C Is For Craving

Pharmaceutical giants soon muscled in on the act. By 1900, German giant Merck (who, incidentally, also synthesized MDMA or Ecstasy) was producing over 1.5 tons a year of pure cocaine hydrochloride.

Meanwhile, their US competitor, Parke Davis (developers of ketamine and PCP) was marketing its brands as a substance that could "make the coward brave, and the silent eloquent".

The flipside of cocaine use, however, was beginning to be noticed. Some users were getting into trouble. Occasional users seemed to be okay, but chronic heavy users were experiencing cocaine addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and psychosis

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racial issue

As seen throughout history, from cannabis to crack, the presented threat of drug use had a racial tinge. The use of cocaine by the Blacks of the American South was singled out as particularly dangerous:

"Hitherto inoffensive, law-abiding Negroes [were transformed into] a constant menace to the community?their] sexual desires are increased and perverted, peaceful Negroes become quarrelsome, and timid Negroes develop a degree of 'Dutch courage' that is sometimes almost incredible."
'The Drug Habit Menace In the South,' 1914

panic stations

Inevitably, panic brought about by problems arising from cocaine use ensued. By 1914, the US had banned cocaine and all coca-leaf products completely.

The UK did the same in1916, and the rest of Europe followed suit. By 1945, cocaine had gone completely underground. The Dutch and Peruvian cocaine industries struggled and eventually died.

It seemed that, after nearly a century of experimentation, mankind's dabbling with cocaine had ended. The chapter was closed. A mistake had been made and then rectified.

But then came the eighties...