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History of Drugs in America Images

Heroin in a Bottle

In the late nineteenth century, the German pharmaceutical company Bayer sold heroin in a bottle as an over-the-counter cough suppressant.

Arbuckle's Ariosa

After the Civil War a Pittsburgh grocer began selling Arbuckle's Ariosa Coffee, the country's first popular prepackaged coffee brand. The company's colorful label became a common sight from Manhattan cafes to frontier chuck wagons.

Columbus's Tobacco

When Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas in 1492, his very first encounter with the natives ended with an exchange of gifts including tobacco—a drug no European had ever seen before.

Cops 1, Bootleggers 0

Policemen destroy confiscated, illegal liquor during Prohibition.

Drug Raid

Federal Bureau of Narcotics leader Harry Anslinger (left) watches over a Depression-era drug raid.

Reefer Madness

Promotional poster for the legendary 1936 anti-marijuana film, Reefer Madness.

Crack Cocaine Entrepreneur

"Freeway Ricky" Ross, who built a multi-million-dollar drug-dealing empire selling crack cocaine in Los Angeles during the 1980s.

Wanted: Pablo Escobar

Colombian "wanted poster" for cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Escobar's face was X'd out after government agents killed him in 1993.

Coffee During Wartime

Coffee helped Union soldiers win the Civil War.


Over the past twenty years, Starbucks Coffee has become one of America's most successful companies and transformed Americans' relationship with caffeine.

"A Counterblaste To Tobacco"

In 1604, England's King James I attempted to curb his subjects' nicotine habit by writing A Counterblaste to Tobacco. James's anti-tobacco advocacy didn't work.

Humphrey Bogart, Cancer Casualty

Hollywood star Humphrey Bogart, a heavy smoker both on screen and in life, died of lung cancer in 1957.

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