The recreational drug culture has definitely evolved over the years and there have been many societal and political issues surrounding the topic especially in modern times. With the discussions in regards to the legalization of marijuana, drug culture has reached an all-time high with many choosing to embrace it. However, the history behind recreational drug usage is extremely gruesome and often times forgotten. Drug culture in general is a complex issue that affects various demographics and often times there are huge implications by adopting such a new concept and making it mainstream.
The drug scene for many years was seen as an underground industry controlled by a select few and this illicit industry generates nearly $150 billion annually. The illegal drug trade comprises of cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine but now with movements leading to the legalization of cannabis, the industry is estimated to be worth 73.6 billion by 2027. The war on drugs was a gruesome one and it is also a war that is still ongoing in many parts of the world. Corruption and scandal still surround this industry and it may take years for the negative perception to fade away.
The recreational drug scene primarily comprises of cannabis and marijuana. Both of these drugs have been heavily popularized by mainstream media as well as the entertainment industry. There are also other forms of drugs such as LSD and MDMA which are used in parties or concerts. The effect of those drugs is a bit more disastrous due to them falling into the hands of the wrong demographic. MDMA and LSD (aka acid) are also used recreationally as psychedelics and such drugs are slowly being used in the field of medicine when truly needed.
The modern drug culture that has spread internationally mainly comprises of cocaine and marijuana but both of these drugs have taken several forms over the years. Some forms are more dangerous than others but each one played an integral role during certain time periods. Cocaine and marijuana both have drastically different impacts on society as one remains illegal while the other has made its way onto commercial shelves. It’s time to take a deeper dive into the evolution of these drugs in their most famous forms.
The most common recreational drug we have heard of is most definitely marijuana and the common form of consuming it is by smoking a joint. The tradition of smoking weed started in Asia around 500 BC but it was due to medicinal purposes and nothing more. The cannabis or hemp plant originally evolved in Central Asia before the plant was introduced into Africa, Europe and finally America where the true culture surrounding weed would be shaped. Cannabis has adopted many names over the years and some of the most memorable ones are marijuana/ grass/ hemp/ weed/ reefer/ blunt.
Things to take note in regards to hemp is the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) levels. Early hemp plants contained a low level of THC and it is believed the plant was later crossbred to increase psychoactive properties. THC produces the ‘high’ people associate with using marijuana recreationally while CBD is more commonly used in medicinal marijuana. The recreational drug culture spawned from marijuana joints/ reefers as they were the symbol of the ’70s due to hip-hop culture at the time.
The recreational drug practice of smoking weed was at an all-time high during the years of the Mexican Revolution when unemployment was high and millions took to the streets not only to make money but also to forget about the financial issues they were facing. Selling weed on the streets offered a potential change in lifestyle. A dangerous life that promised millions in return and icons like Snoop Dogg, Run-D.M.C, Wiz Khalifa and Bob Marley made smoking weed the symbol of cool. Some earlier names who smoked reefers were Trixie Smith and Louis Armstrong who were iconic names in the jazz music scene of the 1920-30s.
Recreational drug culture may be seen as cool today but it was considered evil at one point and smoking weed was once an act of defiance. Artists who smoked weed on stage would be kicked off or barred from ever performing so those who chose to embrace their guilty tendencies had to do it in their homes to avoid public scrutiny. Smoking weed was a rebellious act and it made a statement that people were not willing to bend the knee to government control. This however only led to the law being even tighter with federal laws being placed during the Reagan and Clinton administration.
In terms of the cheapest recreational drug, it would have to be smoking weed. It was the easiest way to get high and smoking tobacco was accepted at the time so the next best thing was smoking weed. People in the 70s sustained themselves from smoking weed and forgetting about the problems of the world. More people started joining in and everyone wanted to make this recreational drug legal so people could enjoy a puff without getting busted for it. The War on Drugs had begun but this would be a war that lasted for a few more decades.
Edibles are the next generation of recreational drugs that will soon become even more mainstream than it already is. Edibles is merely a different means of consuming cannabis but the effects of smoking weed and ingesting edibles are different. Edibles cause the THC to be converted into 11-hydroxy-THC, a compound that is both more potent and longer-lasting than THC thus causing edibles to have a longer-lasting effect in comparison to smoking marijuana joints. The high lasts longer but it also requires a longer time to react with the body system.
Edibles have allowed for the consumption of marijuana in a more discreet manner. Before recreational drug culture surrounded the act of smoking but now it is even harder to distinguish the method of consumption. People are able to get high from basically ingesting anything. Edibles are found in the form of gummies, pastries, liquids and chocolates. Fancy confectionaries are popping up all over Europe to promote the high life when it comes to consuming cannabis and this high life comes with a hefty price tag.
The recreational drug industry has been commercialized heavily with millionaires getting into the edibles business as a means of providing luxury to the masses. Edibles are the gateway drug for the wealthy to live an even more premium lifestyle by staying on a constant high by maintaining a refined palate. Tasty sweets and savoury dishes with a touch of psychoactive substances to spice things up. We are walking a thin line when it comes to substance abuse and edibles is just another way to blur that already disappearing distinction.
Edibles have brought forward new issues when it comes to the legal recreational drug industry as adding weed to candy may just be a little bit confusing for kids. Some are even cheating the system by getting high in school on what may seem to be innocent gummies. Adding psychoactive substances to food is also a tricky business as a set amount has to be added. If it is too much then it may cause health risk to consumers. The food has to look unattractive so kids don’t get a hold of them but making a chocolate bar forbidden only makes kids want it even more.
Edibles is the question of ethics and morality and it also tries to bridge the gap between recreational drug usage and our day to day lives. It promises a future of psychoactive substances in our food and drinks as a way to get by with our crazy lifestyles. The legalization of weed in certain parts of the world has allowed for more experimentation when it comes to the long term effects and benefits of marijuana. Much like how alcohol made its way into culinary cuisine, the future may just be cannabis instead. Maybe getting high is the only way to push through in what can only a be considered an ever so complicated world.
Categorizing cocaine as a recreational drug may be a bit of a stretch as cocaine is a hard drug that has caused massive violent outbreaks. The legal status of cocaine is a complicated one as the sales of this recreational drug is illegal with the exception for medical purposes but the possession of cocaine (up to 1 gram) is legal in countries such as Columbia, Mexico and Peru. However, the consumption of cocaine is heavily popularized in countries such as Japan and the United States. This drug was first used recreationally by Hollywood stars ranging from actors, musicians and dancers.
The drug later penetrated corporate America and cocaine was basically the recreational drug of every Wall Street businessman. The use of cocaine in movies such as ‘Scarface’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ has made the drug the icon when it comes to being badass. Snorting lines off supermodels is the poster image when it comes to the high life and this luxurious life was only accessible to the ultra rich. The price of getting high may be exorbitant but people are still willing to spend thousands for some white powder due to the sheer strength of the drug. A social cocaine high offers psychological changes that allows the user to experience a sense of euphoria.
You will find more infographics at Statista
Cocaine is obtained from the Coca plant, commonly found in Bolivia and Peru and in some cultures the leaves are used to make tea, however today the common way people ingest cocaine into their system is by snorting it. The act of consumption through the nasal passage is dangerous on its own but this method of ingestion allows for a longer lasting high. When this recreational drug is consumed in small amounts, it may be known as ‘bumps’ while larger amounts are called ‘lines’ or ‘rails’.
As cocaine becomes a more widely available recreational drug, many rules have to put into place. With the legalization of marijuana, the idea of legalizing cocaine may not be so far fetched after all. This dystopian future of being high and going through life is becoming a reality due to the long working hours and low wages we are forced to live with. Japan has one of the most demanding work cultures and the term “karoshi” translates to “death by overwork” in Japanese, this term is also legally recognized as a cause of death.
A more demanding lifestyle will continue to lead the younger to turn to extreme alternatives in order to get through the struggles of life. Recreational drugs such as Ecstasy and other forms of MDMA are used by students especially nearing tests or exams due to the constant stress and need to push through late night revision sessions. Kids who started off with MDMA end up turning to cocaine during their adult years as a way to cope with even heavier workloads but the reality is the consumption of cocaine as a recreational drug only leads to irritability and headaches once the dopamine levels deplete.
Crack was first used in small quantities in major cities during the 1980’s. This rock-like recreational drug is basically cocaine in a freebase form. Crack ended up being the cheaper substitute for powdered cocaine as people could get their hands on the product in high purities. Crack would be smoked through a pipe at 194°F allowing the drug to vaporize. The first large-scale use of crack as a recreational drug was documented in Los Angeles in 1984 and it was the drug of choice for middle income individuals who did not have the money to purchase the real deal.
Crack was basically a dealer’s dream at the time as ony a small amount of the stuff was required to get people hooked and crack was easy to move at the time. Since it was anew form of recreational drug, this allowed dealers to traffic the stuff through the neighborhoods at alarming rates. The stuff was cheap, easy to use and highly profitable. The ‘crack epidemic’ began between 1984 and 1990 as crack started to become the most widely used recreational drug in the United States. By 2002, the drug had been made available in the UK where there was an increase of 74% in seizures of crack cocaine.
Cocaine and crack may be the same things but the effects of crack were far more detrimental due to the number of people that were consuming the drug. Cocaine was done behind closed doors while crack was the drug of the poor and it was being used widely in a household setting, primarily African-American households were heavily affected by the effects of crack cocaine. Low-income families saw no way out during the Raegan administration and had seen crack as a way to make a living but the number of violent crimes started escalating quickly between 1981 and 1986.
A minimum penalty of 5 years was later administered for 5 grams of crack cocaine or 500 grams of powdered cocaine. This law was set due to the number of violent crimes caused by crack being far higher in comparison to the effects of cocaine. This initiative during The War on Drugs ultimately doubled the prison population and one in every four African American males aged 20 to 29 were either incarcerated or on probation or parole by 1989- Britannica. This left a huge impact by further creating a larger amount of segregation and driving an even bigger wedge in the sociopolitical scene at the time.
The usage of recreational drugs is exponentially increasing as the years pass by. Smoking a blunt or snorting a line has become as normal as smoking cigarettes in most cases. The normalization and legalization of recreational drugs such as marijuana opens up new doors where people are able to experiment with these drugs in a casual setting. Allowing more people to access these drugs may bring benefits but there are still many challenges that lie along the way. The legal age of consumption has to be carefully thought out and substances need to have more distinct packaging to keep them away from kids.
The biggest issue however goes back to drug abuse. Substance abuse is something we are all familiar with and it is the aftermath of addiction. Drugs have a long history when it comes to suicide attempts due to overdose and these substances can sometimes lead even the most stable minds astray due to chemical imbalances in the brain. Drug abuse is a serious issue that has to be curbed in order to allow recreational drugs to exist in the same space of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Even the most euphoric drugs have to be used in moderation as too much of a good thing is never the way to go.
Recreational drug culture will continue to evolve and we will evolve alongside it. All these substances have evident negative impacts on the body much like tobacco and alcohol, some having even more harmful effects so if we are going to adopt this new culture, it has to be done cautiously to prevent major consequences on society. Cocaine and marijuana have ruined millions of lives while others see them as coping mechanisms, a middle ground has to be reached in order to satisfy both parties or The War on Drugs will continue to fuel the underground drug industry.
Subscribe to our newsletter!