10 Illegal Drugs That Were Once Legal
Oh baby, baby… it is a very wild world. More wild, in fact, than it was when Cat Stevens first sang about it in 1970. One way in which this wildness is manifested is the increased use of drugs and prevalence of substance addiction, an issue brought to light by shows like “Intervention” and people like Nicole Richie. It’s enough to make one long for simpler times when men wore hats, ladies blushed, and people didn’t need such elaborate chemical compounds to have fun on a Friday night.
But if we look a little closer, the days of yore might not be quite so innocent as they seem. Maybe raves weren’t as popular back then as they are today, but people were popping, drinking, smoking and snorting many of the same delightful substances that fill Lindsay Lohan’s purse today! Stranger still… these substances used to be legal, making our so-called modern age look like a prudish and puritanical version of the past. How did our Great Great Grandmothers and Grandfathers get away with it? Often the answer was as simple as marketing: call the drugs medicine.
Meth, according to almost anyone you ask, is a dangerous drug. In addition to increasing energy and giving you an emotional jolt before you head to an all night orgy set to songs by Robyn, it is devastatingly addictive and is known to lead to bad choices in haircut, tooth loss, and psychosis. Messing with Meth is simply not the same as smoking a doobie behind the Junior High — and almost 100% of addicts say they were tragically hooked the very first time they tried it.
All the same, there was a time when this toxin was not only legal but was available at your local Duane Reade… or whatever pharmacy people were going to in the nineteenth century. Norodin (a brand name for Meth) was prescribed for people with light depression… presumably to turn it into heavy depression once a full blown chemical addiction kicked in. Still, it was said that Norodin was just the thing for dispelling “the shadows of mild mental depression.” One in five doctors recommend Meth? Now there’s a reason to get happy!
Our country stands at a crossroads regarding Marijuana. Considering that its psychoactive effects are less significant than a bottle of over-the-counter Robitussin it is amazing to see how this handsome little plant has played such a great roll in politics, policy, philosophy, and religion in the U.S. and beyond. In California you can get some premium sticky bud if you have a tummy ache and a doctor’s note. In most other states, however, you have to go through the hassle of texting a code word to some jerk on a bicycle introduced to you by your nephew… all to get a buzz on.
But once upon a time (up until the early 1900’s) use of Marijuana in the United States was completely unrestricted. It was grown for use in textiles and paper by farmers across the land and no doubt puffed on by 19th century farm boys who could only dream of a day when such an experience would be enhanced by the advent of Pink Floyd and Liberal Arts educations.
Do you remember what your mother did for you when you were sick with sniffles as a child? Most likely her solution to this problem involved some combination of chicken noodle soup, a VHS of your favorite Disney movie, and Heroin … right?
Probably not, but once upon a time Heroin, which was developed in 1874 as a substitute for Morphine, was used as a cough suppressant. Watching any “Intervention” episode focused on Heroin addiction will make you wonder why anyone would ever choose that over a cough, no matter how hacking and wet.
Still, it took over 30 years for people to realize that the cough was worth it and by the time they did it was apparently too late… the drug remains a ghoulish figure on the scene of American addiction to this very day and the common cold has yet to be cured.
We don’t have to suffer through a trip to Grandma’s house to hear about the glory days of legal Ecstasy use. Chances are that mom and dad enjoyed its free reign seeing as it was legal just a few short decades ago. Developed in 1912, MDMA achieved popularity in the seventies when a Berkeley professor noted its remarkable abilities in combating a wide array of psychiatric conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.
But when it was discovered that the substance was also good for a great night out dancing to horrible club-beats and caressing friends’ faces, an emergency ban was thrown on it. Modern-day ravers and druggies still enjoy this recreational substance all over the world, but unfortunately, because of the ban, the people who could actually derive real benefit from it are still deprived.
GHB, also known as the date-rape drug and “Roofies” are one of the most feared drugs today. Any club-goer with savvy knows to keep an eye on his or her drink from the first pour to the last sip as its not uncommon for club creepers and date rapists to slip this small but dangerous drug into a drink and take advantage of the weakened victim. The drug is odorless and tasteless, making it even easier for predators to slip it into a drink as the victim turns around for even just a second.
Shockingly, this drug was not made a federally controlled substance until the late, great year of 2000 even though it was developed all the way back in the wild 1960s. Its depressive and palliative effects were used medically for anesthetic purposes and the drug was often given to women in childbirth to alleviate some of their pain.
Interestingly enough, however, the drug has very recently come back into medical use as a treatment for narcolepsy. Strange, as it seems to have a knocking-out effect.
LSD or acid is a powerful hallucinogenic known for causing users to “trip balls”, see God or Buddha, and occasionally jump off buildings with the conviction that they can fly. In vogue mostly among the country’s dreadlocked war protestors, LSD was developed by accident in 1943. Its unique effects were seized upon by the U.S. government itself, which tested the drug as a means of mind control and truth extraction.
As anyone who has ever been around a person on LSD surely knows, not much truth is coming out of their lips unless it’s regarding the hidden nature of the cosmos or how strange hands are when you really look at them. In 1970, after a decade of abuse by the Haight-Ashbury crowd, the government finally put the kibosh on the substance.
Cocaine is a huge part of American culture. Illicit and illegal, yes, but where would the nation’s models, singers, heiresses and college students be without it? A quick snort of “nose candy” and you are guaranteed heightened energy and nearly fifteen minutes of tenuous and fleeting self-confidence.
But believe it or not… Kate Moss and Charlie Sheen are not the most notable people to have taken a ride on the cocaine train. Tons of famous figures from history loved the stuff, including one Sigmund Freud who used it as a therapeutic tool.
Also, ever wonder why your favorite soft drink has the same name as your favorite drug? Well, Coca-Cola used to list Cocaine as an ingredient. Modern Cocaine came about in the 1860s and enjoyed legality until 1914 when everyone stopped doing it and it was never seen again… of course.
In the mid-nineteenth century Opium use was brought to the West by the influx of Chinese laborers. There the drug had been used for centuries and it really made a splash in Europe and the United States as Opium dens sprung up like so many Starbucks locations.
Derived from the Poppy seed, smoking Opium produces euphoria, relaxation, and a delightful fogginess of mind. It was also given to women to fight menstrual cramps and, goodness gracious, given to crying babies to… you know… shut them up. It really was a great Mother’s Little Helper.
Mescaline, also known as Peyote, is an American grown hallucinogen famous for its historic use in Native American religious ceremonies. Despite being made illegal in some states during the 20s and 30s, Peyote was legally enjoyed by most states throughout the 60s… when it really counted. Hippies tired of their boring white bread, Christian upbringings turned to the writings of Don Juan and other Native American spiritual guides before taking Peyote to engender their own Spirit Quests. These people now hold down respectable jobs where they play Minesweeper at their cubicle desks, but no doubt they still think fondly of their desert wandering and spiritual Peyote visions.
In 1970 the drug was outlawed but many Native American places of worship are allowed exemption from this ban. This was a nice gesture of the U.S. government, all things considered. But today’s college students get no such break.
Despite having been used for thousands of years, people were debating the existence of Hallucinogenic mushrooms up until the early 1900s. Commonly thought of as a natural LSD,Mushrooms produce profound visual and audio hallucinations wherein the true nature of the human experience is dubiously bestowed on the drug-taker for the duration of about eight hours.
In the 60’s the drug was made famous by writer and philosopher Timothy Leary who espoused its use as a tool for spiritual and psychological development and mushrooms quickly became a huge part of American hippie subculture. But towards the end of the 60s, as America’s other favorite pastimes became illegal one by one, mushrooms bit the dust as well with a federal ban.