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Taming Cannabis: Drugs and Empire in Nineteenth-Century France

Taming Cannabis: Drugs and Empire in Nineteenth-Century France

by David A. Guba
Taming Cannabis: Drugs and Empire in Nineteenth-Century France

Taming Cannabis: Drugs and Empire in Nineteenth-Century France

by David A. Guba




Despite having the highest rates of cannabis use in the continent, France enforces the most repressive laws against the drug in all of Europe. Perhaps surprisingly, France was once the epicentre of a global movement to medicalize cannabis, specifically hashish, in the treatment of disease. In Taming Cannabis David Guba examines how nineteenth-century French authorities routinely blamed hashish consumption, especially among Muslim North Africans, for behaviour deemed violent and threatening to the social order. This association of hashish with violence became the primary impetus for French pharmacists and physicians to tame the drug and deploy it in the homeopathic treatment of mental illness and epidemic disease during the 1830s and 1840s. Initially heralded as a wonder drug capable of curing insanity, cholera, and the plague, hashish was deemed ineffective against these diseases and fell out of repute by the middle 1850s. The association between hashish and Muslim violence, however, remained and became codified in French colonial medicine and law by the 1860s: authorities framed hashish as a significant cause of mental illness, violence, and anti-state resistance among indigenous Algerians. As the French government looks to reform the nation's drug laws to address the rise in drug-related incarceration and the growing popular demand for cannabis legalization, Taming Cannabis provides a timely and fascinating exploration of the largely untold and living history of cannabis in colonial France.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780228001195
Publisher: McGill-Queens University Press
Publication date: 09/23/2020
Series: Intoxicating Histories , #1
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

David A. Guba, Jr, is a faculty member at Bard High School Early College in Baltimore, Maryland.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Hashish, Islam, and Violence in the French Colonial Mind 3

1 Competing Strains: The Two Histories of Cannabis in Early Modern France 19

2 Jacques-Francois "Abdallah" Menou, Colonial Mimicry, and the First Anti-Cannabis Law in French History 49

3 Antoine Isaac Silvestre De Sacy and the Myth of the Hachichins: Orientalizing Hashish in France, 1800-40 83

4 "A Drug Not to Be Neglected": Medicalizing Hashish in France, 1810-50 106

5 "Empire of Hallucinations and Illusions": De-medicalizing Hashish in France, 1840-60 150

6 The Hachichins of Algiers: The Criminalization of Hashish in French Algeria, 1840-80 187

Conclusion 216

Notes 223

Index 297

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