An unopened Ixtltle of Yin Mariani sent I« High Times in 1977
Thomas Edison, a man who slept only four hours a day, was a steady user. The secretary of President McKinley noted that a case of Vin Mariani had received ail enthusiastic reception by the president. . The physicians of Ulysses S. Grant wrote that Mariani products had given the sick general and foi-mer president the strength to work several hours a day on his memoirs. And Queen Victoria was so pleased to receive a set of Mariani testimonial volumes that she wrote the master that she considered them among the finest specimens in her collection.
Agitation to outlaw cocaine began in America around the tutn of the century when leading medical journals and newspapei-s carried articles associating cocaine use with Macks. Stories emanating from the South told of the superhuman strength, cunning, and efficiency displayed by black coke users. ''Bullets fired into vital parts, that would drop a sane man in his tracks, fail to check the 'fiend'-fail . to stop his rush or weaken his attack.'.' According to the New York Times, that was the experience of Police Chief Lyesly of Asheville, North Carolina, who fired his heavy
FALL FROM GRACE "In the space of 20 or 30 years, coca went from high praise by kings, popes, artists and doctors as the most beneficial stimulant tonic known to man to vigorous condemnation as a dangerous addictive narcotic."
Richard T. Martin
"The Role of Coca in the History, Religion and Medicine of South A men can Indians." 1970
army model revolver ("large enough to kill any game in America'1) directly into the heart of a black coke fiend and ''did not even stagger the man."
Legal segregation, discriminatory voting laws and lynching® had replaced the freedom of the Reconstruction Era. And it was generally believed that cocaine would act as a spur to violence against whiles. Few whites worried about the ability of their guns to slop the occasional uppity black, but more than a few may have worried over the possiblity of black cokeheads thinking of bigger things, like organizing a full-scale rebellion. For as one perceptive scholar observed, on taking
Ljcru. one. csf vr^y -ph,o far ^ixfafl^j''«™ U^trLV1 cPlfi-i^-
cocaine f,a sudden access of optimism causes enterprises that loomed impossible lo take on an aspect of feasibility.*'
The paranoia rampant in the South ceriainly didn't remain below the Mason-Dixon line. Northern, newspapers were only too eager lo spread the word of cocaine-inspired black violence. In 1903, for example, the New York Tribune primed a slalemenl by a Colonel Watson of Georgia alerting the country to ihe dangers of allowing blacks to use cocaine. As the colonel saw ii, Atlanta was a hotbed of black cocaine use and he urged that legal action be taken to stop ihe sale of Coca-Cola, a beverage he said the Macks had a particular liking for. (The company obliged by voluntarily eliminating cocaine from ihe drink ihe same year.) He was also convinced lhal "many of ihe horrible crimes committed In the Southern . States by colored people can be traced directly lo the cocaine habit.?
The linking of cocaine with crimes allegedly committed by blacks became so popular and firmly esiablished a belief lhal by 1910, when Dr. Christopher Koch, ihe leader of Philadelphia's
"With cocaine, one is indeed master of every thing, bul everything matters intensely. With heroin, the feeling of mastery increases lo such a point that nothing matters at all J*
crusade against ihe drug, testified befoi^e a congressional committee on the great dangers ihe country faced at the hands of "cocaine-crazed" southern . blacks, his testimony went unchallenged. The representatives listened wilh the respect they now reseive for gold-star mothers and the spokesmen of big oil companies. Dr. Koch later asserted that "most of the attacks upon while women of ihe South are the direct result, of a cocaine-crazed Negro brain." Another piece of unsubstantiated nonsense most people were eager lo believe.
Nor did anyone bother to verify the second most popular fantasy that made the rounds: thai cocaine was the root cause of "crime waves." After aLL ihe police were authorities on such matters, and among the men in blue the idea that criminals had a special fondness for cocaine was an unquestioned article of faith. Everyone knew thai "'cocaine was the drug usually taken by gunmen.1* The police said so.
Once the equation Criminals + Cocaine = Violence was fiimly established, there wasn't a chance of cocaine remaining respectable. And when the equation Blacks + Cocaine = Raped While Women got locked into ihe American psyche, the seller of cocaine became the moral equivalent of a child molester. By 1914, but before ihe Harrison Narcotics Act was passed, 46 states had passed laws restricting ihe sale and use of cocaine, whereas only 29 had done so regarding opium, morphine, and heroin. In addition, cocaine offenders usually received heavier penalties than opiate offenders. Under the 1914 New York law, for example, illegal sale of heroin was a misdemeanor; illegal sale of cocaine, a felony.
Prior to prohibition, cocaine was used by all, Glasses, as the sodal history of the times cleariy shows. Bul once using a drug becomes a criminal act, finding oul who is taking it poses great difficulties; and when the drug is one which doesn't lead to addiction, the difficulties are multiplied. Cocaine users don't come lo hospitals and addiction center seeking treatment, and they don'l rip-off. people to raise the price of a fix. So they seldom come to the attention of ihe authorities unless they also happen to be dealers. It is sensible lo assume, however, that those who had been i)s\\ig cocaine continued to use il, if they
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