War On Drugs 3.2
January 14, 2018
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Part three of War on Drugs series. We begin the story of Harry Anslinger, the father of the War on Drugs. And we also talk about the history of cocaine.

Show Notes:

  • * Which brings us to Harry Anslinger.
    * Harry was born in 1892.
    * His father was a barber from Switzerland.
    * His mother was German.
    * The family was poor and, when he was 14, Harry joined his father working for the Pennsylvania Railroad laying train tracks.
    * He later became an investigator for the railroad.
    * He performed a detailed investigation that found the $50,000 claim of a widower in a railroad accident to be fraudulent.
    * He saved the company the payout and was promoted to captain of railroad police.
    * It was during this time that he first heard about the “Black Hand”.
    * He was responsible by this time of a Sicilian work crew.
    * But one morning, Harry found one of his work crew—an Italian man named Giovanni—bleeding in a ditch.
    * He had been shot multiple times.
    * When Giovanni woke up in the hospital, Harry was there, ready to hear what had happened, but the workman was too terrified to speak.
    * Anslinger spent hours assuring him that he could keep him and his family safe.
    * Finally, Giovanni spoke.
    * He said he was being forced to pay protection money by a man called “Big Mouth Sam,” one of the thugs belonging to a group called the Mafia that had come to the United States from Sicily and remained hidden amidst the Italian immigrants.
    * The Mafia, Giovanni told Harry, were engaged in all sorts of crimes, and people on the railroad were being charged a “terror tax”—you gave the Mafia money or else you ended up in a hospital bed like this, or worse.
    * Anslinger went to confront Big Mouth Sam—a “squat, black-haired and ox-shouldered” immigrant—and said, “If Giovanni dies, I’m going to see to it that you hang. Do you understand that?”
    * Big Mouth tried to reply, but Harry insisted: “And if he lives and you ever bother him again, or any of my men, or try to shake any of them down any more, I’ll kill you with my own hands.”
    * After that, Anslinger became obsessed with the Mafia, at a time when most Americans refused to believe it even existed.
    * This is hard for us to understand today, but the official position of every official in U.S. law enforcement until the 1960s—from J. Edgar Hoover on down—was that the Mafia was a preposterous conspiracy theory, no more real than the Loch Ness Monster.
    * When WWI broke out, Harry tried to join the army but he was blind in one eye – his brother had hit him in the eye with a rock – and he was rejected.
    * But because he spoke German, he could still be useful.
    * he was offered a position as a diplomatic agent in Europe.
    * he traveled to Hamburg and The Hague, where his job was to ferret out information from local diplomats and to deal with local Americans in trouble.
    * Several discharged American sailors were brought to him to be shipped home because they had become addicted to heroin.
    * He spent the next ten years in a variety of policing roles overseas.
    * At the very end of the war, as it was becoming clear to everyone that the Germans had lost, Harry was sent on his most important mission so far: to take a secret message to the defeated German dictator.
    * The way he later told the story, Harry was dispatched to the small Dutch town of Amerongen, where the Kaiser was holed up in a castle and planning to abdicate.
    * Anslinger’s job was to pose as a German official and convey a message from President Woodrow Wilson: Don’t do it.
    * The United States wanted the Kaiser to retain the imperial throne, to prevent the rise of the “revolution, strikes and chaos” it feared would follow from his sudden departure.
    * The Dutch guards at the gates of the castle ordered Harry to show his credentials.
    * “Show me your credentials,” he snapped back in his fiercest German.
    * Frightened, assuming he was one of the Kaiser’s men, they let him through.
    * Anslinger managed to get the message through—but it was too late.
    * The decision had been made.
    * The Kaiser quit.
    * For the rest of his life, Anslinger believed that if he had gotten the president’s plea through only a little earlier, “a decent peace might have been written, forestalling any chance for a future Hitler gaining power, or a Second World War erupting.”
    * It was the first time Harry felt that the future of civilization hung on his actions, but it would not be the last.
    * In 1930, towards the end of Prohibition, he was appointed head of the brand new Federal Bureau of Narcotics, an agency of the United States Department of the Treasury.
    * Harry Aslinger is the man who started the War On Drugs.
    * After WWI, Harry was sent to the Bahamas.
    * This was in 1926. The middle of prohibition.
    * Something to do with stopping the flow of illegal booze from making its way into the US.
    * The bootleggers were West Indian and Central American
    * he believed they were filled with “loathsome and contagious diseases” that would spread to anyone foolish enough to drink the booze they handled.
    * Harry told his bosses the only way to stop it was to increase their resource.
    * Use maximum force.
    * Use the navy to hunt down smugglers.
    * Massively increase prison sentences for alcohol dealers until they were all locked up.
    * Wage war on booze until it was only a memory.
    * Within a few years, he was heading up the brand new Federal Bureau of Narcotics, an agency of the United States Department of the Treasury.
    * How did that happen?
    * It helped that he married a young woman named Martha Denniston who was from one of the richest families in America, the Mellons.
    * The treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, was now a close relative—and the prohibition department was part of the Treasury itself.
    * His original brief was to police the laws against using cocaine and heroin.
    * They had been regulated since 1914.
    * Let’s talk a little about those two drugs.
    * COCAINE
    * AKA * Coke
    * * Snow
    * * Rock
    * * Blow
    * * Crack
    * increases your levels of alertness, attention, and energy.
    * It works by sending high levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior.
    * Basically it gives you pleasure.
    * The Incas in South America have been chewing on coca leaves for 1000’s of years.
    * When the Spanish arrived, they first called it the agent of the devil, and tried to ban it.
    * but when they found their slaves couldn’t work as hard without it, they decided to legalise it and tax it
    * Nothing like having your slaves coked out of their brains while they are working in your silver mines.
    * In 1609, the Priest Blas Valera wrote:
    * Coca protects the body from many ailments, and our doctors use it in powdered form to reduce the swelling of wounds, to strengthen broken bones, to expel cold from the body or prevent it from entering, and to cure rotten wounds or sores that are full of maggots. And if it does so much for outward ailments, will not its singular virtue have even greater effect in the entrails of those who eat it?
    * In the 19th century the active ingredient was isolated by German chemists – of course it would be Germans.
    * One of those Germans, Albert Niemann, got his PhD by coming up with a better way of isolating the active chemical from the leaves.
    * He called is cocaine.
    * And it ended up in all sorts of medications, tea, cigarettes, powders, wines and soft drinks.
    * In 1863, Corsican chemist Angela Mariani concocted Vin Mariani, a mixture of wine and cocaine that was sold as a stomach stimulant, pain reliever, appetite suppressant and anemia treatment.
    * Each ounce contained six milligrams of cocaine.
    * The mixture also contained 17% alcohol.
    * Soon after, he released Elixir Mariani, which had three times the cocaine content, followed by other products in various forms, all containing cocaine.
    * But kings, queens and celebrities praised Vin Mariani over all his other products.
    * Mariani collected testimonials from the likes of HG Wells, Jules Verne, Thomas Edison, the Queen of Portugal, the King of Spain, Pope Leo XIII, President William McKinley, sculptor Auguste Rodin, and many others.
    * In 1885, as former President Ulysses S. Grant lay dying of throat cancer, he was reported to have been sipping Vin Mariani as he wrote his memoirs.
    * Pope Leo XIII appeared on a poster having awarded a Gold Medal to the manufacturer of the “tonic” he carried in a personal hipflask to fortify himself in those moments when prayer was insufficient.
    * John Permberton, a drugstore owner in Columbus, Georgia, formulated his own version known as “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.”
    * Pemberton did well with his French Coca Wine until the Ku Klux Klan demanded that alcohol be banned from Atlanta.
    * so he replaced it with kola nut extract, which had a lot of caffeine in them.
    * So the original 1886 recipe for Coca-Cola had a pinch of cocaine added to the caffeine.
    * It was one of the reasons the drink became popular very quickly.
    * Coke adds life!
    * Karl Koller (a close associate of Sigmund Freud, who would also write about cocaine later) experimented with cocaine for ophthalmic usage.
    * In an infamous experiment in 1884, he experimented upon himself by applying a cocaine solution to his own eye and then pricking it with pins.
    * Something I know we’ve done at least once.
    * in Germany in 1884, Sigmund Freud published his work Über Coca, in which he wrote that cocaine causes:
    * Exhilaration and lasting euphoria, which in no way differs from the normal euphoria of the healthy person. You perceive an increase of self-control and possess more vitality and capacity for work. In other words, you are simply normal, and it is soon hard to believe you are under the influence of any drug. Long intensive physical work is performed without any fatigue. This result is enjoyed without any of the unpleasant after-effects that follow exhilaration brought about by alcoholic beverages. No craving for the further use of cocaine appears after the first, or even after repeated taking of the drug.
    * In 1885 the U.S. manufacturer Parke-Davis, America’s oldest and largest drug maker, sold cocaine in various forms, including cigarettes, powder, and even a cocaine mixture that could be injected directly into the user’s veins with the included needle. The company promised that its cocaine products would “supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and render the sufferer insensitive to pain.”
    * Sherlock Holmes used cocaine to stop himself being bored when he wasn’t working on a case.
    * Thomas Edison used it frequently so he could invent the electric light and steal all of Tesla’s best ideas.
    * In 1909, Ernest Shackleton took “Forced March” brand cocaine tablets to Antarctica, as did Captain Scott a year later on his ill-fated journey to the South Pole.
    * The most popular American drug, called Ryno’s Hay Fever, the content of which was 99.9 percent cocaine, was touted as the best cure for a clogged, reddened, and sore nose, to be used when it gets “stuffed-up.”
    * Not surprisingly, By 1905, it had become popular to snort cocaine and within five years, hospitals and medical literature had started reporting cases of nasal damage resulting from the use of this drug.
    * Chicago tribune 1906
    * A doctor called Brendecke was up on trial for sixty charges of selling cocaine.
    *
    * But the tide started to turn early in the 20th century.
    * I found an article in the Indianapolis Journal from 1901 that warned against cocaine being used without medical supervision.
    * It also said the main people using it without medical supervision – were doctors.
    * “The greatest abuse of the drug ls undoubtedly by physicians. many of whom alternate cocaine, morphlne and whisky. Cocaine has a very stlmulatlng effect. Everything looks roseate and the subject feels a ceaseless activity, does not care for sleep. lndeed often cannot sleep, but feels no need of lt. Of course this effect ls followed by a period of depresslon whlch ls so extreme as to demand a repetition ot the dose. The action of the drug ls rapld and lts vlctlm speedily becomes insane or dies. Medical students have been known to take cocaine ln order to pass a brllllant examination, and more than one has thus contraited the habit.”
    * According to a 1914 edition of the New York Sun, it was estimated that 15% of America’s doctors were drug addicts.
    * In 1906, Teddy Roosevelt’s administration passed the Pure Food and Drug act, the forerunner of the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA.
    * It was mostly inspired by people selling rotten meat which had been loaded with preservatives and other bad stuff so it would literally pass the sniff test.
    * Its main purpose was to ban foreign and interstate traffic in adulterated or mislabeled food.
    * The number of products with hidden cocaine and other drugs was another thing the act focused on.
    * It required that active ingredients be placed on the label of a drug’s packaging and that drugs could not fall below purity levels established by the United States Pharmacopeia or the National Formulary.
    * Under the law, drug labels, for example, had to list any of 10 ingredients that were deemed “addictive” and/or “dangerous” on the product label if they were present, and could not list them if they were not present.
    * Alcohol, morphine, opium, and cannabis were all included on the list of these “addictive” and/or “dangerous” drugs.
    * It took 27 years to pass the 1906 statute
    * A lot of media attention was drawn to the issue of food production and drugs in medicines and other consumables.
    * Of course even back then Big Pharma was trying to use its influence to stop people interfering with its business.
    * Newspaper advertising contracts had “red clauses” which stated that medicine ads (which most newspapers of the time relied upon for revenue) would be withdrawn if the paper expressed support for food and drug regulatory legislation.
    * The Pure Food and Drug Act was initially concerned with ensuring products were labeled correctly.
    * Later efforts were made to outlaw certain products that were not safe, followed by efforts to outlaw products which were safe but not effective.
    * For example, there was an attempt to outlaw Coca-Cola in 1909 because of its excessive caffeine content;
    * caffeine had replaced cocaine as the active ingredient in Coca-Cola in 1903.
    * In the case United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola, the judge found that Coca-Cola had a right to use caffeine as it saw fit, although Coca-Cola eventually lost when the government appealed to the Supreme Court and two bills were introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives to amend the Pure Food and Drug Act, adding caffeine to the list of “habit-forming” and “deleterious” substances,
    * It reached a settlement with the United States government to reduce the caffeine amount.
    * But people kept using cocaine.
    * And It wasn’t illegal – just had to be labelled correctly.
    * In 1912, the United States government reported 5,000 cocaine-related deaths in one year.

 

 

Theme music: Holy Deep by The Passion HiFi

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