TIME Magazine - Jan. 29, 1979
By the end of the seventies more than 42 million Americans had tried marijuana, which, along with cocaine, had become a billion-dollar product for farmers, smugglers and dealers from Colombia. In a 1979 cover story staff writer Walter Isaacson, later to become TIME's managing editor, offered a vivid description of how the Colombian Connection worked. He concluded pessimistically, "Current attempts to stamp out Colombia's drugs still seem to be mere stopgaps ... ineffectual against the tide of American demand for, and tolerance of, marijuana and cocaine."
Over the next decade the drug problem in America grew worse. In 1981 a team of TIME correspondents probed the popularity of cocaine across the country, calling it the "all-American drug." A 1983 cover story estimated the number of cocaine users to be as high as 20 million and rising. One of the correspondents who interviewed users for that article called the assignment his most depressing in ten years as a journalist. Source