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Drugs and ThugsThe History and Future of America's War on Drugs$
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Russell Crandall

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300240344

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300240344.001.0001

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(p.110) 8 Amphetamines
Drugs and Thugs

Russell Crandall

Yale University Press

This chapter talks about how the American pharmaceutical industry was enjoying a period of “hothouse growth,” while Harry Anslinger was escalating the war on street drugs. It discusses the first generations of synthetic and semisynthetic drugs that had been developed in Germany, the pharmaceutical capital during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It also mentions Friedrich, Bayer & Company, a German firm that sold or licensed sedatives and hypnotics, including Luminal, Sulfonal, Trional, and Veronal in addition to its two “best-known products,” heroin and aspirin. The chapter recounts how amphetamine was first synthesized in Germany in 1887 but remained on the shelf, its psychoactive properties unknown, until 1927. It describes methamphetamine, amphetamine's close cousin, which was synthesized from ephedrine, an alkaloid isolated from the shrub genus Ephedra, by the Japanese organic chemist Nagai Nagayoshi.

Keywords:   American pharmaceutical industry, Harry Anslinger, street drugs, sedatives, hypnotics, semisynthetic drugs, synthetic drugs

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