You don’t have to have a medical degree to know that drugs like heroin and cocaine are highly addictive, and can have devastating consequences for people who abuse them.
“Heroin and cocaine—along with marijuana—were ultimately regulated out of a sinister urge to demonize and prosecute immigrants and minorities. Not concerns about public health.”
It might come as a surprise, however, to learn the reason those drugs were eventually ruled illegal wasn’t out of a humanitarian desire to protect the public. Rather, heroin and cocaine—along with marijuana—were ultimately regulated out of a more sinister urge to demonize and prosecute immigrants and minorities.
Now, the War on Drugs wouldn’t enter popular parlance until the Nixon Administration, when it was launched, as Domestic Policy Adviser John Ehrlichman now admits, to lock up blacks and hippies. Or basically anyone who was declared an enemy of the president’s conservative government.
But that was far from the first time that legislators used their power to demonize drugs to go after specific groups. As an recent piece on Salon details, those efforts go back to the turn of the 20th century.
Heroin, cocaine and marijuana were used in a variety of over-the-counter tonics at that time. Coca-Cola, for example, wouldn’t actually see an entirely cocaine-free formula until 1929. And it was by associating the drugs with minorities—and preying on their constituents xenophobic fears—authorities managed to push through proposals which ultimately saw them banned.
It’s another entry into the history of America’s sad attempt at prohibition, and as the marijuana legalization movement makes great strides, it’s important to remember that it’s as much about righting a century of wrongs as it is about the right to get high. Check out the whole piece here.
[ via Salon ]