After an extensive two-year renovation, this free museum debuts compelling new exhibits on the legacy of drug use, explains how drugs can affect the body, and portrays the work of DEA agents. “The museum also covers why the DEA was established, and why it’s important to protect Americans in this way,” explains Liz Thompson, visitor services coordinator at the museum.
The museum displays a fascinating collection of drug paraphernalia and products that have had an adverse impact on the health of Americans. You learn that before 1970, packages did not have labels and sometimes contained ingredients like opium, heroin and heavy metals.
For example, a bottle of "Heroin" from 1898 was marketed as a pain reliever and cough suppressant. There’s "Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Baby Syrup" that contained opium and alcohol. “There was a lot of infant mortality and a lot of mortality in general,” says Thompson. “These products were marketed recklessly.”
As a result, legislators established the first narcotics law enforcement officers and eventually required the labeling we see today. These stories about history and culture are what make visiting the DEA Museum so interesting.