100 Posts–A Points Milestone

Our previous post was number one hundred for the Points blog–a small number, I suppose, in the blogging world, but still something of a milestone for our start-up enterprise!  The tag cloud to the right shows the most commonly used tags in the first 100 posts:

Addiction–32 posts; Policy–31 posts; Alcohol–23 posts; law–16 posts; popular culture–16 posts; research–16 posts

The top five most-read posts of the previous 100?  Here they are (linked, so you can read them if you missed them the first time they appeared):

Read more

Final Dispatch from Buffalo: Licit Drug Wars

Editors’ Note: The following is the final installment in our series of reports on the biennial ADHS conference held in Buffalo.  Our thanks to Michael Durfee, Nancy Campbell, Joe Gabriel, and Michelle McClellan for their earlier posts.  This time, Joe Spillane tries his hand at post-conference reflection.

Licit Drug Wars

Historians of so-called “licit” drugs face a number of challenges in their work.  Where does that term–licit drugs–even take us, and what does it mean?  In general, of course, it means a focus on regulated-but-legal products of the pharmaceutical industry, but the boundaries of the term are pretty fuzzy.  Still more challenging, it seems to me, is the task of navigating a field where contemporary thought is so dominated by two strong, competing narratives.  The first I’d call the “consumer protection” narrative, in which licit drugs are generally viewed with suspicion as products of an exploitative corporate culture that dupes physicians and victimizes consumers.  The liberal drug warriors, in effect.  The second is what I’d call the “social control/moral panic” narrative, in which efforts to control licit drugs reflects an aggrandizing tendency of state bureaucracies to control all aspects of human behavior, and in which licit drugs (like other substances) are subject to panicked reactions by a society viewing them through the distorting lenses of race, gender, and class.  Four intrepid souls made the journey on this panel.

Read more

More Dispatches from Buffalo: Regulating Alcohol

H2: Regulating Alcohol in the 20th Century and I1: American Alcohol Policy

These two sessions at the Buffalo conference demonstrate how various regulatory systems—including law and policy but also market forces and spatial relationships—interact to shape the availability of alcohol, and also its normalization, in a specific time and place.  I found much to think about across the two sessions, and based on many thoughtful questions raised at each session, the rest of the audience did as well.

Session H2: Regulating Alcohol in the 20th Century

In his engaging presentation on the dramatic drop in the number of cafes in France during World War II, Scott Haine connected the Vichy regime’s enforcement of zoning regulations regarding the location of cafes with new visions for urban planning and concerns about population decline.  He also noted that the context of the war mattered, as competition among cafes increased sharply in the midst of shortages.  The Vichy campaign was not aimed at wine as such, but at cafes as institutions that were considered disreputable.

Dan Malleck analyzed the role of Ontario’s Liquor Control Boards in reconstructing the “citizen drinker” during the 1930s and 1940s, after prohibition ended in Ontario in 1927.  With snazzy graphics, Malleck focused on particular hotels in Toronto that applied for the authority to serve alcohol but were rejected.  Introducing us to both the interior hotel spaces and the streetscape, Malleck used these examples effectively to probe the nature of bureaucracy and its powers of surveillance, as well as to illuminate the “moral geography” of these drinking spaces and the “calculus of need” that underlay the applications.

William Rorabaugh provided a clear and incisive overview of U.S. alcohol policy as it emerged in the aftermath of national Prohibition, concentrating on Washington State.  He emphasized that repeal advocates did not want a free market in alcohol but instead sought strict state control; a preference in the law for lighter drinks; and a three-tier regulatory structure that would prevent vertical integration and forbid producers from becoming too powerful.

Read more