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History of Drugs in America Introduction

In A Nutshell

Drugs have made a major impact on American history since the founding of the first English colony at Jamestown in 1607. Even as drugs, legal and otherwise, have contributed to the growth of the nation's economy, Americans have struggled to find policies that limit drugs' negative effects on society without generating negative side-effects of their own.


Why Should I Care?

Drugs are a major problem in American life.

But not a new problem.

Drugs have been a part of the American story since the very first day Columbus landed in the New World, when the Taino Indians he met presented him with a gift of tobacco, which would go on to become (for better or worse—mostly worse) one of the most important drugs in our history.

And if drugs have existed since the beginning, so have drug problems. And so have attempts to solve those drug problems. As we face our own drug problems, we can learn something from those past attempts.

How did it turn out when an English king tried to convince his people to stop smoking by writing a tract calledA Counterblaste to Tobacco?

How did it turn out when another English king tried to ban coffeehouses?

How did it turn out when the United States passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting all drinking of alcohol?

Read on to learn the answers. Whether those answers can help you to help us develop a better set of policies to deal with America's drug problem in the future is up to you.

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