Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico's War on Drugs
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
Title Page, Copyright
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The research for this book would have been impossible without the support of many institutions and individuals. At the University of Cincinnati, the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center has been an extraordinary source of support, providing the money and time to complete this project. Thanks also...
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This story begins with a little-known Spaniard who, in the sixteenth century, introduced a plant called cannabis to the Americas. It ends with Mexico’s prohibition of that plant, by then called “marihuana,” in 1920. There is a lot of ground to cover in between. Thus, I would like to begin, by way of introduction, with a brief outline of the plot...
1 Cannabis and the Psychoactive Riddle
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As I detail in chapter 4, marijuana caused violence, madness, and crime in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Mexico. This, anyway, is what the available historical sources overwhelmingly indicate. These ideas were widespread and appear to have cut across boundaries of class and ethnicity. There...
2 Cannabis and the Colonial Milieu
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By the sixteenth century, cannabis was known throughout much of the world as a medicine, fiber, and intoxicant. Though not present in the Americas until after the Spanish conquest, eventually this plant would take on all of these roles in Mexico as well. But cannabis would only gradually emerge into...
3 The Discovery of Marijuana in Mexico
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In 1854, the Mexico City daily El Correo de España informed its readers that Alexander Dumas, with his ability to make fashionable just about anything, had turned hashish into the latest European fad. Dumas’s descriptions in The Count of Monte Cristo, suggesting that hashish produced pleasant dreams and...
4 The Place of Marijuana in Mexico, 1846–1920
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Though Mexican sanitary officials would eventually prohibit marijuana because it supposedly threatened the well-being of the entire nation, use of the drug was not especially widespread among Mexicans of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That fact was first suggested to me by the relative scarcity of marijuana...
5 Explaining the Missing Counterdiscourse I: The Science of Drugs and Madness
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In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, vice assumed many forms in Mexico. Foreign soldiers participating in the battles of the 1860s emphasized its presence. One Argentine volunteer in the forces fighting Maximilian lamented widespread drunkenness in the Mexican army, rampant smuggling...
6 Explaining the Missing Counterdiscourse II: People, Environments, and Degeneration
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The above drama was not drawn from a pulp novel. It was reported, quite seriously, in El Imparcial, Mexico’s leading newspaper, a publication that at its height claimed a daily circulation of more than 100,000 (in a city with fewer than half a million total inhabitants). How much of the story was true is...
7 Did Marijuana Really Cause “Madness” and Violence in Mexico?
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Reports of men made mad by marijuana, running amok through the streets, while appearing implausible from a twenty-first-century vantage point, were, as we’ve seen, largely justified by the social-scientific thought of latenineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Mexico. This raises an important...
8 National Legislation and the Birth of Mexico’s War on Drugs
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On March 2, 1920, Mexico’s Department of Public Sanitation promulgated its “Dispositions on the Cultivation and Commerce of Products that Degenerate the Race.” This was the first law in Mexican history to ban the cultivation and commerce in marijuana nationwide. It also imposed significant restrictions on the sale...
9 Postscript: Mexican Ideas Move North
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Mexico’s prohibition of marijuana in 1920 was largely a domestic affair. Nonetheless, as discussed earlier, global historical factors played a role throughout this drug’s Mexican history, from the emergence of “degeneration” as a kind of modern common sense, to the global outlook of Mexican thinkers concerned with their country’s place in “the competition...
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In October 1938, Dr. Leopoldo Salazar Viniegra, director of the Anti-alcohol Division of Mexico City’s Hospital for Drug Addicts, scandalized the public with a paper titled “The Myth of Marijuana.” There, Salazar argued that the common assumptions of both public and scientific opinion pertaining to this...
Appendix: Newspaper Analysis
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Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012