Bianca N. EllisDrugs, Crime & SocietyMWF 10aResearch Paper Rough Daft23 April 2018
Opium is a drug produced from the juice of opium poppy that when used binds to morphine-sensitive receptors in the brain to get high and has evolved to become a major narcotic,but is also used as an medical analgesic. Opium growth dates back to 3,400 B.C. in lower Mesopotamia in Southwest Asia when it was referred to as Hul Gilmeaning the joy plant. As the value of the drug spread the demand for it increased becoming a major trading product. Alongside the Silk Road opium made it’s way to China and it was extremely popular for smoking. Great Britain exported opium from India so that they could afford to purchase popular goods like porcelain, silk, and tea from China. Eventually opium importations grew increasingly as did addiction causing China’s current emperor, Yongzheng, to ban the sale and smoking of the suppressant. The trading never truly stopped, but became discreet with help from corrupt officials. When troops and certain socioeconomic groups became affected the issue resurfaced and in result to the enforcing the restrictions that were previously put in place Opium War began.The war occurred twice, first in 1839-1842 and then again in 1856-1860. The Chinese lost both wars, but it was the second war that caused the legalization of opium trade. The sale of opium to China didn’t decrease until 1906 and in 1907 the Chinese signed the Ten Year Agreement with India in goal to cease all opium trade by 1917. By that time opiates had man their epidemic in America.In America opium dates back to the Civil War leading to a heavy addictions soldiers had and come back to the states with. Civilians grew addicted as well from overusing their meds that were prescribed for physical and mental discomforts by doctors that were also over prescribing. The use of the narcotic was completely normalized. By the late 1800s it sat hand and hand with the use of alcohol and morphine and was seen as “a bad problem, that was a scandal, but it wasn’t a crime” (Trickey). During this time it was so ordinary that Sears, a department store, was
one of the places known for selling “White Star Secret Liquor Cure” to help people sleep at nightwhich was surprisingly, easily bought over the counter. In addition to adults using the narcotic for pleasure, it was also used on kids, mostly babies, and a soothing remedy to calm their crimes and help them sleep.That perspective all changed once the Chinese were brought to America for work with theGold Rush and railroads. When they migrated to America they brought their culture and customs as any ethnic group would. But as the same story is written, American settlers were not joyous oftheir arrivals and all that they brought. The same song was sang that all the new comers were “stealing their jobs” and their tradition for smoking opium was deemed negatively. Including the comfort of smoking dens, also known as smoking shops to buy and sell or a nice hangout spot.