dai bread wrote:I would very much like to know what went on in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when all drugs were legal.
I believe opium addiction (via laudanum) was quite common, and Connan Doyle has Sherlock Holmes injecting cocaine as a matter of routine after solving a case.
As far as I know, prohibition of drugs came about in the 1920s, like prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. The prohibition vote here was strongest just after WW1, when it was defeated only by the votes of returning servicemen. It's been a non-starter ever since.
Dug addiction became serious in the U.S. following the civil war when soldiers were hooked on morphine and other opiates. Hard core drug addiction in the U.S. really reached it's peak in the early 1900s. We can safely estimate that there were between one-quarter and one-half million Americans addicted to narcotics around the turn of the century, comprising at least one percent of the population. Housewives were among the most addicted Americans and most addiction was truly accidental. The concept of “street use” was virtually unknown. The problem was further exacerbated in the late 1800’s when cocaine was touted as a cure for morphine addiction and Bayer introduced “Heroin” as a cure for both.
Bayer’s “Heroin” was legally sold in the U.S. until 1924 and hard narcotics were routinely used in patent medicines without patients/purchasers awareness.
I used to play with empty wooden “Heroin” boxes that my grandfather purchased as a relief for his migraines. I wish I still had those boxes. The last time I saw them was in 1961 when my grandmother died.
The beginning of federal drug enforcement began with the Harrison Anti-narcotic act of 1917, which criminalized the sale and use of dangerous drugs. The act was very controversial as it was one of the first federal laws that regulated how states dealt with narcotics.
The increasing push to prohibit the sale of alcohol kind of rolled into the same push to restrict the use of drugs as entertainment.
The further discovery of other addicting drugs as pharmacology research grew has continued to contribute to the overall problem to where we are today.