Opium, Empire, and India (Part II)

Editor’s note: Today’s post is a continuation of last week’s piece by Dr. Kawal Deep Kour. Make sure to check out Part I

Southeast Asia

References to the significance attached to trade with China abound in British diplomatic correspondences, treaties and conventions. Yunnan (in China), with its rich reserves of gold and silver was alluring to adventurer-entrepreneurs, merchants, and explorers alike as much as for its “opium geography.” Of great interest was the location of Yunnan- from here, opium could travel to its destined locations: Hong Kong and Shanghai. Correspondences between the Bengal government and an imperial agent deployed in British Burma refer to instructions relating to the safe passage of Chinese labour to clear ground for tea plantations in Assam, and also to the conveying of Indian opium to Yunnan at the insistence of the British merchants following Chinese hostility. Further, a large amount of goods were smuggled through Margherita (Assam) to the villages of the Khampti and Singpho people inhabiting the area, what is present day Arunachal Pradesh (northeast India), bordering China. The trans-border tribesmen from Borkhamti and from the Hukong valley smuggled large quantities via Margherita and even as far as Titabar in Assam. It was therefore considered that the opening of the Borkhamti country would uncover tremendous possibilities of Assam-China trade being conducted through the river routes-Irrawady-Salwin (present day Myanmar) and thence into Yang-tse-kiang (China). Surveying the region in 1826, Captain Wilcox in his memoirs had taken incidental note of the great demand for opium, apart from salt, among all Indo-Chinese nations.Read More »

New Research on Drug Use: TGIF Edition

Editor’s note: Happy Friday! In today’s post, we present a sampling of new research on drug use among different professions. These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen, which was formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but is now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Workplace smoking bans and daily smoking patterns: Implications for nicotine maintenance and determinants of smoking in restricted environments

Author: Dunbar, Michael Stephen

Abstract: Background : Daily smokers are thought to strive to maintain blood nicotine levels above a certain threshold. Workplace smoking bans pose a substantial barrier to nicotine maintenance. Individuals may compensate for time spent in smoking-restricted environments by smoking more before (“anticipatory”) or after work (“make-up” compensation), but this has not been quantitatively examined. Read More »

Opium, Empire, and India (Part I)

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is from new contributing editor Kawal Deep Kour, who received her PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology. Contact the author at kawaldkour@gmail.com. Stay tuned for Part II!

malwapoppy For many years before the British incursion in the Indian subcontinent, the “hubble-bubble” (tobacco smoking) along with opium had served as a favourite pastime of the aristocracy and the commoners alike. Opium was both an aristocratic luxury being a coveted item in the list of royal household of the Mughals and the Rajputs while being an integral part of the daily life of the common folk. Abul Fazl, the famous court historian of Mughal Emperor Abkar, in his Ain-i- Akbari, dated around 1590, has described poppy as growing “luxuriantly” in the region of Malwa and Benaras and Punjab. It is claimed to contain the earliest authentic reference to opium cultivation. Opium poppy was extensively cultivated in Bengal, north-western provinces and in the Malwa region of central and western India.  Trade in opium in Mughal India was an Imperial Monopoly. Until the British monopoly, the Dutch were the chief foreign purchasers of opium, though the Agency System which was introduced in 1797 which established the Benaras Opium Agency. By Regulation XIII of 1816, opium cultivation was legalised in Bengal under the supervision of the Commercial Resident of Rungpore. The control of the Opium Department went from the Board of Revenue in the Customs, Salt and the Opium Departments by the Regulation IV of 1819. In 1850, by Act XLIV, the Customs, Salt and Opium Board was merged in the Board of Revenue at Calcutta. In 1797, prohibition was imposed on the private cultivation of poppy in Bengal proper and in Behar division of the province. It was then that the attention of the Government proper was being met by ‘systematic smuggling and clandestine production’

In India, opium is variously referred to as kanee/kappa(the juice of opium being reduced to a dry state, the opium paste was then spread on narrow slips of cloth and later rolled into small bales);  amalpaani or kusumbhi/kusumbha(the opium is cut into small pieces, a little water added to it and mixed to a thick consistency. The mass is then put the mass into a thick woollen cloth, allowed to cool and then strained through. The decoction is drunk without any addition of sugar or anything to destroy the bitter taste. The proportion is usually one part of opium to 20 parts of water. It is a drink prepared from an infusion of poppy heads in water. The great Indian classics of Ayurveda (the traditional system of medicine incorporated in the Atharveda, the last of Vedas [regarded as the source of all knowledge in the Hindu system of philosophy]) like Caraka Samhita, Susruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hrdaya are silent on the use of opium. In the Indian classical texts, opium finds its first mention in the Sarangdhara Samhita, which is primarily a book on pharmacy and popular amongst the physicians of Rajasthan, supposed to be written in the thirteenth or fourteenth century AD, as aphiphena and nagaphena. A fifteenth century text contains reference to the extensive use of opium and its various preparations by the Hindu physicians are recorded. It appears from the available classical Indian medical literature that opium was first used as an aphrodisiac, then as anti-diarrhoeal and thereafter as an analgesic and sleep-inducer.

It was used in wide and various ways by the people, depending on their means and tastes. The essential product was mixed with tobacco or spices and either drunk or smoked. The common mode of consuming opium in India was in the form of pills. In some parts of the country and chiefly on social and ceremonial occasions, a decoction of opium was served. In Punjab and a few other tracts in upper India, an infusion of the capsule of the poppy, called the posth was drunk in the villages. In Patiala of Punjab, a compound called the ‘Barsh’ or the ‘Judwa’ (of which opium formed an important part) was administered by the native medical practitioner-the Hakim, though this practice is reported to be uncommon. In Rajputana, the popular mode of consumption was a drink made of opium called ‘Gholua’ and a refined form of the decoction called the ‘Beni’ in Kathaiwar. This common and well established custom was replaced by smoking preparations of opium in India is known as chandu and madak around 1700 AD and was a Chinese novelty. Though initially confined to the larger towns and military cantonments, it soon percolated down to the lowest rungs of the society. The habit of smoking ‘madak’ though already in vogue in eastern parts of India, was looked down upon in some other societies.


Nevertheless, every province had its share of percentage of regular users as well as a large number of people who used opium only on special occasions. In India, it was a favourite with the native practitioners- the Hakims, Vaids, Bej, Ojha etc., who used it to treat a variety of afflictions of the body and mind. It was used to treat headaches, fevers and chills (including malaria), stomach aches, diarrhea, dysentery and asthma, tuberculosis (“bloody coughing”), fatigue and anxiety. Opium was also used for symptoms of venereal diseases and gynaecological afflictions and for pain caused by injuries such as sprains, dislocations and broken bones. Because of its analgesic and other medicinal properties, ingested opium clearly provided relief from the pain associated with these conditions and ameliorated many other symptoms as well. It was also prescribed for many bovine ailments which also explains its popularity among a people for whom agricultural pursuits constituted the main source of livelihood. For many people, opium smoking took the edge off the routine physical discomforts of life. Women also ate and smoked opium with their male counterparts.

In the tea gardens and rice growing tracts of the east where malaria and kala-azar had reached epidemic proportions, and where the cultivator had to spend several hours exposed to the wet and the chill, it was used to cure fevers and chills. Opium was occasionally issued on the advice of a medical officer in special circumstances, particularly for troops employed in fighting and road making amongst the snowy ranges of Sikkim. The use of opium as a stimulant in physical emergencies seems to prevail more in the north of India, particularly in Punjab to ward off the severity of the winter months. The Sikh soldiers were known to be among the heaviest consumers of opium. Administering of opium to infants was an ordinary part of the domestic life of the country.  The practice of giving ‘balagoli’ to infants was given up to the age of 2 and a half years and even 3 years of age was common.

How intertwined was opium to the lives of the people of most part of India can be gauged from the potentially wide range of social and religious activities of which it formed a significant aspect. Whether it was celebrations as marriages, birth of a child, as a gesture of greeting friends and relatives or a seal of reconciliation between warring states or adversaries and even at funerals, consumption of opium was seen as a marker of social status, custom and a ritual. Tobacco smoking and betel-chewing cultures of the eastern part and of bhang in most part of the country had assisted opium’s favourable acceptance in the way of life of various cultures in the country. It certainly was a favourite indulgence, which was cherished by the users, as is evidenced by the distinctive mode of preparation which imparted to it a distinctive characteristic. Whether to the wide and varied users of opium, it was a favourite pastime or an aphrodisiac or panacea is yet to be ascertained with certainty. However, it was the proliferation among the lower strata, the ‘downward diffusion’ as Yangwen (2003:1-39) makes us believe, as was the case with tea and opium in China, that made it a visible social problem. The imageries of ‘opium intoxicated, effeminate and opium sot’ began to dominate the imperial accounts and the missionary literature including vernacular writings from the end of the nineteenth century. This was attended by a host of economic, social, administrative and legal ramifications for the provinces where it was consumed by the majority as culture and custom. The variant patterns of usage enabled in exploring the ‘indigenous use of psychoactives alongside mirroring the society’s level of political complexity. The identification of India as a land of ‘great opium eaters’ spawned up the propaganda of the ‘civilising mission’ ushering in a new era of material exploitation and political domination. The identification was to have a significant impact on the development of regulation of opium and its use.




New Dissertations on U.S. Correctional Supervision

Editor’s Note: Today’s post showcasing new research related to American correctional supervision caps a week’s worth of highlights from the subjects of drug law enforcement and implementation. These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography compiled by Jonathon Erlen, which was formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but is now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.


The Collateral Consequence of the War on Drugs: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Experience of Daughters who Experienced Paternal Incarceration as a Result of the War on Drugs

Author: Clayton, Karima Ann


Abstract: The purpose of the current study was to examine the lived experience of adult daughters whom had fathers incarcerated when they were in middle childhood as a result of a drug related offense. According to statistics, the United States criminal justice system currently houses nearly 2.3 million individuals, an increase of nearly 500 percent in the last 30 years. While African-Americans make up approximately 13 percent of the current population in the United States, they make up nearly half of the incarcerated population. Many believe that the War on Drugs has contributed to the increase in the numbers of individuals incarcerated and to the sentencing disparities which exist. In 1980, approximately 41,000 individuals were incarcerated due to a drug related offense and estimates indicate that this number is now nearly half a million. With the staggering numbers of individuals who are currently incarcerated, many have begun to examine the collateral consequence of incarceration which is the effect on family members. Research conducted relating to family members has focused on the physical, behavioral, as well as psychological effects of the incarceration on the family member. A primary area of study related to how incarceration impacts families has focused on children of incarcerated parents and statistics estimate that nearly ten million children have experienced having a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives. In addition, approximately 90 percent of incarcerated parents are fathers and Black children are eight or nine times more likely than White children to have an incarcerated parent. Minimal research exists which allows the child to share the experience in their own words and no research exists specifically examining the experience of children solely impacted by the War on Drugs. The current study was exploratory in nature and examined the experience of and effects of paternal incarceration as experienced by daughters whose fathers were incarcerated when they were in middle childhood as a result of a drug related offense. Interviews were conducted with 10 participants and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was utilized to analyze the collected data. IPA is a type of qualitative data analysis which provides in depth examination of human lived experience. During the analysis five superordinate themes were identified which included The Need for Transparency- “I just wanted to know the truth”, The Broken Family Unit- The Father’s Absence, The Stain of Incarceration – “Life was never the same”, Buffers and Barriers to Adjustment, and Becoming Independent – Fear of Relying on Others. In addition, subthemes were identified within the superordinate themes which captured the uniqueness of the participant experience of paternal incarceration. Results revealed some similarities in experience and also confirmed how different the experience of individuals can be who experience paternal incarceration. Implications for practice are also discussed.


Degree date: 2015


Advisor: Carter, Robert T.

University/institution: Columbia University

Department: Counseling Psychology




Building upon the razor wire women’s program by incorporating experiential therapy interventions to treat addictions in women in prison

Author: Harris, Alma


Abstract: This project examined the need for more effective treatment programs to meet the needs of women in prison with addictions. The International Centre for Prison Studies has shown that America has the largest number of people incarcerated, with females being the fastest growing population (Zust, 2009). The Bureau of Justice Statistic indicated 37% of women prisoners in the United States had been raped before incarceration, and 50% had physical and sexual abuse over their lifetime (Zust, 2009). Other studies have shown women in prison suffer from disturbing effects of violence that are linked with prolonged and intense depression precipitated by substance addiction (Zust, 2009). The Developmental Research Utilization Model (DRU) was used to design this project to add to an already existing treatment program that addresses the need for treatment of women inmates with mental health issues precipitated by substance abuse. Data collections and analysis were collected from other documentary resources such as journal articles, text books, and governmental publications. Research indicated the prison system is geared toward restraint and subdual, and women with mental health and trauma needs are being overlooked. To aid in identifying the problem for lack of treatment programs, the current research focused on the need for treatment programs in the prison system. The design process addressed issues concerning the Razor Wire Women Program, especially in the treatment of women imprisoned and suffering from substance abuse problems.


Degree date: 2015



Advisor: Valch, Amy

Committee member: Ellison, Dawn; Southern, Stephen

University/institution: Mississippi College

Department: Professional Counseling


Themes from the Essays of Participants Who Completed the Orange County Drug Court Program: A Qualitative Study

Author: Nicholson, Sarah R.


Abstract: The purpose of the present qualitative study was to gain a better understanding of the lived experiences of participants who had graduated from the Adult Drug Court Program in the Superior Court of California, County of Orange. Grounded Theory was utilized and data was analyzed using the Constant Comparative Method. There were ten participants in the present study, all of which had completed the requirements of the Drug Court Program and successfully graduated. The researcher analyzed the written essays of ten participants who met the inclusion criteria, consisting of 5 written essays each, including the final Graduation speech. There were thirteen major themes pertaining to the participant’s experience in the drug court program and four minor themes. The major themes that emerged from the study were: chaotic or neglectful upbringing, honeymoon period with drugs and alcohol, to escape or numb emotions, “The Party is Over”, consequences of the drug and alcohol lifestyle, positive sense of self, hope and future-oriented thinking, gaining back the things lost, honesty, the role of the judge, the role of therapy, the role of the support system; and drug court was a long and hard journey. Potential limitations, implications for practitioners, and suggestions for future research based on the findings are discussed.




Degree date: 2015



Advisor: Bucky, Steven F.

Committee member: Horvath, A. Thomas; Madero, James N.

University/institution: Alliant International University

Department: San Diego, CSPP

Assessing Drug Policy Implementation

Editor’s Note: Last week, we ran a showcase of new research on new developments in drug law enforcement. Today, we’re highlighting some recent work that aims to assess the implementation and maintenance of such regimes in the United States. These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography compiled by Jonathon Erlen, which was formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but is now periodically featured on the Points blog. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Assessing the effects of Florida’s anti-pill mill law on prescription drug related health outcomes

Author: Kinsell, Heidi Shoemake


Abstract: Prescription drug abuse and the related mortality and morbidity have been a particular problem in Florida. Over the past fifteen years, Florida became a major source of prescription drug diversion due primarily to the abundance of dishonest pain management clinics or “pill mills” operating in the state. Given that the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is a widespread public health problem with consequences that extend beyond the individual, and it is essential that policies are based on data-driven evidence to be able to improve population health outcomes. Therefore, the goal of this study was to assess the effectiveness of multifactorial pain clinic legislation on mitigating the health consequences of prescription drug abuse. Analyses indicate that there was a greater decreasing trend over time in Florida after implementation of HB 7095, the anti-pill mill law for prescription drug related deaths and inpatient discharges for prescription drug poisonings. While small, there was also a slightly greater decreasing trend for prescription drug poisoning emergency department (ED) visits in Florida after implementation of the anti-pill mill law. Policy environments are extremely complex and always changing so a mixture of policy approaches may need to be considered.Read More »

New Research in Drug Enforcement

Editor’s Note: Frequent Points readers are aware of Jonathon Erlen’s ongoing bibliography of dissertations related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Entries were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but have since moved to the Points blog. Below are a few recent highlights concerning the sometimes problematic implementation and enforcement of drug laws. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.


Tokin up in the 5280: Insight into how Denver police officers make sense of, and define, interpret, and react to the legalization of marijuana

Author: Hoofnagle, Kara K.

Abstract: Laws surrounding the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana have undergone many changes for over a century. Political pressures and social prejudices have most often been the cause of these changes, rather than scientific research or rational thinking. As a result, the law has sometimes lagged behind social practice as in the current case in much of the U.S., including Colorado. In such an environment, it often falls on a police officer’s definition, interpretation, and reaction to the laws to determine the extent to which certain laws and sanctions are enforced. Read More »

Points Supports the National Endowment for the Humanities

Until last week, Points readers might have thought Donald Trump’s occasional and inconsistent public statements on marijuana represented his greatest stake in any of the blog’s more obvious topics of interest. His appointment of hardline – though increasingly embattled – Attorney General Jeff Sessions attested to his aloofness if not hostility toward the issue, even if several commentators believe cracking down on pot will be an uphill political battle.

However, the most alarming recent development from the White House is the president’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Humanities, a program that has supported several of the blog’s featured authors, contributing editors, and readers. We urge you to please call your Senate and House representatives to oppose de-funding critical projects by the NEH and other relevant grant-awarding government bodies.

Read More »

Tiered Justice

This just in: Lady Justice can see race and class quite clearly from under that blindfold.  In 2012, HSBC a criminal banking conglomerate settled in court for $1.9 billion in fines rather than face criminal prosecution.  Restorative justice has its virtues, but less so when said justice is routinely offered to some and not others.  The 2012 settlement detailed how Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel and Colombia’s Norte del Valle cartel laundered $881m through HSBC and a Mexican unit. In some cases, Mexican branches had brazenly widened tellers’ windows to allow big boxes of cash to be pushed across the counters.  HSBC also violated US sanctions by working with customers in Iran, Libya, Sudan, Burma and Cuba.

More recently, a litany of articles have rightfully criticized our tiered system of punishment that goes well beyond disparate sentencing across lines of race, space, and Pay to Stay jailsclass.  As of late, private run facilities for “select” offenders offer upgraded amenities for the upwardly mobile incarcerated.  For $100 dollars a night, rapists and petty drug offenders, and those found guilty of a range of crimes can sidestep traditional prisons for an extra modicum of safety and comfort.  For that very fee, one sex offender circumvented the indignities and dangers of county jail in order to stay at a boutique jail in Seal Beach, replete with flat screen TV’s, a computer room, and brand new beds.  After serving his six months of pseudo-incarceration, Alan Wurtzel left with an $18,250 dollar tab.  Perhaps more importantly, his experience was most certainly more palatable than that of those serving time in county jail for the very same crime, or in other instances, lesser crimes.  “Pay-to-stay” private jails have been on the rise in California since 2011, adding yet another Pay to Stay jailschapter to our history of unequal punishment.

As an historian of the Crack Era, I’m well-versed in our unfettered enthusiasm for punishment, particularly when it applies to poor nonwhite urbanites.  A closer look at the years leading up to the national panic over crack in 1986 suggest that our patterns of tiered justice have much deeper roots.  As David Courtwright has reminded us again and again, what we think of particular drugs (or crimes) and how to respond to them as a society is often dictated by how we view its particular set of users, or in Wurzel’s case, predators.  The scandal that shook Choate Rosemary Hall in 1984 elucidates this reality.  Perhaps the preeminent preppie connect. choateboarding school in the nation, Choate sprawls across 500 pristine acres in Wallingford, Connecticut, with a century-old tradition of wealth and excellence.  Well-preppie connect. JFKheeled graduates are too numerous to name, but one young man we might remember was John F. Kennedy.  Certainly, young Jack might have been up to similar mischief as his contemporaries were in the early 1980s, mischief that lands citizens from the wrong sides of the track long stretches in county jail, state or federal prison–not Seal Beach.

So what happened at Choate and why should we care?  In April 1984, scholarship student Derek Oatis arrived at Kennedy Airport from what can only be called a two-day business trip to Caracas, Venezuela with former Choate student and his  girlfriend Catherine Cowan.  Per customs agents, a random inspection of the young entrepreneur’s luggage and pockets netted five plastic bags and a talcum powder container filled with one pound of high-Preppie Connect. NYP Headlinepurity cocaine.  Later reports tabbed the take at 350 grams with an estimated street value of $300,000, a substantial amount of cocaine to be smuggling internationally.  Worse still, Oatis had on his person a list of Choate students who were financing his drug run and expecting their drug of choice upon his return.  All told, 16 former Choate students plead guilty to participating in the buying scheme, while countless others managed to elude authorities.  Further investigation by prosecutors revealed that smuggling from Venezuela directly to the school had occurred on at least seven occasions dating back to 1982.

Several curious events ensued.  First, within 24 hours the DEA turned the case over to local law enforcement–an odd decision given the quantity and international scope of the purported crime.  Second, within the same 24 hours, local officials granted Oatis release on $10,000 bail.  Third, New York prosecutors received an unusual call from the then Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, on behalf of Little Rock native and defendant Cathy cathy cowan.Cowan.  Despite feasting upon the political utility of Law and Order politics as Governor, routinely approving hundreds of extradition orders for Arkansas residents prosecuted in other states, Clinton balked in this particular instance.  Clinton delayed the process for months, stating that it would be “unconscionable” to expose Cowan to New York’s harsh drug laws.  After receiving a fair bit of political criticism for the move in a conservative climate of punishment, Clinton personally negotiated reduced charges for Cowan–three years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service.  It is worth noting that Cowan’s lawyer, William R. Wilson had close ties with the Clinton’s.  In addition to his role as a longtime campaign contributor, Wilson had tried cases and shared legal fees with Hillary Clinton.  More germane to the moment, Wilson was at the time representing Clinton’s half-brother, Roger, on federal cocaine charges.  Read More »

Episode 6 of Pointscast Now Available!

On the latest episode of Pointscast, the first, best, and only podcast of the Points blog, hosts Alex Tepperman and Kyle Bridge offer their thoughts on the ways domestic and international drug use are portrayed in American media. But first, for months listeners have been submitting questions for our expert Q&A series. Kyle opens the episode by asking Bob Beach (blbeach@suny.edu), a doctoral candidate at SUNY Albany and frequent Points contributor who studies cannabis use and policy before the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, a simple question from a curious listener: why is weed illegal?

Be sure to check out the Pointscast Twitter and Facebook pages and listen to other episodes on Soundcloud! If you have questions for our Q&A series or general comments on the podcast, please email us at pointscast@gmail.com

New Research on the Opioid Addiction Epidemic

Editor’s Note: Frequent Points readers are aware of Jonathon Erlen’s ongoing bibliography of dissertations related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Entries were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but have since moved to the Points blog. Below are a few highlights concerning the United States’ opioid addiction epidemic. Contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Comparative Study of Compliance among Patients Attending an Opiate Outpatient Treatment Center in Rural Appalachia

Author: Morris, Jerry R.

http://pitt.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1729568744?accountid=14709Read More »