When All Drugs Were Legal....There Wasn't a Drugs Problem
Harry Browne | February 4 2005
Few people are aware that before World War I, a 9-year-old girl could walk into
a drug store and buy heroin.
That's right - heroin. She didn't need a doctor's prescription or a note from
her parents. She could buy it right off the shelf. Bayer and other large drug
companies sold heroin as a pain-reliever and sedative in measured doses - just
the way aspirin is sold today. Cocaine, opium, and marijuana were readily
available as well. No Drug Enforcement Agency, no undercover cops, no "Parents
- the Anti-Drug" commercials. Just people going about their own business is
whatever way they chose.
Seeing today's never-ending crisis of teenagers using drugs, you can imagine how
bad it must have been when there were no laws to stop children - or adults -
from using drugs. But, in fact, there was no drug crisis at all. A few people
were addicted to heroin or cocaine, just as a few people today are addicted to
sleeping pills or Big Macs, but there was no national uproar about it. Such
people, if they wanted to break their habits, could freely consult doctors
without fear of being sent to prison.
There were no black-market drug dealers preying on school children. There were
no gang wars over drug profits, because there were no drug gangs. After all,
who would buy dangerous drugs from a gangster at outrageous prices when he
could buy safe drugs made by a reputable drug company at modest prices?
Americans got a taste of what a Drug War might be like when they endorsed the
18th Amendment invoking alcohol Prohibition in 1919. The result was gang
warfare, people dying from drinking bathtub gin, corruption in police
departments, and non-violent citizens sent to prison for indulging in a vice
that was strictly personal. Most Americans rejoiced when Prohibition was
repealed in 1933. The chances of them supporting another such Constitutional
amendment within the next 50 years were slim to none.
So the federal government didn't dare try amending the Constitution when
politicians and bureaucrats decided to reinstate all the trappings of
Prohibition in a new Drug War. This War That Will Never End was begun in stages
- probably starting with the rarely-enforced Harrison Act of 1914. In my
recollection, the Drug War as we know it today began during the 1960s, moved
into second and third gears during the Nixon administration of 1969-1974, and
shifted into overdrive during the Reagan administration of 1981-1989.
The Drug War has been easily the greatest cause of violent crime in American
history: Gangs fighting over monopoly territories, children killed in drive-by
shootings, families in the inner city living with the constant sound of gunfire
outside their doors, police killing innocent people in misguided drug raids,
crooked cops helping to spread poisonous drugs, non-violent citizens sent to
prison to be terrorized by violent prisoners - none of which would exist in the
absence of the federal drug laws.
There is nothing that could make our cities safer than repealing the drug laws -
all of them.
Does the idea of heroin, cocaine, and opium being sold over the counter sound
too ludicrous to be true? You can check it out for yourself. A marvelous
website, maintained by the University of Buffalo's Addiction Research Unit,
shows the actual labels and ads from patent medicines of the 19th and
early-20th centuries. You can see the claims made, the ingredients used, and
the acceptance of what so many Americans fear today.
That era of innocence didn't end because America was threatened by a drug
crisis. It was ended in the traditional way - by politicians looking for new
worlds to conquer, politicians who have no interest in examining
dispassionately the chaos they cause, and who will never face a single personal
consequence for the lives they have ruined.
Horror stories of Police State abuse,Incarcerated Americans, UnConstitutional Drug laws infringing on millions of Americans Rights, Action to overturn illegal laws and statutes
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