This category contains 10 posts

State v. Big Sheep: When The Montana Supreme Court Interpreted the Bible for the Native American Church

Peyote is a fascinating study in American drug law for several reasons. For one, unlike many drugs, the plant that peyote is derived from (Lopohora Williamsii) is native to the American landscape. It grows wild in the deserts of the southwestern states and Northeast Mexico. The plant precedes the country, and native usage of the … Continue reading

Defining Marijuana

Weed. Grass. Ganga. Chronic. Buddha. Tea. Green. Dro. Pot. Kush. Indo. Hash. Mota. Broccoli. Cheeba. Kill. Coffee. Mary Jane. Sensimilla. 420. Purp. Jah. Grapes. Clinton’s Asthma. These are just a few of the many slang terms used for marijuana in America. Some of them are street names for particular strains, others are vernacular terms confined … Continue reading

Mexican Opium: The Wordtrack (Disc 2)

This is the second installment of a series about books that I’ve read for this blog that are at least in part about early American drug law. I’ll give a few-line overview of what the book is about, and then three quotes I found pull-worthy (because they explain something about an early law, offer a … Continue reading

“War on the Underclass”

Chances are decent that if you’re reading this, you’ve seen the HBO program The Wire. I say this because if you find yourself on this blog you are either: (a) Interested in drug policy, which is a central inquiry of The Wire, or (b) A friend or family member of mine, which means that I’ve likely … Continue reading

Interview with Reuel Schiller

I had the pleasure of sitting down for a talk with UC Hastings Professor Reuel Schiller in his office last week. Schiller, who teaches legal history at Hastings, has a fantastic knowledge bank for the era when the first drug laws were coming in (i.e. post Civil War, pre-WWII). I thought that was reason enough … Continue reading

Mere Possession

Enough lying. It’s time to admit that Professor Joseph Spillane’s warning to Mexican Opium against touting “Drug Law Exceptionalism” in regards to racism in early drug law has deeply troubled this blog’s identity. No, don’t comfort me  – enough of the charade. I know that the 11 people who visited Mexican Opium the day after … Continue reading

Matthew Deady

This is Matthew Deady –  child of the state of Maryland by way of Irish parents, founding father of the state of Oregon by way of the Oregon Trail. Farmer, trained blacksmith, teacher, lawyer, legislator, President of the Oregon Constitutional Convention, patron of the Multnomah County Library, former U.S. Territorial Judge and the first U.S. … Continue reading

“No Respecter of Persons”

It’s an odd complaint, but one of the things I dislike about doing historical research is that I get distracted from the history I’m after by the language that it comes in. I can’t focus on facts, because I get lost in the words. The difference between everyday language circa 1900 and everyday language circa … Continue reading

America’s First Drug Law

On November 15, 1875, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a landmark ordinance banning opium dens in the City. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle’s report of the event. The Chronicle article cites the threat of Chinese opium den operators snagging white people as the main motivation behind the ordinance. This is generally regarded as the … Continue reading

Drugs? Law? How?

You can’t do research on American drug law without being 100-hand-slapped with jurisprudential musings on America’s drug policy. Some of these musings compare America’s drug laws to more liberal European countries, some rail relentlessly on the American prison industrial complex, and others, occasionally, crack deep into the marrow of the drug law debate and simply … Continue reading