Drug abuse has been a major social problem for the last century and to the present day. The main argument for banning drugs is their harm to a person’s physical and mental health. However, many of the now-illegal drugs started out as prescription medications for both physical and mental conditions. For example, opium has been known to humanity since the 16th century as folk medicine.
In that role, opium demand had grown rapidly by the 19th century when the United Kingdom basically invented drug trafficking to sell it to China. Opium has become such a threat to the Chinese that China fought and lost two wars to the British over it. China’s problems with opium became so severe that it asked the United States for help, resulting in the Shanghai Opium Conference of 1909.
Other drugs also have their history, with many of them being widely known for usage in the US. For example, marijuana and cocaine have been known in America since the 1600s and became medicinal drugs in the 19th century. Heroin had a reputation as medicine as well, with charities trying to fix morphine addicts with it. Methamphetamine was given to World War II soldiers to treat combat fatigue and improve endurance, while LSD was utilized as a ‘serum of truth’ by the CIA.
The state’s combat against drugs has officially begun with The Harrison Tax Act of 1914. It imposed special levies on the market of cocaine and opium, causing the black market to emerge. In 1930, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created, though unsuccessful due to its exaggerated descriptions of drug harm. In the 1960s, drug usage widely increased because of hippies using weed and LSD. As a result, President Nixon and the government took action. The Controlled Substances Act united all of the previous drug laws and made them harsher. This started the War on Drugs, which has since spread globally.
In the present, the still ongoing war is being criticized for oppressing minorities and missing an opportunity for profit through taxes. The war brought many people of color into prison for crimes that would not lead to imprisonment for white people. However, while marijuana has become legal in more and more states, other drugs are still banned. They still have a reputation for hurting health, which is completely contrary to their beginnings as medicine.