Tag Archives: cocaine

The New World Order According to Pat Robertson: Drugs Are Vegetables

With age often comes wisdom; sometimes strangeness.  With the indefatigable Pat Robertson… well, who knows what the hell the old bastard is going to say!  In a recent radio interview with conservative commentator Sean Hannity, Robertson declared that marijuana and cocaine are essentially – vegetables!  Yes, the verbose curmudgeon who once said America was going to Hell because of feminists and queers stated:

“All this drug addiction, can you imagine somebody made in the image of God is a slave to a bunch of weeds? I mean, you know, they’re plants and vegetables.  Cocaine, marijuana, all these things are vegetables, and we’re supposed to be in charge.  He said I’m going to give you dominion over the whole Earth, and yet we’re slaves to vegetables.  I mean, this is so humiliating.”

If one contemplates – before using any intoxicants – marijuana and cocaine are, indeed, the products of plants.  Humans have been using them for thousands of years.  Long before monolithic pharmaceutical companies hijacked health care, old people in huts would dispense Earth’s natural remedies with love and prayer.  No child-resistant caps!  No tamper-proof packaging!  And no warnings about addiction!

I keep thinking this is akin to the time Ronald Reagan allegedly wanted to declare ketchup a vegetable because it’s tomato-based.  That’s what happens when you let right-wing conservatives manage education AND economics at the same time.

But I also cogitate that, if ketchup, marijuana and cocaine are technically vegetables because they’re plant-based, then so are vodka and wine.  They’re grain- and grape-based, respectably, so my reasoning is valid.  Damn!  I’ve been a vegetarian since age 14 and never knew it until now!

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Life Was Better on Coke!

It’s difficult to believe now, but a little more than a century ago, cocaine was perfectly legal in the United States and many other countries. In fact, cocaine was once a key ingredient in Coca Cola – hence, the name – a fact the company doesn’t discuss too readily. Before scientists realized the intensity of cocaine’s psychoactive drawbacks, it was a widely-prescribed medicinal remedy for just about everything from hay fever to tooth aches.

As the U.S. continues its treacherous “War on Drugs,” some in the medical community are actually daring to re-consider the potential value of the coca plant. The indigenous peoples of South America’s Pacific coastal areas cultivated the plant for millennia. Knowing that these were the same folks who charted the planets and constructed buildings that remain standing today, they might have been on to something.

Still, take a look at these late 19th century editorials describing cocaine’s benefits and wonder – like I do, sitting at the computer all day – if the agonizing blogger’s butt could be a thing of the past.

Image courtesy the U.S. Library of Congress.






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Of Cocaine, Sugar and Medicine – When Cures Were So Much More Fun


Since the beginning of time, humans have sought various medicinal treatments for everything from headaches to sore butt syndrome; something I’m suffering from right now, as I pursue my writing career.  With all the regulations here in the U.S. imposed by our omnipresent Food and Drug Administration and the ongoing (and almost fruitless) ‘War on Drugs,’ it’s tough to believe some medicines contained narcotics that would now land you in prison for life.

Consider, for example, that the Lloyd Manufacturing Company of Albany, New York, once produced “cocaine toothache drops.”  Billed as an “instantaneous cure” and sold for 15¢, Lloyd sold this oral miracle from 1885 until cocaine was outlawed in 1914.

In 1849, Charlotte M. Winslow of Maine got tired (like so many mothers did then and now) of dealing with a baby afflicted with coughing spasms.  Since necessity is always the mother of invention (in this case, literally!), Winslow created “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup” – a cough elixir that included 65 mg of morphine.  Even the most colicky of babies would settle down after a single dose, so mother could get her rest and do whatever women liked to do when they had the time; like read, knit, or drink whiskey.  But, in 1911, the American Medical Association deemed the syrup a “baby killer,” thus prompting the government to ban it.  However, it remained on sale in the U.K. until 1930.

Mothers everywhere could sleep better knowing their kids were on morphine.

Mothers everywhere could sleep better knowing their kids were on morphine.

Another 19th century cough and cold remedy, “Dr. John Collis Brown’s Chlorodyne,” contained laudanum, which is a mixture of opium, cannabis and chloroform.  The medicine was also marketed as a cure for asthma, migraines, bronchitis and even cholera.  Hell, with those three ingredients, what ailment wouldn’t go away?

In the early 1800s, Scottish botanist James Edward Smith developed “Tilden’s Extract,” a cannabis extract manufactured and sold by the Tilden Company of New York as a cure for “hysteria, chorea, gout, neuralgia, acute and sub-acute rheumatism, tetanus, hydrophobia and the like.”  American author and journalist Fitz Hugh Ludlow became such a fan of the extract he wrote an entire book in 1857 entitled “The Hadeesh Eater” extolling its benefits.  Ludlow described the marijuana user as someone who’s searching for “the soul’s capacity for a broader being, deeper insight, grander views of Beauty, Truth and Good than she now gains through the chinks of her cell.”  Would anyone disagree, even now?

In 1863, French chemist Angelo Mariani developed his own wine, “Vin Mariani,” a Bordeaux wine treated with coco leaves.  Apparently, through natural chemical infusion, the ethanol in the wine extracted the cocaine from the coca leaves, leaving it with 7.2 mg of cocaine per ounce.  Contemporary ads claimed the wine would restore “health, strength, energy, and vitality.”  The beverage acquired some famous fans, including Queen Victoria, Pope Leo XIII and Thomas Edison who claimed it allowed him to stay awake for longer, which subsequently assisted his inventing prowess.  Even U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant allegedly partook of the concoction.  There’s nothing like having friends in high places.

Pope Leo XIII liked Vin Mariana so much he gave it a medal.

Pope Leo XIII liked Vin Mariana so much he gave it a medal.

“Vin Mariani” spawned many imitators, including “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.”  John Pemberton came up with the idea after being severely wounded in April of 1865 during the Battle of Columbus.  He became addicted to morphine as a result of his injuries and used his chemistry background to develop an alternative – a cocaine-infused elixir that was patented by the Eagle Drug and Chemical Company of Columbus, Georgia.  When “Temperance Legislation” was enacted in 1885 to curb the growing dilemma of alcoholism in America (this was a precursor to “Prohibition”), Pemberton began experimenting with a non-alcoholic version of his “wine.”  He created a syrup made of cane sugar, coca leave extract and cola nuts.  He then diluted the syrup with water and added ice to keep it cool.  Thus, was born one of the most legendary beverages of all time: Coca Cola!  This new formula contained 8.46 mg of cocaine and was advertised as “a cure for morphine and opium addictions.”  The drink was first sold to the public at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta.

By the time Pemberton died in 1888, three versions of Coca-Cola were being sold in the U.S. by three different businesses: Asa Candler, Margaret Dozier and Woolfolk Walker.  Candler sold his version under the names “Yum Yum” and “Koke,” before purchasing exclusive rights to the formula from Pemberton’s estate.  In 1892, he incorporated the Coca-Cola Company and two years later, sold the beverage in bottles for the first time.  Because of revised drug laws in 1914, cocaine was removed from Coca-Cola, but the name remained.

So, next time you reach for that Benadryl or can of Coke, just think – things weren’t always this dull.

Who needs a nurse when you a Coke?

Who needs a nurse when you have a Coke?


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