Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Jonathan C. Odo
A drug is defined broadly by the World Health Organization, as “Any substance that, when taken into the living organism, may modify one or more of its functions” (WHO 1980: 1–2). The history of drug use dates back to the discovery of psychoactive properties of the poppy plant (Stimmel 1993), whose seeds and pods have been found in the remains of Stone Age settlements. The poppy plant was cultivated between 4000 and 3000 BCE by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) to provide opium, known as gil , which meant “happiness and joy.” Similarly, cannabis sativa (marijuana) has been known almost since the beginning of recorded history. Practically every human malady has been treated with this plant. For centuries, Andean peasants chewed coca leaves for mild stimulus; Africans used snuff, khat , and kola nuts for cultural rituals; and indigenous peoples throughout the Americas used plants with psychoactive properties in ...