Drug Time-Line for Last Century

Drug Time-line for Last Century

Sunday 21 April 2002
The Observer 

1902 Caffeine replaces cocaine in the composition of Coca-Cola.
1910 Dr Hamilton Wright, instigator of US anti-narcotics laws, reports that American contractors give cocaine to their black employees to improve their work rate.
1910 The British dismantle the India-China opium trade.
1912 MDMA first synthesised by German company Merck Pharmaceuticals.
1914 Forced March tablets containing cocaine are given to troops by the British Army.
1918 The death in London of Billie Carleton, a rising star of stage musicals, is one in a series of high profile cocaine-related scandals.
1920 Cocaine is banned in the UK under the Dangerous Drugs Act, following stories of ‘crazed soldiers’ in WWI.
1928 Cannabis added to the list of proscribed substances in the Dangerous Drugs Act.
1932 In America, amphetamine is marketed as Benzedrine in an over-the-counter inhaler to treat nasal congestion.
1936 Reefer Madness, an American anti-marijuana film, describes how a bunch of beatniks get hooked on the ‘devil’s weed’, and sink into outlaw behaviour.
1937 American researchers find that amphetamine has a positive effect on children with attention deficit disorder.
1938 Albert Hofmann synthesises LSD-25 for the first time in Basel, Switzerland, while looking for a blood stimulant.
1940 The Japanese government starts distributing amphetamine pills to soldiers, pilots and arms factory workers to improve their alertness during warfare.
1942 Hitler receives daily methamphetamine injections from his doctor.
1944 Opium smoking is prohibited in Hong Kong.
1947 The CIA begins its study of LSD as a potential weapon for use by American intelligence. Human subjects (both civilian and military) are used with and without their knowledge.
1953 The US army studies MDMA toxicity by giving the drug to guinea pigs, rats, mice, monkeys and dogs.
1965 American chemist Alexander Shulgin experiments with ecstasy on himself and is the first person to describe the drug’s effect on humans.
1966 LSD is banned in the UK following intense recreational experimentation. (Its use in therapy struggled on until the early Seventies but was then finally outlawed.)
June 1967 Rolling Stones Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are sentenced to prison for smoking cannabis. Their convictions are later quashed on appeal.
July 1967 A ‘Legalise Pot’ rally is held in London’s Hyde Park; an advertisement in The Times, sponsored by SOMA, a drug research organisation, states: ‘The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice.’ Signatories include the Beatles, RD Laing and Graham Greene.
1968 Six to seven per cent of all prescriptions written under the British NHS are for barbiturates; it is estimated that there are about 500,000 regular users in Britain.
January 1969 The Wooton committee concludes that ‘the long-term consumption of cannabis in moderation has no harmful effects’.
July 1969 An organisation called the Bong Bong Parade makes a stand at a free Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park, attempting to pass a foot-long joint around the crowd.
1971 The Misuse of Drugs Act consolidates different bits of legislation to become the key instrument by which the British state prosecutes the possession, supply or manufacture of ‘controlled’ substances.
1972 US therapists experiment with MDMA in dealing with marital problems.
1977 The Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) is amended to include MDMA (ecstasy) as a class A drug.
1977 In a remote farmhouse in Wales, a police operation codenamed ‘Operation Julie’, unearths 1.5kg of LSD – still the biggest ever LSD drugs bust in Britain – enough for 20-30 million doses at today’s levels.
1980 Paul McCartney spends 10 days in a Japanese jail for possession of cannabis.
1981 Smokey Bear, a direct action group calling for the legalisation of marijuana, sends cannabis plants to 60 MPs.
1983 Crack cocaine use, a problem in many American cities, begins to grow in London.
1986 Throughout the 80s cocaine use soars in the US, especially among the professional classes. So much so that a 1986 survey estimates that 1 in 11 Americans has used the drug.
1987 Ecstasy use becomes integral to British rave culture after being popularised by clubbers at dance parties in Ibiza.
March 1992 President Clinton admits to having smoked cannabis in his youth – but ‘never inhaled’.
September 1992 The Shamen’s ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ is a number one hit, with its chorus of ‘Eezer Goode, Eezer Goode, He’s Ebeneezer Goode’.
1993 In terms of illegal imports into the UK, cocaine overtakes heroin.
1994 Footballer Paul Merson is admitted to the Priory for his cocaine addiction. This is the first of many stories which establish the London clinic as a sanctuary for troubled celebrities.
1995 Leah Betts dies at her 18th birthday party in Essex after taking an ecstasy tablet. It was believed to be the first time she had taken the drug.
1996 Transform, the campaign to liberalise drug policy and legislation, launches.
1996 Trainspotting, a film about a group of Scottish heroin users, is criticised for glamourising the culture.
1997 William Straw, son of Home Secretary Jack Straw, is arrested for dealing cannabis after being set up by a Daily Mirror journalist. He is cautioned by police.
1998 Keith Hellawell, a former chief constable, is appointed National Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator, or drugs ‘tsar’ and put in charge of the government’s 10-year drugs’ strategy.
2000 A Police Foundation report suggests certain drugs be reclassified and penalties reduced. The Government rejects the recommendations.
June 2001 Home Secretary David Blunkett scraps the post of drugs ‘tsar’.
September The UK’s first Dutch-style cannabis café opens in Stockport, Greater Manchester).
January 2002 It is revealed that Prince Harry has smoked cannabis on several occasions the previous summer.
March 2002 The picture of Rachel Whitear, a 21-year-old heroin addict dead from an overdose, is used across the British press, igniting the public debate over shock campaigns in drug prevention.

1902 Caffeine replaces cocaine in the composition of Coca-Cola.
1910 Dr Hamilton Wright, instigator of US anti-narcotics laws, reports that American contractors give cocaine to their black employees to improve their work rate.
1910 The British dismantle the India-China opium trade.
1912 MDMA first synthesised by German company Merck Pharmaceuticals.
1914 Forced March tablets containing cocaine are given to troops by the British Army.
1918 The death in London of Billie Carleton, a rising star of stage musicals, is one in a series of high profile cocaine-related scandals.
1920 Cocaine is banned in the UK under the Dangerous Drugs Act, following stories of ‘crazed soldiers’ in WWI.
1928 Cannabis added to the list of proscribed substances in the Dangerous Drugs Act.
1932 In America, amphetamine is marketed as Benzedrine in an over-the-counter inhaler to treat nasal congestion.
1936 Reefer Madness, an American anti-marijuana film, describes how a bunch of beatniks get hooked on the ‘devil’s weed’, and sink into outlaw behaviour.
1937 American researchers find that amphetamine has a positive effect on children with attention deficit disorder.
1938 Albert Hofmann synthesises LSD-25 for the first time in Basel, Switzerland, while looking for a blood stimulant.
1940 The Japanese government starts distributing amphetamine pills to soldiers, pilots and arms factory workers to improve their alertness during warfare.
1942 Hitler receives daily methamphetamine injections from his doctor.
1944 Opium smoking is prohibited in Hong Kong.
1947 The CIA begins its study of LSD as a potential weapon for use by American intelligence. Human subjects (both civilian and military) are used with and without their knowledge.
1953 The US army studies MDMA toxicity by giving the drug to guinea pigs, rats, mice, monkeys and dogs.
1965 American chemist Alexander Shulgin experiments with ecstasy on himself and is the first person to describe the drug’s effect on humans.
1966 LSD is banned in the UK following intense recreational experimentation. (Its use in therapy struggled on until the early Seventies but was then finally outlawed.)
June 1967 Rolling Stones Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are sentenced to prison for smoking cannabis. Their convictions are later quashed on appeal.
July 1967 A ‘Legalise Pot’ rally is held in London’s Hyde Park; an advertisement in The Times, sponsored by SOMA, a drug research organisation, states: ‘The law against marijuana is immoral in principle and unworkable in practice.’ Signatories include the Beatles, RD Laing and Graham Greene.
1968 Six to seven per cent of all prescriptions written under the British NHS are for barbiturates; it is estimated that there are about 500,000 regular users in Britain.
January 1969 The Wooton committee concludes that ‘the long-term consumption of cannabis in moderation has no harmful effects’.
July 1969 An organisation called the Bong Bong Parade makes a stand at a free Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park, attempting to pass a foot-long joint around the crowd.
1971 The Misuse of Drugs Act consolidates different bits of legislation to become the key instrument by which the British state prosecutes the possession, supply or manufacture of ‘controlled’ substances.
1972 US therapists experiment with MDMA in dealing with marital problems.
1977 The Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) is amended to include MDMA (ecstasy) as a class A drug.
1977 In a remote farmhouse in Wales, a police operation codenamed ‘Operation Julie’, unearths 1.5kg of LSD – still the biggest ever LSD drugs bust in Britain – enough for 20-30 million doses at today’s levels.
1980 Paul McCartney spends 10 days in a Japanese jail for possession of cannabis.
1981 Smokey Bear, a direct action group calling for the legalisation of marijuana, sends cannabis plants to 60 MPs.
1983 Crack cocaine use, a problem in many American cities, begins to grow in London.
1986 Throughout the 80s cocaine use soars in the US, especially among the professional classes. So much so that a 1986 survey estimates that 1 in 11 Americans has used the drug.
1987 Ecstasy use becomes integral to British rave culture after being popularised by clubbers at dance parties in Ibiza.
March 1992 President Clinton admits to having smoked cannabis in his youth – but ‘never inhaled’.
September 1992 The Shamen’s ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ is a number one hit, with its chorus of ‘Eezer Goode, Eezer Goode, He’s Ebeneezer Goode’.
1993 In terms of illegal imports into the UK, cocaine overtakes heroin.
1994 Footballer Paul Merson is admitted to the Priory for his cocaine addiction. This is the first of many stories which establish the London clinic as a sanctuary for troubled celebrities.
1995 Leah Betts dies at her 18th birthday party in Essex after taking an ecstasy tablet. It was believed to be the first time she had taken the drug.
1996 Transform, the campaign to liberalise drug policy and legislation, launches.
1996 Trainspotting, a film about a group of Scottish heroin users, is criticised for glamourising the culture.
1997 William Straw, son of Home Secretary Jack Straw, is arrested for dealing cannabis after being set up by a Daily Mirror journalist. He is cautioned by police.
1998 Keith Hellawell, a former chief constable, is appointed National Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator, or drugs ‘tsar’ and put in charge of the government’s 10-year drugs’ strategy.
2000 A Police Foundation report suggests certain drugs be reclassified and penalties reduced. The Government rejects the recommendations.
June 2001 Home Secretary David Blunkett scraps the post of drugs ‘tsar’.
September The UK’s first Dutch-style cannabis café opens in Stockport, Greater Manchester).
January 2002 It is revealed that Prince Harry has smoked cannabis on several occasions the previous summer.
March 2002 The picture of Rachel Whitear, a 21-year-old heroin addict dead from an overdose, is used across the British press, igniting the public debate over shock campaigns in drug prevention.


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