This is how cocaine became an illegal drug

Cocaine was once just as respectable as your daily cup of coffee.

Just like we rely on coffee, indigenous people in South America chewed coca leaves in the past for a modest energy boost. When science advanced during the 19th century, they were able to separate the stimulating ingredient—cocaine—from those leaves.

Cocaine is illegal in many countries

Cocaine quickly became the talk of the town in both America and Europe. It was hailed as the medical world's wonder worker, capable of treating anything from sadness to toothaches. Indeed, it even found its way into our beloved Coca-Cola, serving as the key to the original kick of the drink.

escalating worries and leisure activities

But there was a twist around the early 1900s, people started noticing that this wonder drug wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Stories began surfacing—dramatic ones—with claims of addiction, madness, and moral decay.

Now, these stories were often pumped up with a good dose of racial and class bias, painting a picture of cocaine as a harbinger of societal downfall.

Usage of cocaine is illegal

In 1914 when the U.S. government stepped in with the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act.

This law was meant to keep tabs on drugs by taxing them, but it pretty much made cocaine an ‘illegal' substance, especially for anyone wanting to have a bit of recreational fun.

Legislation and the war on drugs

Fast forward a few decades, and the story of cocaine takes darker turns with laws stacking up, each one stricter than the last. By the 1980s, America's War on Drugs had hit full throttle under President Reagan.

Laws like the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 didn’t just outlaw cocaine further; they slammed down harder on crack, a cheaper derivative that was hitting the poorest communities the hardest.

Modern perspectives

Today, the regulation of cocaine remains strict across most of the world, though there is an ongoing debate about drug policy reform, including the effectiveness of criminalization versus approaches focused on health and treatment.

The history of cocaine’s illegality is a reflection of changing social attitudes, scientific understanding, and political priorities, often influenced by socioeconomic and racial factors.

Randy Osei Akoto

A content creator, writer, blogger and digital marketer currently the Editor and writer at Believes in hard work and keeps up with latest trending stories making rounds across the globe in all aspects, from politics, sports, entertainment, health, business etc.

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