The Wellcome Collection in London has a show called High Society. It’s mixes historical curiosa with a very unoriginal sermon against drug prohibition, full of inaccurate claims. (The world illicit drug market is not $320 billion per year. Â Opium was not banned in China in the 1840s; rather, it was a state monopoly, and imports from India by British traders were a threat to the revenue stream.)
But there’s lots of interesting material, including a video of Humphrey Osmond giving mescaline to a research subject who looks and sounds more or less like Cary Grant with an upper-crust English accent and an appalling dull anti-cocaine silent made by D.W. Griffith in 1912 that makes you wonder how the same director eventually made Birth of a Nation.
Also included are two delicious Temperance posters from about 1930, showing that drug-war propaganda technique hasn’t changed much over time. One is about the fact that wine is a gateway drug for distilled spirits. Here’s the other: