Coca-Cola, Cronyism, and the War on Drugs

by Christopher J. O’Connell

It is well-known trivia that the original formula for Coca-Cola contained cocaine, but the lesser known history of Coca-Cola has other interesting components involving the government, cronyism, and the War on Drugs.

The first federal drug law was the Harrison Narcotics Act passed in 1914, which criminalized the unlicensed sale of cocaine and opium products. But this is not why cocaine was removed from Coca-Cola. In fact, the cocaine alkaloid was removed from the formula for coke in 1903 due to pressures from negative press against cocaine use. To avoid angering and alienating a consumer base, the company removed the narcotic component of their product.

This is what we capitalists refer to as a “market regulation,” by the way, for all of you who believe that government is needed to regulate the reckless excesses of the free market.

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