Museum Traces History of Drug Use 

Museum Traces History of Drug Use 
Posted by CN Staff on July 30, 2002 at 10:01:57 PT
By Karen Goldberg Goff, The Washington Times
Source: Washington Times 
The connection between drugs, crime, social problems, culture and terrorism is laid out neatly in the lobby of a Justice Department building across from the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.   The contents of the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum may inspire college-days nostalgia for some and sorrow for others as they see the impact drugs have had on America. Either way, the 3-year-old museum is worth a visit. Those in the law enforcement field and those who want to show teens or preteens the dangers of drugs will find the small museum particularly worthwhile.
The museum traces drug use in America over the past 150 years and finds a common theme: Drugs have been here all along; they just have affected different people in different ways.   Take the early part of the 1900s, for instance. Opiates were the magic ingredient in remedies from cough syrup to headache powder. Bayer sold over-the-counter heroin. Cocaine was in Coca-Cola. "Elixirs" were advertised mainly to stressed-out housewives, who, not surprisingly, also were the nation's first addicts.   "Today, we think of drug users as lowlifes," museum spokeswoman Dianne Martin says, "but early on, the biggest addicts were middle-class women."   The DEA Museum houses lots of campy memorabilia from that era, from ads in women's magazines to placards touting cocaine as "brain food." The first inkling of the harm drugs can cause can be seen here as well, including a newspaper clipping about a 19-month-old who died after being given an overdose of narcotic-containing "soothing syrup" to aid teething.   The museum traces the rise of drug use among 1920s jazz musicians and, later, 1950s and '60s beatniks. It follows the history of "casual" drug use, such as smoking marijuana, in the '70s. During that era, newer drugs came on the scene, including LSD, and cocaine returned.   The downside of those years is chronicled with the overdose deaths of rock stars such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix; the rise in the number of detoxification centers; and the high levels of drug abuse among Vietnam War veterans, who had easy and cheap access to heroin while in Vietnam. The 1986 cocaine overdose of former Maryland basketball star Len Bias also is given a large space.   The museum does a good job of tracing the drug trade as crime while offering a look at the DEA, which has grown along with the contraband industry.   What began as a bureau of a few hundred agents pursuing organized crime in America's cities in the 1930s has grown into an organization of 4,500 special agents set on shutting down the drug trade worldwide. The exhibit also shows the evolution of drug laws in America.   The final part of the exhibit is the most disturbing. The 1980s saw the rise in crack cocaine, a cheap and highly addictive form of the drug that, the exhibit points out, "hit poor America like a tidal wave." During that time, South American cartels grew more popular, guns got bigger, and narcoterrorism  such as the Medellin cartel's 1989 bombing of an Avianca airliner carrying two potential informants  grew stronger.   Crack has had an undeniable impact in Washington, where the homicide rate soared from 1984 to 1989. Crack raised addiction sixfold nationwide and created 4 million additional hard-core addicts, says Tara Smith, a museum spokeswoman.   The museum's crack-house-door exhibit gives a glimpse into how the drug has changed urban America. Visitors can look through a small opening on the reinforced steel door to see a picture of children sifting through a pile of crack vials in the street.   The museum tour winds up with a look at where drug use is heading, from the return of heroin to new "club drugs" such as Ketamine, known as Special K, and Ecstasy. Touch-screen kiosks show video presentations on the harm drugs can do. Other kiosks show what it takes to be a DEA agent, including the training and special laboratories agents use.   This fall, the museum will expand with a new exhibit that will show the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism around the world. "Target America" will open with images of September 11, then trace the drug-terrorism trade back to Asia's Silk Road, spanning some 2,000 years and 40 countries, Ms. Martin says.   "Many people are not aware of how strong the link is between drugs and terrorism," she says. "By using drugs, you can very possibly be feeding money to terrorists, who then buy weapons. It is going to be a very powerful exhibit that will make people think twice."Source: Washington Times (DC)Author: Karen Goldberg Goff, The Washington TimesPublished: July 28, 2002Copyright: 2002 News World Communications, Inc. Website: letters washingtontimes.comCannabisNews DEA Archives
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Comment #9 posted by Dan B on July 30, 2002 at 14:41:27 PT:
The Room The Museum Left Out
Step right up, folks! In the next room, you will see something that will shock you! Those of us who work here like to call it "The Dead Zone," and you can see for yourself why we do. In the next room, we have etched into the walls the names of all Americans known to have died from the consumption of marijuana--the Devil's weed. Be prepared! You will be shocked--perhaps horrified--by what you see here. As you gaze at the walls, think of the 800,000 people who were arrested last year on cannabis charges. Think of the college students denied student loans, the employees who lost their jobs. Think of the children who have been taken from their parents, the parents who have lost their children as a result of cannabis consumption. Then, ask yourself this question: Is the government doing all it can to root out the real menace to its citizens?And now, let us enter one of the darkest corners of the war on drugs . . . As each person enters the room, he or she is struck by the stark white walls upon which appear the names of . . . nobody. Yes, folks, it is true. The most dangerous thing about cannabis consumption in America is what will happen to you if you are caught. It seems that the real menace isn't cannabis at all. It's the laws prohibiting it that cause the real damage.Dan B
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Comment #8 posted by John Tyler on July 30, 2002 at 14:20:14 PT
When information is presented, biased or not, to a receiver the presenter has no way of knowing how that info. will be interpreted or processed. The presenter here, the DEA spokesperson, has already stated that in the old days it was normal middle class white ladies who used legal drugs, etc. Drugs use to be legal and the country was OK. So the receiver knows that drug use wasn't always it is today. What caused this change. When did "lowlifes" start using drugs? It maight start some people thinking that maybe weak but power hungry politician were pandering to popular racist sentiment for their own personal aggrandizement. Information has a funny way of getting away from you.  
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Comment #7 posted by VitaminT on July 30, 2002 at 14:20:01 PT
Get a REAL job - beyotch!
Prohibition museum spokeswoman? Stop living off my taxes you parasitic lowlife!!!
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Comment #6 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on July 30, 2002 at 12:59:59 PT
Jimi didn't O.D.
>>The downside of those years is chronicled with the overdose deaths of rock stars such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix;  Jimi Hendrix did not die of an overdose of anything, that is a myth. At the time of his death, he had ingested some sleeping pills and red wine. But the commonly accepted story, written by all those who think fact-checking is too onerous, is the overdose one. I highly reccomend checking out Tony Brown's book Hendrix: The Final Days for the most fact-filled account of that sad September.
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Comment #5 posted by krutch on July 30, 2002 at 11:48:58 PT:
The Lowlife Comment
Once again we see stereotyping and ingnorance from the goverment. She tells us:"....early on, the biggest addicts were middle-class women."She is ignoring the elephant in the room. Legal drug abuse is common among all kinds of people and has been for a long time. This type of drug abuse inspired the Rolling Stones to sing about "Mother's Little Helper" in the 1970's. As long the official line is only low lifes take drugs, the goverment will never be able to help anyone who has a drug problem. It is time to stop the bigotry. It alienates people who need help.
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Comment #4 posted by Dark Star on July 30, 2002 at 11:04:14 PT
Equal Time
I suspect that the museum has no portrayal of young lives squandered in prison, innocents shot dead by DEA, analyses of the cost-benefit ratio of the War on Drugs, or a discussion of the medical application of cocaine, morphine and marijuana. No, that might be too reasonable to provide both sides of the argument.
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Comment #3 posted by Industrial Strength on July 30, 2002 at 11:01:02 PT
I think it would be funny
If alot of our ilk visited the museum and heckled the curator. This woman possesses the comically naive ambition of your typical anti, but I'm sure nothing more than giggling and boredom is brought about by teen's visits to the museum.
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Comment #2 posted by john wayne on July 30, 2002 at 10:27:21 PT
DEA: cracks in the facade
The US "press" presents the government as a glorious unified front.But when I want to read the most strident dissent towards the Bush administration I look to the DEA agents' website: the drooling idjits in the US-news "press" DEA agents aren't completely fooled by GW Bush and his incompetent, corrupt administration.
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Comment #1 posted by kanabys on July 30, 2002 at 10:18:15 PT
>>"Today, we think of drug users as lowlifes," museum spokeswoman Dianne Martin says, "but early on, the biggest addicts were middle-class women."This is a sterotyping b*tch!!!!!I would be willing to bet that 90% or more of the cannabis users in the USA look undetectable as users, using these bigot's parameters, of course. :/
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