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Mixing the Medicine: The Unintended Consequence of Amphetamine Control on the Northern Soul Scene

Andrew Wilson

Nottingham Trent University

February 7, 2009

The Internet Journal of Criminology, 2008

Examining the influences leading to the introduction of amphetamine controls in Britain, this article focuses upon the consequences of the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act 1964, and subsequent legislation. These laws had a major impact upon earlier Mod and later Northern Soul Scene subcultures in Britain, because both held amphetamine use as a central component of their recreational activities.

The paper aims to provide greater understanding of the way criminalisation of amphetamines impacted on a user subculture that developed prior to criminalisation. While the 1964 Act effectively restricted supplies of amphetamines from the grey market, its failure to reduce demand created the market conditions for illicitly manufactured amphetamines. The changed legal setting also provided subcultural justification for the burglary of retail pharmacies which began soon after criminalisation. The response of the authorities to increased burglary of pharmacies had a particularly damaging impact on the amphetamine user culture of the post-mod Northern Soul Scene in the mid-1970s. The introduction of tighter storage regulations, stipulating the need to store Class B drugs in a secure metal cabinet with the opiates, led to a new cultural exchange between the amphetamine using chemist burglars and opiate user groups that involved the sale of the unwanted class A drugs, including exchanging opiates for amphetamine powder. The resulting spread of intravenous drug use on the Northern Scene, introduced a number of negative health impacts including the spread of hepatitis and drug related deaths.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 22

Keywords: amphetamines, drug use, drug control, substance abuse, subcultures, youth culture, northern soul, intravenous drug use

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Date posted: February 8, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Andrew, Mixing the Medicine: The Unintended Consequence of Amphetamine Control on the Northern Soul Scene (February 7, 2009). The Internet Journal of Criminology, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1339332

Contact Information

Andrew Wilson (Contact Author)
Nottingham Trent University ( email )
United Kingdom
44 (0)115 848 6804 (Phone)
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