In the mid-80s, drug use, especially crack and cocaine, exploded in urban areas like New York City.
Controversial reforms, like President Reagan’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, shortly followed.
But New Republic associate editor Jefferson Morley noticed an underlying hypocrisy present in the debate: Most politicians hadn’t ever smoked crack.
So Morley did — and then wrote about his experience in a story published on Oct. 2, 1989 in the New Republic. He described, in vivid detail, what makes the drug so appealing — and thus so addictive.
“When it comes to crack,” he wrote, “politicians and pundits literally do not know what they are talking about.”
Upon inhaling his first rock, Morley called crack “powerful and elusive.” Twenty minutes, he wanted another.
After his second rock, he found the high combined the “best aspects of marijuana and cocaine.”
Morley lost his mind a little on the third rock. “Reality isn’t real and all that was formerly a possibility is now on the verge of actuality,” he wrote.
With the fourth rock, he found himself in the company of “experienced crackheads.”
Even then, he wanted more:
“When you’re back outside prowling the lunar landscape of post-Reagan urban America at two in the morning with your high fading and your heartbeat racing, you’ll begin to learn that crack is both a mental and a material phenomenon. You want your next rock, you want to get off, get out of this world — or at least transform it for a few minutes. You can be a moral tourist in the land of crack and still get a sense of how the drug can make sick sense to demoralized people. If all you have in life is bad choices, crack may not be the most unpleasant of them.”
Reagan’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act enacted mandatory minimums for some drug possessions, greatly expanding the power of the federal government to combat offenders. That law led to the passage of another controversial reform: The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. Considered major laws of the “War of Drugs,” both contributed to America’s prison boom.
The New Republic recently republished Morley’s full report »
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