Science, Drugs, and Corporate Greed.
Heroin was first synthesized in 1874 by C. R. Alder Wright, an English chemist working at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, England. He had been experimenting with combining morphine with various acids. He boiled anhydrous morphine alkaloid with acetic anhydride over a stove for several hours and produced a more potent, acetylated form of morphine, now called diacetylmorphine.
From 1898 through to 1910, under the name heroin, diacetylmorphine was marketed as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant. Bayer marketed heroin as a cure for morphine addiction before it was discovered that it is rapidly metabolized into morphine, and as such, heroin was essentially a quicker acting form of morphine
Today, heroin is a schedule I drug according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, making it illegal to possess without a DEA license. Possession of more than 100 grams of heroin or a mixture containing heroin is punishable with a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years of imprisonment in a federal prison.
The cocaine alkaloid was first isolated by the German chemist Friedrich Gaedcke in 1855. Gaedcke named the alkaloid “erythroxyline”, and published a description in the journal Archiv der Pharmazie
A “pinch of coca leaves” was included in John Styth Pemberton’s original 1886 recipe for Coca-Cola, though the company began using decocainized leaves in 1906 when the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed.
In 1914, Dr. Christopher Koch of Pennsylvania’s State Pharmacy Board made the racial innuendo explicit, testifying that, “Most of the attacks upon the white women of the South are the direct result of a cocaine-crazed Negro brain.” Mass media manufactured an epidemic of cocaine use among African Americans in the Southern United States to play upon racial prejudices of the era, though there is little evidence that such an epidemic actually took place. In the same year, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act outlawed the sale and distribution of cocaine in the United States
Phencyclidine was first synthesized in 1926, and later tested after World War II as a surgical anesthetic. Because of its adverse side-effects, such as hallucinations, mania, delirium, anddisorientation, it was shelved until the 1950s. In 1963, it was patented by Parke-Davis, a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and named Sernyl (referring to serenity), but was withdrawn from the market two years later because of side-effects. It was renamed Sernylan in 1967, and marketed as a veterinary anesthetic, but again discontinued. Its side-effects and long half-life in the human body made it unsuitable for medical applications.
In 2002, American rapper Big Lurch murdered an acquaintance and ate her lungs while on PCP. In April 2009, a man in Bakersfield bit out his 4-year-old son’s eye, and severely damaged the other, before attempting to chop off his own legs with an axe while under the influence of PCP