From Hippies to High Yield Insights: The Evolution of an Industry

Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society

Mike Luce is not the first person to lament how increasingly banal marijuana becomes once the industry goes mainstream. Keith Stroup, who founded the nation’s oldest legalization lobbying firm, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), in 1970, told Rolling Stone in 1977 that the decade’s booming paraphernalia industry was developing just like anything else. “It’s a growth industry,” Stroup said, “that’s gonna be treated like tennis shoes must have been. I don’t say this out of any particular glee—I just think it’s a result of ‘the great free-enterprise system.’”

Screenshot 2018-11-28 14.47.09Luce, who founded High Yield Insights, one of the nation’s first cannabis marketing research firms, this past May, feels similarly as recreational legalization expands. “From a great distance,” Luce said, the “classic marketing research” High Yield does for its clients—which includes everything from crafting tailored patient and consumer insight reports, to consulting medical and recreational businesses…

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Legalization Report: NIMBY in Newton, Massachusetts

Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Dr. Seth Blumenthal, contributing editor and lecturer at Boston University. He’s been tracking the roll out of recreational marijuana legalization in his home state of Massachusetts and provides this report. Enjoy!

As I sat behind the police chief while he spoke to the City Council in favor of a ban on marijuana dispensaries in my city–Newton, Massachusetts–I realized I was in trouble. Surrounding me in the public seating section, every other attendee held up a brightly colored “Opt Out” sign in silence. One nice woman even asked me if I wanted a sign, which I politely declined. After all, I was there to follow the chief and offer a rebuttal. As a historian with a focus on marijuana history, I had already been active as an academic endorser for Question 4 that legalized marijuana in 2016, and so I was asked to speak…

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Sex on Drugs at the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library


by Alex

Julio Santo Domingo Jr was part of a Columbian business dynasty, straitjacketed by the trappings that came with moneyed social convention. Thoughout his life, though, he developed a seemingly insatiable appetite for collecting materials on ‘altered states’, sex, magick, and the occult, which he amassed from bookshops, auctions and galleries across the globe. Filling warehouses and mansions with rare first editions, pulp novels, letters and posters, after his death the collection was bequeathed to Harvard University, and a book appeared in 2017, Altered States, to accompany an exhibition at the Houghton Library, documenting the development of the collection and Santo Domingo’s vision and mentality.

It’s difficult to emphasise enough the sheer scale of the archive. Some estimates suggest that it numbers 100,000 individual items, and would fill at least three terraced houses. I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in October 2018, foraging for material that…

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Surveying Drug Prevention

Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from contributing editor Dr. Seth Blumenthal. In it, he surveys how schools, parents, and Congress responded to increased drug use in the 20th century through anti-drug abuse education initiatives. 

In the opening scene of the 1936 cult classic Reefer Madness, Dr. Alfred Carrol speaks to a parents’ group about preventing the “marijuana menace” that threatened their children. Haranguing the terrified mothers and fathers during the meeting, Carrol explains that this “frightful assassin of youth” could be stamped out with “compulsory education on the subject of narcotics in general, but marijuana in particular.” Carrol argued that “enlightenment” was the path to eliminating this “scourge.” However, the focus on educating parents to “Tell your Children,” the title of Carrol’s talk and one of Reefer Madness’s other titles, proved more popular than mandated public school education.  In fact, it would be decades before Americans felt…

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Announcement – SHAD meets Chicago!

The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs joins the University of Chicago Press journals program

October 4, 2018

The editors of The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs: An Interdisciplinary Journal (SHAD) are pleased to announce that the journal has joined the publishing program of The University of Chicago Press. Building on 30 years of publication, we will release our first issue with the Press in 2019. The journal will be available both in print and online. For further information, please see:

The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs is dedicated to publishing high-quality original research, reflection essays, and reviews in the field of alcohol and drug history, broadly construed. Multidisciplinary and supported by top scholars in the field, SHAD is the only English-language academic journal devoted to this diverse topic.

The journal appears twice annually as an official publication of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, which promotes scholarship on the history of alcohol and drug use, abuse, production, trade, and regulation across time and space. Scholars publishing with SHAD are invited to be featured on the Points blog (, an online space for exchanging new ideas, insights, and speculations about our interdisciplinary and rapidly evolving field.

Herzberg, Campbell, and Richert (L to R)

SHAD editors Nancy Campbell, David Herzberg, and Lucas Richert are absolutely thrilled with the journal’s new home, which will give its excellent scholarship the visibility and intellectual connections merited at a time of heightened and well-justified interest in the many worlds of drugs and alcohol. We are also delighted with our new cover design, featuring paintings by Jenny Kemp.


Special Response: Over 100 Researchers and Practitioners Respond to Rod Rosenstein on Safe Injection Sites

Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is a letter coordinated by Kathleen Frydl, author of The Drug Wars in America, 1940-1973. In it, she and 101 signees respond to an op-ed published last month in The New York Times by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in which Rosenstein argued against supervised injection sites. 

Screenshot 2018-09-20 at 8.16.39 AM Rosenstein’s Op-Ed in the New York Times

In response to the current opioid crisis a number of cities in the United States are considering establishing safe injection sites for users of heroin and other illegal drugs. This is not a new idea. Cities in Canada and Europe currently have them, including a successful program in Vancouver. Safe injection sites provide a place for people to inject illicit drugs under medical supervision. In addition to a clean and warm space, they typically offer sterile injecting equipment and basic healthcare. Many also provide referrals to treatment, housing and other…

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