Document Type


Citation Information

Please cite to the original publication


The idea that government should detennine for its people which psychoactive drugs they are free to consume and jail them for using others is a fairly recent arrival in the United States. Except for an occasional fling with prohibition at the state level, Americans were free until 1914 to consume any drugs they chose and to buy from anyone who chose to sell them. Those rights were widely exercised. In addition to alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, tens of millions of Americans consumed cocaine and opiates in the nineteenth century. Cocaine was even an ingredient in Coca Cola until 1905, and opium was included in nostrums fed to colicky babies. Heroin was originally sold as a cough suppressant. Although dependence on these drugs was not uncommon, it was never as serious a problem as alcoholism. Indeed, although the proportions of the population using these drugs in the late nineteenth century was probably higher than it is now, the problems associated with their use were less serious than they are today.

Date of Authorship for this Version


Included in

Law Commons