Early drug laws
Perhaps the earliest recorded example is the prohibition of the use of alcohol under Islamic law (Sharia), which is usually attributed to passages in the Qur'an dating from the 7th century. Like other Sharia laws, alcohol prohibition is enforced by Mutaween, the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Some Muslim scholars[who?] assert that this prohibition actually addresses only the abuse of alcohol, but they do not have sufficient numbers or authority to override the familiar total prohibition. Although Islamic law is often interpreted as prohibiting all intoxicants (not only alcohol), the ancient practice of hashish smoking has continued throughout the history of Islam, against varying degrees of resistance. A major campaign against hashish-eating Sufis was conducted in Egypt in the 11th and 12th centuries resulting among other things in the burning of fields of cannabis.
Though the prohibition of illegal drugs was established under Islamic law, particularly against the use of hashish as a recreational drug, classical jurists of medieval Islamic jurisprudencemedicinal and therapeutic purposes, and agreed that its "medical use, even if it leads to mental derangement, remains exempt" from punishment. In the 14th century, the Islamic scholar Az-Zarkashi spoke of "the permissibility of its use for medical purposes if it is established that it is beneficial." According to Mary Lynn Mathre, "In this legal distinction between the intoxicant and the medical uses of cannabis, medieval Muslim theologians were far ahead of present-day American law." accepted the use of hashish for
Religious intolerance was a motivation for drug prohibition in Christian Europe. In a move interpreted as support for the efforts of the Spanish Inquisition against the Arabs, in a 1484 fiat Pope Innocent VIII banned the use of cannabis. The persecution of heretics in the form of witch hunts also gathered momentum around this time, and frequently targeted users of medicinal and hallucinogenic herbs. The Inquisition proceeded apace in Meso-America and South America, where peyote (péyotl), ololiúqui, toloáche, teonanácatl and other sacred plants of the Mexicandevil. culture were prohibited as works of the
In Northern Europe, the Protestants were also responsible for passing drug laws motivated by religious intolerance, according to Stephen Harrod Buhner. Buhner argues that the 1516 Reinheitsgebot, which stipulates that beer may only contain water, barley and hops was a "reflection of Protestant irritation about 'drugs' and the Catholic Church". Unlike the typically nuts blends widely used at the time (e.g. gruit), hops cause sedation and reduce libido. The exclusive use of hops had been compulsory in France since 1268.
A serious gap in Buhner's approach, though, is that Protestant Reformation was—largely involuntarily—kickstarted by Martin Luther in 1517, that is the year after the ReinheitsgebotCatholic Church, merely focusing on Indulgences turned into a full-scale revolt against Papal power from 1521 on (after the Diet of Worms) because he was unexpectedly backed by German princes such as Frederick III, Elector of Saxony who strongly objected to the Catholic Church meddling in their affairs and finances. Those princes had been seeking ways to undermine Papal Rome's influence and fundraising on their territories for quite some time when the Reformation actually started. Local monopolies on gruit being a cash cow for many a monastic community, they were an obvious target to undermine their financial power. Which means edicts to impose hops instead of gruit in beer were probably politically motivated, and also explains why many of those edicts did indeed come long before the Reformation even started. edict (for one year only, and in a part of Germany that never switched to Protestantism), and two centuries and a half after hops became compulsory in France. Besides the religious motivation there was also a political one: Martin Luther's criticism of the
Coffee almost followed the same fate as cannabis as its use spread from Ethiopia through the Middle East to Europe. Coffee, regarded as a Muslim drink, was prohibited to Orthodox Christians in its native Ethiopia until as late as 1889; it is now considered a national drink of Ethiopia for people of all faiths. In the Ottoman Empire, Murad IV attempted to prohibit coffee drinking to Muslims as haraam, arguing that it was an intoxicant, but this ruling was soon overturned after his death. The introduction of coffee in Europe from Muslim TurkeyPope Clement VIII sanctioned its use in 1600, declaring that it was "so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it." Its early association in Europe with rebellious political activities led to its banning in England, among other places. prompted calls for it to be banned as the devil's work, though
In late Qing Imperial China, opium imported by the British East India Company was vastly consumed by all social classes in Southern China. Between 1821 and 1837 imports of the drug increased fivefold. The Chinese government attempted to end this trade, on public healthFirst Opium War). China was defeated and the war ended with the Treaty of Nanking, which protected foreign opium traders from Chinese law. A related American treaty promised to end the smuggling of opium by Americans. It took until the next Opium War for the trade to be legalized. The resulting trade purportedly set into motion a chain of events that would lead to the massive Taiping Rebellion. grounds. The effort was initially successful with the destruction of all British opium stock in May 1839. However, to protect this trade, the British declared war on China ( --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_On_Some_Drugs