Who invented crack?
By Aaron Young
No one knows for sure who invented crack cocaine; there are numerous rumors, from a drug dealer’s accident to president Ronald Reagan and the CIA. Most of the possibilities are in fact possible, depending on the point of view you might have. In fact, a combination of the rumors is likely to be the truth.
Although the invention of crack is the question, it is important for you to know what crack is. Crack is actually a less pure variety of free-base cocaine. Unlike old-fashioned free-base, however, its production doesn't involve any flammable solvents. Unlike the hydrochloride salt, free base cocaine vaporizes at a low temperature. This makes it suitable for smoking.
Crack is usually made by mixing two parts of cocaine hydrochloride with one part baking soda (sodium bicarbonate: NaHC03) in about 20 ml of water. The solution is then heated gently until white precipitates form. Heating is halted when precipitation stops. The precipitate is filtered and retained. The precipitate may then be washed with water; this procedure is usually omitted in the street product. The product may then be dried for 24 hours under a heat-lamp. Crack is then cut or broken into small 'rocks' weighing a few tenths of a gram (1).
When asked the question “who invented crack”, many will say people have smoked cocaine since cocaine was discovered. They would be right, however it was not crack they where smoking. Before the invention of crack, people would smoke cocaine in a process called freebasing. Using ammonia (and ether) to free the cocaine base from cocaine hydrochloride (regular cocaine) results in a substance called freebase cocaine. This form of freeing the base is more time consuming and dangerous than making crack, but the result is more pure, and can give a larger yield than converting the same amount of cocaine to crack would.
One story credits its discovery to a chemist of the Cali cartel. An early epidemic of...