A History of Drugs: Drugs and Freedom in the Liberal Age by Toby Seddon

By Toby Seddon

Why are a few psychoactive components considered as ‘dangerous drugs’, to be managed via the legal legislation inside of a world prohibition regime, when others – from alcohol and tobacco, via to these we name ‘medicines’ – are noticeable and controlled very in a different way? A heritage of gear lines a family tree of the development and governance of the ‘drug challenge’ over the last 2 hundred years, calling into query essentially the most primary rules during this box: from ‘addiction’ to the very proposal of ‘drugs’. on the middle of the booklet is the declare that it used to be with the emergence within the overdue eighteenth century of recent liberal capitalism, with its targeted emphasis on freedom, that our issues in regards to the intake of a few of those components started to grow. And, certainly, notions of freedom, loose will and accountability stay critical to the drug query at the present time. Pursuing an cutting edge inter-disciplinary procedure, A historical past of substances offers an educated and insightful account of the origins of latest drug coverage. will probably be crucial interpreting for college students and lecturers operating in legislations, criminology, sociology, social coverage, background and political technology.

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Under section 17, such products needed to be ‘distinctly labelled with the Name of the Article and the Word Poison, and with the Name and Address of the Seller of the Poison’. Regulations were stricter for Part 1 ‘poisons’ – which included arsenic, cyanide and strychnine – involving, for example, requirements to keep a record of purchasers. Patent medicines, that is, proprietary branded medicines like Godfrey’s Cordial and Squire’s Elixir, were expressly excluded from the provisions of the Act and could still be freely sold over-the-counter.

In other words, the new notion that it was a medical condition co-existed with the older idea that it was a moral failing: Addiction was disease and vice; it was ‘moral bankruptcy’, ‘disease of the will’, ‘a form of moral insanity’ … This continuing moral component ensured a disease theory which was individually oriented, where the addict was responsible, through volition, for his own condition. Addiction was ‘medicalised’, but failure to achieve a cure was a failure of self control, not medical science.

The latter is another site, another machine, where civilization is assembled. This connection with liberalism suggests a possible framework that we might use in our mapping of the ‘semantic river’ flowing through the concept of freedom. As discussed in Chapter 1, in charting the ‘mutations and transformations’ of liberal government over the past 200 years, three broad phases can be identified: classical liberalism; welfare liberalism; and neo-liberalism. Within the first phase, classical liberalism, the notion of freedom is built on two foundational principles.

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