Top Ten Drugs That Used To Be Legal

If you have not been a victim of drug abuse, you must be familiar with the dangerous effects of illegal drugs. Now, apart from the punitive side effects of illegal drugs and the severe side effects that they carry, the user is also at the risk of fatal withdrawal. In addition, if the user gets caught using these drugs, they can also be punished by the law.

Normally, the legal punishment for drug abuse is dependent on jurisdictional law. That is, one state might give a warning to the drug-abusing person while another state might recommend a very long jail term. Now, let’s take a rewind. A long time ago, things were not always the way they are today. There are illegal drugs that used to be legal. Some of these drugs include the following.

1. Opium

Every time illegal drugs are mentioned, opium is probably the first thing that comes to your mind. Opium usage runs pretty much back into the old ages. The first form of opium used in the United States of America was dried opium juice. This juice was derived from the opium poppy and had gained popularity in the 19th century. In addition, during this time, opium was freely prescribed by doctors and was highly available in grocery stores.

It is the Chinese workers who introduced the habit of opium smoking to the western hemisphere. Apart from the juice, a solution of opium and alcohol – called laudanum at the time – was also trendy. It was also used as a general treatment for teething pain in children. Women with menstrual cramps also used it to relieve their pain. By the 19th century, the first ban had been instituted on the drug by San Francisco. In 1941, a narcotics act was developed to outlaw the drug completely.

2. Marijuana

Before the 20th century, marijuana was free to acquire and use the drug. Essentially, cannabis is a plant that contains psychoactive marijuana. The state of Virginia instituted a law in 1916 that required all farmers to grow hemp plants in their plantations. According to the authorities, these hemp plants would be used for the manufacturing of textiles.

When it later became evident that cannabis was not good for mental health, the American federation passed laws in 1937 that restricted the use of marijuana to health institutions. In 1950, stricter regulations were introduced to curb possession. If caught possessing the drug, a person would be subjected to mandatory sentencing.

3. Methamphetamine

This is another shocker to this list. First created by a Japanese Chemist in 1893, methamphetamine was approved by the USA’s food and drug administration to treat particular medical conditions. These involved:
• Mild depression
• Alcoholism
• Narcolepsy
• Seasonal allergies
This legal state was lifted when the drug became a commonly abused drug in 1970. An act – The controlled Substances Act – was passed to restrict the usage of methamphetamine severely.

4. Peyote

This is another illegal drug that used to be legal. Peyote is a type of cactus that produces a hallucinogenic chemical called mescaline. For thousands of years, the chemical was used by native communities in their religious ceremonies. From 1920 to 1930, peyote was banned, and several laws were enacted to prohibit its usage and possession.

However, it remained legal in several US states and was sent to interested parties through interstate shipping. When the Controlled Substances act caught up with mescaline, members of the Native American Church were exempted from penalties that would be instituted if a person was caught using it.

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5. Cocaine

Cocaine is another illegal drug that used to be legal. A number of the most famous people in the 20th century were known to be cocaine users. History tells us that cocaine has been in use for more than 3000 years. However, the modern history of cocaine runs from the 1860s to the current times. In essence, cocaine is available in many forms. Initially, it was prescribed to treat addiction to morphine and depression. Early versions of coca-cola had cocaine too. Shocking, right?

6. The LSD

Initially made by a Swiss Scientist, LSD was perceived as a ‘truth drug’ and could get people to reveal their secrets. In addition, organizations such as the CIA and the US Army thought it could be used to brainwash people. However, when it became apparent that people were importing the drug formula and making it incorrectly, California was the first to pull the plug. In 1970, congress decided that the substance had no therapeutic or medicinal use and should be outlawed.

7. GHB

Commonly known as the ‘date-rape’ drug, GHB is a pain-relieving depressant that occurs naturally. It was first made in a laboratory in 1960. The drug became famous for its anesthetic purposes and was widely used for childbirth. In the 1980s, bodybuilders developed a liking for the drug since it helped them sleep. When accidental deaths and drug abuse were reported concerning GHB, the FDA brought down the whip on the drug. In 2000, it was classified as a Schedule 1 drug, making it prohibited for medicinal or recreational use.

8. Magical Mushroom

Magical mushroom contains psilocybin – a compound that has effects that are similar to LSD. Though these mushrooms have existed for at least a millennium, academics have been debating whether they exist. The first usage in the western hemisphere was popularized in the 1950s through a popular magazine. By the 1960s, psychologies were already recommending the use of these mushrooms to their patients. However, the mushrooms were outlawed in 1968.

9. Ecstasy

Also known as MDMA, ecstasy was produced in 1912 by a scientist working for a pharmaceutical company. Throughout the years, it became forgotten until the ‘70s when a university professor – Alexander Shulgin – recommended it for psychotherapy. According to the professor, it would give the patients better introspection and openness with their therapists. In 1985, it was banned and categorized as a schedule 1 drug.

10. Heroin

Heroin was first manufactured to act as an alternative to morphine. By the early 20th century, it was sold and used to treat coughs and treatment medication for morphine users. However, it became more addictive than morphine. Additionally, heroin addicts would also experience opiate withdrawal symptoms. This led to the incorporation of the drug in the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, outlawed in 1924.


Most of the outlawed drugs today were either used as medication or recreational products back in the day. However, due to their adverse effects, governments had to prohibit them. This is how we have illegal drugs that used to be legal.

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