Illegal Drugs

Over several decades, researchers have identified more than 140 active compounds, called cannabinoids, in the cannabis plant. 

The Scientific History of Cannabinoids

Hundreds of these cannabis-related chemicals, both natural and synthetic, now exist, and researchers want to know how they can hurt and help us

Public health officials are warning about xylazine, also known as “tranq” or “tranq dope,” an animal sedative that's infiltrating the nation’s illicit drug supply in substances such as heroin and fentanyl.

What to Know About 'Tranq,' the Animal Sedative Infiltrating Street Drugs

Public health officials are sounding the alarm about xylazine, a substance that causes gruesome wounds and knocks users out for hours

Researchers are studying psilocybin therapy to treat conditions like alcohol addiction and major depressive disorder.

Adults Can Now Use Magic Mushrooms With Supervision in Oregon

State-certified facilitators will guide patients in hallucinogenic trips, which may help treat mental health conditions

More than 150 people die every day from synthetic opioids.

Scientists Create a Vaccine Against Fentanyl

Researchers hope the vaccine, which blocked the drug from entering rats’ brains, could help reduce overdoses in humans

 The federal government considers marijuana an illegal Schedule I drug, making it notoriously difficult to research.

New U.S. Law Will Boost Marijuana Research

The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act will make it easier for researchers to access marijuana and study its therapeutic uses

Sonoran Desert toads live at least ten years and possibly as many as 20. 

Don’t Lick This Toad, National Park Service Says

Sonoran Desert toads secrete a psychedelic toxin strong enough to kill a full-grown dog

Magic mushrooms remain illegal in the U.S. for recreational use, but researchers have tested psilocybin as a treatment for a variety of mental illnesses. 

Psychedelic ‘Magic Mushroom’ Ingredient Could Help Treat Alcohol Addiction

Study participants taking the drug psilocybin with talk therapy showed an 83 percent decline in heavy drinking

In 2020, 75 percent of all overdose deaths involved an opioid.

Drug Overdose Deaths in the U.S. Are Increasing More in Black and Indigenous Populations

The CDC reports a 44 percent increase in drug overdose fatalities in Black people and a 39 percent increase in Native Americans from 2019 to 2020

The 15 freed hostages and their rescuers arrive at San José del Guaviare airport in July 2008.

The Daring Rescue Mission That Freed 15 Hostages Held in the Colombian Jungle for Years

A new exhibition at the International Spy Museum revisits Operación Jaque, a covert 2008 plot led by the Colombian military

Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms (pictured here), has been designated by the FDA as a breakthrough therapy for treatment resistant depression.

The Future of Mental Health

Why Psychedelic Drugs May Become a Key Treatment for PTSD and Depression

Ecstasy and the active ingredient in magic mushrooms have shown promise in clinical trials, but more testing is needed

This year's list includes Four Lost Cities, About Time and The Man Who Hated Women.

The Best Books of 2021

The Ten Best History Books of 2021

Our favorite titles of the year resurrect forgotten histories and help explain how the U.S. got to where it is today

Researchers say that wild plants that gave rise to today’s three lineages of cannabis grew in present-day China.

New Study Suggests Cannabis' Wild Ancestors Likely Came from China

The analysis identifies East Asia as a potential source of genetic diversity for the growing market for medical and recreational marijuana

A brown trout caught in Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

Meth Pollution in Waterways Turns Trout Into Addicts

Like humans, fish can get addicted to methamphetamines and go through withdrawal

Sri Lankan police stand next to over $33 million worth of heroin and crystal methamphetamine seized from two foreign trawlers.

The Number of Small Fishing Vessels Smuggling Illegal Drugs Has Tripled

A lack of options for commercial fishermen in coastal communities has led to a boom in trafficking

Archaeologists found the two altars seen here featured burnt cannabis (right) and frankincense (left), respectively.

Archaeologists Identify Traces of Burnt Cannabis in Ancient Jewish Shrine

New research suggests the mind-altering substance may have been widely used in the ritual practices of the Kingdom of Judah

Cool Finds

1,000-Year-Old Pouch From Bolivia Contains Traces of Five Mind-Altering Drugs

The ingredients include coca leaves and two compounds used in modern ayahuasca rituals

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Shrimp in England's Rural Rivers Are Laced With Traces of Cocaine

A new study also detected low levels of dozens of pharmaceuticals and pesticides in shrimp from the county of Suffolk

Observers in the galleries of a legislative hearing about a marijuana bill in May 1973

History of Now

Why the 1970s Effort to Decriminalize Marijuana Failed

The explosion of kid-friendly paraphernalia led the federal government to crack down on pot

The U.S. Has the Highest Overdose Death Rate of Any Wealthy Nation

A new study has found that there are, on average, 3.5 times more drug-related deaths in the United States than in 17 other wealthy countries

Le Roux’s diplomatic passport from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, under the name Paul Solotshi Calder Le Roux

The Computer Programmer Who Ran a Global Drug Trafficking Empire

A new book uncovers the intricacies of Paul Le Roux’s cartel and how it fueled the opioid epidemic ravaging the U.S. today

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