The History of Drugs In Society

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Intoxicants and Memory with Lilian Kloft

This week’s interview with Lillian Kloft, who is a PhD candidate at Maastricht University in the Netherlands working in Neuropsychology & Psychopharmacology. As you’ll hear in this interview, she does a lot of work on the question of how different intoxicating substances affect our memory. We talked about how cannabis, alcohol, and MDMA all affect memory in different ways. 

Update - Oct 7th

Sorry I've been MIA, still dealing with some health issues. I'll get back to working on season 1 and some interviews (probably focused on cannabis legalization efforts in Pennsylvania) when I'm up to it. Stay tuned.

I do really appreciate every person who checks out the podcast. If you're ever inclined to connect, feel free to do so over email ( or Twitter (@drugshistory). I'd love to hear from ya.

Be well!

The ‘ndrangheta, Shipping, & Cocaine with Anna Sergi

This week I got to speak to Professor Anna Sergi, who is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Essex. We got to cover a few main areas of her research, including Italian organized crime overall, the ‘ndrangheta (both in Italy and internationally), as well as the role of shipping in global cocaine markets, an area in which the ‘ndrangheta is personally involved. 

If you’ve heard the ‘about the podcast’ episode, you might remember that Italian organized crime groups in the NY, particularly the Sicilian La Cosa Nostra, was what initially piqued my own interests in the world of organized crime and drugs. So it was particularly interesting for me to get to talk to Anna about the state of Italian mafias today and just how prominent the ‘ndrangheta has become in the last few decades. 

Some links:

B8: The State, Drug Markets, & Violence with Angelica Duran-Martinez

This week, I speak to Professor Angelica Duran-Martinez, who teaches Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. We explore a few of the ideas and case studies in her book, The Politics of Drug Violence. The book explores the interaction of political structures, security structures, and drug markets and what the results on violence are, specifically in terms of the visibility and frequency of violence. 


More on Angelica -

Link to her book -


Also, please expect some delays with the subsequent episodes. Still not feeling my best but hoping to get at least one more interview out this month. Be well!

4. Opiate Addiction, East & West (Opium as a Drug, 1800s)

In the fourth episode of the season, I'm going over addiction in the East and the West. The episode starts by talking about addiction briefly before laying out some basic history of addiction and intoxication. From there, I cover issues with opium smoking in China before shifting to how addiction differed in the West at the time. I also talk about morphism, the Civil War, and where usage stood heading into the 1900s. In the next episode, I'll cover some medical history relating to morphine and heroin and then will cover Prohibition. 


If you have any questions, feel free to reach out on or on Twitter, @DrugsHistory.

Announcement 3 - Sorry for the delay

Sorry I've gone radio silent the last two weeks. Thanks to some lovely Lyme disease, I've been really out of it and needed to take it easy for a bit. I'm hoping to release the next season episode in a week or two. 


I also want to create more of a focus for the interviews. If you have ideas, feel free to reach out - or @DrugsHistory on Twitter. 


Be well! 

B7: The History of Drug Prohibition in Mexico with Nidia Olivera

This week’s ep features Nidia Olivera, who is a professor at the National School of Anthropology teaching history and drug history specifically. She is also a current PhD candidate at the Mora Institute, where she is looking at the ancient and modern history of psychoactive substances and drug policies in Mexico. 

We talked about the history of drug prohibition in Mexico from the time the Spanish arrived through the 1950’s. We covered a wide swath of history and we couldn’t cover everything, so I’m including some additional resources below. Feel free to reach out on @DrugsHistory or on email,

Nidia’s suggested resources:

Some others:

If you like Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast, check out season 9. A Narco History is a short book that gives a good high level political history. Dawn Paley’s Drug War Capitalism provides an interesting theory in terms of the economic role of deciding specific drug policies.

Intelligent Speech Conference Tomorrow! Late Announcement

Late announcement, but it looks like I'll be joining the list of speakers at Intelligent Speech Conference which is taking place virtually on Saturday, June 27th. Tickets are only $15 and you'll get to see a bunch of great, different podcasters. The topic for this year is Hidden Voices and there are a lot of panels that I'm excited to catch. I think I'll be on 12:15p. 

There's a trailer for Intelligent Speech that starts around 1:24. See you there! 



B6: Synthetic Opioid Policy with Jirka Taylor

For this week's bonus episode of the History of Drugs in Society, I spoke to Jirka Taylor about synthetic opioid policy. Jirka is currently a Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation. A social scientist by training, his research portfolio mainly focuses on drug policy and criminal justice more broadly and he explores where those systems intersect with healthcare and social services. We talk about policy responses to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. 

Feel free to reach out on Twitter (@DrugsHistory) or over email (

You can read more of Jirka’s research here:

B5: Impacts of COVID on EU Drugs Markets with Andrew Cunningham

For this week's bonus episode of the History of Drugs in Society, I spoke to Andrew Cunningham who heads the drug markets, crime and supply reduction section of the EMCDDA, which stands for European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and is the main drug-focused agency across the EU. This interview is focused on a recent report titled “EU Drug Markets Impact of COVID-19“ that was co-authored by Andrew, his colleagues at the EMCDDA, and colleagues at Europol. 


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