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Chasing Dragons

Chasing Dragons: Security, Identity, and Illicit Drugs in Canada

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Chasing Dragons
    Book Description:

    Canada has received significant attention of late for initiating a government-sponsored medical marijuana program and for its flirtation with marijuana decriminalization. At best, these initiatives have contributed to Canada being seen as a reluctant ally by Washington, and, at worst, as a potential threat. The result of this impression is increasing American pressure to adopt more robust domestic security policies. At the same time, the Canadian public sees itself as holding unique values that differ from those held by its neighbour to the south. Supposedly these values are best reflected by a distinctive security outlook which produces reasonable responses to potential threats, a sharp contrast to the manic actions of the United States.

    Chasing Dragonschallenges these presumptions of difference and exposes the security politics and policy that they make possible. Focusing on the issues surrounding illicit drugs, Kyle Grayson examines how discourses and practices of security policy actually contribute to the construction of Canadian national and cultural identity. This analysis is also relevant beyond Canada. Crucially, this book identifies the dangers of underestimating the centrality of race and geopolitics to civic conceptions of nationality in liberal societies.

    Chasing Dragonsreconsiders the meaning of security. Additionally, it discusses avenues for resisting the insecurity produced by liberal states in the post-9/11 world. This critical approach reveals the pervasiveness of power in contemporary Canadian society, how this power is hidden, and the consequences for progressive social politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8759-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    Kyle Grayson
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-36)

    Already one must conclude that the concept of drugs is a non-scientific concept, that it is instituted on the basis of moral or political evaluations: it carries in itself norm or prohibition, and allows no possibility of description or certification – it is a decree, a buzz word [mot d’ordre] ... As soon as one utters the ‘drugs,’ even before any ‘addiction,’ a prescriptive or normative ‘diction’ is already at work, performatively whether one likes it or not (Derrida 1995, 229).

    In the late spring of 2003, Absolut Country of Sweden Vodka launched its ‘Absolut Canada.’ (full stop in original) advertising...

  6. 2 The Theory/Practice of Security and Identity
    (pp. 37-55)

    At a time when the country is focused on issues like terrorism, underdevelopment, weapons of mass destruction, and illegal migration, we need to (re)think what it means to classify social phenomena as security issues in the Canadian context by looking at how security and identity form a nexus that produces meanings and representations that have important political consequences. In trying to (re)think security, Rob Walker (1997) has commented that the process must both engage with attempts to theorize the locations and characteristics of the political beyond – what has been framed as ‘international relations’ – and respond to questions about ‘whose security...

  7. 3 Situating Canadian Geonarcotics: Canada, the United States, and the Performatives of Canadian Identity
    (pp. 56-94)

    On 30 July 2003, an op-ed appeared in thePittsburgh Post-Gazettetitled ‘It’s Not Just the Weather That’s Cooler in Canada.’ It began with the following passage: ‘You live next door to a clean-cut, quiet guy. He never plays loud music or throws raucous parties. He doesn’t gossip over the fence, just smiles politely and offers you some tomatoes. His lawn is cared for, his house is neat as a pin and you get the feeling he doesn’t always lock his front door. He wears Dockers. You hardly know he’s there. And then one day you discover that he has...

  8. 4 Race and Illicit Drugs in Canada: From the Opium Den to New Drug Khatastrophes
    (pp. 95-124)

    In October 1999, Abdulkadir Mohamoud, a Somali Canadian, filed a formal complaint over injuries he received during an April 1999 raid by the Toronto police. Suspected of distributing khat, a mild natural amphetamine grown in the horn of Africa, he alleged that after a police tactical unit broke down his door to place him under arrest, he was kicked in the head twice, rendering him unconscious. He was then left on the ground for an hour, hogtied, and had his elbow broken by a police officer who stepped on his restrained arms. The police officers involved never denied that they...

  9. 5 A Genealogy of the Body of the Canadian Drug User, Part I: From Criminal Addiction to Medicalization
    (pp. 125-157)

    In 1998, James Wakeford, an AIDS patient suffering from nausea and loss of appetite, launched a legal case that sought a constitutional exemption from marijuana prohibitions contained in the 1996 Controlled Drug and Substance Act (Senate 2002c, 299). He hoped that the judicious use of marijuana could help him settle his stomach, regain his appetite, and maintain a healthy weight that could prolong his life. On hearing his case, the Ontario Court ruled that the CDSA infringed on his constitutional rights to liberty and security of the person by denying him the autonomy to choose how to treat his illness;...

  10. 6 A Genealogy of the Body of the Canadian Drug User, Part II: From A National Drug Strategy to Medical Marijuana
    (pp. 158-196)

    In 1986, U.S. President Ronald Reagan declared that ‘drugs are menacing our society ... there is no moral middle ground.’ Within two days, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney aped his American counterpart by announcing that ‘drug abuse has become an epidemic that undermines our economic as well as our social fabric’ (in Erickson 1992, 248).¹ The use of the word ‘epidemic,’ borrowed from medical discourse, created an image of drug use as rampant and as spreading uncontrollably like a highly infectious disease, an image reminiscent of the contagion theory of earlier generations. As one high-ranking official in Health and Welfare Canada...

  11. 7 The (Geo) Politics of Dancing: Illicit Drugs and Canadian Rave Culture
    (pp. 197-236)

    Early in the morning of 11 October 1999, at a rave located in an underground parking lot in Toronto’s west end, Allen Ho, a twenty-year-old Ryerson University student, collapsed on the dance floor. Several hours later he died in a Toronto hospital from causes determined by an autopsy to be MDMA (ecstasy) related. A post-mortem drug test revealed that Ho’s MDMA level was 0.13 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. One leading toxicologist at the time noted that MDMA-related deaths had occurred previously with as little as one-third of that amount present in the bloodstream (Keung 2000).

    According to eyewitness...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 237-254)

    During Caribana celebrations in 2000, Jason Burke, an African Canadian in his mid-twenties, was approached by two white police officers who accused him of selling drugs to one of his companions (Rankin et al. 2002b). Claiming that they were operating on a tip given to them by two nightclub doormen, the officers pinned him against a wall and called for back-up when Burke accused them of unlawful arrest. Eventually, after being pushed to the ground in the ensuing struggle to apply handcuffs, Burke was pepper sprayed in the face and taken to a police station, where he was charged with...

  13. Appendix: The Progression of Canadian Drug Law – Key Events
    (pp. 255-264)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 265-274)
  15. References
    (pp. 275-308)
  16. Index
    (pp. 309-323)