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By Toby Seddon

Why are a few psychoactive components considered as ‘dangerous drugs’, to be managed through the legal legislations inside a world prohibition regime, when others – from alcohol and tobacco, via to these we name ‘medicines’ – are visible and controlled very another way? A heritage of gear strains a family tree of the development and governance of the ‘drug challenge’ during the last two hundred years, calling into query essentially the most basic 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 past due eighteenth century of recent liberal capitalism, with its certain emphasis on freedom, that our matters concerning the intake of a few of those elements started to grow. And, certainly, notions of freedom, unfastened will and accountability stay vital to the drug query at the present time. Pursuing an leading edge inter-disciplinary technique, A historical past of substances offers an educated and insightful account of the origins of up to date drug coverage. it is going to be crucial studying for college kids and teachers operating in legislation, criminology, sociology, social coverage, background and political technological know-how.

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Extra resources for A History of Drugs: Drugs and Freedom in the Liberal Age

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Individuals are increasingly ‘responsibilized’ and empowered in order that they can be governed through their choices as citizen-consumers. In the words of that other guru of neo-liberalism, Friedrich von Hayek, freedom concerns the capacity to ‘order our own conduct in the sphere where material circumstances force a choice upon us, and responsibility for the arrangement of our own life according to our own conscience’ (Hayek, 1944: 157). 1. This then provides us with a provisional map to guide us through our investigation of freedom in the liberal age.

This is as good a way as any of describing what I will be doing in the next three chapters: viewing the relationship between these three concepts at three historical points. I shall do this through a version, no doubt a rather impoverished one, of what Foucault (1991b: 76–82) called ‘eventalization’. To paraphrase his typically dense description of this ‘procedure of analysis’ (1991b: 76), I take two key points from the idea. First, that the analysis of certain specific historical ‘events’ can be fruitful where they are what he calls ‘singularities’, that is those places or points which ‘at a given moment establish what subsequently counts as self-evident, universal and necessary’ (1991b: 76).

The three events I investigate in turn in Chapters 3, 4 and 5 respectively are each legislative: the Pharmacy Act of 1868, the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920 and the Drugs Act 2005 (selected extracts from these Acts are presented in the Appendices). This focus on legislation reflects my concern with regulatory matters, as set out in the previous chapter. I am not suggesting of course that ‘regulation’ boils down to nothing more than law – that would be entirely antithetical to the body of regulatory scholarship on which I draw in this book and which was introduced in Chapter 1.

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