Interestingly, the practice of chewing coca leaves has long been popular in South America. However, it wasn’t part of the culture for other areas in the world. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the first coca shrub was brought to America and, following this, matters changed. The first use for the shrub was to create a special type of wine. It wasn’t until 1953 that the cocaine drug was introduced to American culture.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, cocaine was present in the popular drink, Coca Cola; it was in many other products as well. In the early 1900s America saw its first cocaine epidemic. Crack was soon introduced as a cheaper, and more addictive, alternative to its origin drug. Soon the public turned against the drugs and they became highly illegal. If someone was caught carrying or, even worse, dealing, they could face a prison sentence. Nowadays, people still take cocaine, but it is very much underground once again.
I found it surprising that cocaine dates back such a long way in this country, and that there were various other forms of coca proceeding it. In this way, it is interesting that the policing of the drug was introduced, yet it is still popular in certain circles. For example, the media seems to be constantly reporting on celebrities who use the drug regularly. Either the drug isn’t as harmful as people like to imply, or there are many people in America who do not care about their health.
Inciardi, J & McElrath, K. (2009). The American Drug Scene: An Anthology. New York: Oxford University Press.