Cocaine: A Drug and Its Social Evolution

When I was writing The Cartoon Guide to Recreational Drugs I scoured the local libraries and bookstores looking for useful and interesting historical works. Cocaine: A Drug and Its Social Evolution is one of my sources.

The parts I generally took notes from were either about the drugs themselves or the prohibition of drugs. You’ll find the information garnered from these books throughout the Prohibition Politics section of this site. It will also have informed some of my own postings stored in the older Prohibition Politics archive.

If you find this information useful, you will want to search out the books themselves to read the text in context. All of the books here are at least moderately interesting.


Lester Grinspoon & James B. Bakalar have written a fascinating book about the history of cocaine use, mostly in the United States.

p. 111-115

Lethal dose: According to Gutiérrez-Noriega and Zapata Ortiz, it is 20 mg/kg orally in dogs (1.4 grams for a 150 pound man), or 10-12 mg per kg subcutaneously/intravenously (700-850 mg in a 150-pound man).

“A recent experiment on mice”: LD50 of Heroin, 57 mg/kg; LD50 of heroin worsened by small amounts of cocaine, but bettered by large amounts. According to R.D. Pickett, who did the studies, “in the doses usually used by heroin addicts (equal proportions by weight of the two drugs) cocaine potentiates heroin’s lethal effect.”

LD 50 of cocaine alone in this experiment was about 2 grams intravenously in a 150-pound man.