10 Illegal Drugs You Won't Believe Used To Be Legal

Drugs Used To Be Legal

The issues surrounding drugs are one of those topics that pretty much everyone has an opinion about. From a very young age we learn from anti-drug programs at school that drugs are bad and we should never consider taking them. Even if our ideas about some drugs change over time, the anti drug outlook that we are taught when we were young, most likely still has some kind of effect over us when we grow up. However, most drugs were not always thought of as being harmful and life ruining. Some of the drugs that we consider to be the most dangerous to our mental and physical health today, were actually once thought to be beneficial. Below is a list of ten drugs that although they are illegal today, were once perfectly legal in the eyes of the law. All of these drugs were once thought to have positive side effects before the government decided that the negative effects that the drug produces might outweigh the positive. So to give you a glimpse into a world where drugs that we consider hazardous today are legal, below is a list of ten illegal drugs you will not believe used to be legal.

10 Magic Mushrooms 

Illegal Drugs Legal In Past

According to sources, magic mushrooms first became popular in the 60’s when people would take the drug to find spiritual enlightenment. The popularity of the drug continued until Life Magazine printed an article about debates surrounding the drug. Magic mushrooms were subsequently outlawed in 1968. However, recent research found that the effects of the drug were much less harmful than alcohol. About the drug, psychologist Dr Pal-Orjan Johansen said, “concerns have been raised [that] the ban on use of psychedelics is a violation of human rights to belief and spiritual practice”. So maybe we will see a legalization of the drug again in the near future.

9 Steroids 

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Steroids are used to increase protein in the cells and skeletal muscles. Although steroids have been in use for many years, the form of steroids that we have today wasn't made until the 1930s. According to Michael Powers, the author of Performance Enhancing Drugs, steroids were first used to increase muscle growth, appetite, induce puberty, and treat illnesses like AIDS and cancer. By the 1960’s, steroid use became extremely popular, especially for athletes. In 1972, athletes competing in the Olympics were tested for the first time for steroid use. In 1988, the US regulated the drug, and eventually the use of steroids was strictly prohibited with the exception of medical usage.


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PCP, a drug that also goes by the name of angel dust and whack, was developed in the 1950’s as a surgical anesthetic. According to sources, PCP was banned in 1965, because when patients would come out of the dissociative state that PCP brings on, they often appeared irritated, irrational and delusional. Some of the other effects of PCP include a feeling of detachment, loss of coordination, image distortions, auditory hallucinations, mood disorders and amnesia, to name a few. In addition, a high dosage of PCP can have some more dangerous side effects including seizures, coma and even death.

7 Peyote

Illegal Drugs Legal In Past

Peyote is a small cactus that contains psychoactive alkaloids that induce hallucinations. Although peyote has been illegal in some states for as long as it has been around, there are many states where the use of peyote was once completely legal. According to sources, peyote is traditionally used by Native Americans for spiritual practice. However in the 60s, many people took peyote for its hallucinogenic effects. In 1970, the use of peyote was banned except for places of Native American worship. Native Americans have used peyote for spiritual purposes for around 5,500 years and continue to use it to this day.

6 Marijuana

Illegal Drugs Legal In Past

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the legalization of marijuana as of lately. Although recreational use of the drug is continuing to become more accepted in some areas of the world, it is still illegal to use marijuana in many places. According to sources, the first recorded use of marijuana was in China in 2737 B.C. From then, the drug spread throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and finally to what is now known as the United States. When marijuana was legal it was used to help with labor pains, nausea, gout and malaria. In the 1930s, the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics began to see Marijuana as a gateway drug and in 1970, marijuana was classified as a Schedule I drug and became illegal.


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According to drugfreeworld.org, LSD was first synthesized in Switzerland when a chemist was trying to develop a blood stimulant. The drug was used in experiments throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Although medical professionals could not find any medical use for LSD, it was still widely distributed and as a result, was popularized in the 1960s. In 1951, a series of experiments found that when ingested, LSD, “is capable of rendering whole groups of people, including military forces, indifferent to their surroundings and situations, interfering with planning, and judgment…”. The drug was banned by the United States in 1967.

4 Methamphetamine 

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According to sources, a chemist first developed methamphetamine in 1919. After the FDA in the US approved it, the drug began to be proscribed for all kinds of ailments. Some of the diseases that methamphetamine was supposed to help with included depression, alcoholism, narcolepsy and fatigue. However as physicians continued to proscribe methamphetamine, the black market value of the drug continued to rise and more and more people began to use it for recreational purposes. In 1970, the US made the drug illegal in nearly all circumstances. However, the drug is still being mass-produced illegally in places like California, Thailand and China.

3 Ecstasy 

MDMA (better known as ecstasy) was first developed in 1912. However, the drug wasn't used on humans until the 1970’s. According to sources, Dr. Alexander Shulgin first rediscovered ecstasy and used it as medication for patients. Apparently, the drug was used to give patients insights to their problems. As a result, many psychiatrists began proscribing ecstasy to their patients even though it had never been clinically tested. In the 1980’s, ecstasy became a very popular street drug and its popularity only continued to grow during the 1990s. Eventually, the drug was banned in 1985, after it was proved that the drug had no medical benefits.

2 Cocaine 

Illegal Drugs Legal In Past

A variation of cocaine has actually been in use for thousands of years, but it wasn't until 1855 that the drug we know as cocaine was first developed. According to sources, cocaine was legal for decades and was used as a local anesthetic, to treat pain, and to cure morphine addiction. In fact, the use of cocaine was so widespread that Coca-Cola used it as an ingredient and even Sigmund Freud used it as a therapeutic drug. Eventually, the US began putting strict regulations on cocaine use and ruled that the drug could only be taken with the okay from a doctor. Cocaine was fully banned in 1914.

1 Heroin 

Illegal Drugs Legal In Past

Heroin was first developed in the 1890s by Fredrick Bayer (who also gave us aspirin). The drug was originally marketed as a cough medicine. In its early days, heroin was praised for its medical benefits and began to be widely proscribed. In the beginning, the drug didn't seem to have any negative side effects until physicians began realizing just how addicted their patients were becoming to the drug. However, this discovery didn't result in the quick ban of heroin. In fact, physicians were very hesitant to ban a drug that they believed to have mostly positive side effects. It wasn't until 1924 that the US congress forced a ban on all manufacture of heroin in the US.

Sources: express.co.uk, drugfreeworld.org, toptenz.net

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