Recently, I enjoyed listening to an interview with Michael Pollan. He wrote a couple of very popular books, including The Omnivore's Dilemma.
The discussion turned to Big Pharma and how they tend to take amazing natural foods or healing plants and turn them into products.
His new book, This is Your Mind On Plants, explores three mind-altering substances. He talks about how society is quickly evolving its attitudes towards them.
The book explores our reliance on plants and how we have always explored their use in consciousness changing.
Coffee is a great example.
It’s widely used around the world and those that use it daily are addicted. The relief you feel when you drink your first cup of coffee isn’t so much the buzz of the drug. You just saved yourself from going through withdrawal and your body knows it.
It’s said that coffee is the most popular drink around the world, with around 400 billion cups consumed each year. It’s an addictive drink but we don’t think of it that way because it’s socially acceptable. It’s also legal to drink.
A drug is defined by the society we live in. Every culture on earth has at least one plant that they use to adjust their consciousness. Society condones the drugs that somehow help society and caffeine is one of them.
Opium, caffeine, and mescaline are the three plant drugs Pollan explores in this new book. He does a deep dive into how they are used and accepted in different cultures while they are considered illegal in others.
It's very controversial.
If you make a drink from coffee beans, it’s accepted but if you make tea from the seed head of opium poppy, it’s considered a federal crime in the U.S.
Pollan wrote an essay in 1996 where he revealed how easy it was to make opium tea using poppies he grew in his own garden. The legal department for his magazine at the time suggested removing that part.
Apparently, it would have placed his home and all of his belongings in jeopardy. They could be ceased by the Feds and he could be thrown in jail.
His essay introduced another writer, Jim Hogshire, who was arrested for possessing dried poppy seeds he’d purchased from a florist.
Opium For The Masses by Jim Hogshire
A counterculture writer born in 1958, Hogshire has written many articles and short stories in his career. He’s somewhat famous for his book, Opium for the Masses: Harvesting Nature’s Best Pain Medication.
It was a hit. Americans used it to learn how to make natural and legal pain meds.
This common plant, P. somniferum, or opium poppies grows wild in many states. You can purchase it at crafts and hobby stores and nurseries.
Hogshire revealed how you could make a drinkable tea that acts as a mild painkiller.
In Victorian times, opium preparations were very common. A very popular preparation was Laudanum which was a mixture of alcohol, herbs, and opium (10%).
Laudanum was inexpensive and very popular as a painkiller and relaxant. Many used it for ‘women's troubles’ and it was recommended for all sorts of other illnesses including coughs and arthritis. It was frequently used as a way to soothe babies.
It continued to be accessible and commonly taken by many people, despite a growing anti-opium movement.
In 1888 a British man named Benjamin Broomhall formed the “Christian Union for the Severance of the British Empire with the Opium Traffic”. Support for his cause grew, until 1910. That’s when Britain agreed to dismantle the India-China opium trade.
The smoking of opium for pleasure fell out of favor with the public. It was now considered a vice, used mainly by Orientals (A racist view of the time).
Making It Illegal
1914 was when the United States criminalized the recreational use of opium.
Poppies were grown in the U.S. until Congress passed the Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942. That made it illegal for anyone to produce the opium poppy unless they had a license. People could no longer grow poppies for personal medicinal use.
That put control of the opioid into the hands of the pharmaceutical companies.
The interesting thing about poppies is that they are the source of many of the pharmaceutical opioids produced today. These drugs originally came from opium poppy seeds. Now they are synthesized in a lab.
Poppy seeds contain morphine and codeine, among other drugs. Synthetic derivatives include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (Percodan, OxyContin).
Legalizing a Pharmaceutical
Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin in 1996. There was a systematic effort to minimize any information about the risk of addiction with its use. Their marketing efforts helped create one of the worst health crises we have seen.
The war on drugs was a war on some drugs, but not others.
This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.