Recent Holtz Center Member, Associate Professor Lucas Richert, recently authored his latest book, “Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs” (2019), available on Amazon. Dr Richert is the George Urdang Chair in the History of Pharmacy and recently became a member of the Holtz Center earlier this spring. He studies intoxicating substances and the pharmaceutical industry. He also examines the history of mental health. His new book focuses on legitimate and illegitimate, legal and illegal drugs.
Drugs take strange journeys from the black market to the doctor’s black bag. Changing marijuana laws in the United States and Canada, the opioid crisis, and the rising costs of pharmaceuticals have sharpened the public’s awareness of drugs and their regulation. Government, industry, and the medical profession, however, have a mixed record when it comes to framing policies and generating knowledge to address drug use and misuse. In Strange Trips, Richert investigates the myths, meanings, and boundaries of recreational drugs, palliative care drugs, and pharmaceuticals as well as struggles over product innovation, consumer protection, and freedom of choice in the medical marketplace. Scrutinizing how we have conceptualized and regulated drugs amid the pressing and competing interests of state regulatory bodies, pharmaceutical and for-profit companies, scientific researchers, and medical professionals, Richert asks how perceptions of a product shift from dangerous substance to medical breakthrough, or vice versa. Through close examination of archival materials, accounts, and records, he brings substances into conversation with each other and demonstrates the contentious relationship between scientific knowledge, cultural assumptions, and social concerns. Weaving together stories of consumer resistance and government control, Strange Trips offers timely recommendations for the future of drug regulation.