This book was written mainly to fill a gap in an area which has all too often been dominated by discussions about the 'pathologies' of individual drug users, or about the relationship between their sickness and a supposedly sick society. There did not seem any point in adding to these discussions, but there did seem some point in trying to show that the drug takers' behaviour and the workings of a legal system were inextricably linked and that sickness, after all, depends on who defines it as such.
I hope those with an interest in legal history will find something to stimulate them here, as so much of the history of drug control is buried in obscure statutes and manuals and needed bringing to light for its own sake. In attempting to be informative, I have also tried to show that drug takers, like the poor, have always been with us. Unlike the poor they have changed in a number of important respects, especially since the turn of the century, and I have tried to show how the system of control changed too.
This book is specifically concerned with that section of sociology called the sociology of law, and attempts to fill some gaps in the sociological literature of drug taking in Britain (and, hopefully, the U.S.A.) which, to say the least, is sparse. I hope that a gap has also been filled for those who, like me, were curious about our preoccupation with cannabis smoking and heroin addiction, whilst quietly forgetting the barbiturate addicts.
It is customary to acknowledge those numerous people who give assistance during the preparation of a book. It has constantly amazed me that so many people should generously give up so much time to read, re-read and check so many drafts. I now come to one of the few pleasurable moments in this whole venture by being able to acknowledge my thanks to them. For a book which touches on so many different disciplines the best way is to take each discipline in turn.
Committed as I am to the sociological viewpoint, it seems right first to thank Roy King, Department of Sociology, University of Southampton, for his many astute and perceptive criticisms, and Kit Carson at Bedford College for his initial encouragement and generous assistance. For help with the legal aspects I am indebted to John Herniman, Clerk to the Justices, Chichester, for carefully checking the drafts, and to Leo Goodman, Chief Clerk, Bow Street Magistrates Court, for his assistance with particularly delicate legal matters such as those dealing with strict or absolute liability. Also, I would particularly like to thank the Home Office Drugs Department whose generosity and patience is now so well known to almost every research worker in the field of drugs. At the Home Office I would like to thank Bing Spear for his encouragement and assistance in providing me with so much hitherto unpublished material. It was incredibly reassuring to be able to rely on him for so much help and advice. Also my thanks to Charles Jeffrey who carefully checked the draft and who must surely know more about the history of drug control than anyone I have ever met.
I would like to give a special thanks to my former colleagues at the Medical Research Council in Chichester; to Peter Sainsbury, Director of the M.R.C. Unit, who encouraged me and gave so much help in providing the time and the impetus to work at the drafts; and to Brian Barraclough, for reading the drafts and making valuable suggestions. Finally, I would also like to record special thanks to the late Ian Robertson, who made a unique contribution to the preparation of the drafts by his encouragement and integrity.
Diana Estep typed all the drafts in a most efficient manner and even remained cheerful when she found herself typing the same section for the ninth time. As did Sylvia Smith when she found herself reading it to check for errors.
Valerie my wife coped with it all and she too checked the drafts and gave enormous encouragement. She has my special gratitude.
The errors that remain are mine, as most certainly are the opinions expressed throughout.
Department of Applied Social Science,
University of Nottingham.
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