Opium Law Research Paper

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For most of American history, you could legally purchase the most dangerous and addictive drugs, such as cocaine and opium. For instance, most cough syrups contained morphine. Also, morphine and heroin were available through mail order catalogs, including Sears and Roebuck. Furthermore, Coca-Cola contained traces of cocaine until 1929. Numerous magazine and newspaper ads featured “patent medicines” and “tonics” with morphine or cocaine as the main ingredient. The sale of these drugs were completely unregulated and there was very little scientific research available regarding the side effects. Consequently, these medicines were often advertised as a cure-all for nearly every imaginable ailment. America had a problem with drug addiction before …show more content…

That law banned commercial Chinese opium dens, but recreational use remained legal as long as it took place privately. Obviously, opiates such as heroin or morphine are potentially deadly and addictive drugs, but seemingly most of the motivation behind the opium law was based upon racist fears. There was a tremendous amount of anti-Chinese sentiment due to a large influx of Chinese workers that had immigrated to California during the gold rush. Many local newspapers warned that Chinese men were luring white women into addiction and leading them into wanton sexuality with other races. As is the case with many generalizations, there was some sliver of truth. It was true that a disproportionately high percentage of middle-class white women were opium smokers. However, that didn’t happen due to some sinister plot by Chinese immigrants. Instead, some historians point to how women weren’t allowed to drink in saloons, whereas they were free to smoke opium. Nonetheless, women in Chinese opium dens were an uncomfortable sight for most white men. For example, one San Francisco police report from 1881 openly acknowledged this by mentioning, “white women and Chinamen side by side under the effects of this drug -- a humiliating sight to anyone with anything left of

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