logo for Points, which features a needle in place of the T

short & insightful writing about a long and complex history

Joint Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society and the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy

ttravis | January 20, 2011

Points (n.)

1. marks of punctuation. 2. something that has position but not extension, as the intersection of two lines. 3. salient features of a story, epigram, joke, etc.:  he hit the high points. 4. (slang; U.S.) needles for intravenous drug use.

The Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund: a new paradigm of benefit-sharing in the burgeoning psychedelic science ecosystem

Editor’s Note: Anny Ortiz returns with a third contribution to our Pharmaceutical Inequalities series with reflections on her recent trip to the Medical Psychedelic House of Davos to co-present alongside her colleagues from the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund and launch their ‘Grow Medicine’ project. The Pharmaceutical Inequalities series is funded by the Holtz Center and the Evjue Foundation.


I recently returned from a 10-day trip to Switzerland and Canada. I was in Toronto, Canada at a conference called “From Research to Reality” co-presenting a poster titled “5-MeO-DMT: Synthesis and therapeutic potential for treating psychological disorders”. It was surprising to see that there were two separate presentations by personnel from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one of which was titled “Challenges in Conducting Clinical Research with Schedule I Psychedelics: From the 1960s to the Present”, presented by Dr. Katherine Bonson, and the other titled “World Regulatory and Policy Discussion: A Pathway Forward”, presented by Javier Muniz. If FDA staff presenting at a psychedelic science conference is not a sign of the times, I don’t know what is.

Immediately preceding the Toronto conference, I was in Davos, Switzerland, as part of the Indigenous Medicine Conservation Fund (IMCF), which was a sponsor of a landmark event titled “Medical Psychedelic House of Davos” (no connection to the World Economic Forum, usually hosted in Davos). I would like to share some highlights of what transpired there.

Read more

Resisting the pathologisation of women in research of alcohol and pharmaceuticals

I was recently reading Dr Jessica Taylor’s latest book Sexy but Psycho: How the Patriarchy Uses Women’s Trauma Against Them. Taylor is a working class, radical, lesbian feminist who has a proven track-record working with traumatised women and girls. In this book she argues for a trauma-informed approach to working with women and girls and documents the long-standing tendency by the patriarchy (systems that uphold male power) to pathologise them as a result of their traumas, reframe them as mental illness, and unnecessarily medicate them for these ‘disorders’.

Pre-existing research shows that women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety and somatic disorders, borderline personality disorder, panic disorder, phobias, suicide ideation and attempts, postpartum depression and psychosis, eating disorders and PTSD (Riecher-Rossler, 2016). Furthermore, women are more likely to be diagnosed with multiple psychiatric disorders at one time (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2019).

Read more

Pharmacy stakeholders’ perceptions of opioid use disorder vaccines

Editor’s Note: Amanda Pratt’s first contribution to our Pharmaceutical Inequalities series offers this insightful interview with Vincent Wartenweiler PharmD, an independent community pharmacist and Master’s student in Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Investigation at UW-Madison. Amanda (AP) and Vincent (VW) sat down on March 24, 2022 to discuss a qualitative project Vincent published in 2021 to determine perceptions of pharmacy stakeholders around opioid use disorder vaccines. In addition to providing a glimpse into a significant milestone for the history of alcohol, drugs and pharmacy–the development of substance use disorder vaccines–this interview sheds light on potential methodologies for understanding vaccine hesitancy. The Pharmaceutical Inequalities series is funded by the Holtz Center and the Evjue Foundation.

Read more

How a Policy of Abstinence Shaped Irish Drug Health Information Material in the 1980s And 1990s

Festival Season is upon us, and the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland recently launched a new drug campaign targeted at festival-goers. The design and imagery of the Reduce the Harms at Festivals campaign takes a playful approach. Borrowing heavily from 1970s animation, the campaign features images of anthropomorphized objects and colourful cartoons; a smiling first aid kit high-fives a heart in platform shoes patched up with a plaster (‘Medics are your Mates’); a snail in festival style staples – bum bag and bucket hat (‘Start Low and Go Slow’).

Read more

Cannabis Consumption in India: A History

Editor’s Note: In her latest post for Points Kawal Deep Kour resurrects a past editorial feature: ‘Cannabis: Global Histories‘. She contributes to this rich history by outlining the multitudinous roles and affordances of cannabis within Indian cultures.


Much before the Irish physician Sir William Brooke O Shaughnessy (1808-1889) introduced cannabis into Western medicine sometime around the mid-nineteenth century, Ganja (hemp) had already been part of India’s living culture as medicine and an intoxicating agent – even before 1000 B.C. The use of hemp in India was also mentioned by Jewish physician Garcia de Orta in 1563 and subsequently by the Dutch administrator in India, Hendrik van Rheede ( 1636-1691) who in his treatise, Hortus Malabaricus (the garden of Malabar) described that ganja smoking was popular on the Malabar coast. Ganja is an intoxicating drug, derived from the leaves of the Cannabis Indica plant. The philosophy of cannabis consumption in India entails the sacred lore of having emerged in the form of a pot of nectar while the gods and the demons were churning the ocean with the help of mountain Mandara and Vasuki, the serpent king. It was named Vijaya and was believed to bestow victory upon its votaries. It is said that the Gods then wished that it be sent to live with humans on Earth and aid in their merriment and enjoyment of the pleasures of life. 

Read more

If only the Propaganda Machine had Paid Attention to the Humanitarian Crisis Emanating from the War on Drugs

The violent impact of the American War on Drugs has resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Colombians and the displacement of millions more that have either inundated the urban centers of the country or simply left the Colombia.  Nevertheless, the Western propaganda machine decided, close to fifty years ago, to ignore the humanitarian atrocity and the systemic violation of human rights of Colombians carried out by American foreign policy, opting instead to focus on the magical realism-like stories of Colombian capos and the Hollywood-like stories of “good guys vs. bad guys.”  Now, watching the coverage of the conflict in Ukraine, it is irritating to see how Western media is capable and powerful enough to socially construct one particular narrative for Ukraine and another one for Colombia, denying the agency to the victims of the atrocities generated by Western, and more particularly, US drug policy.

Read more

Points Interview: Wolfgang Sachsenröder

Today’s post features an interview with Dr Wolfgang Sachsenröder, in which he discusses his latest book, ‘From Opium to Methamphetamines: The Nine Lives of the Drug Industry in Southeast Asia‘ (World Scientific, 2022), and shares some personal reflections. Sachsenröder holds a PhD in Political Science and Public Law from the University of Bonn, Germany, and is an expert in Southeast Asian studies.

Read more