A Brief History of British Drug Policy, 1950-2001

Rowdy Yates
2002 Drugs: education prevention and policy  
Following the establishment of the so-called "New British System" (based on the recommendations of the Rolleston Committee in 1926), numbers of recorded opiate and cocaine addicts fell significantly in the early 1930s and remained stable and at a relatively low level for the next two decades. It was in the latter part of the 1950s that reports of a new drug "epidemic" began to circulate. Concerns centred on the use of drugs by ethnic minorities, notably black West Indians and Africans in 'blues
more » ... Africans in 'blues clubs' and visiting black American musicians in jazz clubs. Once again the drugs epidemic was associated with jazz ("jungle") music and colour. By the end of the 1960s, young white teenagers had become involved too and the world had seen the student riots in Paris; the birth of Swinging London with its attendant Merseybeat; the hippy revolution in San Francisco; and a growing youth protest, both in the USA and Britain, over western military involvement in Vietnam. Politicians and journalists invariably associated these events with the use of drugs by young people. Over the last four decades of the 20th Century, the use of drugs by young people (and the attendant treatment industry) has grown exponentially and the focus has moved from individual treatment to public health and infection control to the current preoccupation with drugs/crime connection. This brief history attempts to summarise these developments in a short article chronicling the major milestones and events.
doi:10.1080/09687630110118478 fatcat:eyruzxb5e5fkrn2gjbjlco23t4