Taming Cannabis


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An exploration of the history of cannabis use and prohibition in the French imperial nation-state.

About the Author

David A. Guba, Jr, is a faculty member at Bard High School Early College in Baltimore, Maryland.


"Taming Cannabis provides an interesting analysis of the national and transnational exchange of knowledge and the ways in which such knowledge, in the case of intoxicants, can be based on the endless repetition of false and irrational information. David Guba establishes the complicated relationship between the drug, the assimilative policies and politics of the French Empire, and the tensions that could result between the indigenous peoples and the French settler communities." Patricia Barton, University of Strathclyde

"Taming Cannabis compellingly tells the story of how French discussions of cannabis took shape through consistent references to the Arab and Muslim worlds. As David Guba maps out, this history has much to tell us about current French understandings of drugs, illegality, and danger, speaking to multiple and pressing historiographical discussions." Todd Shepard, Johns Hopkins University and author of Sex, France, and Arab Men, 1962-1979

"Guba's study is a landmark publication as it tackles for the first time the history of cannabis in France. It is all the more convincing for being thoroughly-researched, and is as readable as it is significant. He carefully demonstrates that the first French encounters with cannabis products during the period when the nation was seeking to build a North African empire ensured that ideas about those substances were little more than Orientalist myths created by colonial fantasists. His conclusion, that these myths still shape racist ideas about cannabis products and their consumers in policy and police circles to this day, is compelling and controversial." James H. Mills, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and the author of Cannabis Nation: Control and Consumption in Britain, 1928-2008

"[Taming Cannabis] expands our knowledge of the history of cannabis in France, and the imperial legacy on policy around cannabis and drugs generally. The book is academically rigorous as well as an entertaining read. It would be of interest to historians of public health, drugs and policy, but also to policymakers or anyone interested in France, cannabis and colonial legacies." Addiction

"Given that we are now beginning to disentangle cannabis from other 'illiegal drugs' with decriminilization and legalization, understanding how cannabis' fits into the larger picture of drug history will become increasingly important. Based on his excellent work in Taming Cannabis, one hopes Guba is among the scholars who takes the lead in helping historians answer these questions in the future." Social History of Medicine

“David Guba’s Taming Cannabis explores every facet of colonial France’s authoritative dominance and xenophobic policies to drive a narrative of social obedience and control. More than ever, the untold history of cannabis legislation in France is needed to understand how cannabis in the Western world has been vilified to profile ethnic and religious minorities.” Greenslensblog.com

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