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Home Grown

Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico's War on Drugs

Isaac Campos
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 344
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807882689_campos
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  • Book Info
    Home Grown
    Book Description:

    Historian Isaac Campos combines wide-ranging archival research with the latest scholarship on the social and cultural dimensions of drug-related behavior in this telling of marijuana's remarkable history in Mexico. Introduced in the sixteenth century by the Spanish, cannabis came to Mexico as an industrial fiber and symbol of European empire. But, Campos demonstrates, as it gradually spread to indigenous pharmacopoeias, then prisons and soldiers' barracks, it took on both a Mexican name--marijuana--and identity as a quintessentially "Mexican" drug. A century ago, Mexicans believed that marijuana could instantly trigger madness and violence in its users, and the drug was outlawed nationwide in 1920.Home Grownthus traces the deep roots of the antidrug ideology and prohibitionist policies that anchor the drug-war violence that engulfs Mexico today. Campos also counters the standard narrative of modern drug wars, which casts global drug prohibition as a sort of informal American cultural colonization. Instead, he argues, Mexican ideas were the foundation for notions of "reefer madness" in the United States. This book is an indispensable guide for anyone who hopes to understand the deep and complex origins of marijuana's controversial place in North American history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0180-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    This story begins with a little-known Spaniard who, in the sixteenth century, introduced a plant called cannabis to the Americas. It ends with Mexico’s prohibition of that plant, by then called “marihuana,” in 1920. There is a lot of ground to cover in between. Thus, I would like to begin, by way of introduction, with a brief outline of the plot.

    Around the year 1530, a conquistador named Pedro Quadrado left his small village near Seville and traveled to the New World. After actively participating in the ongoing conquest of Mexico, Quadrado received a coveted encomienda, or royal tribute and...

  5. Chapter 1 CANNABIS AND THE PSYCHOACTIVE RIDDLE
    (pp. 7-38)

    As I detail in chapter 4, marijuana caused violence, madness, and crime in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Mexico. This, anyway, is what the available historical sources overwhelmingly indicate. These ideas were widespread and appear to have cut across boundaries of class and ethnicity. There was almost no counterdiscourse, there were virtually no defenders of the weed, and there was remarkable continuity in the way this substance was portrayed, whether in newspapers or in scientific periodicals. Marijuana’s effects were sometimes simply described as “madness,” and, while hardly a clinical diagnosis, the dimensions of this particular brand of insanity were relatively consistent—irrational...

  6. Chapter 2 CANNABIS AND THE COLONIAL MILIEU
    (pp. 39-66)

    By the sixteenth century, cannabis was known throughout much of the world as a medicine, fiber, and intoxicant. Though not present in the Americas until after the Spanish conquest, eventually this plant would take on all of these roles in Mexico as well. But cannabis would only gradually emerge into Mexican history, as scattered plantings slowly fused with local lifeways. The slow pace of this emergence ensured that this drug’s historical trajectory would be steered by the peculiar architecture of Mexican colonial life, where medicine, religious practice, and intoxication were inextricably linked in a complex and perennial struggle for political...

  7. Chapter 3 THE DISCOVERY OF MARIJUANA IN MEXICO
    (pp. 67-80)

    In 1854, the Mexico City daily ElCorreo de Españainformed its readers that Alexander Dumas, with his ability to make fashionable just about anything, had turned hashish into the latest European fad. Dumas’s descriptions inThe Count of Monte Cristo, suggesting that hashish produced pleasant dreams and sensations of “indescribable well being,” along with the plant’s exotic name and origins, had produced a veritable “hashishmania” among the European cognoscenti. But toEl Correo’ssurprise, a local botanical authority revealed that Mexico produced its own somewhat less prestigious version of the stuff:

    To spoil the illusions of those who allowed...

  8. Chapter 4 THE PLACE OF MARIJUANA IN MEXICO, 1846–1920
    (pp. 81-102)

    Though Mexican sanitary officials would eventually prohibit marijuana because it supposedly threatened the well-being of the entire nation, use of the drug was not especially widespread among Mexicans of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That fact was first suggested to me by the relative scarcity of marijuana references in the historical archive. I discovered that one could spend days on end searching through a particular archival collection without finding a single reference to this drug. Of course, just because a subject rarely appears in the archive does not necessarily mean that it was absent during the period in...

  9. Chapter 5 EXPLAINING THE MISSING COUNTERDISCOURSE I: THE SCIENCE OF DRUGS AND MADNESS
    (pp. 103-122)

    In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, vice assumed many forms in Mexico. Foreign soldiers participating in the battles of the 1860s emphasized its presence. One Argentine volunteer in the forces fighting Maximilian lamented widespread drunkenness in the Mexican army, rampant smuggling of alcohol into soldiers’ barracks, and the failure of military authorities to stamp out these practices. On the other side of the conflict, an American declared gambling and laziness the universal vices of Mexico.1 Mexican critics no doubt provided the most nuanced denunciations of vice. Dogs, beggars, and prostitutes had given Mexico’s capital the feel of a...

  10. Chapter 6 EXPLAINING THE MISSING COUNTERDISCOURSE II: PEOPLE, ENVIRONMENTS, AND DEGENERATION
    (pp. 123-154)

    The above drama was not drawn from a pulp novel. It was reported, quite seriously, inEl Imparcial, Mexico’s leading newspaper, a publication that at its height claimed a daily circulation of more than 100,000 (in a city with fewer than half a million total inhabitants). How much of the story was true is difficult to say. Even more uncertain is what typical Mexico City readers thought of this or other similar descriptions. Did they immediately view them as sensational exaggerations, or did they find them quite believable, even in their most fantastic details?

    Reports of marijuana users degenerating into...

  11. Chapter 7 DID MARIJUANA REALLY CAUSE “ MADNESS” AND VIOLENCE IN MEXICO?
    (pp. 155-180)

    Reports of men made mad by marijuana, running amok through the streets, while appearing implausible from a twenty-first-century vantage point, were, as we’ve seen, largely justified by the social-scientific thought of latenineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Mexico. This raises an important question: did marijuana really produce these effects? As noted in chapter 1, in most circumstances we would consider hundreds of unchallenged reports sufficient to prove the existence of a given phenomenon. But this case is complicated by two factors: first, while marijuana remains widely used, reports of it triggering violent rampages in Mexico or anywhere else have become a thing of...

  12. Chapter 8 NATIONAL LEGISLATION AND THE BIRTH OF MEXICO’S WAR ON DRUGS
    (pp. 181-202)

    On March 2, 1920, Mexico’s Department of Public Sanitation promulgated its “Dispositions on the Cultivation and Commerce of Products that Degenerate the Race.” This was the first law in Mexican history to ban the cultivation and commerce in marijuana nationwide. It also imposed significant restrictions on the sale and distribution of the opiates and cocaine. It was, in short, a landmark in Mexican drug history and the true starting point of Mexico’s nationwide war on drugs.

    As has been thoroughly illustrated in the historical literature, the origins of international drug control regimes lie in the early twentieth century and, more...

  13. Chapter 9 POSTSCRIPT: MEXICAN IDEAS MOVE NORTH
    (pp. 203-224)

    Mexico’s prohibition of marijuana in 1920 was largely a domestic affair. Nonetheless, as discussed earlier, global historical factors played a role throughout this drug’s Mexican history, from the emergence of “degeneration” as a kind of modern common sense, to the global outlook of Mexican thinkers concerned with their country’s place in “the competition of nations.” This is hardly surprising. Scholars have long recognized the influence of the outside world on Mexico, especially in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when European models were a prominent source of inspiration and aspiration for Mexican elites. José Guadalupe Posada consistently lampooned such...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 225-232)

    In October 1938, Dr. Leopoldo Salazar Viniegra, director of the Anti-alcohol Division of Mexico City’s Hospital for Drug Addicts, scandalized the public with a paper titled “The Myth of Marijuana.” There, Salazar argued that the common assumptions of both public and scientific opinion pertaining to this drug were based in fantasy. Marijuana was a relatively innocuous substance, he claimed, whose symptoms included little more than a reddening of the eyes and a drying of the mouth’s mucous membranes. Furthermore, stories linking this substance with madness, violence, and crime were based in myth propagated by a sensational press and, above all,...

  15. Appendix: NEWSPAPER ANALYSIS
    (pp. 233-240)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 241-290)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 291-314)
  18. Index
    (pp. 315-331)