— particularly of the "New Wave" of The Sixties
and The Seventies
— assumed that increasing liberalization of drugs would continue and that drugs currently banned would become not only legal but also as popular and commonplace as alcohol and tobacco are (or were, now that tobacco is becoming more stigmatized). Usually the drugs in question are "soft" drugs like marijuana and the hallucinogens (particularly LSD) rather than cocaine or heroin; often Fantastic Drugs
are part of the mix as well. Some works decide to be ironic and legalize currently illegal drugs, but have alcohol and tobacco banned.
Unlike Government Drug Enforcement
, there is no compulsion to take such drugs, and May Contain Evil
doesn't necessarily come up (unless a new drug is luring people away from the popular stuff).
This is somewhere between a Discredited Trope
and a Forgotten Trope
these days, what with Drugs Are Bad
having been enforced
in recent years. Could come back as marijuana legalization gets more discussion, or remain the occasional Author Appeal
topic; the most common being, "If drugs were legal, they'd be too cheap to commit crimes over."
Contrast with Eternal Prohibition
- Transmetropolitan, which leans heavily on the science fiction of this era for inspiration and setting, runs on this trope. It seems like everyone does drugs all the time. It helps that they can fix any potential health effect. They're still illegal; it's just that almost nobody cares. They're still not good for you either, if certain descriptions of Spider's really bad days are to be taken at face value.
- Paul Pope's 100% which is set in the near future, where marijuana cigarettes are legal.
- Bug Jack Barron: Jack's talk show is sponsored primarily by Acapulco Golds, "America's Premium Marijuana Cigarettes" (the book was written when cigarette ads were still legal on U.S. television). Tobacco is illegal.
- A Clockwork Orange: Mescaline (or a synthesized form) is apparently legal since you can get it added to your yummy glass of moloko.
- The titular Culture of The Culture novels. "Drug glands" are in-built in most Culture biological citizens, and other ways of shooting for the rainbow exist, and are completely legal.
- Often subverted, averted, or stomped upon in any Cyber Punk setting. And they usually do have more than one drug.
- The War Against the Chtorr series by David Gerrold, who goes to some trouble to portray a society that's changed both technology-wise and socially. Legal marijuana farms and over-the-counter recreational drugs are mentioned.
- Several Philip K. Dick stories have the characters smoking brand-name marijuana cigarettes.
- The Stainless Steel Rat pops whatever pill he needs to get the job done, and although he's a criminal there's no mention of any of them being illegal.
- On Nulapeiron, the setting for John Meaney's books Paradox, Context and Resolution, there doesn't seem to be any substance controls, and many different recreational chemicals are commercially available including many sophisticated materials that act upon the mind to induce dream states and the like. Marijuana and alcohol seem to be the most common, and no-one appears to smoke tobacco.
- Humorously played in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Alien Bodies: Sam Jones, in the near future and surrounded by aliens, focuses on a cigarette packet as a "normal" thing. Then she notices it says "CLOUD NINE — The original cannabis cigarette". As smoked by UNISYC troopers. When she mentions the one time she got stoned, the future soldier the cigarettes belong to replies "One time? Are you sure you're human?"
- Inverted in John Varley's Gaea Trilogy, in which a member of a NASA expedition to Saturn grumbles when he's cut off from his pipe tobacco. If the notion of NASA letting an astronaut contaminate a space vessel's limited air supply with secondhand smoke doesn't make this seem ridiculous, consider that the same spaceship's captain gripes about losing her own recreational supply of cocaine.
- In Gabrielle Zevin's All The Things Ive Done, this is played with. Teens can drink all the alcohol they want, it's chocolate and other caffeine products that are banned.
- In the Marid Audran series by George Alec Effinger, it's never made clear whether the drugs are actually legal, or if the cops simply don't care what people do to themselves in the Budayeen. Nevertheless, drugs flow like water in the series. Audran is constantly taking speed ("tri-phets") or opiates ("sunnies"), which don't always mix well with his heavy alcohol consumption. At one point, when he's given a ride in a police car back from the station, he buys some pills off the cop who is driving.
- Brave New World. A hallucinogen called soma was specifically developed by the government as an ideal recreational drug and its use is encouraged. That's right, "Just Say Yes", foolish masses! A gramme is better than a damn. In fact, they don't even have money anymore (at least we don't see it), people are just paid (by the government) in soma. When a couple of characters decide that maybe keeping everyone dosed and drugged all the time is bad, they try to disrupt one of the weekly distributions of soma. A riot breaks out when the workers realize what they are up to.
- Dune. The society and economy of the known galaxy revolves around the spice melange, which extends peoples life span, unlocks psychic abilities, and is good in pastries. The only down side is people will have blue eyes from overuse of it - and addicts always die if they get cut off.
- In Variable Star marijuana is openly grown on the Sheffield's farm deck as well as some genetically engineered drugs. Opium is still illegal though.
- Caprica mentions a recent passing revelation that drugs have been legalized so as to quash any criminal market that may exist for them. Presumably that was a hook for a future plotline about the Ha'la'tha losing income and getting desperate (or going legitimate, leaving Sam Adama out of a job), but obviously we'll never know because the show was unceremoniously cancelled.
- In the second season of War of the Worlds, set Twenty Minutes into the Future: narcotics have been recently legalized, but this is presented as a symptom of the societal collapse that is in progress.
- Legality varies greatly by habitat but drugs are very much a part of life in Eclipse Phase. The only "modern" drug featured is orbital hash but post-singularity narcotics range from bananas that decrease radiation damage to nanite-laced flowers that put you in a very trippy virtual reality.
- Mortasheen - due to the titular city not really having any laws. There's even a monster, Jitter, specifically made for dispensing narcotics.
- Over the Edge - Not only are drugs legal in Al Amarja, but there are some gloriously weird examples of Fantastic Drug too.
- Shadowrun - modern drugs have fallen out of favor due to the development of cheap, clean "simsense" programs. Why shoot or snort thousands of dollars in imported plant extracts which can be detected by testing urine or hair when you can experience exponentially more just by slotting a memory stick into your Unusual User Interface?
- In Mass Effect, drugs are mentioned regularly. Red Sand and Hallex are both illegal narcotics of some kind (the former sounds like space cocaine and the latter like space ecstasy), and there's a substance called Minagen X3 encountered in a mission that makes your biotics unstable if you come in contact with it. Red Sand is related to minagen since they are both biotic inducing agents; red sand also melts your brain like minagen. Hallex isn't really illegal... what with it being Omega and all. You can also legally purchase Red Sand on Illium from a licensed provider.
Stims are mentioned several times as legal, and are common among military types. One mission has you getting some kind of stimulant for a human trade negotiator (who seems addicted). The product is legal, but he already used his monthly dose and isn't allowed any more. You can get him the stim or trick him by switching it for a tranquilizer.
- Futurama swings back and forth on this depending on which is funnier. Bender smokes and drinks constantly. The alcohol is justified in that robots use it as fuel, and Bender will act "drunk" if he hasn't had a drink in a while. As for the cigars, "they make me look cool." The existence of other drugs is suggested. In "My Three Suns", for example, a junkie tries to buy crack from a vending machine that sells "Refreshing Crack" (but the bottle catches on the spring), and in "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television", Farnsworth's and Hermes' kids are caught with one of Hermes' "cigars".
Bizarrely, cocaine seems to be legal, as it is openly sold in vending machines. However, marijuana seems to be still illegal, as Hermes makes frequent references to "flushing things", and "that's not a cigar...and it's not mine"; in the election episode, there's also a lobby for the legalization of hemp. The episode "Three Hundred Big Boys" has the same junkie say "No more cheap crack-houses for me!", and head for a huge building with a large sign reading "CRACK MANSION".
- In the Narm-tastic PSA The Drug Avengers the main reason humans are kept out of The Federation is because people still use drugs on Earth.