A Gram of Truth
In 1991, scientists discovered the frozen body of Ötzi, a man who lived around the year 3300 BC. Amongst his possessions were hallucinogenic mushrooms proving that while controversial, drugs have long been part of human history. Early indigenous people in what is now Mexico and the southwestern United States used peyote cactus and hallucinogenic mushrooms in religious ceremonies and to make themselves more courageous in battle. When Hernán Cortez arrived in the Americas, he quickly criminalized their use for fear it would incite rebellion. Such early forms of drug control created a centuries-long shift from using autochthonous herbs to more potent, Western-manufactured medicines like cocaine, heroin, and morphine. Although scientifically beneficial, overuse and naivete around addiction have led to multiple American opiod crises over the last century, met with varying government responses based on the income, education, race, and ethnicity of those most impacted.