I did not know that.
Agreement was reached in principle, at the Hague in 1912, to limit the use of opium, morphine and cocaine to 'legitimate medical purposes', but in practice it was stymied by the commercial interests of Germany, the world's leading cocaine manufacturer, and Britain, which dominated the world's morphine industry. (42, emphasis added)Indeed, the process of isolating the active ingredients from coca leaves was pioneered by a Göttingen grad student, Alfred Niemann. Niemann not only named the alkaloid that he isolated 'cocaine', he also wrote his dissertation on the topic, which was published in 1860. (Niemann, sadly, died the following year.)
As H. Richard Friman observes in a 1999 essay, by the 1880s, the German pharmaceutical company Merck was the 'prime source for cocaine'.*
One of Merck's later rivals, I was interested to see, was C.H. Böhringer, which is located, not far from here, in Ingelheim am Rhein.
After the First World War, due to a variety of issues, Germany followed trends elsewhere and moved toward regulation of the drug. However, it appears to have remained a key producer of the (increasingly criminalised) drug at least through the 1920s.
Which brings me to another of the articles I ran across recently.
Ah, night cafés in Montmartre and international express trains. That's the drug underground as it should be. Better that than Scarface.Cocaine in His Socks.
Arrest of London Man Who Made Frequent Visits to Germany.
With cocaine in his socks, a Londoner living in a small Paris hotel was arrested by the Paris police in a Montmartre night restaurant.
The man, has been a frequent visitor to Berlin, coming back always with a load of flash jewellery,which he sold in Paris cafés and night restaurants.
The cocaine smugglers are busier than ever trying to bring secret stocks into France from Germany. Much of the narcotics which are thus fraudulently introduced across the French frontier eventually reach England.
Two days ago the French frontier police at Forbach found in the Wiesbaden—Paris express a huge store of contraband, of which cocaine done up in tiny glass tubes formed a large part. Eight men have been arrested, and the French police have obtained warrants against a number of German exporters.
(The Daily Mirror, 2 May 1922, 4)
These days, of course, this part of the Rhineland is far more famous for a different drug.
*'Germany and the Transformations of Cocaine, 1860-1920', in Cocaine: Global Histories, ed. Paul Gootenberg (Routledge, 1999), 83-104, p. 84.