & Culture (2018). Accessed July 29, 2019. 20.  Interviews with several hashish users who frequented these venues in the 1950s to 1970s. 21.  Maziyar Ghiabi, “The Opium of the State: Local and Global Drug Prohibition in Iran, 1941–­1979,” in The Age of Aryameh: Global Entanglements of Late Pahlavi Iran, ed. Roham Alvandi (London: Gingko Library Press, 2018), 167–­189. 22.  Fariba Adelkhah, Être Moderne En Iran (Paris: KARTHALA Editions, 2006). 23.  E. Razzaghi et al., “Rapid Situation Assessment (Rsa) of Drug Abuse in Iran,” Prevention Department, State Welfare Organization, Ministry of Health, IR of Iran and United Nations International Drug Control Program. Ministry of Health of the Islamic Republic of Iran and United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (1999). 24.  Ethnographic field note in South Tehran, March 2019. 25. “Kesht-­E “Marijuana” Dar Keshvar Nadarim” [“We Don’t Have Marijuana Cultivation in the Country”], Sharq, January 6, 2013. 26. “Shiyu’-­E Kesht-­E Marijuana-­Ra Tayid Nemikonim” [“We Do Not Confirm the Allegations of Marijuana Cultivation”], Sharq, March 3, 2013. 27.  “Mo’ama-­Ye Jasad-­E Dokhtari Dar Sahel,” Sharq, July 22, 2013. 28. See Isaac Campos, Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012); James Mills, Madness, Cannabis, Colonialism: The “Native-­Only” Lunatic Asylums of British India, 1857–­1900 (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 2000).

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29. “Bikari-­E Mard, Zamine-­Sazi-­Ye Voqu’-­Ye Hamsarkoshi” [“The Man’s Unemployment, Ground for Feminicide”], Sharq, December 26, 2017. 30.  The drug scapegoating is also a key expedient for women to obtain easier divorce procedures from their husbands, addiction—­to any substance—­justifying a request of divorce from a woman. 31.  Michael T. Taussig, Defacement: Public Secrecy and the Labor of the Negative (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999). 32.  In a broader context, I defined this political management a form of oxymoronic politics, see Ghiabi, Drugs Politics, 1–­55. 33.  Ghiabi et al., “Islam and Cannabis,” 121–­127. 34.  Further research needs to be carried out in this field. For an initial appraisal see Rudolph P. Matthee, The Pursuit of Pleasure: Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500–­1900 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005); and Rosenthal, The Herb. 35. Maziyar Ghiabi, “Deconstructing the Islamic Bloc: The Middle East and North Africa and Pluralistic Drugs Policy,” in Collapse of the Global Order on Drugs: From Ungass 2016 to Review 2019 (Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing, 2018); and Maziyar Ghiabi, “Maintaining Disorder: The Micropolitics of Drugs Policy in Iran,” Third World Quarterly 39, no. 2 (2018): 277–­297. 36. “Kesht-­E “Marijuana” Dar Keshvar Nadarim” [“We Don’t Have Marijuana Cultivation in the Country”]. 37.  Pierre-­Arnaud Chouvy, Opium: Uncovering the Politics of the Poppy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010); and Chouvy, Les Territoires De L’opium: Conflits Et Trafics Du Triangle D’or Et Du Croissant D’or (Birmanie, Laos, Thaïlande Et Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan) (Geneva: Editions Olizane, 2002). 38. “Holand-­E Kucik-­E Iran” [“Iran’s Little Holland? ”), Tabnak, November 6, 2014. 39. See Neil Carrier and Gernot Klantschnig, “Quasilegality: Khat, Cannabis and Africa’s Drug Laws,” Third World Quarterly 39, no. 2 (2018): 350–­365. 40.  See “Gol, Vid, Hashish Moujud Ast” [“Gol, Weed, Hashish Available”], Sharq, June 6, 2016. 41. “Gol-­ Khun Be Pa Kard,” Sharq, January 13, 2015; and “Chand Daqiqeh Ta Nashegi” [“A Few Minutes Away from Being High”], Khorasan, August 28, 2018. 42. Didier Fassin, Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing (Cambridge: Polity, 2013); and Maziyar Ghiabi, “The Council of Expediency: Crisis and Statecraft in Iran and Beyond,” Middle Eastern Studies 55, no. 5 (2019): 837–­853. 43.  Ghiabi, “The Council of Expediency,” 837–­853. 44.  Ghiabi, “Maintaining Disorder,” 277–­297.


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45. There are, however, occasional hashish and marijuana users who self-­refer to rehab centers seeking recovery from the habit. They represent a small minority of the rehab camp’s referrals. Cf. Thomas Erdbrink, “Marijuana Use Rises in Iran, with Little Interference,” New York Times, June 25, 2016. 46.  Cf. Mark Kleiman, Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (New York: Basic Books, 1992). 47. In a number of instances, I came across herbalists selling under-­the-­counter methadone, a substance that is accessible through private maintenance clinics for which registration is required. 48. Obviously this does not imply that Muharram rituals are venues for public intoxication as such. 49.  See Mohammad Reza Shafi’i Kadkani, Qalandariyyeh Dar Tarikh (Qalandariyyah in History) (Tehran: Entesharat-­e Sokhan, 1387 [2008]). 50. For a discussion of the way drugs are part of an anthropological mutation in Iran, see Ghiabi, Drugs Politics, chap. 6.

13  PRIDE International and Drug War Diplomacy: The Parent Movement’s Global Battle against Marijuana in the United States, ca. 1970–1985 Emily Dufton

The parent movement—­the grassroots coalition of tens of thousands of parent activists that launched in 1976 and opposed America’s increasing comfort with marijuana and rising rates of adolescent use—­was born from distinctly American phenomena. It emerged due to a series of factors, dating back to 1970; then, as part of the Controlled Substances Act, President Richard Nixon convened the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, also known as the Shafer Commission, to study whether marijuana should be a Schedule I substance.1 The commission launched a two-­year, federally-­funded project to study the use and effects of marijuana in the United States and recommend a suitable response. In 1972, when the commission released its findings, its twelve members came down unanimously on the side of federal decriminalization, arguing that “marihuana does not, in our opinion, rank very high” among social concerns in America.2 This infuriated the president, who had hoped to tie marijuana to criminality and addiction, and in response, Nixon ignored their results. As a result, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug today. Individual states did not ignore the Shafer Commission’s findings, however, and a dozen states implemented decriminalization measures between 1973 and 1978, reducing the possession of an ounce or less to a civil fine. By the mid-­1970s, over a third of the country lived in states where marijuana was little more than a misdemeanor, and in 1977, the federal government began to embrace the language of decriminalization as well. In August of that year, President Jimmy Carter showed his support for expanding state-­based decriminalization, arguing in a message to Congress that “penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed.”3 Though the federal legal status of marijuana did not change,


Emily Dufton

this rapid shift, from Nixon’s staunch antimarijuana stance to Carter’s general acceptance of personal use in just five years, was transformative, and it had lasting repercussions on the development and implementation of America’s marijuana laws.4 For the activists who formed the parent movement, it was a troublesome shift as well. Parent activists felt that America’s growing embrace of decriminalization had launched a new kind of drug culture that normalized marijuana use, making the drug seem cool and fun, while ignoring the risks it posed to human health, especially for adolescents. The cultural and public health problems of adolescent marijuana use—­the effects of which were relatively unknown, and fears of which were flamed by numerous, often scientifically-­questionable books written by those active within, or sympathetic to, the nascent parent activist movement itself—­were compounded by the fact that rates of youthful cannabis use spiked, especially in the late 1970s.5 By 1978, when decriminalization had reached a third of the country, 37.1 percent of high school seniors reported smoking pot in the past month, and 9 percent reported smoking every day—­a 50 percent increase in just two years. Students also reported smoking more: the average high school smoker was consuming three and a half joints daily, up from one or two in 1976. By 1979, when adolescent marijuana use peaked, 11 percent of high school seniors reported smoking pot daily, and children as young as thirteen reported that the drug was “easy to get.”6 Most frightening for parents were the effects of drug use: pot-­smoking students reported falling asleep more often in class, forgetting their homework, failing tests, and neglecting school—­classic symptoms of what would eventually be called “amotivational syndrome,” and, for parents, a terrifying effect.7 Parents were not entirely misguided in their fears regarding the drug culture marketplace, either. A growing number of stores and retailers sought to sell cannabis-­ consumption products to the increasing percentage of Americans who lived in decriminalized areas, and, by the mid-­1970s, the market was thriving. While marijuana remained illegal on the federal level, by 1976, cannabis paraphernalia venders were earning over $120 million a year through sales of pipes, bongs, scales, and toys, with $50 million in sales of rolling papers alone. A year later, in 1977, that number had more than doubled, with paraphernalia generating $250 million, or $1 billion today. This helped smokers consume the nearly $4 billion in underground marijuana reports showed they purchased annually.8

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The paraphernalia marketplace concerned parent activists because many of the products seemed designed to appeal specifically to children, and there were few regulations to prevent kids from purchasing these products. Pipes that looked like frisbees and spaceships were sold alongside popular magazines like High Times, Stoned, and Stone Age in places, like convenience stores and music shops, that were easily accessible to children, and usually with no questions asked. In 1978, the New York Times reported on the situation in Manhattan: “Like babes in Toyland, three boys from 11 to 14 and a 13-­year-­old girl went on a buying spree recently in ‘head shops’ around the metropolitan area. They came back with $300 worth of drug-­culture paraphernalia that included . . . ​a baby bottle fitted with both a nipple and a hashish pipe and a felt-­tipped pen that allows a surreptitious snort of cocaine in the classroom.”9 Because paraphernalia was one of the few thriving marketplaces during a period of economic stagflation, however, the field also had its vocal proponents, who argued that, despite growing fears that paraphernalia was being sold to underage children, purveyors had a right to sell these products to customers, regardless of age, because of the tenants of American free enterprise. In an August 1978 editorial by Andy Kowl, publisher of the industry newsletter Paraphernalia & Accessories Digest, Kowl derided the situation experienced by the owner of a record shop in Long Island, New York, who had to keep his paraphernalia under the counter due to pressure from the local parent-­teachers’ association. Still, the record store owner, like many retailers in his community, continued to sell paraphernalia to any customer because, as Kowl noted, “of the profit margin. He made a full 50 percent on paraphernalia and considerably less from the records he specialized in.” To satisfy angry parents and keep paraphernalia retailers in business, Kowl came up with a plan that was both devious and pacifying—­included in that issue was a poster that retailers could hang in their stores. It said, in large block letters, “CERTAIN ITEMS WILL NOT BE SOLD TO CHILDREN.” Kowl admitted that he was giving paraphernalia retailers cover. “By hanging this centerfold,” he wrote, “you can still sell to whomever you damn well please.”10 Incidents like these, in which profit-­hungry paraphernalia salespeople seemed to ignore the threat marijuana posed to adolescents, encouraged tens of thousands of parents nationwide to join the growing parent movement, which was started by a small group in Atlanta, Georgia, in the summer of 1976 and quickly spread to all fifty states. Together, activists formed


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community groups that enacted curfews and set rules for their children concerning drug use. They also began lobbying state and local governments to enact antiparaphernalia legislation. By appealing to lawmakers’ concern for kids, parent activists launched one of the most influential grassroots antidrug social movements of the twentieth century. By 1980, parent activists had encouraged state governments to overturn the majority of their decriminalization laws and to effectively destroy the paraphernalia market through the heavy regulation of sales. In May of that year, when leading parent activists formed the National Federation of Parents for Drug-­Free Youth, a national lobbying group headquartered just outside of Washington, DC, they were also well-­positioned to influence the incoming Reagan administration, particularly by collaborating with First Lady Nancy Reagan. By partnering with the first lady, parent activists were able to help the Reagans promote a social stance that placed children’s health and safety at the center of drug policy, overturning the Carter administration’s embrace of decriminalization and once again making marijuana the target of drug enforcement, as well as of America’s cultural war on drugs. Though the parent movement was formed from distinctly American phenomena, the activists’ mission did not stay confined to the United States. This paper will explore the ways in which PRIDE—­the Georgia-­based Parents’ Resource Institute on Drug Education, one of the most influential parent groups in the United States—­took on a distinctly international focus in the mid-­1980s, and how the group sought to promote parent activism as the solution to drug problems worldwide. It will also show how, as an optic, a public relations strategy, and a career move, parent activism was enormously useful for Nancy Reagan, who benefited from her relationship with parent activists at home and abroad. Ultimately, however, the parent movement’s international focus predicated the movement’s demise. By the late 1980s their battle floundered when faced with problems parent activists simply couldn’t handle: increasing rates of adult use of other drugs, including cocaine; decreased federal interest in, and funding for, their work after Nancy Reagan’s image was resurrected; and an international environment that didn’t require the parents’ work. By trying to implement a strategy that brought American-­style activism to countries that weren’t experiencing American-­style drug problems, the parent movement’s brief international foray served as an abbreviated version of the movement’s domestic rise and fall. In short, PRIDE

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International compounded the issues the group experienced at home by overreaching, and overspending, abroad. “Parent Power”: The Rise of PRIDE PRIDE, the original parent group that launched the national parent movement, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in the summer of 1976. It was there that Marsha “Keith” Manatt Schuchard, a thirty-­six-­year-­old mother of three, discovered that her thirteen-­year-­old daughter, Ashley, was smoking pot in the Schuchard’s backyard. According to Schuchard, who wrote about this experience in her 1979 parent group formation guide Parents, Peers and Pot, the realization that her daughter was using marijuana was key to the young girl’s recent transformation. “Formerly a model child, cheerful, thoughtful and responsible, [Ashley] had become increasingly either irritable and restless or lethargic and withdrawn.” Her grades suffered, as did her relationships with her parents and former friends. Though Schuchard and her husband originally believed it was just a phase, a sign of impending teenage-­dom, when they searched their yard after Ashley’s birthday party and discovered “marijuana butts, small plastic bags with dope remains, homemade roach clips, cans of malt liquor, and pop wine bottles,” the parents knew what was really going on.11 Schuchard and her husband “felt baffled and slightly sick,” but Schuchard was moved to action. The next morning, Schuchard contacted the parents of all the children who attended Ashley’s party and gathered those willing to listen in her living room. There she explained that the backyard party had provided her “with a glimpse into a child’s world that they had not known existed.” Thanks in large part to the shifting relationship Georgia had with marijuana—­though it never formerly decriminalized the drug, police focused less on prosecuting possession, and Georgia’s former governor, Jimmy Carter, was running for president partially on the platform of supporting states’ decriminalization rights—­Schuchard feared that a wealthy, well-­organized “drug culture” was teaching kids that pot was fun, harmless, and cool, and that their own children, some as young as twelve, were recipients of this dangerous message.12 The parents decided to pool their resources and set firm boundaries to restrict their children’s drug use. They banned paraphernalia from their homes, barred access to magazines like High Times, and established a


Emily Dufton

community-­wide curfew for young children, preventing them from spending the night hiding in places like the Schuchards’ backyard to smoke pot. They also began researching how prevalent drug paraphernalia was, and how what they believed were harmless toys being sold in record stores and 7-­11s—­and subsequently finding in their children’s bedrooms—­were actually pipes and bongs. They punished their children with curfews and lectures, but they also gave them alternatives: illegal activities were overcome with “yoga, dance and art classes; camping, backpacking and canoeing expeditions; sewing and modeling courses; clubs, dances and sports . . . ​volunteer work at hospitals and community centers; and responsible part-­time jobs.” Thus, the first parent group was born, and its success was immediate. With greater awareness of how pervasive the drug culture was, Schuchard’s parent activists closely supervised their children, and soon rates of marijuana use plummeted. “The parents hardly dared to believe it,” Schuchard wrote, “but the changes in their children—­the returning vitality, the renewed thoughtfulness, the increasing interest in the wider world around them, the growing candor, and the desire to talk about problems—­ were unmistakable.” Within just a few months, Schuchard’s community had seemingly solved its pot problem.13 Schuchard was also put in touch with Thomas “Buddy” Gleaton, an associate health professor at Georgia State University. Gleaton was a longtime antidrug activist who had hosted a drug prevention conference every year since 1974. Given the procannabis climate of the time, these tended to be dull affairs, but Gleaton was reinvigorated when he met Schuchard, a woman with a PhD in British literature who had researched all available information on the dangers of marijuana use. Upset at the lack of material, Schuchard and Gleaton formed PRIDE in 1977, which distributed information on marijuana and other drugs and hosted small conferences on preventing adolescent drug abuse. Schuchard was also put in touch with Robert DuPont, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), who commissioned Schuchard to write her 1979 book Parents, Peers and Pot. Schuchard’s book, which guided readers on how to form antimarijuana groups and was aimed at parents of children under the age of fifteen, was available for free and quickly became NIDA’s most popular release, with over a million copies distributed nationwide.14 Schuchard had clearly struck a nerve. Indicative of how worried parents were over adolescent marijuana use, within a few years, hundreds, and then thousands, of parent groups in the vein of PRIDE had formed across the

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United States. By 1980, parent activists were powerful enough to form their own national umbrella organization: the National Federation of Parents for Drug-­Free Youth (NFP), which was housed, quite purposefully, across the border from Washington, DC, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Soon the NFP was overseeing thousands of parent groups nationwide, all of which used Schuchard’s techniques to reinvigorate communities, strengthen parental control, and end adolescent cannabis use. With its close location to the national capital, the NFP also sought to lobby the federal government to ensure that no future candidates would support state-­based decriminalization laws. “The formation of the Federation is a positive, cooperative effort between parents and government,” said the group’s incoming president Bill Barton, a parent activist from Florida. “The drug epidemic cannot be solved by government alone or by parents alone—­it must be a team effort.”15 Parent activists had not had a strong advocate in Washington for years. But in November 1980, when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter to become president of the United States, parent activists would soon find a new supporter in incoming first lady Nancy Reagan, who needed the parent movement as much as it needed her. Nancy Reagan: From “Frivolous Social Climber” to Antidrug Warrior Nancy Reagan was deeply unpopular when she first moved to Washington. At the beginning of her husband’s first term, Reagan was seen as a California socialite, a “frivolous social climber with more political ambition than Lady MacBeth.”16 But by 1981, she had transformed, with the parent movement’s help, into a strong, maternal, caring figure, more concerned with the health and safety of the nation’s children than the state of the White House china. Prior to the Reagans’ arrival in Washington, parent activists had little support from the White House, and especially not from the first lady. Rosalynn Carter had no interest in antidrug activism. When her husband was running for president, Carter made it clear that she felt that “marijuana should be decriminalized, but not legalized,” and her work as first lady focused primarily on mental health.17 Even Jimmy Carter’s chief drug advisor, Peter Bourne, was a prominent advocate for decriminalization, working with prolegalization groups like NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Drug Laws) and drafting Carter’s prodecriminalization speeches, before Bourne was forced to resign in a series of scandals in 1978.


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When Nancy Reagan arrived in Washington, however, parent activists braced themselves for a change. The new White House residents were well-­ known conservatives, and the president had been making antimarijuana claims for years, since he was governor of California in the 1960s. Activists also knew that the first lady needed to reform her image. Beyond being seen as a social climber, Reagan seemed wealthy and out of touch. Her $10,000 inaugural ball gown upset a country facing an economic recession, and her lavish trip to England to witness the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana earned her the nickname “Queen Nancy,” commemorated with a bestselling postcard that pictured her in a crown and ermine robe.18 Reagan needed to reform her image, and parent activists moved quickly, meeting with the new first lady and hoping to align her with their cause. With few other ideas for a platform, Reagan accepted, and she hired a staff, including the prominent marijuana researcher Carlton Turner, that would guide her on her way. Soon Queen Nancy was shedding her posh image for one of an antidrug warrior, headlining NFP conferences, rallying troops at PRIDE meetings, and writing antidrug editorials for magazines like Ladies’ Home Journal. By November 1981, just a year after her husband took office, Nancy Reagan hosted forty NFP members, along with numerous reporters, in the White House’s State Dining Room, where she announced that preventing adolescent drug abuse would be her primary cause. She’d also clearly be on the side of parent activists, who aligned not only with her belief that children shouldn’t use drugs like marijuana but also with her husband’s administration’s stance that individual responsibility, rather than government programs, could solve the social ills facing the United States. Surrounded by parent activists, Reagan told the Washington press corps, to thunderous applause, that she believed that parent activism was “the most potent force there is.”19 The benefits of bringing antimarijuana activism to Washington were manifold: parent activists now had a powerful national advocate, and, thanks to a half-­decade of work by thousands of parent activists nationwide, rates of national adolescent marijuana use plunged. A national survey found that, by 1981, 60 percent of all seniors attributed “great risk” to marijuana, whereas only 35 percent of high school seniors did in 1978. Additionally, fewer seniors in the class of 1981 reported using marijuana, PCP, tranquilizers, or even smoking cigarettes than they had in previous years, with rates of daily

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marijuana use dropping from a high of 11 percent in 1979 to 7 percent in 1981. “From the standpoint of public health, there can be little doubt that the sharp decline in marijuana use is good news,” said Lloyd Johnston, director of the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future report, which tracked annual rates of high school drug use. “Overall, we are now seeing encouraging movement in the direction of moderation.”20 Laws that had once decriminalized marijuana possession were also overturned, while sales of paraphernalia dropped. Quietly, the administration officials who oversaw block grants for drug and alcohol programs refused to increase funding for states that had decriminalized cannabis and made future grants contingent on changing drug laws. With public opinion turning against the drug, nearly every state nationwide that had once decriminalized marijuana had effectively recriminalized possession by the early 1980s.21 Parent activists also began targeting local and state officials, working to criminalize the distribution of paraphernalia to minors. In states like Georgia and Maryland, new paraphernalia-­focused parent groups like Families in Action (FIA) formed, which guided activists on how to lobby mayors and governors to crack down on paraphernalia sales. Fearing increased oversight and fines, many convenience stores and record shops had stopped selling cannabis paraphernalia by the time Reagan took office in 1981.22 For the White House, supporting parent activism was also good policy. By 1983, when parent groups numbered over three thousand nationwide and rates of adolescent marijuana use had further plunged, Nancy Reagan’s approval numbers had grown. In November 1981, a Gallup poll revealed that 18 percent of respondents gave Mrs. Reagan an unfavorable rating, and less than 50 percent of respondents approved of her work.23 But by January 1983, those numbers had changed: a Washington Post poll showed that 56 percent of those questioned viewed the first lady “very favorably,” and Lyn Nofziger, the former White House political director, admitted that the first lady’s staff “finally got her act together.”24 Still, the parent movement remained domestically focused throughout the Reagans’ first administration, primarily because adolescent cannabis use still seemed largely like a national threat. This changed after Reagan’s successful reelection in 1984, though, when both parent activists and the first lady turned their attention abroad.


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“Local Roots, International Ramifications”: The Parent Movement Spreads Abroad Prior to forming their antimarijuana movement, PRIDE’s founders had long held an interest in international work. Schuchard had spent three years, from 1962 to 1965, living in Uganda and Kenya, where she and her husband worked for the US Agency for International Development’s Teachers for East Africa program; their daughter Ashley, whose marijuana use launched the parent movement, was born in Africa. Gleaton also had a long-­held interest in international travel and scholarship, and often invited researchers from across the globe to his annual drug-­prevention conferences in Atlanta. Because of these interests, Schuchard and Gleaton imbued PRIDE with an international focus from its beginning, and, because few others were speaking on the topic, they quickly became viewed as the de facto experts on the impact and influence of American drug use around the world. In April 1980, at PRIDE’s Southeast Drug Conference, Schuchard’s keynote address, “Youth and Drugs in the 80’s: Local Roots, International Ramifications,” focused on “the two debts we owe to young people at home and abroad.” At home, Schuchard argued, “we owe our youth clear, relevant, accurate and constantly updated scientific information on marijuana, because the widespread myth of its harmlessness has been the major factor which has allowed them to be victimized by merchandizers of drugs.” For youth abroad, Schuchard continued, America owed “a clearer and more consistent national policy and national legal position on marijuana.” Schuchard was aware that the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, signed by 186 state parties including the United States, prohibited the production, distribution and supply of drugs, including marijuana. Because of this, she argued, “I think it’s a national disgrace that hardly anyone arguing about the legality of marijuana, pro or con, is aware that we cannot legally legalize marijuana regardless of local and domestic elections, because of international treaty obligations.” She concluded that America had a responsibility to serve as moral arbiters across the globe, despite the country’s brief affair with decriminalization. “Let’s not send many more young men and women out of our backyards to play a drug-­corrupted role in the world,” she said. “By doing our job well on the local roots of the drug problem, we will do our job well on the international ramifications of the problem.”25

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Schuchard and Gleaton’s international focus marked a consequential shift for PRIDE. Most parent activists were inwardly focused at the time. After all, the parent movement was formed to address the threat adolescent marijuana use posed to activists’ families and communities, not the world at large. But Schuchard and Gleaton were always looking outward, and they saw the threat of adolescent drug use on an international scale. This escalated as the parent movement’s influence grew, and by 1984, when parent activists were firmly partnered with the Reagan administration and the United States was embracing programs like Just Say No, Schuchard and Gleaton not only continued to point out the need for American leadership against cannabis, but they also argued, in global terms, against adolescent use of all drugs, and how an American saying “no” could be a model for the world. “Think what’s involved in that personal choice when you say ‘no,’” Schuchard told the 1984 PRIDE Conference, which, by that time, had added “International” to its name: You are saying “no” to cocaine producers who burn Colombian peasant villages. You are saying “no” to drug smugglers who hijack planes. . . . ​You must have the courage to say “no” for your little brothers and sisters, for the kids in villages and cities all over the world who look up to American kids. They think you represent everything that freedom and democracy means. You can become a hero to those youth in Africa, Malaysia, and South America who aspire to be strong and free. . . . ​Your “no” can be a shot heard around the world in the war on drugs.26

In other words, Schuchard and Gleaton argued that drug-­ abstaining American children could see themselves as nothing less than international heroes in the fight against adolescent drug use—­an interesting form of peer pressure that turned the image of the drug culture that Schuchard had been fighting for almost a decade on its head. Now adults like Schuchard and Gleaton were telling children that, in order to really be cool, as well as champions of American ideals like freedom and democracy, kids had to avoid drugs at all costs. That way, American kids could help children in the Global South: by serving as tokens of sober American liberty. This elevated language—­presenting abstinent children as heroes to nations abroad—­showed the rhetorical growth of Schuchard’s vision for PRIDE, but, more importantly, it mirrored the Reagans’ own image of an American exceptionalism grounded in traditional morality. These heroic children were the products of PRIDE’s program of parent power—­a revitalization of the nuclear


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family and strengthening of community ties that pushed children toward a benevolent abstinence—­that was useful for an administration projecting an image of anticommunist “God and family,” and could be the solution to drug problems at home and abroad. Schuchard had long argued that children were empowered to avoid drugs when abstinence was made appealing. Serving as a global hero, one who lived within a loving, nuclear family, was one way to make saying “no” cool. PRIDE’s growing international interest, expressed in Schuchard’s expansion from emphasizing local roots to encouraging children to be global heroes, mirrored the parent movement’s own exponential growth, as activists evolved from working in small community groups to influencing the White House’s interest in drug prevention. And it seemed, at the outset, that PRIDE’s growing embrace of the world was being reciprocated. The 1984 PRIDE International Parent Conference on Youth and Drugs, which had moved from Georgia State University’s campus to the larger Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta to accommodate its growing crowd, featured “internationally recognized scientific and medical experts,” while “parent group leaders and youth leaders from throughout the U.S. as well as abroad will present workshops and share their experiences.” Immediate language translation was available for the two thousand attendees coming from across the United States, as well as from countries as disparate as Sweden, Panama, and Japan.27 While these were not countries with significant drug problems, their presence made PRIDE’s international appeal clear. By the mid-­1980s, PRIDE had made family-­and adolescent-­based antidrug activism into an international trend, and Nancy Reagan soon followed into the international arena as well. Building on the PRIDE conferences’ success, Reagan began using her connections to parent activists to launch a series of conferences for first ladies from around the globe, which she then used to promote the movement’s vision of family-­centered antidrug activism abroad. Though parent activism is rarely discussed in terms of its role in the Cold War, Reagan’s support for the parent movement’s techniques, which reified the American ideal of the nuclear family and individual resilience, rather than reliance on the state, to overcome social ills, showed how persuasively the Reagan administration used parent activists to enhance their soft power abroad and how excited parent activists were to do the administration’s bidding, particularly when it meant enhancing their status around the globe.

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“We Are Mothers”: Nancy Reagan’s “Drug War Diplomacy” and Promoting the Parent Movement Abroad A year after Schuchard told PRIDE Conference attendees that they could be “heroes” to youth around the world “who aspire to be strong and free,” in April 1985, Nancy Reagan promoted the parent movement’s message on an even more high-­profile international stage. Partnering with allies from around the world, Reagan brought seventeen first ladies to Washington and Atlanta to hear drug use prevention techniques from parent activists, testimonials from former drug users, and elaborate performances to celebrate America’s newfound return to adolescent abstinence from drugs. Throughout it all, Reagan and the other first ladies emphasized what made America’s parent activists—­and the world’s growing interest in their movement—­so unique: the parent movement emphasized maternal power and a sense of love and commitment to the idealized family that embodied the new image Mrs. Reagan had finally achieved. The event started in the White House, where Mrs. Reagan convened the first official First Ladies’ Conference on Drug Abuse. There she addressed the wives of the leaders of Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Portugal, and West Germany—­all countries that had sent representatives to PRIDE conferences previously. Declaring that illicit drugs “rip right through the moral fiber of our countries,” Reagan said that the women were there to “compare and trade ideas.” Reporters noted that the “unusual” conference consistently emphasized the importance of parent groups, the private sector, and even Nancy Reagan herself in the fight against drug abuse in the United States.28 The women heard from numerous speakers, including government specialists, parent activists, and representatives from groups like the Pharmacists Against Drug Abuse Foundation and Kiwanis International. Joyce Nalepka, a leading parent activist from Maryland and the recently-­elected president of the NFP, warned the first ladies that the causes for adolescent drug abuse included “naïve parents, rock music that glamorizes drug use, peer pressure and the availability of drugs,” and argued for parents to band together to offer community and family support. In a moving testimonial, sixteen-­year-­old Robin Page also addressed the crowd, telling the first ladies that she began two years of drug use by smoking marijuana in order to fit in


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to the “cool” crowd at school, and then progressed to alcohol and amphetamines. When she was hospitalized after overdosing, Page said she thought, “‘Oh God, don’t let me wake up because I can’t stand to see my mother’s face again.’ I was just so sick of the disappointment in her face every time she looked at me.”29 The important role of motherhood was repeatedly emphasized during the gathering. Reagan herself called the conference “a mother-­to-­mother conference, rather than a government conference,” and all the women present were mothers or grandmothers. Addressing the group after the speakers were finished, Reagan noted that parents were far more effective at preventing adolescent drug use than public programs—­an ongoing theme of her husband’s administration. “The government can’t supply what parents’ groups can,” she said, “love, affection, attention, involvement and commitment.” Even first ladies who came from countries that didn’t struggle with drugs agreed. Tsutako Nakasone of Japan, who said that her country did not have a drug problem, reported that she came to the conference to learn from others. “We are mothers,” she told a reporter from the New York Times. “The love of mother is very important to children and society. It has absolute power. Mothers should get involved in order to solve this problem.”30 The following day, Reagan flew to Atlanta to attend the PRIDE conference with the other first ladies. There, they attended sessions and performances that specifically targeted the dangers of two drugs: marijuana, which had been the focus of PRIDE’s work for eight years, and cocaine, which was quickly becoming a national concern. Dr. Donald Ian MacDonald, director of the federal Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, told the crowd that “marijuana is dangerous for young people because it affects their ability to grow up and be who they can be. It threatens to keep them immature forever.” Others warned that cannabis caused problems for adults as well, including infertility and premature birth. Keith Schuchard, who celebrated her chance to finally address global leaders after almost a decade of full-­time parent activism, warned against the dangerous “marketing forces” that glamorized drugs and seemed to promote drug use to children, including T-­shirts with slogans like “A Friend With Weed is a Friend Indeed,” the magazine High Times, and movies starring cannabis comedians Cheech and Chong. “Many parents do not know about these things,” she said, “and that is one reason things went wrong in the United States.”

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Gleaton built upon Schuchard’s comments, telling the crowd that he was worried about other countries repeating the mistakes of the United States in the 1970s, when America experienced “a full epidemic of drug use.” He warned that nations like the Netherlands, Denmark, and Spain—­which had developed cultures of tolerance around cannabis since the 1960s, without officially decriminalizing the drug, and were notably absent from the first ladies’ conference—­were experiencing “a confusion over the legalization of marijuana, which has led to de facto legalization.” Gleaton said that “hopefully these first ladies won’t make the same mistakes we made,” and urged parents to join the international movement to “help turn back the tide.” The rest of the conference was a media spectacle celebrating the prominent role that adolescent drug abuse prevention—­and Nancy Reagan—­had recently achieved. A forty-­person dance and acrobatics team wearing sweatshirts emblazoned with the slogan “America’s PRIDE” ended the conference with a live performance featuring songs with lyrics like, “Find your strength inside, have a little PRIDE.” During the closing ceremonies, Steve Courtney, a seventeen-­year-­old from Overland Park, Kansas, serenaded “our special friend, Nancy Reagan” and handed her a single red rose. Mrs. Reagan closed the conference with a dramatic, and internationally focused, flourish. “This conference is a means of letting parents in the United States, as well as around the world, know they are not alone,” Reagan told the crowd. “There are other parents—­in Dublin, in Buenos Aires and Kuala Lampur—­also fighting to keep their children safe from drugs.” When a group of teenagers screamed, “We love you, Nancy!” in response, the first lady said, “Thank you, and we’ll make it” to thunderous applause.31 The prominent international focus of the conference was well received by both national journalists who covered the first lady’s activities, as well as among parent activists themselves. A far cry from the image of Queen Nancy that mocked the first lady in 1981, Reagan was now viewed as a loving mother and an international ambassador working tirelessly to prevent drug abuse worldwide. After the PRIDE conference, Reagan continued her international mission, touring Western Europe and handing out $5,000 checks to parent groups in Bonn, West Germany, and Lisbon, Portugal. The New York Times, once a purveyor of jokes at the first lady’s expense, diffidently reported that, during her trip, Reagan planned “a number of activities of her own . . . ​ some of them focused on her interest in the fight against drug abuse.”32


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The 1985 White House meeting and conference were turning points in Nancy Reagan’s and PRIDE’s battle against drug abuse, cementing their reputations as international warriors. The Washington Post described Reagan’s work with other first ladies as “drug war diplomacy,” and quoted the first lady telling reporters that actions like PRIDE’s were necessary because other nations were “just beginning to be aware of drugs, how far behind they are and how thirsty they are for knowledge and help and advice.” Indeed, many of the foreign dignitaries in attendance were moved by the presentations they saw and the information they received. Jamaica’s Marie Elizabeth Seaga told reporters that it was important “to take an interest in children’s lives and not let the kids be afraid of us. Mothers here must go back with that message.” Rosa Elena Alvarez de Betancur of Columbia said that the drug problem was “one of the great epidemics of the world,” and thanked Reagan and PRIDE for bringing the issue to light. Administration officials also praised the first lady for her work in the field. Assistant Secretary of State Jon R. Thomas said that Reagan’s “example and commitment . . . ​resulted in worldwide focus on an international problem which, in the past, has received too little attention.”33 PRIDE also benefited enormously from Nancy Reagan’s support. Few others could have brought the first ladies of so many foreign countries to Atlanta, nor could anyone else have given the organization such high levels of international appeal. The involvement of Nancy Reagan had transformed groups like PRIDE from small, community-­oriented organizations in the 1970s into international policy influencers less than a decade later. But even as PRIDE benefitted from Mrs. Reagan’s involvement, the organization began to struggle: despite the White House’s social support, the administration did not support the conference financially. Although Mrs. Reagan had spent much of her husband’s first administration working closely with groups like PRIDE and the NFP and hosting fundraisers to assist the groups’ work, by 1985, after Ronald Reagan had successfully been reelected and Nancy Reagan’s popularity was undeniable, the White House was increasingly forcing parent groups to shoulder the burden of drug prevention and education programs themselves. But Reagan was cagey on this subject. When, during her day of conference events in Washington, the first lady was asked about her husband’s proposed 40 percent cut in federal funding for drug abuse programs, Reagan responded, “I’m speaking mother-­ to-­ mother today. I don’t get into the other.”34

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“Maintaining Identity as a Voluntary Organization”: Cocaine and the Collapse of the Parent Movement This attitude was a long time coming. For years, the Reagan administration had celebrated the parent movement’s contributions to America’s evolving feelings on drug use, but it was explicit in arguing that its appreciation for activists hinged on their use of private, rather than public, funds. Private efforts were so important, in fact, that the 1982 Federal Strategy for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking, released by Carlton Turner’s Drug Abuse Policy Office, considered them touchstones upon which the drug war rested: “The success of the national [antidrug] effort ultimately depends on the dedication and commitment of private industry, public organizations, and citizen volunteers—­especially in the area of education and prevention.” As an example of those who had already achieved significant results, “the highly successful Parent Movement,” the Strategy declared, “is a dramatic indication of the intense concern across the country and the willingness of people to get personally involved in solving drug abuse problems that touch their lives.” This did not mean that the federal government would support this work, however. “Continued growth and success of the Movement is based on parents uniting with each other,” the Strategy concluded, “knowing how their community works, and maintaining identity as a voluntary organization.”35 For Gleaton, this was becoming increasingly problematic, especially by the spring of 1985. With the federal government insisting that parent groups depend on private money rather than support from the White House or the first lady, Gleaton had funded the most recent PRIDE conference with admission fees and a mix of public and private donations from organizations as disparate as the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Pacesetter Steel Service, and the International Fabricare Industry. But the money simply wasn’t enough. PRIDE had received little large-­scale support, even from global companies like Coca-­Cola—­a group that was from Gleaton’s hometown of Atlanta, as well as overtly fawning toward the conference’s foreign guests—­and certainly not from Washington. In April, as the PRIDE conference was underway, Gleaton wrote to Carlton Turner about his organization’s financial struggles. “I have tried to get assistance from Coke for several years. They gave us $1,000 about three years ago” but nothing since, Gleaton explained. Instead, the company catered to Mrs.


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Reagan: when the first ladies landed in Atlanta at the Coca-­Cola Hangar, they were invited to a private lunch sponsored by the company. “It seems to me that Coke is getting a lot of mileage from Mrs. Reagan’s efforts,” Gleaton concluded. “I hope that the White House has better luck getting a commitment from Coke to fight drug abuse than I have.”36 Turner didn’t respond to Gleaton, so shortly after the conference concluded, Gleaton wrote to Turner’s office again. Gleaton announced that the bill from the Georgia World Conference Center had arrived. The conference cost PRIDE $24,481.50, and included several unexpected charges, including $6,500 for a ballroom rental that Gleaton wasn’t expecting. “If you have any idea of how to handle this, please let me know soon. We are past due on paying our bill as you can see,” Gleaton wrote.37 Turner, once again, did not reply. Gleaton’s struggles with the Reagan administration’s lack of financial support was indicative of the shifting relationship parent activists had with the first lady, as well as the movement’s decreasing presence at home and abroad. By this point, Reagan had established herself as the preeminent drug abuse warrior in America, and no longer needed parent activists to boost her image. She was also turning more of her attention to Just Say No, an organization founded in California in 1984, and over which the White House was exerting more control.38 Parent activists still needed Reagan, but Reagan no longer needed them, and this caused immediate problems for PRIDE. Over the next two years, the first lady continued to attend PRIDE’s international conference, but the number of foreign dignitaries she brought dropped, while attendance rates peaked and valleyed. In 1986, Reagan brought the first ladies from nine countries, including Malaysia, Italy, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Belize, St. Lucia, Panama, Suriname, and the Gambia, to attend the conference, alongside 5,500 participants from the United States and seventy other countries. But in 1987, Reagan returned to Atlanta with first ladies from just seven countries, including Honduras, Portugal, Bermuda, and Turkey, and attendance dropped to two thousand.39 By November 1988, when the election brought Ronald Reagan’s vice president, George H. W. Bush, to the White House, Mrs. Reagan was nowhere to be seen. In fact, PRIDE didn’t even host a conference in the United States that year. Instead, it brought seven hundred parents, youth, and antidrug leaders from ten nations to Stuttgart, Germany, in the prosperous southwestern region of the country—­an odd choice, since the area was known for manufacturing and not for adolescent or adult drug abuse.40

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By the mid-­to late-­1980s, Gleaton was also struggling with decreasing interest in the parent movement writ large. Because of parent activists’ previous success, rates of adolescent marijuana use continued to fall throughout the rest of the decade. As early as 1986, researchers at the University of Michigan found that daily marijuana use among high school seniors had dropped precipitously, to 3.1 percent.41 With fewer adolescents struggling with pot, PRIDE was also struggling with declining membership rates. Kids simply weren’t smoking pot in large numbers like they used to, so new parents weren’t joining PRIDE, and many activists who had worried about adolescent marijuana use a decade earlier were no longer involved; as their children aged, their membership in PRIDE lapsed. This meant that PRIDE’s collapse was a product of its own success: whereas tens of thousands of parents were active in the movement in 1980, the organization was so successful in damning adolescent marijuana use that parent activism had rendered itself obsolete in just six years. But the threat of cocaine was becoming very real. The same University of Michigan survey that found decreased levels of marijuana use reported that high school seniors, college students, and young adults were using cocaine, and those surveyed found little risk in its use. “Cocaine use remains at peak levels in this population,” researchers found. “This is true among high school students and young adults generally.”42 Even more frightening were newspaper reports about the threat of crack cocaine, a cheap and smokable form of the drug that was increasingly prevalent in America’s inner cities. In June 1986, the University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, who had just been drafted to play in the NBA by the Boston Celtics, overdosed on cocaine and died. This shocked many Americans, who decried the threat “instantly addictive” crack posed to African Americans and worried it might spread from crumbling inner cities to “the wealthiest suburbs of Westchester County.”43 In response to growing national concern, Congress passed the Anti-­Drug Abuse Act of 1986 in September, which instituted mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug possession, including extremely harsh punishments for crack. PRIDE also tried to respond to the threat. It hosted numerous workshops on cocaine at its ongoing conferences and wrote about the drug in its newsletter. Other parent activists, including Sue Rusche, created anticrack education programs for public housing communities. But activists like Gleaton soon found that their movement’s methods, which were predicated on the availability of stable two-­parent households to supervise the activities of


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young children, failed when faced with crack cocaine, which was primarily being used by adults in lower-­income neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the limited federal funds parent activists once received for drug education and prevention programs began to disappear. The drug war shifted into an actual war, moving directly toward criminal justice and interdiction efforts that transformed America’s war on crack into one of the largest prosecutorial experiments in the nation’s history.44 By the mid-­1990s, twenty years after their movement had formed, both PRIDE and the parent activists had disappeared from the national, and international, stage. The movement’s financial insecurity was compounded by its inability to respond to the threat of crack cocaine and the shifting nature of America’s war on drugs, as well as decreasing interest in activism from the White House. But, for a moment in April 1985, the First Ladies’ Conference on Drug Abuse and PRIDE’s International Parent Conference on Youth and Drugs marked an insightful moment when a movement born from distinctly American phenomena briefly became a global force. PRIDE activists Thomas Gleaton and Keith Schuchard were able to transform the image of the drug-­ using child from a “Babe in Toyland” in 1978, purchasing hundreds of dollars’ worth of paraphernalia in New York City, into an international hero of sobriety and abstinence—­no small feat for two parents from the Atlanta suburbs. And Nancy Reagan, whose reputation had been salvaged by her alliance with parent activists, made antidrug activism the concern of some of the most powerful women on the planet. In 1985, before the drug war became the dangerous and punitive exercise it is today, the brief collaboration between PRIDE, the White House, and a global group of first ladies marked a moment of homely detente, when “drug war diplomacy” was discussed like it was nothing more than a kaffeeklatsch among a group of moms. Notes 1.  The commission purposefully used the antiquated spelling of marijuana, with an h, which hadn’t been in common use since the 1920s. 2.  Quoted in Bruce Barcott, Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America (New York: TIME Books, 2015), 41. 3. Quoted in David Musto, The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 261. 4.  See Emily Dufton, Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America (New York: Basic Books, 2017).

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5.  See Gabriel Nahas, Keep Off the Grass: A Scientific Enquiry into the Biological Effects of Marijuana (New York: Pergamon Press, 1979); Marsha Manatt, Parents, Peers and Pot (Washington, DC: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1979); and Peggy Mann, Marijuana Alert (New York: McGraw-­Hill, 1985). 6.  Lloyd Johnston, “American Youth Are Becoming More Moderate in Their Drug Use,” Press Release, University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, February 24, 1982. 7.  Michael Massing, The Fix (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 150. 8.  Anthony Astrachan, “Pot Luck,” New York Times Magazine, March 21, 1976. 9.  Laurie Johnston, “Children, in Test, Buy Drug Trappings Freely at ‘Head Shops,’” New York Times, March 30, 1978. 10. Editorial and centerfold featured in Mail Order Paraphernalia Control Act: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee of the Judiciary, House of Representatives, May 8, 1986 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1987), 100–­101. 11. Manatt, Parents, Peers and Pot, 1, 3. 12.  Manatt, 6. 13.  Manatt, 12, 20, 14. Massing, The Fix, 153. 15. “National Federation of Parents Convenes in D.C.,” PRIDE Newsletter 2, no. 4 (June 1980): 1. 16.  Wanda McDaniel published a four-­part series of articles in the Los Angeles Herald-­ Examiner titled “Nancy Reagan: The Woman Who Would Be Queen” in December 1980. This quote is from the first of the series, published December 8, 1980, Los Angeles Herald-­Examiner, D1. 17.  Associated Press, “Rosalynn Carter Not Upset over Sons Trying Marijuana,” Gadsden (AL) Times, September 3, 1976, 3. 18.  Donnie Radcliffe, “‘Queen Nancy’; Majesty on a Postcard,” Washington Post, September 8, 1981, C1. 19.  Associated Press, “Mrs. Reagan to Parents: ‘Be Tough’ on Drugs,” New York Times, November 10, 1984, B14. 20.  Johnston, “American Youth.” 21. Randall R. Bovjerg and Barbara A. Davis, “States’ Response to Federal Health Care ‘Block Grants’: The First Year,” Millbank Memorial Fund Quarterly: Health and Society 61, no. 4 (Autumn 1983): 523–­560. 22. Dufton, Grass Roots, 130–­132.


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23.  Associated Press, “Mrs. Reagan Turns Attacks into Jests,” New York Times, November 6, 1981, A17. 24. Elizabeth Bumiller and Donnie Radcliffe, “Nancy Reagan,” Washington Post, January 23, 1983. 25.  “Southeastern Drug Conference Re-­Cap,” PRIDE Newsletter 2, no. 4 (June 1980): 2. 26.  Keith Schuchard, “Address to the 1984 International PRIDE Conference, Atlanta, Georgia,” in Teens in Action: Creating a Drug-­Free Future for America’s Youth, ed. Tom Adams and Hank Resnick (Rockville, MD: NIDA, 1985), 46. 27.  “International Conference March 22–­24, 1984,” PRIDE Newsletter 5, no. 3 (September 1983): 1. 28. Betty Cuniberti, “19 First Ladies Meet, Vow to Fight on Drugs,” Los Angeles Times, April 25, 1985, B11. 29.  Judy Klemesrud, “First Ladies Confer on Drug Abuse,” New York Times, April 25, 1985, C1. 30.  Klemesrud, “First Ladies,” C1. 31. All quotes from Judy Klemesrud, “First Ladies Learn Dangers of Drug Abuse,” New York Times, April 26, 1985, B6. 32.  “Mrs. Reagan Planning Activities of Her Own,” New York Times, May 1, 1985. 33.  Donnie Radcliffe, “Drug War Diplomacy,” Washington Post, April 25, 1985. 34.  Cuniberti, “19 First Ladies Meet.” 35.  Federal Strategy for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking, 1982 (Washington, DC: United States Office of Drug Abuse Policy, 1982), 3, 49. 36.  Letter, Thomas Gleaton to Carlton Turner, April 1, 1985, folder “PRIDE [I] (2),” box 55, Carlton E. Turner Files, Ronald Reagan Library. For information about Coca-­ Cola’s relationship with Nancy Reagan, see Allan Fotheringham, “Nancy Produces a Comedy,” Windsor Star, April 25, 1985, A10. 37.  Letter, Thomas Gleaton to Martin Cohen, May 24, 1985, folder “PRIDE [I] (1),” box 55, Carlton E. Turner Files, Ronald Reagan Library. 38.  See Dufton, Grass Roots, chapter 10. 39.  “PRIDE Conference Launches Alliance of Youth/First Ladies,” PRIDE Newsletter, Winter 1987, 1; and “Highlights of the 10th International Conference on Drugs,” PRIDE Newsletter, Spring 1987, 5. 40. “700 from 10 Nations Attend PRIDE Conference in West Germany,” PRIDE Newsletter, Fall 1988, 1.

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41.  Lloyd Johnston, “U-­M Study Indicates Cocaine Use Remains High on American College Campuses, While Other Drug Frequency Is Down. Students Report Cocaine Is Readily Available, See Little Risk,” Press Release, University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, July 7, 1986. 42.  Johnston, “U-­M Study Indicates Cocaine Use Remains High on American College Campuses.” 43.  Arthur Benavie, Drugs: America’s Holy War (New York: Routledge, 2009), 3. 44.  See Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: New Press, 2010).

14  Sub-­Saharan Africa, Cannabis, and Contemporary Drug Policy Neil Carrier

In many sub-­Saharan African countries cannabis products have come to find themselves in a legal bind. Laws related to these substances sit on statute books in most of these nations, in line with the various treaties that make up the international drugs regulatory system overseen by what is now the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC). From these laws have been devised both regulations and enforcement mechanisms laying out policing and penal policies that enable the detection and punishment of those who are unwilling to abide by those laws. Yet, throughout much of the continent, both enforcement and punishment have been patchy and sporadic, due to the often-­limited resources of states across Africa and their changing law enforcement priorities. In many places variable enforcement and punishment has also come down to relaxed local attitudes toward what many consider to be the source of useful medicines or little more than a harmless habit. This situation of de jure illegality and de facto legality has been the status quo in many places for some time.1 However, debate is growing within the sub-­Saharan part of the continent around the prospect of reforming cannabis laws. Such debate has been influenced heavily by the changing approaches elsewhere in the world, where decriminalization and moves toward legalization have transformed views of cannabis products. This chapter, based on archival sources, analysis of political debates, as well as available secondary literature,2 assesses the current state of the debate in sub-­Saharan Africa and the likelihood of change in legal and enforcement mechanisms. It traces the ways in which calls for reform are becoming more vociferous while assessing whether the political will is strong enough to serve up new approaches. Finally, it raises questions as to whose interests will be served by changes in the law and the


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Africa, 2021










Figure 14.1 Map of African countries mentioned in the chapter.

differing paths that might be taken. First, the chapter sets the scene with an overview of cannabis in Africa and of the current policy situation. Quasilegality and Cannabis in Africa Cannabis is by far the most widely consumed illicit substance in Africa, and the UNODC estimates that in 2005 there were 38.2 million cannabis users in Africa, 7.7 percent of the fifteen to sixty-­four aged population.3 A 1999 report on drugs in Africa that surveyed ten countries (Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe,

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Nigeria, Cameroon, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal) found cannabis produced and consumed in all ten.4 On the whole substances made from the plant were smoked and were sold very cheaply, usually at a cost less than bottled beer, making them highly accessible.5 In eastern and southern Africa, cannabis has a very long history. Traces on excavated Ethiopian pipe bowls show that there was consumption of products made from the plant in the 1300s,6 while in southern Africa research suggests cannabis was used by San and Khoikoi people before 1700.7 It has been argued that it was introduced through Indian Ocean trade networks and Arab travelers who settled on the eastern African coast, from there percolating southward and westward.8 In Madagascar, its consumption was known from the mid-­seventeenth century,9 while in Central Africa cannabis was integrated into a charismatic movement of the Bashilange known as the Bene Diamba (“children of hemp,” diamba being a variant of a common term for cannabis in Central Africa), whose ceremonies suffused with cannabis smoke were recorded by nineteenth-­century explorers.10 Cannabis products were not only used for the purposes of intoxication but also as medicines. Traditional healers, such as the sangoma of southern Africa, still use the plant to cure various ailments.11 Linguistic evidence suggests that cannabis was first taken to the Americas by African slaves.12 Cultivation and use in West Africa are a more recent phenomena, and it has been argued that cannabis only became popular in the region with the return of West African soldiers from South Asia after the Second World War,13 though traces of earlier cannabis use in West Africa can be found: for example, Richard Burton recounted witnessing “hashish” use in Lagos in a work of 1861.14 The popularity throughout the continent has only grown in the late twentieth century, and the substance is today more widely consumed than ever. Despite the popularity of cannabis, statute books throughout sub-­Saharan Africa impose controls on access to it alongside other restricted psychoactive substances.15 There are no doubt many individual histories behind the drafting of legal frameworks in different African countries, and a comparative history of varied responses to cannabis in colonial traditions would be interesting indeed; however, most countries were prompted to take action on substances made from the plant by the various international treaties that emerged over the twentieth-­century. There are exceptions to this generalization of course—­ for example, in Kenya where the British colonial authorities imposed legal restrictions on Cannabis indica in 1914 as part of its new opiate ordinance.16


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This ordinance was a response to the 1912 Hague International Opium Convention, and even though the convention itself did not apply to cannabis,17 early last century there was considerable concern among British officials in Kenya (especially in western Kenya and those based on the coast) about high rates of cannabis production, import, and consumption. Take John Ainsworth, provincial commissioner of Kisumu, who wrote to the Crown advocate in Mombasa in 1908 to lament the use of the substance and request a law to curb cultivation, stating that it had a “most deleterious” effect on consumers and was responsible for crime.18 Furthermore, it was another African country, what was then the Union of South Africa, that pushed for the addition of cannabis substances to the emerging international drugs regulatory system in 1924.19 Over the years, there have been many arrests and prosecutions for the possession and supply of cannabis in sub-­Saharan Africa. Prosecutions continue to this day. Indeed, while Africa has attracted increasing attention recently as a target of the international “war on drugs,” principally because of the continent’s role as a trade hub for cocaine and heroin,20 arrests of small-­scale cannabis traders and users are far more frequent than those dealing in harder substances. For example, in Kenya police statistics for 2016 show 776 people arrested in relation to cannabis, compared with 92 for heroin and 11 for cocaine.21 Arrests can result in very harsh sentences, even for possession of only a very small quantity of the drug. In a recent Kenyan case a man was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for possession of one “stick” of cannabis worth just twenty shillings (around twenty pence in Sterling), although he was later released on appeal.22 In Nigeria, cannabis farmers have become the major targets of the country’s war on drugs, and much of the work by Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) appears to involve burning piles of cannabis plants rather than arresting hard drug smugglers.23 Cannabis in this regard is an easy target for law enforcers, especially when arrests mainly involve small-­time operators, often producers earning only a meagre income from the crop. Such arrests, and the clichéd spectacle of burning cannabis plants, suggest success for state agencies, and this in turn highlights a continuing need for the existence of the institution and their funding streams. Though not a hard drug, the “anti-­drugs stagecraft” of cannabis seizures helps to perpetuate the politically useful idea of a drugs crisis,24 as well as giving “illusory victories over the dark forces of violence and disorder.”25

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Drug policy in much of Africa still largely revolves around supply-­side interdiction and repression, and the concomitant criminalization of producers, traders, and consumers; there has been limited consideration of harm-­ reduction approaches.26 Such an approach is not without support in the general population of these countries, as the notion of cannabis as a dangerous drug that can cause madness27 and linked to criminal elements is widely held. Such attitudes, which draw on religious and media representations of narcotics in general, and which are shaped by perceptions of a global drugs war, often lend popular support to the policing of cannabis substances.28 Still, these interventions do not enjoy universal support. In countries as far apart as Kenya and Lesotho many see cannabis as a traditional item and the source of useful medicine.29 Notions of cannabis as traditional are widespread and help shore up arguments that cannabis suppression was an import of colonialists and missionaries (see below). “Orthodox” Rastafarian settlements in Shashamane, Ethiopia, as well as Rastafarian-­inspired groups like the Baye Faal of Senegambia, share the same reverence for the “herb” as their Caribbean brethren,30 while the popularity of reggae has validated cannabis for others.31 In these circumstances, cannabis substances are seen by many in sub-­Saharan Africa as a licit substance, in the sense used by historians Willem Van Schendel and Itty Abraham who make a distinction between the legal / illegal and the licit / illicit (the first part referring to the law, the second to how something is viewed more generally by society).32 More to the point, cannabis has come to play a significant role in several African countries as a crucial element in rural agricultural economies, although generally not an element meeting with state approval. As work in Lesotho and elsewhere has shown,33 farmers view it as a key compensation crop that people can turn to when other rural commodities and income sources decline, as well as a crop that can do far more than just compensate, playing a more integral role for some farming livelihoods than this term may suggest. In Lesotho and parts of Malawi, cannabis is one of the most significant cash-­crops, albeit one not counted in official economic statistics. Even where cannabis is a source of income, though, it can be viewed negatively or with ambivalence. For instance, the anthropologist Parker Shipton has argued that the Luo of western Kenya consider money raised from cannabis as “bitter” or ill-­gotten, and as it requires so little labor to produce profiting from the crop seems “like stealing.”34


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The enforcement of cannabis policy hardly matches the scale of production and consumption, partly because of these circumstances. Many view its consumption as legitimate and even cool. In rural areas where production of cannabis is important in local livelihoods, police are likely to encounter much resistance to cannabis suppression. Another reason, of course, is the capacity of the state. Cannabis policing is often a low-­priority for overstretched police forces, while the collusion of influential politicians and officials in the production, transit, and sale of the plant and its products is another limiting factor.35 Overall then, cannabis transactions in sub-­Saharan Africa can be characterized by their “quasilegality,” a term which captures their legal ambiguity.36 De jure, producing, trading, and purchasing cannabis products remain illegal, but de facto they are all often tolerated, connived in, or even encouraged. But this does not mean that producing, supplying, or consuming these substances is risk free, as existing laws can be intermittently enforced, where antinarcotics units find themselves in need of a bust or where public sentiment suddenly swells against the substance. This quasilegality often suits producers and traders of course, as the risks mean that prices can be inflated and a lack of legal protections means that there are few controls on what they sell and to whom they sell it. Liberalization and the Status Quo In a period when the global consensus on drugs controls has become increasingly “fractured,”37 the quasilegal status of cannabis that characterized its position in many sub-­Saharan states has suddenly found itself under scrutiny. In 2015, for example, the Kenyan Senate, the Upper House in its parliamentary system, found itself confronted with a petition for the legalization of cannabis. A member of Parliament, Ken Okoth, had already stated in the National Assembly that “government should stop wasting money on sugarcane farming and legalize marijuana instead” when Gwada Ogot took a petition for legalization to the Kenyan senate.38 Okoth was pointing to the economic potential of targeting export markets for products of the plant, while Ogot focused more strongly on the medicinal benefits of cannabis. His petition asked that cannabis be removed from the list of scheduled substances and for the establishment of a regulatory body to oversee a legal market. He argued that “the plant is God’s gift to mankind just as the many minerals he has put in store for Kenyans. The banning

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was purely for commercial interests with pharmaceutical firms seeking to control the medical industry during the first and second world wars.”39 He also argued that cannabis legalization could undo the colonial injustice of banning a substance Kenyans had consumed previously for centuries.40 The petition was first debated in February 2017 and again in November of the same year. It garnered much interest in the media, especially when Okongo Mong’are, a presidential aspirant, admitted to consuming the substance in his youth (leading other senators to joke that cannabis intoxication may have played a role in his decision to stand for president).41 Many senators were indignant that they should be even discussing so outlandish a proposition as cannabis legalization. Sam Ongeri declared that: Cannabis sativa should never find its way for discussion in this honourable August House. It is one of those substances that we all know are intoxicating. It is one of those substances that are anti-­social because somebody who is under Cannabis Sativa has no control over his or her faculties. It would be morally wrong to justify it on the basis that because it has been presented as a Petition, we should allow it simply because somewhere else, for example, in the United States of America (USA) it is has been practiced and known to be medicinal.42

Others used anecdotes to point to the harm that cannabis causes and the kind of antisocial characters who use it: I am reminded of an incident where another Member of Parliament (MP) in the National Assembly and I happened to have boarded a boat at Dunga Beach in Lake Victoria in Kisumu which was clearly written Odheng’ Nyasore in dholuo [nyasore is a western Kenyan word for cannabis]. We had negotiated on how far they will take us but in the middle of the lake, the person clearly on Cannabis told us that he would swim away and leave us in the boat if we did not increase the amount of money. We feared for our lives because some of us did not know how to swim.43

A few senators, however, were more prepared to invoke the custom that petitioners be listened to. Senator Halake criticized the “moralising tone” of the debate, and argued that the petition reflected deeper issues that required study: I am not supporting or opposing this Petition. Listening to some of the contributions of my colleagues, I am a little saddened that there is talk about never allowing this kind of petitions with regard to Marijuana into this August House. A lot of the discussions are from a moral angle as opposed to the angle of understanding exactly the meaning of drug and drug use in our communities and in our country. I do not know why we are burying our heads in the sand with regard to the use of


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drugs, in this case Marijuana, and finding a solution to the underlying issues that are driving members of our community to using drugs to the extent of bringing a Petition to this House. It is not just Marijuana, there are a lot of other drugs where we are criminalizing the user but the underlying issues have not been touched upon. Why are our youth using these drugs?44

At the end of this debate the petition was sent for consideration by the Standing Committee on Health, a group that must respond to the petitioner, though this appears not to have happened by the time of writing. While the debate in the Kenyan senate was inconclusive, the fact that it took place at all marked a significant shift. If there had been a broad political consensus on cannabis in Kenya and sub-­Saharan Africa in preceding decades, that it was not a matter for discussion or debate but rather simply a routine concern for the police and the courts, this was now suddenly challenged head on. Global moves to liberalize cannabis policy and capitalize on it as a legitimate commodity, in other words, opened up space for debate among Kenya’s political class, even if such debate is still weighted against Kenya’s would-­be liberalizers. Further challenges to the current law have been made, as Ken Okoth’s efforts to introduce a “Marijuana Control Bill” into Parliament in 2018 only came to an end with his death from cancer the following year.45 Some vox pop interviews done by a Kenyan media site among young students during these debates also presented some illuminating attitudes. No matter whether one was for or against legalization of cannabis, all seemed to find funny the idea of a discussion of the subject among the country’s political elite.46 This humor seemed to capture an ambiguity about cannabis, where even those who considered its use transgressive did not regard it as so transgressive that it had to be treated with solemnity or be taken too seriously. The stimulant drug known widely as khat (though as miraa in Kenya) is viewed in a similar way in East Africa and beyond.47 Perhaps these soft drugs generate such humor because their effects are seen by many as trickster-­like, capable of leading consumers into (often amusing) scrapes, but not so harmful as to cause serious consequences. Such ambivalence and ambiguity surrounding these substances creates a tension resolved through humor and laughter. Kenya’s experience in regard to the cannabis debate is not an isolated one in the current era. Since 2011 an annual cannabis march has taken place in Cape Town, which has continued to grow ever since.48 South Africa is the sub-­Saharan nation with the most Westernized drug counterculture

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and a cannabis legalization movement similar to those in Europe and the Americas. As with parts of the United States, permitting medical use of cannabis appears the first step in this process, and South Africa is developing provision in this regard.49 More than this, however, a recent court case in the Western Cape has raised hopes further that full legalization is around the corner. Several activists, including those from the Dagga Party (dagga being the common South African term for cannabis), brought a case “seeking a declaration that the legislative provision against the use of cannabis and the possession, purchase and cultivation of cannabis for personal or communal consumption is invalid.”50 In March 2017, the court ruled that there should be a stay of prosecutions for possession of small quantities of cannabis and use of cannabis in private settings, and gave the government twenty-­four months to amend the law in this regard.51 This was upheld by a South African Constitutional Court ruling: “Deputy Chief Justice Zondo stated that it will not be a criminal offence for an adult to use or be in possession of cannabis in a private place, although the amount a person can be in possession of will need to be decided by parliament.”52 While there are no doubt more hurdles to overcome for the campaigners, many are already eyeing up a potential legal market for cannabis in South Africa,53 leading some to fear what the impact of corporate interests will be.54 Elsewhere, too, there are increasing signs of shifting policy. Lesotho has recently decriminalized medical cannabis production and given a license to a South African firm to cultivate medical cannabis there.55 Malawi is also moving toward a legal hemp industry. The cannabis consists of nonpsychoactive varieties of the cannabis plant, yet even this move required overcoming resistance in Malawi’s National Assembly to an initiative based around so infamous a plant.56 Zimbabwe, for its part, introduced a law in 2018 to allow for regulated medical and scientific use of cannabis, the country positioning itself as a hub for cannabis research.57 The government there has also recently approved a license to a Harare company for a cannabis farm in its first steps to generate a medical cannabis economy.58 Ghana is ranked the country with the highest rates of cannabis consumption in Africa,59 so it is little wonder that a rising debate about cannabis policy has emerged there, and even calls for a cannabis industry to be established to take advantage of legal markets around the world. Debate had appeared more muted in Nigeria, a country with some of Africa’s harshest drug laws, although the tone has recently shifted.60 The governor of Ondo State, where much


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cannabis is grown, was even reported to have urged the federal government to “take seriously” medical cannabis cultivation in anticipation of burgeoning and lucrative markets abroad, and had apparently visited Thailand with the head of the NDLEA to study medical cannabis cultivation and processing.61 However, this was swiftly denied by the head of the NDLEA, who stated that the organization in no way advocated any liberalization of cannabis law, and that the trip to Thailand was for the purposes of learning about moving farmers away from drug crops to legitimate ones.62 Explaining Changes and Continuities With policy reform debates featuring so prominently across sub-­Saharan Africa over the last decade or so, it seems worth asking whether these forces are merely internal or reverberations from changing attitudes in the West. Economic reasoning certainly features in a number of these contexts, as those in these African states see new markets developing around the world, particularly for medical cannabis. In the Kenyan Senate debate, for example, two contributors (Senators Olekina and Outa) specifically mentioned their encounters with medical marijuana policy in the United States as reasons for considering the petition to decriminalize the substance.63 It is also important to note that it is not just local actors who see economic opportunity in this context. Foreign companies have already taken advantage of changes in policy: in Lesotho, the Toronto-­based Supreme Cannabis Company has invested in the country’s cannabis industry. Smallholders there cannot afford the $10,000 license to produce a cannabis crop.64 It should be said that economic interests have long featured in the approach of sub-­Saharan governments to psychoactive and intoxicating substances. States have often balanced tax and other forms of revenue-­ generation against medical and social harms with substances like tobacco and alcohol—­or as historian Charles Ambler puts it, “profit and revenue and the tension between imported goods and domestic, have been fundamental in shaping control regimes.”65 The case of khat is a helpful illustration of this. Like cannabis, khat’s harm potential is ambiguous, allowing governments to justify both restricting it and developing a market for it.66 In the case of khat, producer countries like Ethiopia and Kenya have long resisted making the substance illegal, even if governments have been suspicious of the substance. (However, in contrast to cannabis, khat is not under

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international control, giving countries more flexibility in terms of national policy.) It’s worth mentioning, also, that in certain sub-­Saharan states the cultivation and production of cannabis products for export is nothing new, and that governments there have often turned a blind eye to a reliable plant that could be important in rural economies. In countries like Lesotho and Malawi, then, recent changes in attitudes in the West simply present an opportunity to make the crop legitimate and therefore boost national coffers through taxation and export duties. The Kenyan example shows that efforts to generalize about economic interests can be difficult. The country does have a cannabis industry, though not on the same scale as in sub-­Saharan countries, and the product is not reckoned of the highest quality. As such, it forms only a minor part of the economy, and is unlikely to garner a strong export market.67 When examined more closely, most of the calls for a change to policy in Kenya have come from politicians and activists from the western region of the country, where much of the country’s cannabis is grown. Calls for reform in cannabis laws in this case may well be driven by an economic logic, but it is one that represents a narrow group and subnational interests. Of course, there are other drivers behind these calls for reform. In some sub-­Saharan countries there is a strong sense that the cannabis is the source of legitimate medicinal substances that have held a place in local pharmacopeias. For instance, the deputy prime minister of Lesotho, Monyane Moleleki, gave an interview to an organization promoting the cannabis industry, and he focused strongly on how current measures to develop medicinal cannabis in the country draw on its use in the region’s traditional medicine, stating how from its earliest San population onward, “we have always looked on herbal medicine positively” (though Moleleki is equally keen in the interview to promote his country’s credentials as being on the “cutting edge” of medical science in relation to cannabis, and highlight how its climate, altitude, and soil quality confer advantages for growing the crop).68 As already stated, Gwada Ogot made a similar case in Kenya when seeking reform, not simply claiming that products made from the plant were a feature of local medical systems, but that they had been legislated against as part of a colonial and commercial conspiracy. The fate of reform efforts in Kenya is an important reminder that there are plenty of countervailing forces in sub-­Saharan states that sit in the way


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of change in attitudes and policies on cannabis. Concern with the harms of products made from the plant, as well as the cultural conservatism of many in government and in the population, seem to have formed a substantial obstacle to those seeking new positions. Indeed, Kenya has recently banned waterpipe (shisha) smoking of tobacco on health grounds,69 suggesting that in terms of policy the predominant logic is still one of restriction rather than liberalization. It was certainly the case during the debate in Senate in 2017 about cannabis that many of the views expressed relied heavily on a conservative morality and paid no heed to economic or cultural arguments. Fred Outa, for example, stated that: A true Christian as I am—­I would like to inform Sen. Cheruiyot that I am a reverend in case he is not aware that I am ordained—­my morals cannot allow the use of Marijuana because of what I have witnessed as its side effects. There is a lot of theory about the plant by the young people who claim that if they use the plant, they can be able to face young ladies squarely. They claim that it gives them extra courage. Some people also claim that if they use Marijuana, they can till land tirelessly because it gives them extra powers from nowhere. Such evil powers can be very destructive for this country.70

Legislators are not the only arm of government in sub-­Saharan Africa to stand in the way of reformers. As mentioned earlier, for antinarcotic units of police forces, the cannabis bust remains one of the easiest ways to demonstrate efficacy, and one of the most spectacular events from a public relations perspective. As Gernot Klantschnig has shown in the case of Nigeria,71 the NDLEA dominate the narrative on drugs to the extent that any countervailing voices (including those of medical experts) are usually drowned out. Indeed, the above-­mentioned quashing by the head of the NDLEA of the suggestion that cannabis law in Ondo state might be liberalized is an example of this. It must be remembered, however, that not all countries in the region have an equivalent of the NDLEA. Many states are far more limited in their policing resources, and the portion of these they can dedicate to enforcing cannabis controls. This in part explains some of the other local, vested interests in the status quo that may form a barrier to those seeking reform in cannabis laws. The quasilegal status described above may also benefit producers and traders for whom prices are kept inflated in a context where they can often avoid police interference while not facing taxation by the state. A legal market might mean that the state itself becomes a predatory player in the

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cannabis market through a demand for duties and other revenue. Certainly, there are concerns already in Lesotho about high government charges for licenses for cultivating medical cannabis, which are currently set at around $37,000 USD.72 Also, the current quasi-­prohibition regime has insulated cannabis farmers from the takeover of their industry by corporate interests. The current industry is one dominated by small-­scale farmers. As suggested above, the move to license production in Lesotho shows that those most likely to benefit from legal production are foreign corporations who can grow the substance on a sufficiently large enough scale to profit, not to mention to be able to afford licenses. While clearly not ideal, the current situation at least provides a place for the smallholder in a growing industry. Not that smallholder involvement is always a good thing. Around Mount Kenya much cannabis is grown in remote forests, and cannabis farmers have been held responsible for much deforestation, leading the region more at risk from wildfires.73 Cannabis has always been a crop grown either hidden among other crops or in remote areas. Bringing it into the open may damage the incomes of smallholders (and dent value of the crop, its controlled status being one reason for its profitability). But it could reduce the environmental risks of hidden production. Conclusion Changes to cannabis policy in the West, and ongoing discussions about how best to enforce current regimes or the most effective ways to remodel them for the future, has had worldwide impacts. In sub-­Saharan Africa these have been felt because a matter, that was until recently regarded as best left in the quasilegal grey zone into which it had fallen over the years, has suddenly found itself a focus for government departments and national legislators. This chapter has mapped some of the diversity in responses by states and governments in the region, and it has considered the drivers behind some of these. In no case has there been any clear evidence that officials or legislators have simply followed the lead provided by certain US states and European countries (or Uruguay, for that matter). Rather, it seems that local interests, ideas, and cultures have shaped how sub-­Saharan nations took on debates and discussions from elsewhere. Economics have provided a powerful set of considerations, as many can see an opportunity


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to develop products and already existing capacity to benefit from future markets around the world. However, other ideas have also been important, such as those about the legitimate place of cannabis substances in local medical practices or about the perils of intoxication or artificial stimulation when viewed from moral or religious beliefs. This explains the other key observation of this chapter, that to date the status quo has prevailed in many more places than change has actually taken place. With all this in mind it is important that those advocating possible reform to cannabis laws and policies in sub-­ Saharan countries, as well as those resisting them, consider in detail the future shape of postprohibition landscapes in each country. It should also be borne in mind that change may well bring negative unintended consequences for those who have long made livelihoods from this controversial plant. Notes 1.  Neil Carrier and Gernot Klantschnig, “Quasilegality: Khat, Cannabis and Africa’s Drug Laws,” Third World Quarterly 39 no. 2 (2018): 350–­365. 2.  The research underpinning this chapter sets the foundations for a project led by the author and Gernot Klantschnig on cannabis in Africa entitled Cannabis Africana: Drugs and Development in Africa and funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council; it will involve interviews with a wide array of stakeholders in Africa’s cannabis industry and those policing it. Such interviews and oral histories will enable more in-­depth analysis of cannabis cultures and economies, filling the large gaps in grassroots perspectives in the current literature and available sources. 3.  UNODC Report, Cannabis in Africa: An Overview (Vienna 2007), 15. 4.  UNODC Report, The Drugs Nexus in Africa (Vienna 1999), 19. 5.  UNODC Report, The Drugs Nexus in Africa, 57. 6. John Philips, “African Smoking and Pipes,” Journal of African History 24 (1983): 303–­319. 7.  David Gordon, “From Rituals of Rapture to Dependence: The Political Economy of Khoikhoi Narcotic Consumption, c.1487–­1870,” South African Historical Journal 35, no.1 (1996): 62–­88. 8.  Brian Du Toit, “Man and Cannabis in Africa: A Study of Diffusion,” African Economic History 1 (1976): 17–­35. 9.  Chris Duvall, “Cannabis and Tobacco in Precolonial and Colonial Africa,” Oxford Research Encyclopedias (March 2017), http://­africanhistory​.­oxfordre​.­com​/­view​/­10​.­1093​ /­acrefore​/­9780190277734​.­001​.­0001​/­acrefore​-­9780190277734​-­e​-­44​.

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10.  Johannes Fabian, Out of Our Minds: Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000): 15ff. 11.  Annah Moteetee and Ben-­Erik Van Wyck, “The Medical Ethnobotany of Lesotho: A Review,” Bothalia 41 (2011): 209–­228, at 219. 12.  For linguistic and other evidence of this, see Chris Duvall, The African Roots of Marijuana (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019). 13. Gernot Klantschnig, “Histories of Cannabis Use and Control in Nigeria, 1927–­ 1967,” in Drugs in Africa: Histories and Ethnographies of Use, Trade, and Control, ed. Gernot Klantschnig, Neil Carrier, and Charles Ambler (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014): 69–­88, at 71. 14.  Richard Burton, Wanderings in West Africa (London: Tinsley Brothers, 1863): 224. See Duvall, The African Roots for a comprehensive overview of the pre-­twentieth-­ century spread of cannabis throughout Africa and across the Atlantic, including extensive coverage of earlier use in West Africa. 15. On legislation in West African countries, see Jamie Bridge and Maria-­Goretti Loglo, “Drug Laws in West Africa: A Review and Summary,” IDPC / WACD Briefing Paper (London: IDPC, 2017). 16. See notices in the Official Gazette of the East Africa Protectorate (Nairobi: Govt Printer, 1913), 882; and in 1914, 203. 17.  See Jim Mills, Cannabis Britannica: Empire, Trade and Prohibition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), chap. 7, on cannabis and The Hague Convention. 18.  Letter dated February 21, 1908 from John Ainsworth, PC Kisumu, to the Crown Advocate Mombasa. See file “The Abuse of Opiates Prevention Ordinance” at the Kenya National Archives: KNA AG 32/38. 19. Mills, Cannabis Britannica, 160–­161. 20.  Neil Carrier and Gernot Klantschnig, introduction to Africa and the War on Drugs (London: Zed Books, 2012). 21.  See “Annual Crime Report 2016,” National Police Service of Kenya, accessed July 2019, http://­www​.­nationalpolice​.­go​.­ke​/­crime​-­statistics​.­html​. 22. Court case of 2014 available here: “Criminal Revision 5 of 2014,” Kenya Law (website), accessed July 2019, http://­kenyalaw​.­org​/­caselaw​/­cases​/­view​/­96728​/­​.­ For sentencing guidelines in Kenya, see “Laws of Kenya: Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act,” National Council for Law Reporting, 1994, http://­ www​.­kenyalaw​.­org​/­kl​/­fileadmin​/­pdfdownloads​/­Acts​/­NarcoticDrugsandPsychotropi cSubstances_Control_Act__Cap245​.­pdf​. 23.  Gernot Klantschnig, “The Politics of Drug Control in Nigeria: Exclusion, Repression and Obstacles to Policy Change,” International Journal of Drug Policy 30 (2016):


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132–­139. The website of the NDLEA prominently uses an image of its officers cutting down cannabis plants, alongside the organization’s logo. 24. Margarita Dimova, “The First Dragon to Slay: Unpacking Kenya’s War on Drugs,” Review of African Political Economy 43, no. 148 (2016): 227–­242. 25. Jean Comaroff and John L. Comaroff. “Criminal Obsessions, After Foucault: Postcoloniality, Policing, and the Metaphysics of Disorder,” in Law and Disorder in the Postcolony (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006): 273–­299, at 274. On the usefulness of such a crisis in Kenya, see Dimova, “The First Dragon to Slay.” 26.  Carrier and Klantschnig, introduction to Africa and the War on Drugs. 27.  Emmanuel Akyeampong, “Historical Overview of Psychiatry in Africa,” in The Culture of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Practice in Africa, ed. Emmanuel Akyeampong, Allan G. Hill, and Arthur K. Kleinman (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015), 24–­49, at 40. 28.  Religious organizations are often conspicuous in antidrug rallies and media campaigns. See, for example, Fredrick Nzwili, “Kenya’s Christians and Muslims Unite to Combat Addiction,” Washington Post, June 19, 2013, https://­www​.­washingtonpost​ .­com​/­national​/­on​-­faith​/­kenyas​-­christians​-­and​-­muslims​-­unite​-­to​-­combat​-­addiction​ /­2 013​ /­0 6​ /­1 9​ /­4 bf38dca​ -­d 8e7​ -­1 1e2​ -­b 418​ -­9 dfa095e125d_story​ .­h tml​ ?­u tm_term=​ .­f8a17bcce560​. 29.  Carrier and Klantschnig, “Quasilegality,” 357; Julian Bloomer, “Using a Political Ecology Framework to Examine Extra-­Legal Livelihood Strategies: A Lesotho-­Based Case Study of Cultivation of and Trade in Cannabis,” Journal of Political Ecology 16 (2009): 49–­69. 30.  Neil Savishinsky, “The Baye Faal of Senegambia: Muslim Rastas in the Promised Land,” Africa 64 no. 2 (1994): 211–­219. 31.  Akyeampong, “Historical Overview,” 40. 32.  Willem Van Schendel and Itty Abraham, eds., introduction to Illicit Flows and Criminal Things: States, Borders and the Other Side of Globalization (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), 1–­37. 33.  Bloomer, “Using a Political Ecology Framework”; and Neil Carrier and Gernot Klantschnig, “Illicit Livelihoods: Drug Crops and Development in Africa,” Review of African Political Economy 148 (2016): 174–­189. 34.  Parker Shipton, Bitter Money: Cultural Economy and Some African Meanings of Forbidden Commodities (Arlington, VA: American Anthropological Association, 1989), 35. 35.  Carrier and Klantschnig, Africa and the War on Drugs, chap. 4. 36.  Carrier and Klantschnig, “Quasilegality,” 350–­365.

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37.  David Bewley-­Taylor, International Drug Control: Consensus Fractured (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). 38. Nancy Agutu and Melanie Mwangi, “Kibra MP Ken Okoth to Introduce Bill Legalising Marijuana, Writes to Muturi,” Star, September 21, 2018, https://­www​ .­the​-­star​.­co​.­ke​/­news​/­2018​-­09​-­21​-­kibra​-­mp​-­ken​-­okoth​-­to​-­introduce​-­bill​-­legalising​ -­marijuana​-­writes​-­to​-­muturi​/­​. 39.  Daniel Psimoi, “Man Wants Bhang Use Made Legal in Kenya,” Standard, April 7, 2017, https://­www​.­standardmedia​.­co​.­ke​/­article​/­2001235352​/­man​-­wants​-­bhang​-­use​ -­made​-­legal​-­in​-­kenya​. 40. John Muchangi, “Legalise Bhang to Free Kenyans from 50 Years of Colonial Oppression,” Star, October 4, 2017. 41.  Debate in the Kenyan Senate, Mzalendo (website), February 15, 2017, http://­info​ .­mzalendo​.­com​/­hansard​/­sitting​/­senate​/­2017​-­02​-­15​-­14​-­30​-­00​#­entry​-­724846​. 42.  Debate in the Kenyan Senate, Mzalendo (website), November 29, 2017, http://­ info​.­mzalendo​.­com​/­hansard​/­sitting​/­senate​/­2017​-­11​-­29​-­14​-­30​-­00​#­entry​-­767054​. 43.  Debate in the Kenyan Senate, Mzalendo (website), November 29, 2017. 44.  Debate in the Kenyan Senate, Mzalendo (website), November 29, 2017. 45.  Collins Omulo, “Kibra MP Ken Okoth Plans Bill on Legalising Bhang Use, Growth,” Nation, September 21, 2018, https://­nation​.­africa​/­kenya​/­news​/­kibra​-­mp​-­ken​-­okoth​ -­plans​-­bill​-­on​-­legalising​-­bhang​-­use​-­growth​-­89612​. 46. Report by Carolina Carlz, “Kenyans React to a Researcher Seeking to Legalize Marijuana/Weed,” Pulse Live Kenya, April 11, 2017, YouTube video, 4:19, https://­ www​.­youtube​.­com​/­watch​?­v=fxRpkgNMikU​. 47.  Neil Carrier, Kenyan Khat: The Social Life of a Stimulant (Leiden, UK: Brill, 2007), 247. 48.  See Nicky Newman, “Global Cannabis March—­Cape Town 2019,” Daily Maverick, May 8, 2019, https://­www​.­dailymaverick​.­co​.­za​/­article​/­2019​-­05​-­08​-­global​-­cannabis​-­ma​ rch​-­cape​-­town​-­2019​/­​. 49.  Alexis Haden, “Medical Marijuana to Be Licensed in South Africa by End 2017,” South African, September 14, 2017, https://­www​.­thesouthafrican​.­com​/­medical​-­mari​ juana​-­licensed​-­south​-­africa​/­​. 50.  Ruling by the High Court of South Africa, Western Cape Division, South African Legal Information Institute, March 31, 2017, http://­www​.­saflii​.­org​/­za​/­cases​/­ZAWCHC​ /­2017​/­30​.­html​. 51. Ruling by the High Court of South Africa, Western Cape Division, March 31, 2017.


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52. Charles Parry, Bronwyn Myers, and Jonathan Caulkins, “Decriminalisation of Recreational Cannabis in South Africa,” Lancet 393, no. 10183 (2019): 1804–­1805. 53.  See the following article: Bill Weinberg, “South Africa Moves Towards Legal Cannabis Economy,” High Times, October 2, 2017, https://­hightimes​.­com​/­news​/­south​ -­africa​-­legal​-­cannabis​-­economy​/­​. 54.  Parry, Myers, and Caulkins, “Decriminalisation,” 1804–­1805. 55. Ilze-­Marie le Roux, “SA Form Gets Green Light to Grow Marijuana in Lesotho,” Eyewitness News, September 18, 2017, http://­ewn​.­co​.­za​/­2017​/­09​/­18​/­sa​-­firm​-­gets​-­green​ -­light​-­to​-­grow​-­marijuana​-­in​-­lesotho​. 56. Alice McCool, “The Country on a Mission to Legalize Hemp (and Maybe Weed Too),” Vice, March 14, 2017, https://­www​.­vice​.­com​/­en_us​/­article​/­xymepn​/­the​-­country​ -­famous​-­for​-­malawi​-­gold​-­is​-­on​-­a​-­mission​-­to​-­legalize​-­hemp​-­v24n2​. 57.  See: Tonderayi Mukeredzi, “Zimbabwe’s Medical Marijuana Future Uncertain,” The Scientist, September 12, 2018, https://­www​.­the​-­scientist​.­com​/­news​-­opinion​/­zimbabwes​ -­medical​-­marijuana​-­future​-­uncertain​-­64785​. 58. Samuel Osborne, “Zimbabwe Government Approves Country’s First Cannabis Farm,” Independent, May 30, 2019, https://­www​.­independent​.­co​.­uk​/­news​/­world​/­africa​ /­zimbabwe​-­cannabis​-­marijuana​-­farm​-­medicinal​-­scientific​-­use​-­a8937346​.­html​. 59.  “Ghana is 3rd Consumer of Marijuana Globally,” Ghanaweb, June 30, 2016, https://­ www​ .­ghanaweb​ .­com​ /­GhanaHomePage​ /­NewsArchive​ /­Ghana​ -­is​ -­3rd​ -­consumer​ -­of​ -­marijuana​-­globally​-­Report​-­451744​. 60.  Joe Agbro Jr. “Nigeria’s Romance with Marijuana,” Institute for War & Peace Reporting, January 20, 2015, https://­iwpr​.­net​/­global​-­voices​/­nigerias​-­romance​-­marijuana​. 61. See Peter Dada, “Ondo Is Ready to Tap into $145bn Medical Marijuana Market, Akeredolu Declares,” Punch, May 14, 2019, https://­punchng​.­com​/­ondo​-­is​-­ready​-­to​-­tap​ -­into​-­145bn​-­medical​-­marijuana​-­market​-­akeredolu​-­declares​/­​. 62.  See John Alechenu and Olaleye Aluko, “NDLEA Opposes Akeredolu on Cannabis, Destroys 3,900 Hectares in Ondo,” Punch, May 21, 2019, https://­punchng​.­com​/­ndlea​ -­opposes​-­akeredolu​-­on​-­cannabis​-­destroys​-­3900​-­hectares​-­in​-­ondo​/­​. 63.  Kenya Senate, “Parliament of Kenya,” November 27, 2017, http://­www​.­parliament​ .­go​.­ke​/­sites​/­default​/­files​/­2017​-­05​/­Wednesday_29th_November_2017​.­pdf​. 64.  See “Marijuana, Mountains and Money,” BBC News, November 28, 2018, https://­ www​.­bbc​.­co​.­uk​/­news​/­world​-­africa​-­46288374​. 65.  Charles Ambler, “The Drug Empire: Control of Drugs in Africa, a Global Perspective,” in Drugs in Africa: Histories and Ethnographies of Use, Trade and Control, ed. Gernot Klantschnig, Neil Carrier, and Charles Ambler (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 25–­48, at 27.

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66.  Lee Cassanelli, “Qat: Changes in the Production and Consumption of a Quasilegal Commodity in Northeast Africa,” in The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arjun Appadura (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 236–­258; Carrier and Klantschnig, “Quasilegality,” 350–­365. 67.  While cannabis grows easily enough in Kenya, that there is demand there for cannabis from Malawi and Ethiopia suggests even Kenyan consumers are not satisfied with the quality of the homegrown product. The import of Malawian cannabis to Kenya was tracked by a reporter: Mr. Flamingo Jones, “Malawi Marijuana Farm—­Kenya, Africa,” YouTube video, July 10, 2014, 10:56, https://­www​.­youtube​.­com​/­watch​?­v=42VzldZFsoE​ &­t=7s​.­While from the north cannabis from Shashamane enters Kenya, some being sold as far as Nairobi (as Carrier’s informants have reported). 68. Interview of Monyane Moleleki, “Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho on Cannabis Making the Nation Famous & Respectable,” Midas Letter Raw, YouTube video, July 5, 2019, 8:48, https://­www​.­youtube​.­com​/­watch​?­v=yktVuWcrp6c​. 69.  See, for example, William Mwangi, “Kenya to Ban Shisha over Health Risks,” Star, December 28, 2017, https://­www​.­the​-­star​.­co​.­ke​/­news​/­2017​/­12​/­28​/­kenya​-­to​-­ban​-­shisha​ -­over​-­health​-­risks_c1690288​. 70.  Kenya Senate Debate, Parliament of Kenya, November 27, 2017, http://­www​ .­parliament​.­go​.­ke​/­sites​/­default​/­files​/­2017​-­05​/­Wednesday_29th_November_2017​.­pdf​. 71.  Klantschnig, “The Politics of Drug Control,” 136. 72.  Julian Bloomer, “Turning Cannabis into Cash: Agrarian Change and Lesotho’s Evolving Experience,” EchoGéo 48 (2019): 12. 73.  See “Mount Kenya Wildfire: Marijuana Farmers Blamed,” BBC News, February 28, 2019, https://­www​.­bbc​.­co​.­uk​/­news​/­world​-­africa​-­47401902​.

15  Forces of Necessity: Lay Advocacy and the Remedicalization of Cannabis in the UK, 1973–­2004 Suzanne Taylor

When the WHO declared that “cannabis preparations are practically obsolete” in 1952 and added that “there is no justification for the medical use of cannabis preparations” it seemed that the long therapeutic career of substances made from the plant was over.1 The use of cannabis products limped on in places, so that cannabis-­based medicines were only finally withdrawn in the UK in 1973. However, their use had been in decline for much of the twentieth century, so it is unlikely that this final act was much noticed by many in medical circles.2 Within a decade cannabis-­based drugs were back. Synthetic cannabis-­based drugs entered the clinic in the 1980s (although they caused serious side effects) and were expensive and difficult to access. In the 1990s the Home Office licensed research into cannabis-­based medicines by a UK company, GW Pharmaceuticals, which has proven to be a success. Sativex, a cannabis-­based substance administered orally as a spray for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS) was, by 2017, approved in twenty-­five countries around the world and under development for potential indications in schizophrenia and other neurological conditions. Based on in-­depth interviews and archival and documentary research, this chapter traces the role of lay advocacy in this remedicalization of cannabis in Western practices, and particularly those in the UK, from the 1970s onward. It argues that high-­ profile advocacy placed pressure on policymakers, and the outcome changed attitudes in government toward clinical trials and provided incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to become involved. Significant within this was the emphasis by MS campaigners on respectability married with the ability to forge cross—­class alliances. It also argues, following interviews from significant insiders, that advocacy was crucial in focusing the direction of research. The chapter concludes by


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discussing the reasons why, despite cannabis-­based drugs receiving a licence in the UK, access remains problematic. Medical Necessity 1975–­1991: Glaucoma, Cancer, and AIDS Cannabis activism in the 1960s focused on the liberalization of the legal framework surrounding cannabis. In some instances, activists extolled the medicinal properties of the plant, but their arguments were subsumed by the larger campaign to make recreational consumption more palatable to regulators. Perhaps the best-­known pressure group in the UK was SOMA (Society of Mental Awareness), an organization founded by Stephen Abrams in 1967.3 SOMA’s network included a physician, pharmacologist, and a research psychologist, but drew on a wider set of supporters—­ranging from Francis Crick, the codiscoverer of the structure of DNA, to the Beatles. SOMA attempted to influence policy through the media and public opinion throughout the decade, and its most famous moment was the placement of an advertisement in the Times (London, England) on July 24, 1967.4 The advertisement was designed to influence the terms of reference of the Wootton Committee, which had been set up by the government to examine the case for law reform.5 It was subsequently referenced in the introduction to the Wootton report.6 Such activism appeared to have little policy impact, and the Wootton Report was rejected by government. These politicized campaigns for legalization failed in a hostile policy environment. Arguments for medicinal cannabis were overwhelmed by fears of recreational use and limited proof for medical efficacy. Single-­issue groups could be short lived, and SOMA folded due to a lack of funds.7 However, successors followed; in 1978, for instance, the Legalise Cannabis Campaign (LCC) was initiated to campaign for full legalization of the use and distribution of cannabis in the UK. The new LCC campaign demanded that cannabis products be made available for prescription by doctors without special requirements. Such arguments, however, were buried in the push for wider access to cannabis products in general and for recreational consumption in particular. Separating the medical from the recreational proved to be an important next step. On this aspect, moves in the United States influenced UK activists, where campaigners built upon the work of these early US organizations. In the US, American Robert Randall was instrumental. In 1972, Randall’s glaucoma (a

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progressive disorder of the eye that destroys cells in the retina, degrades the optic nerve, and causes eventual blindness) forced him to search for alternative therapies. Conventional treatments of the time did not provide lasting effects and surgery was ruled out. He was advised to plan for a life of disability. While smoking cannabis one night, though, Randall found that blurred halos around the street lights were gone. He convinced himself and his partner, Alice O’Leary, that the cannabis was the cause of this relief, and he began to grow the plant on his property to provide a regular supply. In August 1975, the house was raided.8 When the Federal Drugs Administration (FDA) attempted to block this access, Randall brought a case against them in 1978 and won. This legal victory meant that the US government had to create a program, the Investigative New Drugs Program (INDP) to provide compassionate access to cannabis. Thereafter, the INDP supplied National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) grown cannabis to approximately thirty qualifying patients, a success that further encouraged patients to collaborate to push for legal access to cannabis for specific medical problems. Health activism now developed on a larger scale, and the campaigning morphed from small-­scale cases to pressure for the reform of laws that denied access in the first place. Randall and O’Leary founded the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT) in 1981, for example. Overall, Randall’s struggles were central to the process of separating the campaign for easier access to preparations of the plant for medical purposes from the wider movement to reform cannabis laws in the United States. In the UK, meanwhile, the findings of the 1980 Expert Group on Cannabis set up by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) helped change attitudes toward cannabis. Composed of medical and scientific authorities, and chaired by J. D. P. Graham, a professor of pharmacology at Cardiff University, the ACMD downplayed the risks of cannabis. Attention, instead, began to focus on the possible benefits of cannabis substances, particularly for the treatment of side effects from cancer treatments.9 Synthetic versions were produced, including nabilone (licensed in 1982 in the UK) and Marinol (in the US in 1985). Cannabinoids were back on the agenda in medical science, but that did not necessarily include whole or herbal cannabis, such as the flowers, stems, or leaves, often either smoked or taken as a tea. Moreover, these scientific and regulatory developments were not sparked by patient activism but by patient need from those in cancer care enduring chemotherapy.


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HIV/AIDS activists and communities provided the next step-­change in the United States. Clinton Werner, a scholar of the American medical marijuana movement concluded that the “experience of desperate AIDS patients using medical marijuana helped to change the national perceptions of the drugs from menace to medicine.”10 An initial focus on the development of drugs to combat the infection drove the change. Much of the attention was, of course, focused on an antiretroviral medicine called AZT. However, the side effects of AZT included headaches, nausea, and weight loss, which exacerbated the problems caused by AIDS. In self-­help circles, herbal cannabis became popular, acting as an appetite stimulate and painkiller; but its usefulness was compromised by its illicit status. Activism by AIDS patients was led by a well-­organized gay rights movement experienced in political agitation on civil rights issues. And the ready-­ made network of cannabis campaign groups like ACT proved invaluable for AIDS campaigners. Though cannabis-­based drugs were available on the market, these were not available for applications other than as a palliative in specific cancer treatments. Herbal cannabis remained illegal. The INDP became a method through which AIDS patients could gain access to an otherwise illicit substance. The program was a concession rather than a right, was limited in meeting patient demand, and had a tenuous place in federal law. Booth argued that the fury at the closure of the INDP in 1992 led to further development of the grass roots movement to protect patients and to the development of “buyers’ clubs” for alternative and illicit remedies.11 Members could join if they held a doctor’s certificate stating their condition would benefit from cannabis, but as they remained illegal under federal law they were eventually closed down. However, the use of cannabis as an antinausea drug used in relation to cancer chemotherapy had established that cannabis-­ based substances could have a legitimate medical application, and one that could be used as a precedent for AIDS treatment. Marinol was consequently made available for prescription for AIDS patients in 1992 in the US. Patients already receiving herbal cannabis were allowed to continue, but those in the process of being placed onto the compassionate program were provided with Marinol;12 this enabled the US government to argue that smoked herbal cannabis for medical purposes was obsolete.13

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Cannabis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Patient Perspectives in the UK, 1992–­2007 In the UK, it was a different disease that impacted on policy discussions about cannabis medicines. Multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive, degenerative disease impacting on the brain and spinal cord nerves, proved important. Orthodox therapies included baclofen (Kemstro) and diazepam (Valium) for the treatment of muscle spasms and spasticity, nonetheless their efficacy was limited, and both had unpleasant side effects. MS patients faced a variety of symptoms for which there were no effective treatments, especially chronic and severe pain. The groups representing MS sufferers helped change official attitudes toward medicinal cannabis. The MS Society, formed in 1953, was one of the earliest patient-­activist groups. It had two major aims: to support patients with MS and to foster research into treatment. Cannabis became of interest in the 1990s and the society’s policy argued that if cannabinoid-­based medicine proved safe and effective in clinical trials, then it ought to be made available to patients through the NHS. The society stipulated that research should be vigorously pursued and that cannabis had to be judged equally—­namely, the criteria that applied to the assessment of any proposal for a new drug therapy with normal standards for quality, safety, and efficacy. The society funded a number of clinical trials. Its policy was not to recommend the use of herbal cannabis prior to clinical trials, though it did urge authorities to deal sympathetically with people who self-­medicated. “The MS society does not encourage people with MS to break the law,” the group told Parliament. “We do however understand why some people who face intolerable symptoms have chosen to make their own decisions about cannabis use. . . . ​Where the medical evidence warrants it, we hope that the police and the courts would deal with such people in an appropriate compassionate fashion.”14 Created in 1993 by Jill Holt and Chris Jones, the MS Trust had a specific agenda to stimulate medical research into the condition. Both founders had personal experience with MS and had been involved with another group, Action and Research into MS (ARMS), an organization founded in 1974 to make applied research into MS a priority. ARMS closed in 1993, though, so Holt and Jones sought to find the money to continue the research program. They argued that applied research remained underfunded, information for the newly diagnosed was inadequate, the image of MS remained poor, and


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that NHS services were limited. A small charitable trust was established with two MS researchers. Clinicians described the trust as “a breath of fresh air” in their willingness to provide resources, though their funding ability was limited.15 While the MS Trust was more research driven than the MS Society, cannabis was one of many options that it was willing to support. The Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT), by contrast, was set up in 1992 by Clare Hodges (Dr. Claire Brice), an MS sufferer. ACT was based on the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics in the United States. ACT in the UK was created as a single-­issue, single activity, self-­help group for medicinal cannabis users to campaign specifically for cannabis research and direct access through the NHS. Hodges, for her part, suffered from spasticity, loss of sensation, bladder problems, nausea, and diminished appetite. Nine years of orthodox medicine had provided limited sustained relief and many unpleasant side effects. After reading about cannabis in the American Medical Journal, she tried smoking cannabis and found that it alleviated some symptoms. She recalled how as “a middle-­class mother of two young children I had a bit of a problem obtaining cannabis.” But “eventually I found someone who helped me get some,” and when “I did try cannabis the physical relief was almost immediate. . . . ​I was comfortable with my body for the first time in years.”16 According to certain accounts, patient associations are largely a middle-­ class activity, and Clare Hodges fitted this mold. Indeed, this perhaps worked to her advantage and brought a not-­so-­respectable activity, cannabis consumption, into a “respectable” setting.17 She began to cultivate, smoke, and ingest herbal cannabis. With the introduction of nabilone she hoped to find a legal method of treatment, but instead she found unpleasant side effects, and it failed to produce the beneficial effects of herbal cannabis. With the failure from the patient’s perspective of the licit cannabis-­based drug, Hodges felt herself forced to revert to herbal cannabis. In 1992 her neurologist put her in touch with others who were self-­medicating with herbal cannabis, and they decided to form a group to campaign for more research and provide information to sufferers and the public about medical cannabis issues. Hodges explained her motivation, “I found out it was not just me . . . ​so I raised awareness and let people know about it.”18 Use of cannabis, however, posed problems from two points of view: the threat of prosecution and the lack of quality control and unknown dosage.19 The ACT aimed to encourage research into medical preparations of “herbal or natural cannabis” and for such therapies to be made available on a

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doctor’s prescription while research was ongoing. As Hodges remembered, “We are not campaigning for the general legalization of cannabis. Indeed, even if cannabis were legalized we would still be campaigning as we think seriously ill people should get their medication from their doctor and not have to provide it for themselves.” She added, “Similarly the objectives of the ACT would not necessitate cannabis being legalized. Preparations of cannabis could be available for medical use whilst still being illegal as is the case for diamorphine /heroin.”20 ACT thus argued that herbal cannabis had a long history in a medical setting, was safe, and available. It went further than the MS Society, that is, and argued that patients needed immediate relief not help at some undefined point in the future. An important aspect of these three distinct patient associations lay in their ability to provide an interface between patients and researchers, drawing the lay and professional spheres closer together.21 ACT developed close connections with scientists and the medical profession and was able to provide laboratory scientists with access to patient perspectives. Hodges described the membership of ACT as a loose affiliation of patients, including those with spinal injuries and cancer, doctors, hospital consultants, and health workers. Its role meant that it helped research to take place. For the scientists working on cannabis-­based products, the patient association provided a willing pool of patients, many of who were actively interested in the research. ACT also worked with the pharmacologist Professor Roger Pertwee, of Aberdeen University, on a project studying the perceived effects of smoked cannabis on patients with MS. ACT assisted by distributing questionnaires and providing access to users. The links to the US ACT provided access to additional users.22 Similarly, interactions were initiated with clinicians. Hodges developed links with an anesthetist, Dr. William Notcutt, who was carrying out work on nabilone for pain.23 She was able to obtain nabilone on a named-­ patient basis rather than having to resort to the black market. This was rare. Hodges explained some of the difficulties involved in sourcing cannabis. Often, “you can’t get it from the doctor. There are only a handful of doctors that can do it. Others get it illegally from the black market but people are scared. They wrote to ACT asking where can we get it? Most people just don’t know where to get cannabis.”24 Thus, patient-­doctor relationships provided a conduit for the patient perspective to reach the medical establishment. This was particularly important over the issue of the unsatisfactory nature of nabilone in comparison to herbal


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cannabis. Hodges described her attempt to move to the licit nabilone and stay off illicit cannabis: “I had just been prescribed nabilone. . . . ​I took this for four nights but it made me confused and clumsy. I persevered hoping it might be a substitute, but it wasn’t.”25 For both patients and clinicians, it became clear that further research was needed on other cannabis-­based products, most notably herbal extracts, rather than a single chemical entity like nabilone. Interactions between laboratory scientists and the MS Society partially contributed to a breakthrough in scientific knowledge about the role cannabis could play in MS treatment. Initially, it had been cautious about cannabis research and refused to fund trials in the early 1990s.26 But by the late 1990s, it was taking an interest, albeit cautiously. The society placed emphasis on respectability, which it perceived it needed to maintain if it was to engage with an illicit substance. This was achieved by maintaining a disassociation from legalization campaigns or demands for access to cannabis prior to clinical trials. Dr. Layward, an immunologist at the MS Society, explained some of the initial concerns. “Legalise Cannabis,” she suggested, “was the only strongly campaigning group at the time and we did not want to be involved in the issue of legalisation of an illegal substance.”27 Legalization campaigns were reemerging in the 1990s,28 and the MS Society was keen not to be associated. The society’s initial remit did not cover sponsorship of scientific research, mainly because of the antipathy of the medical establishment toward lay involvement.29 By the late 1950s, the society had changed its position on funding basic science research, but this led to disagreements over the allocation of scarce resources. The dilemma was that, on the one hand, the society called for patience in waiting for effective therapies implying they were imminent, but, on the other hand, indicated that there was much research still to be carried out. Attention was directed into understanding the disease, finding a cure, and the elimination of the condition rather than treatment and care. But with no cure in sight, the society was forced to take a greater interest in the alleviation of symptoms. Writers on the early history of the society have argued that it was the social background of the society’s founding members and, in particular, its ties to neurology that made respectability especially important.30 The society therefore placed great importance in its early days upon remaining orthodox and ignoring fringe medicine. It received a constant stream of letters on alternative treatments, and the society saw MS as a disease that attracted a great deal of quackery.

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Yet, the society’s membership, upset by the lack effective treatments, started to look for alternatives. In the 1990s, a new chief executive, Peter Cardy, initiated a review of the attitudes of the membership. Cardy asked Dr. Lorna Layward to investigate the potential of cannabis. She explained her initial response to Cardy’s request: One of the early things the Chief Executive said to me was, “Is there anything in this cannabis story?” and I was incredibly reluctant. . . . ​My perception was that I did not want to get involved in legalisation but wanted to focus on scientific evidence.31

Patient perspectives began to undercut such concerns. Layward, while reluctant, described the impact of the patient experience on her own attitudes after carrying out a survey on MS Society members and their reactions to cannabis, “It is only when I started to speak to people with MS that I started to change my mind.”32 Layward never forgot one patient’s response, “I remember distinctly a comment. . . . ​He/she said, ‘Bugger research, one puff and I can straighten my leg.”33 As such patient voices filtered through to the society’s leadership, new approaches to cannabis were developed.34 The discovery of the endogenous cannabinoid receptor system in the 1990s had provided some legitimacy to anecdotal accounts of the medicinal use of cannabis,35 but proof was needed of its value in specific applications such as MS. When investigating existent research on cannabis and MS, Layward made links with Pertwee, and Dr. David Baker at the Institute of Neurology. Layward asked Baker to carry out systematic research into the effects of cannabis on MS and she put him in touch with Pertwee.36 Six to seven months were needed to develop equipment to measure the effect, after which the project results showed cannabis had a significant impact on tremors in mice, similar to those in humans with MS.37 The experiment seemed to validate the patient experience. According to Layward, “It showed for the first time objectively that cannabinoids could do what people with MS were telling us. What we had demonstrated was . . . ‘one puff and I can straighten my leg’”38 The results were published later on the front page of Nature and added to emerging discussions about potential clinical trials.39 Ultimately, the experiment had worldwide impact and gained positive media reportage in the UK.40 It was important because, as Baker recalled, “It started to put biology behind the patient experience.”41 Other societies became involved. The MS Society pushed for clinical trials to go ahead as the only method for getting cannabis-­based drugs to their


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members. ACT was keen on clinical trials but recognized that there would be a massive time lag from clinical trials to the development of a medicine, and it preferred to pressure for immediate access to herbal cannabis. “We want to see the problem addressed now as well as the research,” Hodges highlighted the need for faster solutions. “You can do the two in conjunction.”42 The MS Society, by contrast, justified its more cautious approach this way: “Any proposal for therapy has to conform to stringent medical standards. . . . ​Unless and until such trials are undertaken and a therapeutic benefit is demonstrated the MS Society would not support the prescription of cannabis for people with MS.” The MS Society argued that since MS was a long-­term illness any drug had to be effective and safe over the long term. Simple logic. In not advocating the immediate use of cannabis and not advocating any change to the law surrounding cannabis, the group sought to maintain respectability and consequently their influence on the policy and medical environment. Clinical trials therefore became of critical importance. As Layward put it, “We had been aware of the anecdotal evidence of the benefits of cannabis for some time, but strongly believed that trials were essential to rigorously test the effectiveness of the drug and to develop safe and easy methods of use.”43 The relationship between the MS Society and Tony Moffat, the chief scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, was vital. Layward explained the convergence of interest in clinical trials by patient associations and professional bodies. “We both had the same sort of viewpoint,” she contended. “Not interested in legalisation . . . ​ what we were interested in, was there any medicinal use? That marriage . . . ​ that relationship was absolutely pivotal to making all of this happen.”44 As it happened, the MS Society joined forces with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the British Medical Association in 1997 and organized an influential conference on clinical trials.45 Nervous of the press response, and the risk to its reputation, the society was wary; still, it seemed that the time was apropos for trials to proceed. According to Layward: We were pushing at a time when there was a lot of resistance but over the coming year the resistance fell away. There was the discovery of the cannabis receptor system, MS and HIV patients talking about cannabis in terms of making them feel better . . . ​there was a clamouring from different groups of people and anaesthetists were interested in pain relief.46

The symposium drew scientists, clinicians, patients, and most importantly, funders together and focused their attention on the provision of protocols

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for trials on MS and pain. It also attracted industry attention. ACT actively sought out the pharmaceutical industry to encourage the production of legal cannabis therapies. Several companies were contacted but to no avail—­ cannabis therapies were seen as too controversial and not worth the investment. Hodges recalled, “One company . . . ​took it quite a long way . . . ​and told me in confidence that it was too controversial, the scheduling was too difficult, it just was not worth the investment.” Meanwhile, “at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society last summer I met a man who is an ex-­chairman of a pharmaceutical company and he had tried to get a Home Office licence and had preliminary discussions with them four years ago and he had been advised not to go ahead. Recently, I approached him and suggested that he have another go and he tried again.”47 Getting industry involved proved more difficult than expected. However, the meetings organized by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society were significant because they allowed for interactions with Geoffrey Guy, founder of GW Pharmaceuticals and other stakeholders. For industry involvement to proceed, the approval of the Home Office was necessary. Patient groups were important here too in placing pressure on government. The MS Society and the ACT sought to bring the patient perspective closer to policymakers. They developed relationships with professional bodies, including the British Medical Association (BMA). Influential reports on therapeutic cannabis, such as that by the BMA that emerged in the 1990s, absorbed evidence given by the ACT and the MS Society.48 ACT was also especially effective at keeping the issue high on everyone’s agenda through the media. For Layward, reflecting on applying pressure for change, “We couldn’t get anywhere without those sorts of groups keeping the agenda high, for speaking to the press.”49 Press responses were largely positive toward medicinal cannabis use, and it was a popular human interest topic.50 “Three hundred individuals wrote in about how much they had benefited from it,” Hodges noted. “All grist to the mill, wasn’t just me. Doesn’t take long for it to get around. . . . ​The press very much like running stories about it because most people in the press use it.”51 This publicity highlighted the problems of prosecuting patients for trying to alleviate their symptoms and increased public support for their cause. Links between activist groups and the policy community became increasingly important.52 While the MS groups were not so closely associated with a “network of influence” as organizations like Action on Smoking and Health


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(ASH),53 the antitobacco group, they certainly sought to make a contribution to the policy environment. ACT in particular began to lobby the government. It organized delegations that included MPs, scientists, and clinicians to the Department of Health in 1994 and 1997. These stressed the need for medicinal preparations of herbal cannabis to be made available for research and also argued that prescription on a named-­patient basis should be provided.54 Hodges courted sympathetic MPs, such as Paul Flynn, and MS groups were involved in the All Party Parliamentary Group for MS.55 This consisted of MPs and peers with a specific interest in MS, and was established in 1997 to promote the interests of people affected by the illness. This interaction at the heart of government enabled the patient associations to draw attention to the MS issue and, within that, the need for clinical trials. Patient groups also contributed to parliamentary expert committees. The MS Society and ACT were invited to present evidence to the House of Lords Committee on therapeutic cannabis during the late 1990s. Their evidence provided the opportunity to place the patient perspective before the House of Lords and generate more public awareness of the issues. They raised concerns over the lack of treatments, the importance of clinical trials, and the form of the drug to be trialed.56 ACT also campaigned for access to herbal cannabis while trials were developed. The MS Society, while accepting many of the points made by the ACT, made it clear that they were not prepared to accept anecdotal evidence nor push for interim access to herbal cannabis. They argued that clinical trial evidence for the efficacy of the new drug, beta-­interferon for MS symptoms, was sufficient to justify prescription and in the absence of comparative evidence for cannabis the society could not support its use in clinical practice. They emphasized it was “essential that further research is taken” and steadfastly pressed the case for clinical trials. However, they were concerned that clinical trials, because of the nature of the disease, and the substance being tested, would pose complications. A large section of their evidence was given over to the methodology of potential clinical trials, predicting many of the problems that later emerged. In contrast to the initial policy of the society, they argued that disincentives to research were financial and attitudinal rather than legal, and that they were happy to fund research.57 Activists helped to shape the form of the debate, in a way that had not occurred in the closed expert discussions of the 1970s, by asserting the interests and experiences of patients into deliberations. Differences of opinion

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existed on the importance of the House of Lords Report in this process. While some, such as Philip Robson, medical director at GW Pharmaceuticals, argued that it was critical to advance research,58 Layward held that trials would have gone ahead without the report. “We carried on,” she contended, and “they came up with what we were doing anyway . . . ​it was because there was a groundswell. Without it, it still would have happened.”59 Geoffrey Guy, the founder of GW Pharmaceuticals (a newly established company), appeared hopeful when he gave evidence to the House of Lords Committee in 1997. I think also that the new research here, which is very much patient demand led, will be accompanied by funding for research programmes . . . ​the MS Society has already said they would support clinical trials. . . . ​As yet there seems no prospect of any funding from government.60

When GW Pharmaceuticals found itself considering research into cannabis, it was in relation to MS, precisely because activists had been so effective in establishing a link in the minds of the public and policymakers between the drug and the condition. “MS is a major awareness group. . . . ​So, at the beginning, a focus on MS was sensible” recalled Philip Robson of the company.61 One area of contention about research was over the form of cannabis to be used: herbal cannabis or drugs derived from single, synthetic principles. Nabilone had been licensed for treatment in cancer chemotherapy, but it could be prescribed for MS patients. MS patients with the experience of self-­treating with herbal cannabis found, as was the case earlier with HIV/ AIDS patients, that the synthetic THC legal drugs appeared inferior in terms of their efficacy and side effects. This experience was noted by activists in the House of Lords Report. “Nabilone,” according to the government document, “does not seem to be an effective substitute for cannabis used therapeutically . . . ​all those who have taken both nabilone and natural cannabis say that cannabis is more effective and easier to control.”62 ACT, for its part, campaigned for herbal cannabis.63 The MS Society, too, argued that there might be many useful cannabinoids within cannabis or an interplay between cannabinoids. They pressured for a trial on herbal cannabis and another on specific cannabinoids, especially those that lacked a psychoactive element. In its presentation to the House of Lords Committee, the society argued for different arms to the trials.64 Furthermore, patient associations were involved in discussions over the mode of administration. In a survey, members of the MS Society expressed concern over the effect


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of smoking on their health, and the society doubted that any drug administered through this route would pass through the regulatory mechanisms. ACT offered a different perspective: With a disease so unpredictable, self-­education seems more helpful than treatment with a regular dose of a fixed strength. . . . ​People gain from treating themselves . . . ​most people choose to smoke cannabis. . . . ​The advantages in taking cannabis via the lungs is that the effects are much quicker and therefore easier to regulate.65

In 2001, clinical trials began. One trial focused on pain and another on MS, known as Cannabinoids for Treatment of Spasticity and Other Symptoms Related to Multiple Sclerosis (CAMS). The latter trial had three arms: a synthetic version of one cannabinoid known as THC; whole cannabis extract; and a placebo, all administered orally. However, the trials did not produce the results that activists hoped for. The outcomes were inconclusive and failed to produce the evidence-­based proof sought by the clinicians—­even as most patients taking part appeared to find benefits to their lifestyles. The problem, in part, centered on the method of administration which, from the patient perspective, was an inferior model. Dr. Layward suggested later that there were problems with the design of the trials from the start, “The protocols got compromised so much. What, you would like to do, is often what you can’t do in patients.”66 Unusually, patients had practical experience of alternative methods. As it was not possible to test these, investigations took place on more acceptable delivery methods, such as tablets containing cannabinoids, but from the patient perspective these seemed to lack the effectiveness of smoked cannabis. Patient associations questioned the nature of evidence and the role of the patient perspective within clinical trials assessment when results were published in 2003.67 Researchers found that cannabis had no significant effect on the key symptom measurement of muscle spasticity as measured by an independent assessment of clinical spasticity known as the Ashworth scale. But the MS Society raised concerns about how patient perspectives were weighed as evidence and argued that a small statistical value in a test could have significant impacts on a patient’s experiences. It was difficult to quantify how a patient “may feel” or how “more people on the drugs found relief from other very distressing symptoms like pain, spasm and sleeping problems than those taking a placebo.” It was equally difficult to measure “quality of life.”68

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The MS Society also sought to bring this patient perspective to the notice of medical advisory bodies. Along with other stakeholders, including the manufacturers and health professionals’ organizations, the society made submissions to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the independent organization responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health through health technologies. The concerns of the MS Society over the design and measures used in trials were submitted there. It urged NICE to look beyond standard protocols and to think in more complex terms about what data could look like, and that the methodology at NICE ought to consist of thinking about the evidence required to drive policy. They insisted that the data may be “muddied” by the variability in people’s experiences of symptoms of MS and the normal variation in people’s responses to cannabinoids. They added how it was vital to “take full account of the views of people affected by MS”—­or to “walk in their shoes.” This type of empathy would assist the evaluation of the cannabis medicines.69 The society, what’s more, pushed the legality issue and argued that the production of a legal medicine would provide a clear split between recreational and medicinal use and remove the risk of self-­treating patients becoming entangled in the criminal justice system. Legal medical cannabis would limit “distress and fear.” People would no longer have to choose between “their health, personal safety, and careers.”70 In short, the society’s submission pointed to the wider context of the discussions about cannabis and the reasons why its potential as a useful medicine for those with MS was not being more squarely acknowledged in policy circles. “People with MS are concerned that the political issues around recreational use of cannabis may unfairly influence a decision about cannabinoid-­based medicines.” Stigma was involved, whereas “if a plant was discovered in the rainforest, then they probably would be called a miracle cure you know. It wouldn’t have all this political baggage behind it.”71 Conclusion Patient activism tailed off after the turn of the millennium. The MS Society had other issues to campaign on, and its success in playing a role in the development of clinical trials meant that the group’s attention was diverted elsewhere. Much attention was focused on GW Pharmaceuticals and the


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product Sativex, which was eventually made available on a named-­patient basis. At conferences patients appeared to give positive reports of Sativex, but responses were mixed.72 Hodges hinted at other reasons that those suffering from MS began to rethink the medicinal use of cannabis when she attended a witness seminar in 2009. She was unsure about Sativex and voiced concerns about the long-­term effects of regular cannabis use on the mind, although she still found it helped physically. “I’ve become more . . . ​ aware of the downsides,” she recounted. “I can see that it’s affecting my mind; not that it’s making me psychotic, but I’m very conscious of it affecting my mind as well as helping my body.”73 Hodges also provided a more prosaic explanation of why the lay advocates of the 1990s had been less active in the subsequent decade. “People with MS are weary and ill and haven’t got the energy to campaign.”74 Lay knowledge and activism, however, were critical in the UK for the remedicalization of cannabis from the 1990s. MS patient associations were highly active in that decade and created a platform for the patient perspective to impact upon both scientific and policy spheres. Though these societies had dissimilar approaches, their combined advocacy provided a respectable face to medicinal cannabis. Via lobbying efforts, they kept the issue high on the agenda and encouraged the shift from anecdotal lay knowledge to the facilitation of evidence-­based knowledge with the initiation and development of clinical trials. They brought herbal cannabis to the fore, demanding a product much more closely aligned to their own experience than the synthetic, single-­ active, principle-­ based substances that had previously made it to market. Patient experience forced researchers to reevaluate outcome measures in clinical trials. Finally, patient concerns contributed to the circumvention of the regulatory system by the import of Sativex, on a named-­patient basis as a temporary measure. No longer seen in the UK solely as a suspicious intoxicant, many of the public, policymakers, doctors, and scientists now view cannabis as a potentially useful medicine and adjunct therapy. Yet, little has changed from the patient perspective. Although licensed in the UK, Sativex has not been approved by NICE and is not available through the NHS except in Wales, where it is difficult to obtain. In 2017, the MS Society changed its position and called for herbal cannabis for medicinal use to be legalized for MS patients. Then in 2017–­2018 debate focused around cannabis for severe and rare forms of epilepsy in children,

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as seen in the high-­profile cases of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose parents campaigned for access to cannabis oil, which they were able to obtain abroad but not at home. After MPs questioned access on behalf of their constituents, an NHS review was requested in May 2018 by the health secretary. In June, the home secretary called for a review and in July, on the advice of the ACMD and the chief medical officer, he announced that cannabis derived medicinal products would be rescheduled from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, the law changing in November; it allowed the prescription of cannabis-­based medicine in certain circumstances via doctors on the General Medical Council’s special register. But because few of these products are licensed by the MHRA and have not been approved by NICE, few have been prescribed. Cannabis oil, for example, has not been recommended for use. In 2019 the Committee on Social Care argued that the research base remains limited because clinical trials were restricted under the previous scheduling and that new trials are urgent. The relevant committee stated how it was “deeply sympathetic” and called “on the Government to desist from confiscating prescribed medicinal cannabis obtained overseas under specialist supervision.”75 In November 2019, NICE changed its guidelines to allow two cannabis-­based medicines to be used to treat two forms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis; it was not allowed for other conditions, such as chronic pain, prompting some patients’ groups to call it a missed opportunity. Notes 1. WHO, Expert Committee on Drugs Liable to Produce Addiction, 3rd report in Technical Report Series, 57 (Geneva: WHO, 1952, 11). 2.  Jim Mills, Cannabis Nation: Control and Consumption in Britain, c. 1928–­2008 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 87. 3.  Stephen Abrams, “Cannabis Law Reform in Britain,” in Marijuana Papers—­An Examination of Marijuana in Society, History and Literature, ed. D. Soloman (London: Panther Books, 1969), 69–­79. 4.  SOMA, “The Law Against Marijuana Is Immoral in Principle and Unworkable in Practice,” Times, July 24, 1967. 5. Stephen Abrams, The Wootton Report: The Decriminalisation of Cannabis in the UK, Nedprod (website), June 1997, http://­www​.­nedprod​.­com​/­cannabis​/­essays​/­wraltnet​.­txt​. 6.  Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence, Hallucinogen Subcommittee, Cannabis, a report by the ACDD (London: HMSO, 1968).


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7. Bruce Wood, Patient Power? The Politics of Patients’ Associations in Britain and America (Buckingham/ Philadelphia, PA: Open University Press, 2000). 8.  Robert Randall, “Glaucoma: A Patient’s View,” in Cannabis in Medical Practice: A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana, ed. Mary Lynn Mathre (London: McFarland, 1997), 94–­102. 9. Home Office, Minutes of the Working Group on Cannabis 18th Meeting 3rd Feb. 1977, London: National Archives, HO 319/178. 10.  Clinton Werner, “Medical Marijuana and the AIDS Crisis,” in Cannabis Therapeutics in HIV/AIDS, ed. Ethan Russo (New York: Routledge, 2001), 32. 11.  Martin Booth, Cannabis: A History (London: Bantam, 2004). 12.  Alice Mead, “International Control of Cannabis” in Handbook of Cannabis, ed. Roger Pertwee (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 44–­64. 13.  Clare Hodges (Brice), interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 14.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee, Ninth Report: Cannabis: The Scientific and Medical Evidence: Evidence (London: TSO, 1998), 90. 15.  John Zajicek, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 16.  Clare Hodges (Brice), MS sufferer, ACT (DEDC), interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 17. Wood, Patient Power? 18.  Clare Hodges (Brice), interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 19. Mary Lynn, Mathre, Cannabis in Medical Practice: A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1997). 20.  Clare Hodges (Brice), interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 21. Wood, Patient Power? 22.  Clare Hodges (Brice), interview by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 23.  William Notcutt, anesthetist, interview by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 24.  Clare Hodges (Brice), interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 25.  Clare Hodges (Brice), interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 26.  Clare Hodges (Brice), interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 27.  Lorna Layward, immunologist, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 28.  Rosie Boycott, “Why We Believe It Is Time to Decriminalise Cannabis,” Independent, September 28, 1997, http://­www​.­independent​.­co​.­uk​/­life​-­style​/­why​-­we​-­believe​ -­it​-­is​-­time​-­to​-­decriminalise​-­cannabis​-­1241574​.­html​.

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29. Wood, Patient Power? 30.  M. Nicolson and G. Lowis, “The Early History of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: A Socio-­Historical Study of Lay/Practitioner Interaction in the Context of a Medical Charity,” Medical History 46, no. 2 (2002): 141–­174. 31.  Lorna Layward, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 32.  Lorna Layward, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 33.  Lorna Layward, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 34. Wood, Patient Power? 35. Raphael Mechoulam, and Hanuš, Lumír, “A Historical Overview of Chemical Research on Cannabinoids,” Chemistry and Physics of Lipids 108, nos. 1–­2 (November 2000): 1–­13. 36.  Lorna Layward, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 37.  David Baker, D. Baker speaking in S. M. Crowther, L. A. Reynolds, E. M. Tansey, and Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, The Medicalization of Cannabis: The Transcript of a Witness Seminar Held by the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, London, on 24 March 2009, Wellcome Witnesses to Twentieth Century Medicine 40 (London: Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine. UCL, 2010). 38.  Lorna Layward, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 39.  David Baker et al. “Cannabinoids Control Spasticity and Tremor in a Multiple Sclerosis Model,” Nature 404 (2000): 84–­87. 40. BBC, “Cannabis ‘Helps MS Sufferers,’” BBC News, March 2, 2000, http://­news​ .­bbc​.­co​.­uk​/­1​/­hi​/­health​/­662254​.­stm​. 41.  D. Baker speaking in Crowther, Reynolds, Tansey, and Wellcome Trust Centre, The Medicalization of Cannabis. 42.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 90. 43.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 10. 44.  Lorna Layward, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 45.  RPS, and MS Society, “Therapeutic Applications of Cannabinoids. Meeting Organised by the Pharmaceutical Sciences Group of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, and the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies 2 no. 3 (1997): 130–­131. 46.  Lorna Layward, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 47.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 40.


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48. British Medical Association, Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis (Amsterdam: CRC Press, 1997). 49.  Lorna Layward, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 50.  B. Farmer, “Court Clears MS Patient Who Used Cannabis Openly,” Independent, March 18, 2000. 51.  Clare Hodges (Brice), interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 52.  Virginia Berridge, Marketing Health: Smoking and the Discourse of Public Health in Britain 1945–­2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 164. 53. Berridge, Marketing Health, 164. 54.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 44–­49. 55. All Party Parliamentary Group for MS, Meeting of the All Party Parliamentary groups for MS, February, 24, 2004, (document removed from website by July 2019, copy in author’s personal archive). 56.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 27–­32, 84–­100. 57.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 84–­100. 58.  Philip Robson, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 59.  Lorna Layward, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 60.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 173–­182. 61.  Philip Robson, GW Pharmaceuticals, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 62.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 30. 63.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 28. 64.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 89. 65.  House of Lords, Science and Technology Committee—­Ninth Report: Cannabis, 30. 66.  Lorna Layward, interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2009. 67. John Zajicek, Patrick Fox, Hilary Sanders, David Wright, Jane Vickery, Andrew Nunn, Alan Thompson, and UK MS Research Group, “Cannabinoids for Treatment of Spasticity and Other Symptoms Related to Multiple Sclerosis (CAMS Study): Multicentre Randomised Placebo-­Controlled Trial,” Lancet 362 no. 9395 (2003):1517–­1526. 68.  MS Society, “Cannabis Derived Medicine Can Improve Quality of Life,” accessed July 12, 2019, http://­www​.­multsclerosis​.­org​/­news​/­Nov2003​/­CannabisDerivedMedici nesCanImproveQualityofLife​.­html​.

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69. MS Society, Health Technology Appraisal: Cannabinoids for Symptom Relief in Multiple Sclerosis. Submission to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), (London: MS Society, August 2003), accessed December 2010, www​.­mssociety​.­org​ .­uk​/­downloads​/­ACF5D9B​.­a340e54e​.­pdf​. 70.  MS Society, Health Technology Appraisal. 71.  MS Society, Health Technology Appraisal. 72. S. M. Crowther, L. A. Reynolds, E. M. Tansey, The Medicalization of Cannabis, Wellcome Witnesses to Twentieth Century Medicine, vol. 40. (London: Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, 2010). 73. Crowther, The Medicalization of Cannabis, 69. 74.  Clare Hodges (Brice), interview in person by Suzanne Taylor, 2007. 75.  Health and Social Care Committee, Drugs Policy: Medicinal Cannabis, House of Commons, 2019.


Cannabis: Global Histories began as a conference at the University of Strathclyde in 2018, and the express purpose was to connect scholars and generate research into the comparative history of cannabis consumption, commerce, and control in the early modern and modern worlds. Over two and half days in Glasgow, early career and established participants from over twelve different countries collaborated on refining individual papers and brainstorming a combined structure to better appreciate the historical nuances of cannabis. Participants left Glasgow with scarce concrete answers but with a renewed desire to address pressing questions and a sense of community. The conference mission—­to stimulate, connect, and organize—­proved relatively successful. Afterward, several scholars from the Glasgow conference, and some in this collection, reconvened in Shanghai for the Biennial Meeting of the Alcohol Drugs History Society in June 2019 (the first time it was held in Asia) and then again in Washington, DC for the International Society for the History of Pharmacy meeting during August 2019. A final follow-­up meeting in Johannesburg, Beyond the Medicines/Drugs Dichotomy: Historical Perspectives on Good and Evil in Pharmacy, occurred in December 2019. It was a high-­intensity year, full of globe-­trotting, collaborative in-­person meetings, and intellectual fermentation, and one that resulted in tighter connections among scholars in the field of drug and alcohol studies—­particularly in the study of cannabis. We’d like to convey gratitude to all participants involved, especially the contributors in this volume, who certainly put up with a lot from us. Various institutions and societies supported this book. The original Strathclyde conference was made possible through funding from the Wellcome Trust’s Networking Grant scheme. And we would be remiss if we

364 Acknowledgments

failed to acknowledge the support of Dan O’Connor and the Wellcome Trust’s humanities and social sciences team in London. We appreciate, too, that the Alcohol Drug History Society, American Historical Association, and American Institute of the History of Pharmacy provided venues to try out new (and old) ideas. On top of this, thanks to the David F. Musto Center, Shanghai University for hosting us on various occasions. The History of Science, Medicine, and Technology Brown Bag, the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, and the Institute for Research in the Humanities, all at the University of Wisconsin-­Madison, should be singled out for thanks. The UW-­Madison School of Pharmacy, for its part, has supported interdisciplinary scholarship and backed the teaching of history throughout its existence, a feature that has set it apart from many other US pharmacy programs. Other intellectual debts have piled up in the creation of this book. The editorial board members and contributing editors at The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs as well as History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals must be saluted for their quiet labor. This vital service as board members, in addition to the all-­important work of peer reviewers, underpin our field—­ and ultimately make books like this possible. Thanks goes to Greg Bond, Nancy Campbell, Michelle Chui, David Courtwright, Erika Dyck, Chris Duvall, Joseph Gabriel, Barry Gidal, David Herzberg, Greg Higby, Paul Hutson, Dave Mott, Natalie Schmitz, John Swann, Nancy Tomes, Cody Wenthur, Don Wirtshafter, Brent Zettl, and Yong-­An Zhang. It is important to acknowledge Kristen Huset, Margaret Keoghan, and Caroline Marley, and we are probably forgetting many others. Maeleigh Tidd proved a resourceful and enterprising research assistant. Peter Hynd not only wrote a chapter but also fashioned maps that have improved this book. Matt Browne, at the MIT Press, saw potential in this project from the start, and he proved a helpful guide along the publication pathway. Of course, huge thanks to our copyeditors, including Karen Stocz Oemler and Kate Gibson, the larger production team at the press, and, most especially, the volume’s four peer reviewers. Finally, in March 2020, the World Health Organization labelled the COVID-­19 virus strain a global pandemic. And it ultimately caused mass deaths across the planet. The crisis, which continues as we write this, drove up restrictive measures and political rhetoric, even as markets plunged

Acknowledgments 365

downward. Deemed “unprecedented,” the dangers associated with the virus forced on us a new lexicon, including: “social distancing,” “flattening the curve,” “community spread,” and “super spreader.” COVID-­19 has been a once in a lifetime event for many of us. We want to acknowledge those hardest hit by the virus, the individuals who must put themselves in danger because of structural inequalities across the globe, and the resolute health workers who stand against the virus.


Editors Lucas Richert is George Urdang Chair in the History of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-­Madison. Richert is the author of Conservatism, Consumer Choice and the Food and Drug Administration During the Reagan Era: A Prescription for Scandal (Lexington, 2014); Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs (McGill-­Queen’s University Press, 2019); and Break on Through: Radical Psychiatry and the American Counterculture (MIT Press, 2019). He is the coeditor of The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs: An Interdisciplinary Journal (University of Chicago Press) and editor of History of Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals (University of Wisconsin Press). Jim Mills is a professor of history at the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare, University of Strathclyde. His key publications include Cannabis Nation: Control and Consumption in Britain, c. 1928–­2008 (OUP, 2012); Drugs and Empires: Essays in Modern Imperialism and Intoxication, (Palgrave, 2007); Cannabis Britannica: A Social and Political History of Cannabis and British Government, 1800–­1928 (OUP, 2005); and Madness, Cannabis and Colonialism: The “Native Only” Lunatic Asylums of British India, 1857 to 1900 (Palgrave, 2000). Authors Jamie Banks recently defended his PhD thesis at the University of Leicester. His Arts and Humanity Research Council (AHRC)-­funded thesis explored the social history of opium use among Asian indentured migrants to Mauritius, British Guiana, and Trinidad. As a Wellcome Trust ISSF postdoctoral fellow, he is exploring the relationship between cannabis use and mental illness among black communities in colonial Jamaica and postcolonial Britain. He is a research associate on the AHRC-­funded project, “Alcohol, Race and Ethnicity: The United States, Mexico and the Wider World, 1845–­1940.” James Bradford is an assistant professor of history at Berklee College of Music and adjunct lecturer at Babson College. He is the author of Poppies, Politics, and Power: Afghanistan and the Global History of Drugs and Diplomacy (Cornell, 2019). He has also

368 Contributors

written for the Journal of Iranian Studies and EchoGeo. His research and teaching focus is on Asian history and US foreign policy. Isaac Campos is an associate professor of history at the University of Cincinnati. Campos received his PhD in Latin American history from Harvard. He is the author of Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs (University of North Carolina Press, 2012). Campos is currently writing his second book, examining the illicit drug scene in Mexico and greater North America between 1912 and 1940. Neil Carrier is a lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Bristol. Carrier’s main scholarly interests include drug trade and consumption in East Africa. His key publications include: Little Mogadishu: Eastleigh, Nairobi’s Global Somali Hub (Hurst & Co. 2017); Drugs in Africa Histories and Ethnographies of Use, Trade, and Control (Palgrave Macmillan 2014); Africa and the War on Drugs (Zed Books 2012); and Kenyan Khat: The Social Life of a Stimulant (Brill Academic Publishers, 2007). Emily Dufton is a senior research associate at George Washington University, where she received her PhD in American studies. Dufton is the author of Grass Roots: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Marijuana in America (Basic Books, 2017). She is currently working on her second book, a history of how medication-­assisted treatment for opioid use disorder transformed from a public service into a commercial product, currently under contract with the University of Chicago Press. Maziyar Ghiabi is Wellcome Lecturer at the University of Exeter and is the PI on a Wellcome Trust-­funded project called Living “Addiction” in States of Disruption (2021–­ 2026). Prior to this, he was a postdoctoral fellow on the Drugs and (Dis)Order project (Global Challenge Research Fund, UK) at SOAS, University of London and at the Paris School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS). He is the author of Drug Politics: Managing Disorder in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Cambridge, 2019) and editor of Power and Illegal Drugs in the Global South (Routledge, 2018). David A. Guba Jr. is an educator and historian of drugs and colonialism in modern France. He is the author of Taming Cannabis: Drugs and Empire in 19th-­Century France (McGill-­Queen’s UP, 2020). He has recently written for The Conversation, Slate, and the Washington Post. Peter Hynd is a member of the Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) at McGill University. He was also awarded a PhD from McGill University. Peter’s interests lie at the intersection of geography, history, and economics. Gernot Klantschnig is a senior lecturer of international criminology at the University of Bristol. His research and publications focus on crime and drugs and their role in broader debates about trade, development, the state, and health in Africa, China, and globally. Klantschnig’s publications include: Drugs in Africa: Histories and Ethnographies of Use, Trade, and Control (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); Crime, Drugs and the State in Africa: The Nigerian Connection (Brill/RoL, 2013); and Africa and the War on Drugs (Zed Books, 2012).

Contributors 369

Haggai Ram is an historian of the modern Middle East at Ben Gurian University of Negev. His teaching and research focus on the social and cultural history of Iran, Palestine-­Israel, and the Levant region. His key publications include: Intoxicating Zion: A Social History of Hashish in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (Stanford University Press, 2020); Iranophobia: The Logic of an Israeli Obsession (Stanford University Press, 2009); Reading Iran in Israel: Self and Other, Religion and Modernity (in Hebrew, 2006); and Myth and Mobilization in Revolutionary Iran (American University Press, 1994). Ned Richardson-­Little is a Freigeist Fellow at the University of Erfurt, Germany, where he leads a research project on international crime and globalization in modern Germany. Richardson-­Little is the author of The Human Rights Dictatorship: Socialism, Global Solidarity and Revolution in East Germany (Cambridge University Press, 2020). José Domingo Schievenini was awarded his PhD in history from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 2018. Now he is an assistant professor of history at the Autonomous University of Querétaro (UAQ). He has published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs Journal. His research focuses on drug policy in Mexico and the history of drugs in Latin America. Stephen Snelders is a research fellow at Utrecht University. Snelders is the author of Leprosy and Colonialism: Suriname Under Dutch Rule, 1750–­1950 (Manchester University Press, 2017); and Spiders in Their Webs: Drug Smugglers and the Netherlands, 1920–­1995 (Manchester University Press, 2020). Suzanne Taylor is a research fellow in the Centre for History in Public Health at the University of London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she received her PhD. Her research focuses on illicit drugs such as cannabis, alcohol, and tobacco at the national, European, and international levels. Thembisa Waetjen is a professor in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Johannesburg. Her research focus is on twentieth-­century South African political and social history in regard to intoxicant drugs and medicines. She is the author of numerous books and the editor of Opioids in South Africa: Towards a Policy of Harm Reduction (HSRC Press, 2019).


Abrams, Stephen, 342 Academy of Medicine (Mexico), 159–162, 166 Action and Research into MS (ARMS), 345 Activism, AIDS patients, 344 Kenya, 331 protests of 1968, 19, 218 South Africa, 329 United Kingdom, 341–357 United States, 297–316 Addiction, xii, xix, 61, 89, 97, 113–121, 144, 159, 161, 163, 166, 168–169, 205–207, 209–211, 215–219, 226, 232–238, 249, 272, 276, 280, 283, 288–289, 297 Adverse reactions to cannabis, 168, 173–174 Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), 343, 357 Afghanistan, xxi, 185–199 Age, 87–89, 187, 189–190, 206–213, 217–220, 231–233, 237–238, 240, 254–256, 263, 298 Agriculture, 324–326, 333 AIDS, 344, 353 Ainsworth, John, 324 Aladdin and the Marvelous Lamp, 13 Alcohol, 30, 34, 38, 40, 42–43, 45–47, 61–62, 69, 96, 121, 138, 140–141,

160–161, 164, 168–171, 174, 186, 206, 227–229, 232, 240, 276, 280, 305, 310, 330 Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 310 Ali, Muhammad, 5 Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT), United Kingdom, 346–347, 350–354 Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT), United States, 343–344, 346 American exceptionalism, 307–308 American Journal of Insanity, 14 American Journal of Medical Sciences, 14 American Psychiatric Center, 14. See also Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane Amotivational syndrome, 298 Annali Universali di Medicina, 17 Anslinger, Harry, 112, 118, 120, 122, 207 Assassin of Youth (1937 film), 208 Assassins myth, 4, 12, 115–116, 271 Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane, 14. See also American Psychiatric Center Asylums, 14–15, 57–58, 61–69, 71–73, 95, 115, 144, 160–161, 166–168, 236 Aubert-Roche, Louis-Rémy, 5–8, 11–13

372 Index

Authoritarianism and drug control, 236–239 Avicenna, 274 Baba Ku, 186, 199 Baker, David, 349 Bang, 4, 273, 276, 279 Beatles, The, 242 Beau Bassin asylum, 69 Belmont lunatic asylum, 61. See also Seccombe, George Bengal Excise Department, 30–34, 39–43, 46–49 Benjamin, Walter, 208, 213 Berbice lunatic asylum, 57, 61–62, 65. See also Grieve, Robert Bhang, 31, 44, 47–48, 63, 65, 73, 186–189 Bhoja, 47 Big Marijuana, xiv–xv, xviii–xxix. See also pharmaceutical industry Blonde Greet, 258, 262–263 Board of Commissioners in Lunacy, 69 Bongs, 158, 298, 302 Borders, 35, 47, 112, 148, 192, 194, 196, 205–206, 208, 213–218, 250, 259, 261–262, 282, 285. See also smuggling Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 14 Bouquet, Joules, 114–115, 117–118, 120–122, 165 Bourne, Peter, 303 Brierre de Boismont, Alexandre, 12 Brigham, Amariah, 14 British and Foreign Medical Journal, 15 British Guiana, xiii, xvi, 57–74 British Medical Association, 350–351 British Medical Journal, 72 Brotherhood of Eternal Love, 195–196 Browne, Edward, 277 Bulletin de Pharmacie, 4–5 Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, 194–196

Burke, Terry, 194–196. See also Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Bush, George H. W., 314 Buyers’ clubs, 344 Byrds, The, 253 Calcutta Customs House, 35 Calles, Plutarco Elías, 143 Cancer, 343–344, 347, 353 Cannabin, 7, 9 Cannabine (brand name), 7 Cannabinoids for Treatment of Spasticity and Other Symptoms Related to Multiple Sclerosis (CAMS), 354 Cannabinoids, 343, 345, 349, 353–355 endogenous receptor system, 349–350 Cannabis indica, 3, 4, 7–11, 14, 16, 83, 90, 98, 134, 143, 323 Cannabis sativa, 4, 57, 83, 86, 98, 133–134, 327 Cannabis seeds, use in cuisine, 280, 289 Cannabism, 63–65. See also Grieve, Robert Cannon, Walter Bradford, 163 Cape Pharmacy Act, 94 Capitalism, critiques of, 206–213 Cardy, Peter, 349 Carranza, Venustiano, 141–142 Carter, Jimmy, 297–298, 300–301, 303 Carter, Rosalynn, 303 Castro, Fidel, 207 Cato, Wilson, 61 Central Council of Roaming Hash Rebels, 212 Central Narcotics Intelligence Bureau, 118–119 Chanvre, 4, 6 Charas, 31, 47, 48, 186–189, 277, 279 Chastellier, Dr., 70 Chazelle, René, 19 Cheech and Chong, 310 Chemotherapy, 343–344, 353 Cheti, 275–276

Index 373

Chillum, 186–187, 277, 291 Cholera, 5–6, 8, 10–11 Choor, 31, 39 Christianson, Norman L., 166–167 Churrus, 8–9, 73 Class, x, xx, xxiii, 110 Afghanistan, 193 Germany, 206 Iran, 272, 277–280, 282, 288–289 Mexico, 135, 136, 139, 142 Netherlands, The 262 Nigeria, 227, 231–235 South Africa, 84, 89–93, 99, 101 Tunisia, 114–115, 121 United Kingdom, 341, 346 United States, 189, 304 Climate, 30, 39–40, 65 Clinical trials, 341, 345, 349–350, 352–357 Club des Hachichins, 13 Coca-Cola, 313–314 Cocaine, 83, 98–99, 119, 208, 211, 215, 225, 272, 299–300, 307, 310, 313, 315–316, 324 Cocoa, 227, 231 Codeine, 135, 142 Coffee shops, 247, 258, 262, 277, 286 Cohen, Herman, 254–255, 259 Cold War, 206–207, 220, 308 Colombia, 198 Colonialism British, 8–9, 57–74, 83–101, 186–189, 226–230, 323–324, 327, 331 during interwar period, 110–113, 122–123 Dutch, 83–84, French, 3–20 Italian, 18 and the medical profession, 57–59, 71–73, 94 Spanish, 132–133 Comins, Dennis W. D., 67, 71–72 Commercial farming, 84, 94, 99

Concours pours les Prix de Médecine et de Chirurgie, 14 Congress, United States, 297, 315 Connolly, John, 15 Controlled Substances Act, 297 Council of Evangelic Churches, 67–68 Counterculture, xxi, xxvi, xxviii, 248–249, 253–257, 259–260, 264 adoption of cannabis, 172, 189–190, 195, 207–208, 211–212, 249, 256, 264 COVID-19, vii–ix, xxix–xxx, 364–365 Crack cocaine, 272, 315–316 Crick, Francis, 342 Crime, 42, 57, 68, 70, 72, 83, 86, 91, 94, 98, 112–113, 117–120, 138, 146–150, 157, 159, 214, 232, 234, 236–237, 253, 283–284 crimes against health, 146–148, 150 criminal entrepreneurs, 248, 252, 254, 256, 258, 260–263 cultural embeddedness, 248, 254–264 link to cannabis use, 19, 86, 94, 98, 112–113, 118, 120, 147, 149, 157, 159, 208–209, 213, 284, 324 organized crime, 247, 258–263 Crystal meth, 276, 279–280, 283, 286, 288 Dacca insane asylum, 57–58 Dagga, 83–101, 329 Dagga Party (South Africa), 329 Daily Gleaner, 68 Dalevuelta, Jacobo, 159 Daoud Khan, Mohammed, 198 Datura stramonium, 8, 12 Dawamesk, 5–8, 10–13, 16–18 de Courtive, Edmond, 7, 9, 11 De la Peste ou le Typhus d’Orient, 6 de Sacy, Sylvestre, 115–116 Derosne, Jean-François, 7 Diagnosis, 62–65 diagnostic events, 122

374 Index

Diamba, 227, 323 Disease transmission, 5–6, 11, 13 Doctor-patient relationship, 347–348 Donald, James, 65–66 Dorvault, François, 7–9 Dr. Strangelove, 120 Dream-like states, 12–14 Drug Abuse Policy Office, 313 Drug culture, 298, 301–302, 307 Drug Enforcement Agency, 218 Drug tourism, 185, 190–192, 249, 254–256, 286, 290–291 Drug trafficking, 147–148, 190, 193–199, 205–210, 213–220, 249, 254, 258, 285. See also smuggling; global drug trade Drug war diplomacy, 309–312, 316 Du Hachisch et de L’Aliénation Mentale, 3, 13–14 DuPont, Robert, 302 Dyer, John, 61 Egypt, 5–8, 111–112, 117–118, 121 El Guindy, Muhammad, 111 Elizarrás, Francisco, 162 Emotions, origins, 162–163 Enervating drugs, 143–144, 147 Engelken, Herrmann, 17 English East India Company, 29 Epilepsy, 5, 356–357 Esquirol, Jean-Étienne Dominique, 12 Ethiopia, 323, 325, 330 Experimentation, 161–167 on animals, 161 on humans, 161–166 on mental patients, 165–167 Expoweed, 158, 171 Fairies’ spirit, 277 Families in Action (FIA), 305 Farmacopea Mexicana, 133–135 Federal Bureau of Narcotics (USA), 112, 118

Fielding, Nigel “Leaf,” 256 First Ladies’ Conference on Drug Abuse, 308–312, 314, 316 Firth, Henry, 60 Flemming, Carl Friedrich, 16 Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 343 France, xvi, 3–20 Free zones of intoxication (Iran), 273, 286, 289, 291 Freeling, Stanford (Governor), 61, 66 French Society of Pharmacy, 4 Galland, Antoine, 4, 13 Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand, 88 Ganja madness, 57–74 as a primarily Indian disorder, 57, 59, 61–63 Ganja Mahal, 29–39, 41, 43–44, 49 Ganja, 29–49, 57–74 Harvesting, 29, 31, 38 illicit trade, 29, 33–34, 39, 42, 44–45, 47 processing, 31–32, 48–49 transportation, 32–33, 45–48 Gastinel, Joseph-Bernard, 7, 9–11 Gateway theory, 206, 211, 215, 218 Gazette Médicale de Paris, 14 Gazzetta Medica di Milano, 17 Gazzetta Medica Lombardia, 18 Gender, 272, 278–279, 282, 290 Geneva Opium Convention (1925), 229 Genies, 12–14 Germany, xx, 15–17, 205–220 Ghana, xiii, 225, 228, 329 Glaucoma, 342–343 Gleaton, Thomas “Buddy,” 302, 306–307, 311, 313–316 Global drug trade, 189, 194–198, 205, 207, 210, 216–217, 249, 261–262. See also smuggling; drug trafficking Global history, method, xiv–xxx Globalization, xv–xvi, xxiv, xxix–xxx

Index 375

Gobar, Asad Hassan, 193 Gol, 272, 282–291 Gorbachev, Mikhail, 217 Graham, J. D. P., 343 Grieve, Robert, 57–59, 61–66, 68–69, 73–74. See also cannabism; Berbice lunatic asylum Guy, Geoffrey, 351, 353. See also GW Pharmaceuticals GW Pharmaceuticals, 341, 351, 353, 355–356 Habit-forming drugs, concept, 84, 89, 101. See also addiction Hague International Opium Convention, 324 Hague Opium Convention, 141, 143 Hanwell Asylum, 15 Harm-reduction approaches, 325 Haschischine (brand name), 7 Hashish, 3–20, 73, 109–123, 185–197, 205–220, 226, 249, 252–256, 258–263, 271–272, 275–280, 282–283, 285–286, 288–290, 292 as a treatment for cholera, 5–6, 8, 10–11 as a treatment for epidemic disease, 5–8, 10–11 as a treatment for mental illness, 11–18 as potentially therapeutic, 3–18 as quintessentially “Oriental,” 3–6, 11–15, 18–19 oil, 5, 275, 277, 289 Hashishiyyin, 115–115 Head shops, 299. See also paraphernalia marketplace Helsinki Accords, 217 Hemp, 4, 6, 15, 31, 33–35, 39, 42–48, 86–87, 117, 132–135, 146–147, 172, 329 Heroin, 142–144, 169, 170, 189, 196, 206, 208, 211, 215, 218, 220, 225, 260, 262–263, 272, 279, 283, 286, 288–289, 324

High Times, 299, 301, 310 High, concept, 275–276 Hippie Trail, 190, 213, 254–257, 278 Hippies, 190–198, 248, 254–257, 259 Historiography of cannabis, ix–xv Holt, Jill, 345 Home Office, United Kingdom, 341, 351 Homosexuality, 116, 120 Hong Kong Drug Ordinance, 229 Hôpital Bicêtre, 3, 10, 13–14, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, 10, 12 Hôtel Pimodan, 13 Humor, 328 Immigration, 58–61, 66 indentured laborers, 58–61, 83–86 Indian immigrants in the Caribbean, 58–61, 66 Chinese immigrants, 65 Pakistani immigrants in the Netherlands, 259–260 migrant workers in Africa, 83–86, 93, 233 Imperialism, cultural, 133, 148 Importation and exportation, 35–36, 46–48, 65, 69, 185–189, 194, 197, 207, 219, 247–255, 259–263 Indentured labor, 58–59, 86, 90. See also immigration India, vii–viii, ix, xiii, xvi, 9, 29–49 Indian hemp, 61, 72, 90, 94, 98–99, 109, 113, 118, 186–187, 211, 226–231, 235–238 Indian Hemp Decree of 1966, 226, 231, 236–238 Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, 44, 48, 71–73 Indigenous practices Afghanistan, 186–187, 193 Iran, 273, 280, 282 Mexico, 133–135 South Africa, 83–87, 101 Sub-Saharan Africa, 323

376 Index

Insanity, 3, 5, 11–16, 41–42, 44, 57–74, 111–112, 115–116, 119–120, 282–284 link to cannabis use, 41–42, 44, 57–74, 111–112, 115–116, 119–120, 138, 144, 193, 208, 211, 218, 220, 234–235, 325 Instagram, 286–287 Institut de France, 4 International regulation of drugs, 83–84, 99, 109–123, 141, 229, 247, 249, 285, 291, 306, 321–324, 330–331 Internet, 285–287 Investigative New Drugs Program (INDP), 343–344 Iran, xiv, xxii, 271–292 Ireland, Thomas, 71–73 Italy, 17–18 Jamaica, xvi, 58–59, 67–68, 72–74 James-Lange theory of emotions, 163 James, William, 163 Jefferson Airplane, 253 Joints, 144, 158, 212, 218–219, 253, 276, 288, 298 Jones, Chris, 345 Journal de Chimie Médicale, 7 June 2nd Movement, 212 Just Say No, 307, 314 Keif, 4 Kenya, xxii, 229, 306, 322–333 Kenyan Senate, 326–328, 330–332 Khan, Amanullah, 185, 187–189 Khan, Reza, 278 Khat, 225, 229, 328, 330 Kingston lunatic asylum, 67–68 Kiwanis International, 309 Kola, 226–228 Kowl, Andy, 299 Kuti, Fela, 232, 239 L’Officine, 7, 9 La Castañeda, 160–161, 166–167, 170–171

Ladies’ Home Journal, 304 Lamarck, Jean–Baptiste, 4 Lambo, Thomas Adeoye, 226, 233–240 Lange, Carl, 163 Laws in Afghanistan, 187–189 in British Guiana, 65 in France, 19 in Germany, 215 in India, 45–48 in Iran, 278, 286, 288–289, 290–291 in Jamaica, 68 in Kenya, 328–333 in Mauritius, 68–69 in Mexico, 132, 134–138, 142–146, 149 in the Netherlands, 247–251, 257, 261–262 in Nigeria, 226, 228–229, 231, 236–238, 324–326 in South Africa, 83–101 in Sub-Saharan Africa, 321, 324–326, 328–333 in Trinidad, 62, 64, 66, 71 in the United States, 297–298, 215, 305 decriminalization, 123, 150, 216, 247, 297–298, 300–301, 303, 305–306, 311, 321, 326–330 legalization, xii, xxi–xxii, 69, 123, 157, 171, 174, 216, 262, 303, 311, 321, 326–330, 332, 342, 347–348 quasilegality, 286, 288–289, 290–291, 321–326, 332–333 recriminalization, 305–306 Lay knowledge, 341–357 Layward, Lorna, 348–351, 353–354 League of Nations, xix, xxvi, 83–84, 99, 109–123, 141. See also international regulation of drugs Lecciones de Farmacología, 135 Legalise Cannabis Campaign (LCC), 342 Leonotus, 84, 106

Index 377

Lesotho, xxii, xxviii–xxix, 325, 329–331, 333 Levi, Peter, 192, 194, Liataud, François, 5 Library of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris, 7 Libya, 18 Licensing, 30–34, 36, 38–41, 44–49, 135–136, 146, 329–330, 333, 341–343, 353, 356–357 Liquor, 30, 34, 38, 43, 46–47 Lobbying, 300, 303, 305, 342–357 López Obrador, Andrés Manuel, 150 LSD, 172, 210, 212, 216, 276 Maguire, Peter, 190 Mailer, Norman, 172 Majam, 47 Malawi, 325, 329, 331 Mandatory minimum prison sentences, 315 Marañon, Gregorio, 163 Mariguana, 133, 159 Marijuana, 19, 112, 117–118, 120, 131–150, 157–175, 208–212, 216, 218, 220, 227, 255, 278–282, 284, 292, 297–316, 326–328, 330, 332, 344 Marinol, 343, 344 Maritime culture, 248, 254, 257–264 Mauritius, xiii, xvi, 58–59, 67–70, 74 McFarland Smith, 9 Mecca, 275 Media panics, 83, 139, 206, 208–212, 231–232, 235–236, 282–283 Medical authority, 134–136, 144, 147, 233–236 Medical cannabis, 275–276, 285, 330 Medical knowledge and racism, 141 circulation of, 58–59, 71–72 in service of colonialism, 58–59, 71–72, 84–86, 94, 101

Medical profession, 93–98, 134–135, 233–236 Medicalization, 233–236 Mexican Neurological and Psychiatric Society, 162, 166 Mexico, vii–viii, xvii–xviii, 131–150, 158–175 Mining, 89–93 Miraa, 328 Missionaries, 186 Mitchell, Clyde, 234 Modernity, 120–121 Moffat, Tony, 350 Moleleki, Monyane, 331 Mong’are, Okongo, 327 Monitoring the Future report, 305 Monopolies, 39, 43, 46, 257, 326–327 Moral panics, 112, 118, 136 Moreau de Tours, Jacque-Joseph, 3, 10–18 Morphine, 83, 98, 99, 135, 138–139, 142–144, 159, 196, 249 Mossadeq, Mohammad, 278 MS Society, 345–356 MS Trust, 345–346 Multiple sclerosis (MS), 341, 345–356 Murder, 173–174 Musa Shafiq, Mohammad, 195 Music, 232–233, 239, 253, 255 jazz, 232–233 rock, 253 Muthoornath Banerjee, 30–31 Mutual Aid and Moralizing Society, 137 Nabilone, 343, 346, 347, 348, 353 Narcotic Drugs Act, 215 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Use, 297 National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Nigeria (NDLEA), 324, 330, 332 National Federation of Parents for DrugFree Youth (NFP), 303–304, 309, 312 National Health Service (NHS), 345–346, 356–357

378 Index

National Hospital for Drug Addictions, 161 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), 355–357 National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), 302, 313, 343 National Organization for the Reform of Drug Laws (NORML), 303 National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, 157 Native Affairs Department, 84–87, 90–93, 100 Nature, 349 Nazis, 208, 218 Netherlands, The, xx–xxi, 247–264 New York State Lunatic Asylum, 14 Nigeria, xiii, xix–xx, 225–240, 324, 329–330 Nigerian civil war, 226, 231, 236–238 Nixon, Richard, 297–298 Noxious weed law, 89, 94, 97–98 Ogot, Gwada, 326, 331 Oils, cannabis-derived, 5, 9, 99, 134, 195, 275, 277, 289, 357 Okoth, Ken, 326, 328 O’Leary, Alice, 343 Oliva, Leonardo, 135 One Thousand and One Nights, 4, 13, 165 Oneto, Gregorio, 147 Ongeri, Sam, 327 Opioid addiction, 159, 169–170 Opium and Other Habit-Forming Drug Regulation Bill, 98 Opium Law of 1913, 68 Opium, xi, xiii, xv, xvii, xxi, xxvi, 5, 8, 17, 30, 34, 40–43, 46, 60–61, 65, 68, 71, 83–84, 86, 90–91, 98–99, 135, 138–139, 142–144, 185–192, 194–197, 207, 215, 227–229, 249–250, 257, 272, 274, 276–278, 280, 286

Opium, Salt, and Abkari Department of Madras, 45 O’Shaughnessy, William, 8–9, 57 Orientalism, xvi–xvii, xix, xxv, 3–19, 109–123, 190, 271, 277 Outa, Fred, 330, 332 Pan-American Scientific Congress, 146 Paraphernalia marketplace, 298–302, 305 Parent movement, 297–316 Parents, Peers, and Pot, 301–302 Parents’ Resource Institute on Drug Education (PRIDE), 297–316 Parliament, United Kingdom, 345, 352–353, 357 Pasley, Charles, 57–58, 61, 66 Patient activism, 341–357 PCP, 304 Pearse, William, 61 Pearson, A. A., 69 Peer pressure, 171, 307, 309 Pellereau, Etienne, 68 Penda, 47 Personne, Jacques, 7 Pharmaceutical industry, 5, 7–11, 17–18, 96–97, 132–134, 146, 148, 174, 326–327, 333, 341, 351, 353, 355–356 Pharmacists Against Drug Abuse Foundation, 309 Pharmacy Act (South Africa), 94, 96 Pharmacy law, 83–84, 94–101, 135–136, 146 Physiological responses to cannabis, 161–164, 171 Physiological school of psychiatric thought, 11–14 Pipes, 87, 89, 99, 186, 212–214, 253, 277, 291, 298–299, 302, 323, 332 Pipiltzintzintli, 133 Plague, 5–7, 11, 13

Index 379

Police Afghanistan, 191–192, 194–195, 197 Egypt, 118 France, 19, 27, Germany, 208, 210, 213–214, 216–219 India, 33–35, 45 Iran, 282, 284, 288–290, 301 Mexico, 144–145, 149 Netherlands, 247, 249–250, 253, 255–256, 259–263 Nigeria, 225, 227, 229–231, 234, 237 South Africa, 97–100, Sub-Saharan Africa, 321, 324–326, 332 Trinidad, 57 Political disorder and cannabis, 226, 237–238 Polo, Marco, 271 Porfirio Díaz, 131, 137–139 Possession limits, 33, 48, 247, 297 Powder of cantharides, 8. See also Spanish fly Pratt, W. R., 46–47 Prescription of cannabis by doctors, 342, 344, 347, 352, 357 Pricing, 7, 35–38, 40–41, 43, 48–49, 188, 190, 287–288, 291, 326, 332 Prisons, 136–137, 142, 144–148 Progressive Party (South Africa), 94–95 Prohibition of cannabis, in Mexico, 131–150 Psychotomimetic drugs, 167, 172, 174–175 Public Sanitary Department, 145 Public secrecy, 284–285 Pushers, 218–220 Pyramid (alias), 72–73

racialization, 19, 57, 63, 85, 117–118 segregation, 84, 100–101 Randall, Robert, 342–343 Reagan, Nancy, 300, 303–305, 308–314, 316 Reagan, Ronald, 300, 303–305, 307–308, 310, 312–314 Recreational use of cannabis, 135–139, 145, 342, 355 Recriminalization, 305–306 Reefer Madness (1936 film), 157–158, 172, 208 Rehab centers, 289 Reid, L., 46 Religion and spirituality, 272, 275, 278, 285, 289–290, 325, 334 Remedicalization, 341–357 Research ethics, 161–162 Resin, 3–4, 7–9, 31, 73, 193, 226, 275, 277 Respectability, 341, 348, 350 Revenue farming, 29–30, 40 Revue d’Orient, 7 Revue Médicale, 7 Reza, Mohammad, 278 Rhazes, 274 Ritter, Mike, 190 Robberies, 68 Robson, Philip, 353. See also GW Pharmaceuticals Rode Kees, 257–258 Rodríguez, José María, 139–142 Rosales, Fernando, 166–167 Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 350–351 Rusche, Sue, 315 Russell, Thomas Wentworth, 118–122

Race, 19, 57, 62–63, 74, 85, 93, 100–101, 110,–112, 115, 117–121, 139–141, 149, 208–209, 211, 288. See also Orientalism racial degeneration, 84, 139–143, 147–149, 157

Salazar Viniegra, Leopoldo, 158–171, 175 Sanitary tyranny, 140 Sativex, 341, 356 Schedule I substances, 297, 357 Schuchard, Marsha “Keith” Manatt, 301–303, 306–311, 316

380 Index

Seccombe, George, 59, 61–69, 72–74 Segura Millán, Jorge, 161–162, 166–169 Senegal, 225 Set and setting, 170, 271, 275, 291 Sexuality, 116–117, 120–121 Shrikhand, 47 Sidhi, 31 Silvestre de Sacy, Antoine-Isaac, 4–8, 12, 19 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 306 Smith, J. V. C., 14 Smith, Thomas and Henry, 9 Smuggling, 33–36, 44–45, 48, 66, 100, 188, 194–199, 205–206, 210, 213–219, 247–264. See also global drug trade; drug trafficking Smuts, Jan Christiaan, 83–84, 99–101 Social media, 286–287 Socialism, 205–220 Socialist Unity Party (SED), 206, 210–211, 213, 215–216, 218–220 Socializing and cannabis use, 93, 210, 232–233, 253, 277, 280, 282, 289–290 Société de Chimie Médicale, 7 Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians, 16 Society of Mental Awareness (SOMA), 342 Soldiers, 207, 209–211, 227, 230–231, 234, 236–237, 248–249, 256 South Africa, xiii, xvii–xviii, xxvi, 83–101, 324, 328–329 Cape Colony, 93–98, 101 Natal Colony, 86–89 Spanish fly, 8 Stone Age, 299 Stoned, 299 Sub-Saharan Africa, 321–334 Substituting one substance for another, 40, 43, 276

Suggestion, 162–165. See also Salazar Viniegra, Leopoldo Synthetic cannabis, 341, 343–344, 346–348, 353, 356 Taxation, 29–49, 87, 92, 99, 120, 187–189, 228–229, 330–332 excise taxation, 29–49 Federal Marihuana Tax Act (USA), 120 sin tax, 38 Teitje, Charles, 97 Thailand, 330 THC content, 272 Therapeutic value of cannabis, vii–ix, xi, xv–xvi, xviii, xxiii–xxiv, xxix–xxx, 91, 93, 134–137, 143, 147–148, 186, 248, 274–276, 285, 321, 323, 325– 327, 331, 341–357 Tinctures, hashish 5, 7–11, 15–17 Tobacco, 38, 47, 61, 84, 89, 91, 158, 162, 164, 167, 169, 176, 205, 208, 279, 304, 330, 332, 352 Toxicomanía, 144. See also addiction; pathological symptoms Tranquilizers, 304 Trinidad, xiii, xvi, 57–74 Trump, Donald J., 288 Tunisia, 114–117, 121 Turner, Carlton, 304, 313–314 Typhus, 5–6 United Kingdom, xi–xii, xx, xxiii, xxvi, xxviii, 15, 341–357 United Nations, xix, xxvi–xxvii, 210, 215, 225, 233, 249, 321–322 United States, viii–x, xii, xiv, xxiii, xxvi, xxviii, 14, 157–158, 172–175, 297–316 Universities, 173, 191, 259, 272, 279, 282 US Agency for International Development, 306 Uzman, Mazhar Osman, 114–116

Index 381

van de Wereld, Frits, 262–263 Varga, Andrea, 17 Vice, 135–143, 145, 147–149 Violence, 12, 42, 57, 59, 62–64, 70, 90, 93, 97, 111–112, 115–118, 120, 132, 139, 142, 157–158, 167–170, 208– 209, 232, 235, 240, 283, 284 War on drugs, 19, 324 Warnock, John, 111–112, 115 Waterston, Jane Elizabeth, 94–95 Weed, 276, 279, 285, 288, 291, 310 West African Commission on Drugs (WACD), 225, 239 Wheelwright, C.A., 89, 100. See also Natal Colony, South Africa Wild growth of cannabis plant, 29, 30–31, 42–43, 45, 47, 49, 280 Williams, D. J., 68 Woodstock, 253 Wootton Committee, 342 World Fairs, 134 World Health Organization, xv, xxi– xxii, xxvii, 235, 341, 364 Wragg Commission, 71, 86 Yakuti, 47 Youth culture, 254–256, 263, 298 Yusuf, Muhammad, 198 Zahir Shah, Mohammed, 193, 198 Zimbabwe, 329