Heroin is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, meaning that it is a mind-altering drug that has no medicinal properties and is not legal in any form. Heroin comes as white heroin, black tar heroin, and brown powder heroin.
Possession or sale of any of these illegal products makes an individual subject to immediate arrest and to prosecution. This was not always the case, however. Before 1890, there were cities and states that made heroin legal for opium dens.
Opium dens were like bars, only for opium instead of alcohol. Men would go to these places to smoke opium and get high together on the premises. There were places for them to lie down as the drug took its effects. It was a socially accepted and popular activity.
In 1890, Congress committed to law an act regarding heroin and other opiates. However, it was not to illegalize them, but to tax them. It took some time before the actual banning of opiate drugs began.
In 1924, the Heroin act deemed the manufacture, distribution, and possession of heroin illegal, formally changing the previously unregulated marketing of heroin to total restriction. In 1922, the Narcotic Drug Import and Export Act tightened the restrictions further. Finally, in 1932, the Uniform State Narcotic Act pulled the states together to form a cohesive set of laws about heroin and other opiates, to protect the public as a greater whole.