Powered by Blogger.

History of Cocaine, Recreational Use

Before the 1860's cocaine was only available in leaf form. The cocaine content of coca leaf is under 1%. After cocaine was isolated from coca leaf, it was available legally in concentrations that were nearly 100% pure.

The active ingredient from the coca leaf was first isolated by Albert Niemann. In 1860 he gave the compound the name cocaine.

Cocaine was first used recreationally in the 1860s. People were using cocaine as a recreational drug almost as soon as it was synthesized. A few years after its synthesis, cocaine appeared in cigarettes, ointments, nasal sprays, and preparations sold as tonics.

These legal tonics had coke mixed with other substances, including morphine, codeine, and opium. They were sold in a liquid form, and cured "whatever ailed you". The powder itself was used recreationally almost as soon as it was isolated.

The most popular of cocaine laced products was Mariani Wine (Vin Mariani). It was a wine and cocaine mixture that was launched in 1863. Nearly all popular personalities of the day used and endorsed it. These Vin Maria lovers included: Queen Victoria, The Pope, Thomas Edison, and others.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sign Of Four" was written about 30 years after the synthesis of cocaine. In the book Sherlock Holmes (an intravenous cocaine and morphine user) gives reasons for his cocaine and morphine use "...I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation..."

The negative effects of cocaine addiction were soon noticed and between 1887 and 1914 forty six states had passed laws aimed at controlling it.

The press began to associate cocaine powder use with societies outcast in the 1890s. Criminals, prostitutes, pimps, gamblers, and racial minorities were usually the target.

Then in 1914 the U.S. federal government classified cocaine as a narcotic (which it is not) and outlawed it. After passing the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, the only way a person could get cocaine was with a prescription, or illegally.

In the 1920s cocaine use declined, and that decline was to become more so in the 1930s, when amphetamine (speed) became popular among drug users.

Amphetamine was appealing to the cocaine user because the high it produced was much like cocaine's. It did not deliver quite the same peak, but its effects lasted longer.

More significantly, it was cheap, readily available and legal. With the appearance of legally obtainable amphetamine (readily available by the late 1930s), cocaine use declined considerably. Its use remained low until all amphetamines, including meth became illegal in the 1960s.

This made amphetamine more difficult to obtain, so dealers and users switched back to the neglected cocaine, and the first flurries of the current blizzard arrived. Cocaine is not a drug that burst onto the scene sometime in the 1960s. It was used as a recreational drug, a century before.