I imagine anyone reading this letter could fashion a lengthy list of drugs which are illegal in the United States. Maybe half of you could even describe in detail the (correct) effects and dangers of each drug on your list. However, I am doubtful that more than a handful of readers ever bothered to ask how or why these drugs became illegal ? at least any further than ?because drugs are bad.?
So let?s learn a little about drug history. In the thousands of years of our existence, drugs have been used by the human race ? from as far back as the first time a Caveman discovered that sex with Mrs. Caveman resulted in pleasurable feelings (releasing endorphins). Previously used for remedies, recreation, or spiritual journeys, it is only in the last century, and really the last 35 years have drugs ever been sold to the public as dangerously immoral.
The legality of the three most famous drugs: marijuana, cocaine and heroin all have roots in ignorance and racism rather than scientific fact or research. After the depression ended, the large Mexican workforce that helped rebuild our country was no longer needed. As a result, marijuana was criminalized and used as an excuse to deport this ?surplus population.?
Meanwhile, cocaine was touted as a ?miracle drug? and prescribed by such prominent figures as Sigmund Freud as a cure to everything from asthma to headaches. It later become demonized during the racial tensions of the time ? some claiming that it drove African-Americans into a violent frenzy, much like Robert De Niro in ?Scarface.? Police officers of the time even requested higher-caliber bullets.
Heroin and its cousin morphine were similarly touted as a ?miracle drug? used to cure alcoholism, even knowing its addictive nature. It was rationalized that while a morphine user would quietly harm himself, he would not harm others via domestic violence or bar fights, as would alcoholics. In Chinatown, opium was eventually barred (only to Orientals) because it was feared that Orientals were using it to seduce white women.
While these drugs were criminalized and used as tools of racism and prejudice, they were not made illegal until one of the most infamous and corrupt presidents of recent memory, Richard Nixon, launched the war on drugs in 1972 which made these and many other drugs both illegal and immoral. While the danger of overdose due to uncontrolled dosage or potency of illegal drugs is a clear danger, more important dangers exist.
When a drug is scheduled (made illegal) by the government, all scientific research on the drug is prohibited. This cements the extent of long-term consequence in the realm of speculation and propaganda. Even worse, it eliminates the choice of an individual to remove themself as a productive member of society. In modern times, we have no choice. If you wish to use drugs you are forced into a life of criminal activity, complete with jail sentences and social persecution.
It is no coincidence that a noticeable decline in humanity ? the sense of goodwill and connection to others ? has occurred in the last few decades. We live in a society in which the question is not whether you are guilty, but rather ?how guilty.? Moreover, we live in a society which feeds us moral values and social norms that we don?t even bother to question.