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10 recreational drugs before they became illegal

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Okay, so maybe "created" isn't always the right word. Many of these drugs are naturally occurring and were simply extracted or synthesized by the scientist; hence the scare quotes. In any case, below we give you the original creators of some of the recreational drugs which have come to exert such a large influence on our culture.

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1) LSD - A swiss chemist named Albert Hofmann, an employee of the Swiss company Sandoz Pharmaceutical, first synthesized LSD on November 16, 1938. He derived the chemical from ergot while looking for a blood stimulant, and accidentally ingested some of it, reporting that it caused him to experience "an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopelike play of colors." Three days after this experience, he deliberately ingested 250 of LSD, making April 19, 1943, the first day any human deliberately "tripped" on the drug.

Werner Stoll was the first writer to publish a paper on the psychoactive effects of LSD in the Swiss Archives of Neurology in 1947. Max Rinkel, a Boston psychiatrist, began research on it in 1949, leading to an explosion of research on LSD in America during the 1950s-1960s; some more noble than others.

During this time, researchers began numerous studies on the potential of LSD to treat alcoholism. Meanwhile, the CIA research the potential of the drug to work as a mind-control agent. LSD began to appear as a street drug as liquid on sugar cubes around 1963, and was first synthesized as a crystal by Owsley Bear Stanley in 1965. The drug was criminalized in California in 1966, and federally banned in America in 1968, under the Staggers-Dodd Bill (Public Law 90-639).

2) Cocaine - this drug has quite a long history. Coca leaves were consumed throughout South America for thousands of years, and in the 15th century, it was discovered by Europeans that coca plantations were cultivated in Peru by the Incas. Amerigo Vespucci was among the first to report its use to Europe in 1505. These plantations were taken over by Spanish land grant holders, and the Spanish allowed these owners to make tax payments in coca leaves instead of money, with the Bishop of Cuzco accepting tithes in coca leaves.

In the late 1500s, Nicolas Monardes wrote a work on the leaf and brought some leaves to Europe. We get our first mention of coca in English literature from a poem by Abraham Cowly, called "A Legend of Coca," and a sketch of the leaf appears in the 1835 Companion to the Botanical Magazine. In 1850, coca was used in throat surgery. It was not until 1855, however, that cocaine itself was first extracted from coca. It was identified as the active ingredient of the leaf's stimulant effects by Albert Niemann of the University of Gottigen in 1859. 3 years later, Merck produced 1/4 pound of the drug, and the following year, Angelo Mariani would patent a mix of wine and coca extract known as Vin Mariani.

This wine contained 6 mg of cocaine per ounce. In 1870, variants of the wine contained 7.2 mg per ounce in order to compete with its American competitors, who put higher amounts in their wine. It was during this decade that Parke & David manufactured a fluid extract of the drug. English race walkers began chewing the leaves to enhance their performance, making cocaine one of the first modern performance-enhancing drugs.

Extracted cocaine was administered by a German physician, Theodor Aschenbrandt, in 1883, to improve the performance of their soldiers. The drug was popularized as a topical anaesthetic for eye surgery in 1884, and in this same year, Sigmund Freud published his work On Coca, in which he describes the potential usefulness of the drug to treat numerous medical problems. Between 1884 and 1886, Merck would produce hundreds and thousands of pounds of cocaine.

It was in 1886 that Coca-Cola was first introduced by John Pemberton. It contained both cocaine and caffeine, making it probably the most intense energy drink ever. The drug was first technically synthesized in 1898. It was not until 1901 that cocaine was removed from Coca-Cola, and a few years later, snorting cocaine was popularized (1905). Cocaine first became regulated in 1906, under the Pure Food and Drug Act. Concerns began to rise in 1910, when the first medical reports of nasal damage from snorting cocaine were published. Thousands died in 1912 from cocaine overdose, and in 1914, the Harrison Narcotics Acts was passed, regulating and taxing its sale.

During the 1930s, Japan was the the world's leading producer of cocaine, wiwth the U.S. following shortly behind, followed by Germany, the U.K. and France. It was not until 1970, under The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, that cocaine became an illegal drug in America.

3) Heroin - Heroin was first synthesized from morphine in 1874 by the chemist C.R. Alder Wright in London, at St. Mary's hospital, but its use was not yet recognized. Felix Hoffman of none other than Bayer Pharmeceutical synthesized the drug in 1897, and began marketing it as a treatment for respiratory diseases. You heard right; Bayer (as in, "Bayer Aspirin") discovered heroin. They began exporting it in 1898 to 23 countries. Heroin was present in cough remedies, and pharmacists became concerned during the 1900s that unusually large amounts of it were being consumed (imagine that!).

The Pure Food and Drug Act was passed in 1906, and went into effect in 1907, regulating its usage. In 1911, the British Pharmaceutical Codex realized that heroin was as addictive as the morphine from which it had originally been synthesized, and in 1913, Bayer stopped producing it. In 1914, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act was passed, once again regulating and taxing opiates (and also cocaine). It was in 1924 that heroin officially became an illegal drug in the U.S.

4) DMT - Despite its status as very much a modern drug, DMT use was first reported in 1496, in the form of a snuff by the Taino; an indigenous peoples who inhabited an island near the Dominican republic. Colombian natives were reported as using the snuff in 1560. A drink containing A. colubrina was used by Incans to make prophecies, according to a 1571 report, and in 1741, a Jesuit writer again writes a report on the use of cohoba; the same snuff mentioned before, which was likely made from Anadenanthera peregrina, a plant containing DMT and other hallucinogenic compounds (the plant was first identified as such in 1801, by Baron Alexander Humboldt).

DMT was not synthesized, however, until 1931, by Richard Manske, a British chemist. He referred to it as "nigerine." In 1939, the virola genus was identified as the genus of the plants used in the aforementioned psychoactive snuff. It was not until 1955, however, that DMT was identified as the primary active ingredient in the A. peregrina seeds used int he snuff. The first scholarly publication describing its effects was published the following year, by Stephen Szara. In 1968, The U.S. Bureau of Drug Abuse Control noted its availability as a street drug. 3 years later, in 1971, DMT became an illegal drug, thanks to the passing of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

5) Ketamine - The anaesthetic ketamine was first synthesized by the American pharmacist Calvin Stevens in 1962 under the name "CI581," in an attempt to replace the similarly dissociative drug PCP. Ketamine was patented the following year in 1963 in Belgium, and was determined to be useful as an anaesthetic in 1965. It was this year that Professor Edward Domino was among the first to use it recreationally, coining the term "dissociative anaesthetic" in reference to it.

The following year, it was patented by Parke-Davis as an anaesthetic, and during the 1960s in general, it was used as a field anaesthetic in the U.S. during the Vietnam war. In 1969, ketamine became available under prescription as "Ketalar." Ketamine use exploded during the 1970s, and the DEA attempted to criminalize it, but decided that the rate of its abuse was inadequate to warrant such a criminalization. In 1995, however, the DEA added ketamine to its "emerging drugs list" and declared its intent, 4 years later, to criminalized it. On August 12, 1999, ketamine became an illegal drug in the U.S.

6) Ecstasy - MDMA, more commonly known as "ecstasy," was first synthesized by Anton Köllisch in 1912. It was patented by Merck Pharmaceuticals in Germany. Max Oberlin began testing it on animals in 1927. In 1953, The Army Chemical Center attempted to determine its toxicity by testing it on various animals, determining that it was not as toxic as a related chemical, MDA. During almost a decade of Alexander Shulgin's synthesis of the chemical in 1965, underground chemists began manufacturing the chemical, and the first recorded recreational use of ecstasy was published in 1970.

Two years later, Chicago police seize it from a drug user. Shulgin, who had synthesized it about a decade earlier, began introducing others to the drug in 1976, and a year later, it became readily available on the streets, leading to its criminalization in the U.K. the same year. In 1978, the first mainstream paper was published on ecstasy. The first MDMA Conference was held in 1985, and it was during this year that it was criminalized as a Schedule I substance by the DEA in America.

7) Mescaline - mescaline, found in the cactus known as "peyote," was first identified by Arthur Heffter, a German chemist, in 1897. It was not synthesized, however, until 1919, by Ernst Spath. A comprehensive look at its effects were published in 1927, until the title Der Meskalinerausch (The Mescaline High), and in 1945, the U.S. Navy reported that mescaline experiments had been conducted at the Nazi Dauchau concentration camp. The U.S. Navy itself began experiments with the drug under "Project Chatter."

In 1952, Dr. Humphry Osmond noted its similarity to the adrenaline molecule, and a year later, he supervised Aldous Huxley's first experiment with the drug, another year after which Huxley published The Doors of Perception, in which he described the experience. The drug was criminalized on October 27, 1970, under The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act.

8) Psilocybin - The compound found in "shrooms" or "magic mushrooms." Central American and Mexican natives are reported as having used the mushrooms between 100 and 500 BCE. In the 12th century, the medieval writer and theologian Albertus Magnus warned against eating them in his "De Vegetabilibus" on the grounds that they cause insanity.

A 15th century Vienna Codex likewise portrays the use of mushrooms by indigenous peoples. Psilocybin use was banned quite early. In 1521, Catholic priests banned their use in Mexico. The 16th century Dutch physician PIeter van Foreest, in that same century, described its psychoactive effects. Bernardino de Sahagún, a 16th century Spanish priest, likewise described the use of both mescaline (in the form of peyote) and psilocybin mushrooms by Aztec natives.

In 1799, a concerned English physician named Dr. Everard Brande attended a family whose members had consumed the mushrooms and were experiencing hallucinations. It was not until 1904, however, that Franklin Sumner Earle, an American expert on fungus, identified Psilocybe cubensis and set out to deliberately collect them. A decade later, in 1914, accounts of mushroom ingestion were recorded in Science magazine. In 1936, Blas Pablo Reko identifies the psilocybin mushroom as what had been known to the Aztecs as teonanacatl, in order to dispel the illusion that the accounts of their effects by the Aztecs were mescaline-containing peyote. The first academic paper confirming this was published in 1939 by Richard Evans Schultes.

In 1955, R. Gordon Wasson, an American mycologist, participated in a ceremony in Oaxaca Mexico involving the mushrooms, publishing an article on its usage in 1957. Psilocybin is first isolated in 1958 by Albert Hofmann in 1958; the same man who first synthesized LSD. Hofmann published his findings a year later.

In 1960, Sandoz Pharmaceutical, the company for which Hofmann had been working, began producing 2 mg psilocybin pills. The drug was popularized by Timothy Leary, who conducted experiments on Harvard grad students with the drug. Following experimentation with the drug, Leary was dismissed from his position at Harvard, and his behavior was publicly denounced by other researchers.

It was not until 1968 that Psilocybin was federally banned under the Staggers-Dodd Bill, and classified as a Schedule I substance in 1970 under The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act.

9) Marijuana and THC - The marijuana has long been used for both its hemp and its psychoactive ingredient THC. Its seeds were used by the Chinese around 6000 BCE, and textiles were produced from hemp 2000 years later in the same place. The Chinese recorded its first medicinal use in 2727 BCE, and continued using it as both fiber and food in the 1500. The Scythians used it for its plant material in the same century. The Hindu text Atharva veda mentions "Bhang" as one of India's 5 sacred plants, commonly used medicinally in 1200-800 BCE. The Persian religious text, the Zend-Avesta, likewise mentions its usage.

Cannabis was popularized in Europe upon its introduction by the Scythians in 500 BCE. Its usage by the Scythians was mentioned by Herodotus in 430 BCE, and the psychoactive properties of the plant are first discussed at length in the herbal Pen Ts'ao Ching. Galen likewise briefly mentioned its use as a psychoactive in 170 A.D., and it finds a mention in the Jewish Talmud a few hundred years later. The question of the wisdom of consuming hash was widely discussed by scholars throughout Arabia during 900-1,000 A.D., and its consumption for its psychoactive effects was quite popular throughout the 12th century.

One of the first occasions of the criminalization of cannabis takes place because of an edict by Emir Soudoun Scheikhouni, who forbade its consumption. Its popularization resumed in Europe in the 17th century, when the British and French began cultivating it for hemp. Napoleon discovered that it was commonly used by the Egyptians and outlawed it. In 1840, medicine with cannabis base were readily available. In 1890, hash was criminalized by both Greece and Turkey. The plant became regulated in 1907, with the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act. Its recreational use of banned in England in 1928. While still technically legal in America, "Refer Madness" was released in 1936. A year later, The Marihuana Tax Act was passed in the U.S., making it illegal to transfer between people without paying a transfer tax, making it the first federal law to regulate its sale and possession. This act was declared unconstitutional in 1969, in the U.S. vs. Timothy Leary.

In 1975, the FDA established the Compassionate Use program. This allowed the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In 1986, the synthetic cannabinoid Dronabinol became a Schedule II substance. In 1996, California passed Proposition 215. This officially legalized its usage for medical purposes. Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states to legalize its usage, thanks to Colorado Amendment 64, and Washington Initiative 502, respectively, although possession of a small amount had been legal in Alaska since 1975.

10) Methamphetamine - Amphetamine itself was first synthesized on January 18, 1887, by Lazar Edeleanu, a Romanian chemist working at Universität Berlin. The drug now known as methamphetamine, however, was first synthesized by A. Ogata, a Japanese scientist. The effects of amphetamine as a stimulant were not appreciated until the 1930s, during which time it was marketed as "benzedrine" and sold over the counter as a treatment for congestion and narcolepsy.

Later in this decade, it was approved by the American Medical Association for the treatment of both narclolepsy and "hyperactivity" (now known as ADHD). Methamphetamine was used during World War 2 by both the Allied and Axis Powers as performance-enhancing drugs, and later, the U.S. provided amphetamines to its soldiers in Korea. Methamphetamine use became epidemic in the 1960s in the U.S. and it was criminalized on October 27, 1970.

All information obtained here was retrieved from the "Timeline" sections of http://www.erowid.org/.

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