mediamadness
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Illegal Drugs and How They Got That Way

Episode 1: Opium, Morphine, and Heroin

An examination of the history of the poppy plant and three of its deadliest derivatives. In ancient times, the poppy was considered divine, but in the 19th and 20th centuries, its addicting and lethal qualities caused unprecedented national outrage, social upheaval, and even sparked two wars. Used by the upper classes as patent medicines, heroin became the bane of society when the working class began to use it. In 1914, Federal law banned heroin and opium, and restricted morphine to medicinal use.

Episode 2: Cocaine

Derived from South America’s coca leaf, cocaine was touted as a cure-all in the late 19th century and was the secret ingredient in many medicines and elixirs such as Coca-Cola. But cocaine’s allure quickly diminished as racism entered the picture–the concept of the “cocaine-crazed Negro” even led police to strengthen the caliber of their guns from .32 to .38. We’ll see how, though it was outlawed in 1914, its popularity soared in the 1980s and ’90s and gave birth to a deadlier form–crack.

Episode: LSD, Ecstasy and the Raves

How did the psychedelic drugs LSD and Ecstasy journey from a scientific discovery to a popular recreation to banned drugs? Mental health professionals once believed that LSD could treat schizophrenia or alcoholism. Meanwhile, Ecstasy, the “penicillin for the soul”, was used in marriage counseling. Now, continuing the cycle of the hallucinogen, some of the latest derivatives in this category of drugs, the “rave” drugs such as GHB and Ketamine, are about to be banned.

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