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History Of Drug Use U.S. (Page 5 of 5)
Legacy Of The Summer
Before long the summer of love was corrupted. Police started raiding the children's homes and carting them off to jail on charges varying from illegal possession of drugs to cohabitation. Chemicals bought on the street were increasingly unreliable. Speed freaks and junkies moved in, bringing their amphetamines and heroin with them. The flower people moved to the country, the heroin and amphetamine users stayed.
Speed kills, the LSD users warned. Maybe it didn't often (technically) kill those who used it, but speed did help end the fragile climate of brotherhood (Haight-Ashbury) in the counter-culture.
As early as 1965, the underground press had tried to warn cannabis and LSD users away from amphetamines. Poet Allen Ginsberg said it best, in his December, 1965, interview in the Los Angeles Free Press:
Let's issue a general declaration to all the underground community. Speed is antisocial, paranoid making, it's a drag, bad for your body, bad for your mind, generally speaking, in the long run uncreative and it's a plague on the whole dope industry.
All the nice gentle dope fiends are getting screwed up by the real horror monster Frankenstein speed freaks who are going around stealing and bad mouthing everybody'.
The 1970 Interim Report of Canada's (Le Dain) Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs analyzed the phenomenon of amphetamine use in the counter culture:
Some speed users who inject almost suicidal doses of methamphetamine into their veins without any regard for their safety and health, may actually be trying to test the truth of the youth slogan 'Speed Kills.' The role of the doomed person who is at once a martyr sacrificing himself, a hero braving the confrontation with certain destruction and a gambler playing dice with death, is a role which seems to have a strong seductive pull for some young people who are morbidly hungry for compassion, admiration and excitement.
For these individuals the slogan 'Speed Kills,' may, paradoxically, carry more attractive than deterrent power--and thus may not serve the purpose for which it is being promoted (Brecher, 1972).
The federal government increased efforts to curb increasing black market amphetamine traffic. Underground speed labs were busted, as illegal stills had been during alcohol prohibition. Speed became harder to come by. Legal stimulants were controlled closely. Prices went up. Black market merchants began importing increased amounts of cocaine to meet the stimulant demand.
Heroin And The Middle Class
The descendants of Haight-Ashbury turned increasingly to heroin. Use was no longer centered mainly in the non-white ghettos; the heroin habit was finding a place in the lives of children from white, middle income homes. In an article in the Spring, 1971, issue of the Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, three medical staff members of the Haight-Ashbury Medical Clinic traced the changing patterns of heroin use:
Within the last two years L`1969 to 1971,7 there has evolved a new style of heroin addict consisting largely of alienated white youth suffering from disillusionment, disaffiliation, frustration, and despair...
1970 is becoming recognized as the year of the middle class junkie,' a reflection of the changing socioeconomic background of today's heroin extraction. They have begun using heroin (the perfect tranquilizer) only within the last few years and are now beginning to seek medical help in rapidly increasing numbers.
The middle class Junkie is ... composed of two rather distinct types: the New Junkie (who began using heroin after January, 1967) and the Transition Junkie (who began using heroin between January, 1964 and January, 1967).
The TJ is characterized by a similar family and social background to the New Junkie and differs mainly in the effects of the social atmosphere of the drug subculture that existed when he came onto the scene.
He passed through a period of optimism and hope, and reflects this in the drugs he used heavily prior to heroin (the psychedelics and amphetamines). He is a self-medicator and a drug experimenter; he has tried all drugs.
The newer addict entered the drug subculture at a time of beginning frustration and despair, and therefore, engaged in less experimentation before settling on heroin. He is more aware of the dangers of the street drugs (having seen some of the effects on the Transition Junkie's contemporaries). and less of a self-treater than his Transition Junkie counterpart.
These two groups together lNJ and TJ ./ make up the middle class junkies and are distinguished from the older ghetto-bred addicts ... by many factors other than background, family status, percentage of females, and race. They are also separated by therapeutic response, with the older addict being a more faithful patient and less likely... to get clean than his newer counterparts (Sheppard et al., 1972).
The Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic study on which the above report was based uses January, 1964, as the approximate time when heroin use began to spread from non-white ghetto areas into segments of America's white, middle class community.
As Sheppard, Gay, and Smith stipulate in the article, the San Francisco area has proven to be a place where drug use trends begin some six to 18 months before they are evident in the rest of the country.
An Addicted Author: Heroin vs. Hallucinogens
When I speak of drug addiction I do not refer to keif, marijuana, or any preparation of hashish, mescaline, Bannisteria Caapi, LSD, Sacred Mushrooms or other drug of the hallucinogen group ... There is no evidence that the use of any hallucinogen results in physical dependence.
The action of these drugs is physiologically opposite to the action of junk. A lamentable confusion between t two classes of drugs has arisen owing to the zeal of the US and other narcotic departments ...
... All the hallucinogen drugs are considered sacred by those who use them--there are peyote cults and Bannisteria cults, hashish cults and mushroom cults-The Sacred Mushrooms of Mexico enable a man to see God--but no one ever suggested that Junk is sacred. There are no opium cults. opium is profane ...
Junk is the ideal product... the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy... The junk merchant does not sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He degrades and simplifies the client...
I awoke from The Sickness at the age of forty-five, calm and sane, and in reasonably good health except for a weakened liver and the look of borrowed flesh common to all who survive The Sickness...Most survivors do not remember the delirium in detail. I apparently took detailed notes on sickness and delirium. I have no precise memory of writing the notes which have now been published under the title Naked Lunch...
... I lived in one room in the native quarter of Tangier. I had not taken a bath in a year nor changed my clothes or removed them except to stick a needle every day in the fibrous grey wooden flesh of terminal addiction. I never cleaned or dusted the room. Empty boxes and garbage piled to the ceiling.
Light and water long since turned off for nonpayment. I did absolutely nothing. I could look at the end of my shoe for eight hours. I was only roused to action when the hourglass of junk ran out...And suddenly my habit began to jump and jump. Forty, sixty grains a day. And still it was not enough. And I could not pay (Burroughs, 1960).
Federal Response To Heroin Use
By 1966 it was apparent that heroin use by whites was increasing. That same year, the federal government passed the Narcotic Addiction Rehabilitation Act, which provided treatment and rehabilitation for both convicted and volunteer heroin addicts.
The Act specified conditions for short-term, in-patient care in medical facilities, and for long-term, continued out-patient care in the community. The United States Surgeon General was mandated to assist states and municipalities in developing treatment programs and facilities for addicted narcotic users.
As defined in the law, treatment was to include 'confinement and treatment in an institution, and supervised after-care in the community... designed to protect the public and benefit the addict by correcting his anti-social tendencies and ending his dependence on addictive drugs and his susceptibility to addiction' (Levine, 1974).
In 1968 the Department of Justice's Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs was created. The Bureau, charged with enforcing federal laws having the goal of suppressing illicit drug traffic, replaced the two agencies previously concerned with drug related activities: the Treasury's Federal Bureau of Narcotics and HEW's Bureau of Drug Abuse Control.
Irrespective of federal control efforts, heroin use continued to increase. Young people had heard too many scare tactics and warnings they knew were false: Marihuana is habit forming, LSD causes insanity, leads to deformed babies. People were familiar with different drugs--had tried them, used them occasionally (or frequently), believed that government and medical indictments against the substances came from ignorance, fear, hostility toward the youth culture. Heroin was just another drug, something they could try, and could stop using whenever they became bored with it.
Heroin: The Vietnam War
Vietnam brought many white young people who would otherwise never have seen an opium poppy into contact with heroin.
Young whites and blacks, just graduated from high school or university, were drafted and sent to fight a guerrilla war in a small Asian country they had never studied in geography class. Heroin, marihuana, amphetamines, and barbiturates were available. Since cannabis and opium poppies were common agricultural crops in southeastern Asia, marihuana and heroin were particularly inexpensive.
The combination of war, substance availability, boredom, the sense of futility in fighting a war nobody seemed to be winning, and a general skepticism about anti-heroin warnings from the government that got us into this mess in the first place all combined to turn a number of American soldiers on to heroin. Like their Korean War predecessors, many United States military men in Vietnam had some variety of heroin habit. Some brought the habit with them to Vietnam; others learned not long after they arrived.
The Military's Response
Military officials turned their heads, discharged some soldiers for use of marihuana, and ignored the heroin problem as long, as they could.
Shortly after the United States began military support to South Vietnam, high incidence of drug abuse, particularly of marihuana and dangerous drugs such as the amphetamines and barbiturates occurred among the military stationed there. The Department of Defense appointed several Task Forces to inquire into... the problem... Early reports from one of the Task Forces stated that there was a relatively low rate of drug abuse in the services ... The report concluded that there was virtually no drug addiction in the military...
In contrast... in 1969 the military conducted about 36,000 investigations of drug abuse and in 1970, about twice that many (Levine, 1974).
One survey by two army physicians conducted on GI's returning from Vietnam showed that more than 16 percent admitted using heroin during their final thirty days in Vietnam. But about 6 percent of those GI's interviewed admitted using heroin before going to Vietnam. A congressional Committee, in early 1971, found that a significant portion of the drug users were inducted into the services because of inadequate pre-induction screening.
During early 1971, as a result of an amnesty program, the Pentagon reported that nearly sixteen thousand servicemen voluntarily identified themselves as heroin users and sought treatment. The majority of those servicemen who sought treatment (14,736) were from the Army. The remainder (977) included servicemen from the Navy, Marines, and Air Force. There is no estimate of how many servicemen qualified for treatment but did not identify themselves as heroin users.
... Whatever estimated figure one chooses to accept, there were anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 American troops in Vietnam who were heroin users by mid-1971, and this estimate does not include addicted servicemen who had previously served in Vietnam and returned to civilian life.
Perhaps the most alarming statistics show that the death toll from heroin overdose rose in Vietnam despite the reduction in the number of men stationed there. In 1970, the quarterly average reported was 26 deaths from heroin overdose; in the first quarter of 1971, the figure rose to 35 deaths (Levine, 1974).
In early 1971, the Veterans Administration set up a treatment program for discharged heroin addicts. By June, 32 clinics treating 6,000 people were in operation. Treatment was primarily by methadone maintenance.
Also in June, 1971, President Nixon appointed Dr. Jerome H. Jaffe to head the new White House Special Action Office of Drug Abuse Prevention, which was to have overall responsibility for major federal drug abuse prevention, education, treatment, rehabilitation, training, and research programs.
The only area that Dr. Jaffe's office did not oversee was the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, under the control of the State Department and the Department of Defense.
Comprehensive Federal Legislation
In 1970, the federal government passed the Controlled Substances Act; it provided, for the first time, a comprehensive, integrated set of regulations governing substance use and control.
Briefly, these are the main areas covered by the act:
Five separate substance schedules are set down, according to the potential for abuse and current accepted medical use attributed to each substance group.
- Schedule I: heroin; marihuana*; LSD; THC; hallucinogens.
*Like earlier legislation, the 1970 Act includes marihuana with heroin as substances whose users receive the most severe category of penalties.
- Schedule II: Opium; morphine Dilaudide; Demerol; Methadone; cocaine; liquid amphetamine.
- Schedule III: amphetamines; Nallineq short acting barbiturates; and Doriden, Noludalo, Ritalin, paregoric.
- Schedule IV: minor tranquilizers; long-acting barbiturates.
- Schedule V: substances that can be sold over the counter, without prescriptions--primarily cough syrups, such as terpin hydrate with codeine.
Separate penalty scales are provided for violations within each substance schedule.
The act differentiates between addict, user, and trafficker when setting penalties.
The jurisdictions for controlling drugs as they pass from manufacturer to distributer to consumer are specified.
Provision is made for including any new substances or drugs under the five schedules of the existing act.
The act calls for increased research regarding prevention of drug abuse, and for continued research on treatment and rehabilitation methods.
Also in 1970, the National Conference of Commissioners approved a Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Provisions outlined in the Act were to be adopted separately by each state.
Like the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, this was an attempt to create a codified system of drug control, classifying all narcotics, the dangerous drugs, and marihuana into five separate penalty scales. Particular penalties were left to the determination of individual states.
Transitions: 1970 To 1977
Drug use in recent years has meant neither the social stigmas nor the revolutionary political convictions that were partners of the drug culture in the 1960s.
One of the most significant patterns to emerge during the 1970s is that there are no longer set stereotypes of drug users and drug use patterns. Ghetto junkies aren't the only heroin addicts. Student radicals aren't the only people smoking marihuana and trying cocaine. Long-distance truckers are not the exclusive users of amphetamines.
At one time in the twentieth century, the statement minorities are the heroin addicts might have been largely true. Use of opiates once implied images of alien, ghetto-based misfits. Vietnam challenged the preconceptions.
The country saw a significant percentage of its white, middle-class young people return from the Vietnam War with the heroin habit. For the first time, the ghetto junkie stereotype wasn't adequate to describe the problem.
Use of other substances--marihuana, LSD, cocaine, mescaline, peyote, amphetamines--during the 1960s implied the user's belief in social revolution and his search for the cosmic knowledge Leary had promised. When Vietnam, Kent State, the marches on the Pentagon were over, the student radicals and the seekers began to disappear.
They became professionals, parents, members of the community. To some extent, most still used some of the drugs they had been turned on to during the decade before. Younger students kept their elders' patterns of drug use--but without the implicit social/revolutionary convictions that had been an integral part of what media liked to call the youth drug culture. Again, the old stereotypes wouldn't work.
The Polydrug Phenomenon
Use of a particular substance can no longer be attributed to a single subculture. The pharmacological and street names of drugs, their effects and side effects, have received good press; society as a whole is more knowledgeable than it was.
Sometimes, the knowledge has resulted in a greater tolerance toward use of a substance, such as with marihuana. Sometimes, the information has helped create a more knowledgeable drug user-someone who uses, even mixes, many kinds of drugs openly without the fear of societal and legal reprisals he once would have had.
The New York Times, in a March 25, 1973, article titled Mixing of Mind-Altering Drugs Rises as Spread of Heroin Addiction Slows, attempted to analyze what has been called polydrug use:
Allowing for variations of region, age and class, cocaine, methadone and alcohol, and a variety of barbiturates and other downers, most notably a sedative hypnotic known as methaqualone appear to be increasingly popular street drugs.
And, while it is difficult to gauge the extent of the phenomenon, a considerable number of people appear to be casually using and abusing several drugs in often dangerous combinations, methaqualone and alcohol, or methadone and alcohol...
In San Fran a narcotics police officer notes: Three years ago, it was common to have five or six young people collapse in school every day from an overdose of barbiturates. We don't get that any more; the kids are becoming more sophisticated about drugs.'
As for heroin, a Chicago drug counselor observes: 'Word has gone out to the black community that smack is part of their oppression, and they are sticking to grass and psychedelics and pills, uppers and downers, for their highs.'
Polydrug abuse, as the drug-mixing phenomenon is known, appears to be characteristic of both school-age dabblers and old-time junkies, who are finding it almost impossible to 'cop' (buy) good-quality heroin (Markham, 1975).
Same Drugs, Different Campus
In the September, 1977, issue of Esquire magazine, a 1975 Yale University graduate talks about drug use when he was on campus.
It was, he says, a time of many drugs and few politics.
The trappings of rebellion hung loosely on us, like older siblings' clothes. We espoused hand-me-down politics and tripped on hand-me-down LSD...
We saw the drop outs of older classes crawling off to communes or hanging about the college... They were exhausted--refugees from themselves--politically, culturally and physically beat. A conveyor belt of new-drugs, each with its own ideology and method, had carried them from Dylan to Trotsky to Baba Ram Dass ...
Looking back, it is hard to overstate the importance of drugs. There was mescaline, Methedrine, Quaaludes, scopolamine, LSD, MDA, THC, barbiturates and Dex. Every dormitory had a well-thumbed copy of the Physician's Desk Reference; a remarkable number of students could talk at length about Ritalin contra indications.
They were the same drugs that our elders had taken, but we took them without the same conviction--the goal had shifted from revelation to entertainment.
The effect of some of these drugs was not unlike drinking: Quaaludes were for evenings of bumping into tables and warm, cuddly sex. Speed of the garden variety, like Dexedrine, was strictly functional: something for exam time. Methedrine, the speed that killed, had the shortest fuse you could find.
THC was a marihuana extract, MDA was a midrange pseudo psychedelic, and nobody ever found out what the hell STP was. Mescaline was the war-horse hallucinogen; it was usually high quality, and you could take a good bit of it with no lasting effect. Acid was another story. Where mescaline just set you up for a good time, acid tore down the wall between you and what you were looking at.
People who took a great deal of it are still wandering around saying things like I don't need to use the telephone--they can hear me. One of my older friends, a South African poet, practically lived on the stuff. He published a volume of poetry about helium-flowers and original spin, his eyes began to bulge, and he went back to Africa.
Drugs were for fun. On Passover some Jewish students would get together and smoke scopolamine, then go over to the dining hall and play poker with the matzos. Once I awoke at four a.m. and heard a strange murmuring. I looked out my window, and there, in the moonlight, was my freshman counselor, deep in conversation with a pigeon.
The same freshman counselor, an ace law student, once made the mistake of recruiting half of the students in his entryway as a moot-court jury. The Jury prepared for the trial by dropping mescaline; when a verdict was requested, the law professors who filled the auditorium heard twelve happy men pronounce the judge, a prominent D.A., guilty of bribery (Isemand).
Marihuana: Changes In Attitudes
For marihuana, the 1970s represent a growing societal inclination toward tolerating use of the substance. While cannabis use is not legal per se, use has become so widespread that several municipalities and one state (Alaska) now impose no penalties for marihuana possession.
In its 1972 report marihuana: a signal of misunderstanding, the National Commission of Marihuana and Drug Abuse summarized contemporary conflicting opinions regarding possible revisions to federal marihuana policies:
Marihuana's advocates contend that it is no more or less harmful than alcohol and tobacco and should therefore be treated in similar fashion. The drug's adversaries contend that it is a stepping-stone to the narcotics and should remain prohibited.
At the present time public opinion tends to consider marihuana less harmful than the opiates and cocaine and more harmful than alcohol and tobacco.
Interestingly, while marihuana is perceived as less harmful than before, alcohol and tobacco are regarded as more harmful than before. In some ways, the duality which previously characterized American drug policy has now been supplanted by an enlightened skepticism as to the variety of approaches to the non-medical use of various drugs.
Despite this shift in attitudes, however, the use of alcohol and tobacco is not considered a major social problem by many Americans, while marihuana use is still so perceived.
By August, 1977, prevalent opinion, though still ambiguous, had altered enough so that President Carter could propose Congress's passing legislation to decriminalize penalties for marihuana possession.
The August 15 issue of Time magazine, in an article titled Carter's Grass-Roots Appeal. Can 35 million Americans be wrong about pot?, describes the current status of marihuana in the federal system;
Penalties against the possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. So said Jimmy Carter in urging Congress last week to reduce federal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marihuana, enough for about four dozen joints. For a first offense, the maximum penalty now is a year in jail and a $5,000 fine for possession of any amount of pot.
The President's appeal stirred little enthusiasm on Capitol Hill, though an estimated 35 million Americans, including Carter's three sons, have smoked pot on occasion. Nonetheless, liberals hope that his message will enable them to get a hearing next year on a bill that would lower the penalty to a $100 fine.
The legislation has been stuck in committee for five years. Chief reason: polls show that most Americans still believe that pot is addictive, harms users physically and usually leads them to hard drugs.
What Research Proved
None of this has been proved in more than ten years of scientific studies. Early research raised fears that even occasional puffing on a joint might lead to personality changes, birth defects, brain shrinkage, sterility in men, lowered resistance to disease and heart damage.
Other studies have disputed these findings. moreover, several studies have indicated that the major active ingredient in pot, tetrahydrocannabinol-THC), might even have medical uses. THC expands bronchial passages, which helps asthma patients breathe easier. It decreases pressure inside the eyes, which alleviates glaucoma. It also controls vomiting, relieves depression and, in some cases, eases pain.
Although a final verdict must await further studies, most researchers now believe that aside from rare bad trips by novice smokers, marihuana is hazardous only for chronic heavy users--people who get stoned nearly every day. They risk becoming psychologically dependent on pot and damaging their lungs with the tar in marihuana smoke.
But light or occasional use of marihuana--once or twice a week.--usually produces only a pleasant high, no more dangerous than mild intoxication from alcohol. of course, pot like alcohol affects users' judgment and reflexes, so it can lead to accidents if people drive or operate machinery while high.
Legal Status in the States Alaska has no penalties at all for possession of small amounts. Nine other states* have reduced the penalties; 34 more may follow suit. Entrepreneurs would like to cash in on the growing demand for pot.
Louisville Promoter Gatewood Galbraith has organized a grass-roots campaign to put Kentucky in a position to corner the market if and when pot is legalized.
Says he: Kentucky's already got betting. It's got whisky and it's got tobacco. You just can't beat the combination of marihuana and money.
Under his plan, the state would license growers and retail dealers. He calculates that the scheme would cut in half the street price of pot (now about $25 per oz. in Louisville) and earn Kentucky about $150 million a year in fees--a heady prospect for politicians who would like a painless way to cut taxes and raise revenues at the same time.
*California, Colorado# Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon.
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