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To those of you unfamiliar with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, it’s an unlikely setting for some really quirky films of academic interest, including The Narcotic Farm, which I saw there recently.  It’s a historical documentary with footage from the 40s onwards charting the establishment and running of American’s first ever drug treatment facility, The Lexington in Kentucky.  There were two types of patients – those who were sent there as a result of criminal charges, and those who referred themselves voluntarily.  There was a thriving jazz scene at the Lexington, and Sonny Rollins was just one of the musicians who spent time there.  For the first time, those with drug addiction problems were treated rather than simply incarcerated.  But for the first time, something else happened for those with drug addiction problems – they began to be experimented upon.  Within Lexington was a research facility, but unlike today’s research which looks at treatment as well as causes, this research facility’s main work was observing the effects of drugs, and the way they did that was to give drugs of all types to those in the institution, and watch what happened.  It’s an extraordinary documentary, and it’s available in three parts on youtube.  The first part is here

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