TIME Crime

Homicides Are Spiking This Year After Falling for Decades

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A study says homicide rates are down. But 2015 rates—especially for gun violence—are very different.

Since 1960, U.S. homicide rates have been falling—that is, until this year. Meanwhile, intimate-partner violence and child abuse affect up to 12 million and 10 million Americans, respectively, according to a survey released Tuesday in JAMA. Taken together, it paints a bleak picture for Americans’ safety, and it has violence prevention scholars trying to figure out what led to the changes—and when.

At the annual meeting of the Major Cities Chiefs Association on Monday, police chiefs grappled with the fact that some cities are seeing a 50% increase in murders compared with last year. Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier pointed to the nation’s capital as an example: This time last year, D.C. had 69 homicides; this year, D.C. has seen at 87 homicides. Nearby Baltimore tallied 42 homicides in May alone, with 45 in July. And in Chicago, there have been 243 homicides this year so far—a 20% spike from last year.

Until 2012, “we saw decreases for homicide and aggravated assault,” says Dr. Debra Houry, a co-author of the JAMA study who works with the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “It’s promising because it shows that violence is preventable.”

Homicide rates in 1980 stood at 10.7 per 100,000; by 2013, they’d been cut in half. Aggravated assault saw a similar halving of incidences between 1992 and 2012.

But Andrew Papachristos, a professor of sociology at Yale and a criminal justice expert who has focused much of his research on Chicago’s gang and gun violence, says that JAMA‘s findings may not offer a nuanced enough picture of what’s going on in the United States, because it looks at general trends across the country. While on average crime might have fallen until to this year, some cities, such as Chicago and Milwaukee, are still facing severe problems with violence, particularly in certain areas of the city. Indeed, within cities, “the rates of violence across neighborhoods can be exponentially higher in certain areas and almost zero in others,” he says.

Policy changes can make a difference, says Papachristos. Programs that aim to decrease unemployment, particularly among African Americans, is a critical policy adjustment, he says, since unemployment is correlated with gun violence. He also cites outdated gun laws as part of the problem.

One policy bright spot was found in a study released by the American Journal of Public Health earlier this summer, which looked at Connecticut’s permit-to-purchase handgun law as a case study. The law dates to 1994 and it requires gunowners to purchase a license prior to acquiring a handgun. The state would only allow people to buy guns if they passed a background check and gun-safety course. The result? Connecticut residents can credit the law for a 40% reduction in gun-related homicides. (Of course, in a dreary statistic that illustrates Papachristos’ point, it’s not down everywhere in the state; Hartford is experiencing a massive surge in gun violence this year.)

But even with some signs of promise, any changes to law or policy might come too late for many victims of American crime this year. Criminal justice expert Rod Wheeler told Fox that America is snowballing into the most violent summer the country has seen in decades.

“I said this back in June, that we’re going to have a long, hot, bloody summer,” he said. “And unfortunately, it’s coming to pass.”

TIME NBA

Atlanta Hawks Forward Mike Scott Has Been Hit With Drug Charges

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Three
Gregory Shamus—Getty Images Mike Scott #32 of the Atlanta Hawks is called for an offensive foul on James Jones #1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second quarter during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 24, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Scott allegedly had marijuana and MDMA in his possession

Professional basketball player Mike Scott was arrested in Atlanta on drug charges Thursday, police said.

Scott, a 27-year-old backup forward for the Atlanta Hawks, was allegedly caught with more than an ounce of marijuana and 10.9 grams of MDMA or “Molly,” the Associated Press reports.

The sheriff’s office in Banks County said deputies attempted to stop an SUV driven by Scott’s younger brother Antonn for following too closely on Interstate 85 just outside Atlanta, after which they found the drugs on the NBA player when the vehicle finally pulled over after going at 98 mph for about two miles.

Scott has reportedly been charged with felony possession of marijuana and possession of a Schedule I drug, while his brother faces additional charges.

The Hawks did not comment but said they were aware of the situation.

[AP]

TIME sweden

Snoop Dogg Briefly Held in Sweden on Suspicion of Drug Possession

Snoop Dogg arrested by Swedish police
Marcus Ericsson—EPA US rapper Snoop Dogg performing in Uppsala, Sweden, on July 25, 2015.

No word yet on whether he had drugs or not

Rapper Snoop Dogg, fresh off a performance in Sweden, was stopped by police in Uppsala on suspicion of possessing drugs.

Snoop, who is on tour for his recently released album, “Bush,” was pulled over by police late on Saturday night.

“Police carrying out roadside controls noticed that Snoop Dogg [whose car was pulled over] seemed to be under the influence of narcotics. He was arrested and taken to the police station to take a urine test,” Daniel Nilsson, a spokesperson for the Uppsala police, said, according to The Guardian. “The incident lasted several minutes. Once the test was carried out he left.”

Snoop, 43, took immediately to social media to protest his arrest. He posted a video on Instagram, calling his experience “racial profiling” and apologizing to his Swedish fans, saying he would “never be back to your country, it’s been real.” (Be forewarned: all videos in this post are NSFW for language.)

Ftp 💥💥💥💥🔫✈️

A video posted by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg) on

Snoop followed the initial Instagram video posts with another one, this time in black and white and assuring his fans that he “made it through” (again, this video is NSFW for language.)

Message to my fans n fam !!

A video posted by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg) on

“They took me down there, made me pee in a cup, didn’t find s–t,” Snoop says in the grainy shot.

The rapper has had a history of using drugs. His songs often feature blatant references to his love for marijuana.

The results of the urine test were not immediately available.

 

TIME heart

This New FDA-Approved Cholesterol Drug Is a Game Changer

The FDA approved the first of a new class of drugs for treating high cholesterol. Here’s the story of how researchers went from a DNA mutation to a drug in 10 years

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs since the statins flooded the market beginning in the 1980s. Similar to the way statins work, by binding up cholesterol made in the liver so less of it circulates in the blood, this new class, called PCSK-9 inhibitors, takes advantage of genetic mutations that regulate the level of LDL receptors in the liver. Less PCSK9 leads to more LDL receptors that can soak up LDL and therefore leave less cholesterol in the blood.

The FDA approved alirocumab (Praluent), an injectable drug made by Sanofi and Regeneron, in people with familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic condition in which cholesterol levels are high, or those with a history of heart disease who can’t reduce their LDL levels enough with existing statin drugs. (Another PCSK9 inhibitor, evolocumab (Repatha) developed by Amgen, received approval in Europe but won’t be evaluated by the U.S. FDA until the end of August.)

MORE: The Next Big Drug to Treat Heart Disease

While PCSK9 drugs help to lower cholesterol, the story of how these medications developed began in a French family with the opposite problem. Their members had exceptionally high levels of LDL and greater than average rates of heart disease. But unlike others with similar cholesterol problems, this family did not have the usual mutations in cholesterol-regulating genes. Instead, French researchers studying them in 2003 found they had aberrations in PCSK9, a gene that produces a protein found primarily in the liver, kidneys and intestines.

An ocean and half a continent away, Jonathan Cohen and Dr. Helen Hobbs at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas (coincidentally the same institute where scientists discovered LDL, or the heart-disease contributing cholesterol and earned the Nobel Prize for their work), read the description of PSCK9 and wondered whether those with lower levels of PCSK9 would show the opposite effect of the French family and actually enjoy decreases in levels of LDL in the blood.

MORE: New Class of Cholesterol Drugs Shows Promise For Heart Disease

Cohen and Hobbs were involved in a large heart disease study involving nearly 15,000 participants, and decided to look for the PCSK9 mutations among their participants. They homed in on those with the highest and lowest levels of LDL cholesterol, and sequenced their genomes to see if any patterns emerged. Sure enough, they found 33 people whose LDL levels were about 40% lower than average and who shared mutations that effectively silenced PCSK9. Essentially, their LDL amounts were about the same as those who relied on statins to drop their cholesterol.

These PCSK9 mutations associated with the lowest LDL appeared predominantly in African-American participants. Those with one copy of the mutation in this gene showed an 88% lower risk of heart disease. Another mutation in the same PCSK9 gene that appeared more commonly in whites had the same effect, but to a lesser extent, dropping LDL by 15% and the risk of heart events by 47%.

“The results were quite compelling,” says Cohen, who published the findings along with his colleagues in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 2006. “They told us that PCSK9 was likely an attractive therapeutic target.” Even more encouraging, in all of the people with the mutations and lower LDL levels, there didn’t seem to be any significant side effects. For all intents and purposes, these participants were healthy and had the added advantage of being at very low risk of heart disease.

To confirm this, Cohen searched for anyone in the study with two copies of the mutation, to see if having double the effect would trigger any adverse events. He found one woman, a 32 year old daughter of one of the participants, who had two different mutations in each of the PCSK9 copies she inherited from her mother and father. The result? An LDL of 14 and no other health problems. “If you measure the amount of PCSK9 in her blood, it’s basically absent, you can’t see any,” says Cohen. That contributed to an unprecedented low level of LDL cholesterol as well.

So far, he says, only one other individual has been described with two mutant copies of PCSK9, a 21 year old woman living in south Africa with an LDL of 20.

Those descriptions piqued the interest of researchers at Regeneron, a biotech company that specializes in turning genetic discoveries like this one into drugs. To confirm and better understand the effects of PCSK9, researchers there studied the effect of human versions of PCSK9 in mice, and then began trials of antibodies they developed that inhibit the function of this gene, much like the mutations do, in several thousand people.

Those results, published in the NEJM last April, showed that PCSK9 inhibitors can lower LDL cholesterol by an additional 60% on average beyond that achieved by statins. Those findings formed the basis of the companies’ application to the FDA for approval of these first-in-class drugs.

For now, the agency says the drugs should only be prescribed to people with familial hypercholesterolemia, or those who have failed to reduce their LDL levels sufficiently using statins. For many, the new drugs will be taken in combination with statins and a heart-healthy diet. But doctors say they anticipate many patients outside of these groups, who have family histories of heart disease or other risk factors, such as hypertension or diabetes, may start asking about the medications. For them, doctors will have to weigh how well they are doing on statins before considering adding a PCSK9 inhibitor.

TIME Cancer

Top Cancer Doctors Call for Lower Drug Costs

Stethoscope checking hand holding dollar coins
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“It’s time for patients and their physicians to call for change"

A group of cancer doctors are joining grassroots organizers and politicians in pleading with pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of cancer treatments.

In an editorial that ran Thursday in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal, 118 cancer experts produced a series of recommendations they say would lead to a reduction in treatment expenses. The doctors say that one in three individuals will be burdened with cancer in their lifetime, but out-of-pocket drug costs could easily exceed the average household income of an insured patient.

Four doses of one particular cancer drug, according to a report published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2012, costs a staggering $120,000.

“It’s time for patients and their physicians to call for change,” said Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, a Mayo Clinic hematologist in a press release.

Among the recommendations are allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, permitting cancer drug imports for individual patients, and passing laws to keep drug companies from delaying access to generic drugs.

The physician’s recommendations come on the heels of a change.org petition led by patients that calls for a reduction in drug costs, particularly for cancer patients.

TIME Mexico

Mexican Prison Chief, 6 Others Arrested For El Chapo Prison Break

"El Chapo" has still not been found.

Mexican authorities arrested seven people on Wednesday in connection with the escape of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Among the arrested is Librado Carmona Garcia, the head of the maximum security prison Guzman had been housed in, according to RT.

Guzman, who was deemed “the most powerful drug lord in the world,” made headlines for his daring escape on July 13 through a one-mile long lit and ventilated tunnel that some have estimated to cost millions.

The cooperation of prison authorities was long suspected, with Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Mexico’s interior minister, saying, “Guzman must have counted on the complicity of prison personnel, which … would constitute an act of treason.”

The Mexican government has announced it is offering a 60 million peso ($3.8 million) reward for Guzman’s recapture. Guzman had previously escaped in 2001 using a laundry cart from a maximum-security prison in Jalisco.

TIME Crime

Roberto Saviano: El Chapo’s Rise to Power And His First Prison Break

Roberto Saviano is the author of Gomorrah and ZeroZeroZero

How Joaquín Guzman made his way in the cocaine trade—and into the U.S.—to become El Chapo of legend

The Sinaloa cartel is hegemonic. In Sinaloa, drugs provide jobs for everyone. Entire generations have fed themselves thanks to drugs. From peasants to politicians, police officers to slackers, the young and the old. Drugs need to be grown, stocked, transported, protected. In Sinaloa, all who are able are enlisted. The cartel operates in the Golden Triangle, and with over 160 million acres under its control, it’s the biggest cartel in all of Mexico. It manages a significant slice of U.S. cocaine traffic and distribution. Sinaloa narcos are present in more than eighty American cities, with cells primarily in Arizona, California, Texas, Chicago, and New York. They distribute Colombian cocaine on the American market. According to the Office of the United States Attorney General, between 1990 and 2008 the Sinaloa cartel was responsible for the importation and distribution of at least two hundred tons of cocaine, as well as vast quantities of heroin, into the United States.

Until El Chapo’s arrest in 2014, Sinaloa was his realm and he was viewed in the United States as having a significance akin to a head of state. Coke, marijuana, amphetamines: Most of the substances that Americans smoke, snort, or swallow have passed through his men’s hands. From 1995 to 2014 he was the big boss of the faction that emerged from the ashes of the Guadalajara clan after the Big Bang in 1989. El Chapo, aka Shorty, five feet five inches of sheer determination.

El Chapo didn’t lord it over his men, didn’t dominate them physically; he earned their trust. His real name is Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, born on April 4, 1957, in La Tuna de Badiraguato, a small village with a few hundred inhabitants in the Sierra Madre mountains in Sinaloa. Like every other man in La Tuna, Joaquín’s father was a rancher and farmer, who raised his son on beatings and farmwork.

These were the years of opium. El Chapo’s entire family was involved: a small army devoted to the cultivation of opium poppies, from dawn to dusk. El Chapo started at the bottom: Before he was allowed to follow the men along impassable roads to the poppy fields he had to stay at his mother’s side and bring his older brothers their lunch. One kilo of opium gum brought in eight thousand pesos for the family, the equivalent of seven hundred dollars today. The head of the family had to get the gum into the next step of the chain. And that step meant a city, maybe even Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa. No easy feat if you’re merely a farmer, but easier if the farmer in question, El Chapo’s father, is related to Pedro Avilés Pérez—a big-shot drug lord. The young El Chapo, having reached the age of twenty, began to see a way out of the poverty that had marked the lives of his ancestors.

At that time it was El Padrino, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, who ruled in Sinaloa: Together with his partners, Ernesto “Don Neto” Fonseca Carrillo and Rafael Caro Quintero, he controlled the coming and going of every drug shipment in Mexico. Joining the organization was a natural step for the young El Chapo, as was accepting his first real challenge: handling the drugs from the fields to the border. If you want to get to the top, you can’t take pity if someone makes a mistake, you can’t back down when underlings make excuses for not keeping to the schedule. If there was a problem, El Chapo eliminated it. If a peasant was enticed by someone with a fatter wallet, El Chapo eliminated him. If a driver with a truckload of drugs got drunk and didn’t deliver his shipment the next morning, El Chapo eliminated him. Simple and effective.

El Chapo soon proved himself trustworthy, and in a few years’ time he was one of the men closest to El Padrino. He learned many things from El Padrino, including the most important one: how to stay alive as a drug trafficker. Just like Félix Gallardo, in fact, El Chapo lived a quiet life, not too ostentatious, not too many frills. El Chapo married four times and fathered nine children, but he never surrounded himself with hordes of women.

When El Padrino was arrested and the race to find an heir began, El Chapo decided to remain loyal to his mentor. He was methodical, and didn’t flaunt his power. He wanted to keep his family beside him, wanted his blood bonds to be his armor. He moved from Sinaloa to Guadalajara, the last place El Padrino lived before his arrest, while he based his organization in Agua Prieta, a town in the state of Sonora, convenient because it borders the United States. El Chapo remained in the shadows, and from there he governed his rapidly growing empire.

Whenever he traveled, he did so incognito. People would say they’d spotted him, but it was true only one time out of a hundred. El Chapo and his men used every form of transport available to get drugs into the United States. Planes, trucks, railcars, tankers, cars. In 1993 an underground tunnel was discovered, nearly fifteen hundred feet long, 65 feet belowground. Still incomplete, it was going to connect Tijuana to San Diego.

These were years of settling scores against rivals, of escapes and murders. On May 24, 1993, Sinaloa’s rival cartel, Tijuana, recruited some trustworthy killers to strike at the heart of the Sinaloa cartel. Two important travelers were expected at the Guadalajara airport that day: El Chapo Guzmán and Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, who, as archbishop of the city, had railed constantly against the drug lords’ power. The killers knew that El Chapo was traveling in a white Mercury Grand Marquis, a must for drug barons. The cardinal was in a white Mercury Grand Marquis as well. The Tijuana hit men started shooting at what they believed to be the boss of Sinaloa’s car, and others—El Chapo’s bodyguards, maybe—returned fire. The airport parking lot suddenly became hell. The shoot-out left seven men dead, among them Cardinal Posadas Ocampo, while El Chapo managed to escape, unscathed. For years people wondered if the killers really wanted to eliminate the inconvenient cardinal, or if chance had merely played a bad joke on Posadas Ocampo that morning. It was only recently that the FBI declared the killing a tragic case of mistaken identity.

El Chapo was arrested on June 9, 1993. He continued to manage his affairs from prison with scarcely a hitch. The maximum security prison Puente Grande, where he was transferred in 1995, became his new base of operations. After eight years, however, El Chapo could no longer afford to remain behind bars: The Supreme Court had approved a law making it much easier to extradite narcos to the United States. American incarceration would mean the end of everything. So El Chapo chose the evening of January 19, 2001. The guards were bribed handsomely.

One of them—Francisco Camberos Rivera, known as El Chito, or the Silent One—opened the door to El Chapo’s cell and helped him climb into a cart of dirty laundry. They headed down unguarded hallways and through wide-open electronic doors to the inner parking lot, where only one guard was on duty. El Chapo jumped out of the cart and leaped into the trunk of a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. El Chito started it up and drove him to freedom.

El Chapo became everybody’s hero, a legend. He kept on running his cartel with the help of his closest collaborators: Ismael Zambada García, known as El Mayo; Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, known as Nacho, who was killed on July 29, 2010, during a raid by the Mexican military; and his adviser, Juan José Esparragoza Moreno, who was known as El Azul, or Blue, because of his dark complexion. These men were the undisputed princes of Mexican drug trafficking for about a decade after the Sinaloa cartel was founded in 1989.

 

Roberto Saviano is the author of Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples’s Organized Crime System and has lived under police protection since its publication in 2006. His new book, ZeroZeroZero, about the global cocaine trade, is out this month.

From ZeroZeroZero by Roberto Saviano. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Roberto Saviano, 2015.

Read next: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About El Chapo

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TIME Mexico

What to Know About Mexican Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Guzman

He escaped prison again this week

The Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has escaped a high-security Mexican prison for the second time, this time through a one-mile tunnel.

Here are six things to know about “El Chapo.”

It’s not the first time he’s escaped from prison

Guzman was arrested in February 2014, in what was heralded as a huge win for authorities who had deemed him the “most powerful drug trafficker in the world.” First arrested in 1993 in Guatemala and then extradited to Mexico, El Chapo made a legendary escape in 2001 from a maximum-security prison in Jalisco, allegedly via laundry cart.

Little is known about his childhood

As a boy, Guzman sold oranges and later dropped out of school to work alongside his father, who regularly beat him and his siblings. A Wall Street Journal profile notes that the elder Guzman may have worked on poppy farms, introducing his son to the drug trade early on.

His nickname “El Chapo” translates to “Shorty”

Guzman’s height measures at just 5 feet, six inches tall.

He came to power in 2003

It happened after the arrest of his rival, Osiel Cardenas. His cartel totaled $3 billion a year in revenue at one time, and he was named Public Enemy No. 1 in Chicago because of the drug trade’s contribution to the city’s gang problem. Guzman joined the likes of Al Capone in Windy City police circles thanks to his Sinaloa Cartel’s broad reach: According to Art Bilek of the Chicago Crime Commission, the 506 people killed in 2012 from gun violence in the city could be traced to El Chapo’s involvement in the drug and gang wars in the city.

El Chapo’s business interests are diverse

Previous cartel leaders focused purely on exporting cocaine, according to Forbes. Guzman diversified his portfolio to include marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine. He also capitalized on growing drug markets in Asia and Europe to continue building his empire.

Guzman is considered responsible for the deaths of about 34,000 people

That body count is according to a Forbes profile. When then-Mexican President Felipe Calderòn came to power in 2006, army and cartel clashes were especially violent, in a bloodbath that saw both the Mexican military and rival cartels along with Sinaloa suffer the deadliest clashes in Mexican history.

TIME Drugs

Some Antidepressants Linked to Higher Risk of Birth Defects

Drugs Prozac and Paxil are linked to certain defects in a new study

A new study finds women who used certain antidepressants could be more likely to have babies born with rare birth defects.

According to the study of 28,000 women by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain birth defects were more common among users of antidepressants Prozac and Paxil.

Prozac usage was linked to defects like misshapen skulls and Paxil was associated with defects such as intestines growing outside of the baby’s body and missing parts of the brain and skull. Both drugs were linked to heart defects, according to the study.

The study’s authors note that the risks are very small and that there is no proof that the drugs cause defects, but they did discover a link between using the drugs in early stages of pregnancy and some defects. Women were asked if they used certain antidepressants in the time just before they conceived and during the first three months of pregnancy.

The study, which was published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal, follows several studies that linked the entire class of antidepressants to defects. The study, however, did not find links with birth defects in antidepressants Celexa, Lexapro or Zoloft.

 

TIME Music

How a Drug Trade Dissolved When the Grateful Dead Stopped Touring

The Grateful Dead In Concert - Mountain View CA
Tim Mosenfelder—Getty Images Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead perform at Shoreline Amphitheatre on June 2, 1995 in Mountain View,Calif., shortly before their final concert together

July 9, 1995: The Grateful Dead play the last concert of their 30-year career

The Grateful Dead’s final show with Jerry Garcia marked the end of an era—for music lovers and acid trippers alike.

Twenty years ago today, on July 9, 1995, the consummate jam band played live for the last time at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Frontman Garcia died the following month, at 53. This past weekend, the band’s surviving members plus guest artists, including Trey Anastasio of that other jam band, Phish, commemorated the historic concert and the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s formation with a three-show tribute at the same venue.

But while fans mourned the end of the band’s 30-year run, the final show heralded another milestone: a steep decline in the use of LSD, which still hasn’t bounced back. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent—who ostensibly went to great tie-dyed lengths to blend in with what TIME estimated, in 1985, to be between 10,000 and 37,351 devoted Deadheads—discovered that, without the shows to bring acid users and their dealers together, the supply chain became irrevocably severed, per Slate. “Phish picked up part of the Dead’s fan base—and presumably vestiges of the LSD delivery system,” Ryan Grim, who later wrote a book on drug culture in America, wrote for the site in 2004. “At the end of 2000, Phish stopped touring as well, and perhaps not coincidentally, [reported LSD use] began to plummet.”

LSD had been an essential element of the Grateful Dead experience from their early days, when they were “the house band for (Ken Kesey’s) acid tests,” according to What’s That Sound?: An Introduction to Rock and Its History. And it’s worth noting that even some of the DEA’s later acid busts retained a Grateful Dead connection, such as the 2007 arrest of an Alaskan drug dealer with the words “DEAD” and “HEAD” tattooed on his knuckles—who, according to a DEA press release, “proclaimed ‘Sweet!’ when he received (a package containing LSD) from an officer posing as a postal service employee.”

The Grateful Dead’s music was more than just a soundtrack for psychedelic trips, of course. As TIME’s late film critic, Richard Corliss, noted in 1995, the band had fans far and wide—including some who presumably dropped little, if any, acid: then-Vice President Al Gore, Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, and Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, among others. Corliss added:

Though he often treated his body as a laboratory for exotic pharmacological experiments, Garcia was admired–with sensible reservations–by the nation’s most famous noninhaler, Bill Clinton. In an MTV interview last week the President called him “a great talent.”

Recently, some researchers have investigated beneficial medical uses of psychedelic drugs—but acid was only one element of Garcia’s pharmacological experiments, which also extended to the heroin he also regularly used. And while sales of LSD tanked after the Dead stopped touring, heroin has only flourished. If Garcia’s early death could be taken as a warning against long-term drug use, his celebrity gave it a glamorous luster, according to Corliss, who wrote:

In his drug taking he was a role model to some, a sacrificial totem to others. Wasn’t he killing himself to create more beautiful music? That music was often swell, and as leader of the most fan-friendly band in rock, Garcia was a sort of secular saint of pop culture. But he stuffed himself with seductive toxins–and the myth of the bohemian king–until he burst. His epitaph could be three words: Great. Full. Dead.

Read Garcia’s full obituary, here in the TIME archives: Jerry Garcia: The Trip Ends

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