The History of Drugs

08 February 2016
The History of Drugs

8000 – Archaeologists discovered vessels coated with resonated wine in the Middle East.

6000 - An indigenous plant of North and South America Tobacco has been grown since about 6000 BC Native peoples used the plant medicinally – as a pain killer and to dress wounds.

5000 - Evidence has found that the Coco Plant (Cocaine) has been chewed by natives of South America since 5000 B.C.

3400 – The first documented cultivation of Opium was in Southwest Asia.

2737 – The first reference to Cannabis was found in a Chinese Medical Paper which suggested using the drug to combat malaria. It is thought that Ancient Romans and Greeks where already using the plant

1750 – The King George of England encouraged the planting of hemp (marijuana) in America. He intended to establish a textile and rope industry in this country, but our forefathers were aware of the possibilities for smoking hemp. George Washington grew hemp at his Mount Vernon Plantation in response to a request from the King George, but there is no evidence that he smoked it.

1613 - Pocahontas husband sent a shipment of Virginia tobacco to Britain, starting the tobacco trade across the Atlantic.

1803 – A German chemist dissolved opium in acid before neutralising the mixture with ammonia – and discovered morphine. Doctors around the world rejoiced, many lauding the new drug as a miracle. Through the 1800s, physicians widely prescribed morphine for pain relief.

1844 - Chemists were able to isolate cocaine, an alkaloid. No one thought much of the discovery until 1883, when a German military physician gave pure cocaine to soldiers during training. The doctor was impressed with the results, especially the soldiers’ enhanced ability to battle fatigue.

1864 – Adof Von Baeyer synthetises barbituric acid, the first barbiturate.

1884 – Purified cocaine became commercially available in the USA. It was used in many products, including all sorts of nerve toxic, home remedies and even in Coca Cola and wine.

1898 – Heroin is first synthetised and classed as safe to prepare with no addictive properties. 

1912 - The International Opium Convention the first international drug control treaty was signed. The United States convened a 13-nation conference of the International Opium Commission in 1909 in Shanghai, China in response to increasing criticism of the opium trade. The treaty was signed by Germany, the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Persia, Portugal, Russia, and Siam. The Convention provided that "The contracting Powers shall use their best endeavours to control, or to cause to be controlled, all persons manufacturing, importing, selling, distributing, and exporting morphine, cocaine, and their respective salts, as well as the buildings in which these persons carry such an industry or trade."

1929 – The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) become the first international sporting federation to prohibit doping of athletes.

1939 -1945 – Smoking of tobacco increases by more than 75% due to allied forces being given free cigarettes while they are at war. The tobacco firms knew it was addictive and would lead to the soldiers paying for them when they returned home.

1943 – Dr. Albert Hoffman discovered LSD and experimented with it.

1965 – Alexander Shulgin becomes the first person to describe the effects of Ecstasy on the body.

1975 – Netherlands legalises the sale of Cannabis in coffee shops.

1977 – In a remote farmhouse in Wales, UK a police conduct an investigation called “operation Julie” discovered 1.5kg of LSD. To this day it is still the largest ever discovery of LSD in the UK.

1980’s – Due to the increase in research showing the damage of drugs, world leaders work together to start the war on drugs. In the US Congress amends the Posse Comitatus Act allowing their military to enter the drugs war. Governments in South America worked with the US to deter drug traffickers, but the cartels were too large to defeat.

1990’s – Crystal Meth was discovered as a cheaper form of amphetamine, spreading rapidly throughout the US. In Europe the use of LSD, Ecstasy and Cocaine increase rapidly due to the “rave” music scene. Some 2.5 million Russians are addicted to drugs, and 90 percent of them use the heroin that has flooded into Russia from Afghanistan since the late 1990s, according to government statistics.

“Club Drugs” such as Ecstasy (MDMA), GHB, PCP, Ketamine and Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam, date rape drug), become a large problem for sexual assaults. 

2003 – Dutch and Canadian governments introduce medical marijuana, this is given to specific patients to ease pain.

2008 – Synthetic  Cannaboids products began appearing on the shelves of head shops, tobacco sellers and other legal retail establishments. Often called Spice or K2, this lab-created product is usually labelled with a “not for human consumption” sticker so as to avoid legal scrutiny. Though the chemical makeup of Spice changes constantly to avoid being classified as illicit, it generally consists of plant material that’s been coated with substances that mimic the effects of THC.

2010 – Bath Salts sold in legitimate retail outlets such as head/smoke shops, bath salts are often labelled “plant food,” “glass cleaner,” or “screen cleaner.” However, these drugs are actually made from synthetic chemicals called cathinones that mimic the effects of amphetamines. Like SPICE, the chemical composition of bath salts changes from batch to batch, so the drug is difficult to regulate — and hazardous to health. In 2010, US poison control centres received 304 calls about bath salts. In 2011, that number had increased more than twentyfold to 6,138, underscoring the dangerous nature of these drugs.


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