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The New York Times April 11, 1919
Sixty or more drug addicts visited the drug addiction clinic opened yesterday by the Department of health at 139 Centre Street, and during the day about seventy-five addicts applied for relief at the Community Clearing House for addicts at 217 East Twenty-second Street. They were all sent to special wards in St. Luke's, Flower, Bellevue, and Roosevelt Hospitals.
One of the first to apply for help was a middle-aged woman apparently in moderate circumstances. She said she was married and had two children, and that her husband had been a drug addict for six years. Last Fall she developed influenza, and to ease her sufferings began to take some of the drug which was lying around the house. She said yesterday that both she and her husband wished to be cured and provision was made to care for the children while the parents are in an institution.
Another was young chap who admitted that he had started on heroin when he was seventeen years old. He said the boys he went around with began to use the drug, which was obtained by a boy who was employed in a drug store. He said that he had obtained a ninety days' leave from the New York Central Railroad, where he worked as a brakeman, in order to take the cure. He will go to a hospital on Monday.
There was the case of a married woman, employed as a ticket chopper by the B.R.T., who began to take morphine a year ago, and the case of a widower who took to drugs fifteen years ago. Most of those who applied told readily where they had obtained their drugs, naming in some instances physicians hitherto unsuspected. One thing that impressed those at the health clinic and at the clearing house was the number of young men who declared that they had formed the drug habit at dance halls, taking the stimulant in order to have "more pep," as they expressed it.
A prepared statement issued by Dr. Copeland was as follows:
"From the health standpoint there are several things we have to considering connection with the drug evil. The first and the most important is the care of the wrecks.
"This problem has been put squarely up to this department a little sooner than I had anticipated, because of the raids which left hundreds of these poor unfortunates without physicians or without sources of supply to which they could turn. It would be brutal to leave these men and the few women who have applied to suffer from lack of attention.
"During the day we have cared for about seventy-five of these addicts. We have taken their histories, have made as thorough a physical examination as has been possible, and have begun in each case treatment which we hope will restore a large number of them yo health and self-respect. Any one who has witnessed the line of emaciated, trembling, hollow-eyed men and women which has passed through the door of our emergency clinic today, and who will remember that these are only a part of the patients of a half dozen doctors, can recognize to what extent this evil has developed in the City of New York, and this condition which they are facing has not yet brought to the clinic all of the addicts who were formerly supplied by these doctors. The younger men and women, and those whose finer sensibilities have not been dulled, have shrunk from public appearance and have tried in various ways to obtain supplies of the drug.
Last Day's Pay to Get Drugs.
Dr. Copeland expressed his conviction that stocks of hidden drugs would be running low by this morning and that today and tonight he expected a rush at the clinic. He reiterated his warning that some victims may break out into violence and said that the Police Department was taking special precautions.
A conference to discuss the scope of the drug evil and to devise means of fighting it was held yesterday in the office of health Commissioner Copeland while by twos and threes, unfortunate victims of the traffic, came to the Commissioner's offices or to the relief station at 217 East Twenty second Street,seeking the opiates of which they had been deprived by Tuesday's raids.
Those at the meeting were the members of the Public Health Committees, of the county medical societies of New York, Bronx, Richmond, and Queens, all under the Chairmanship of Dr. E. Elliott Harris of the New York organization; Mayor Daniel L. Porter, directing the fight for the Government, and ex-State Senator George H. Whitney, Deputy Commissioner of the State Narcotics Commission.
According to commissioner Whitney the records of his organization show that in the last thirty days, forty New York physicians applied for 160,000 of the triplicate forms which the commission requires to be used in issuing prescriptions of drugs. One of the blanks is retained by the physician, one is kept by the druggist, and the third is forwarded to the State, so that in regular practice a watch can be maintained.
An amplification of the statement published yesterday that 1,500,000 illicit prescriptions had been filled was offered by Major Porter. He said that in less than six months three physicians had written more than a million illegal orders. One doctor, he said, had prescribed for 271 addicts in two hours, this physician's professional equipment consisting "of a box and one chair." Major Porter characterized the drug habit as "the biggest problem of the nation." It was ascertained that Major Porter's present duty is only temporary and that he has already been chosen to enforce prohibition in this city.
Made 500 Per Cent Profit.
"The druggists who are under arrest," said Dr. Copeland, "were getting from $80 to $100 an ounce for cocaine and about $65 an ounce for heroin, about 500 per cent profit. An after result of the raids came to me this morning when nine persons called at my house in an effort to obtain drugs. They were of what I may call the"high grade" addict, those who make every effort to conceal their affliction and continue at work.
"One of the purposes of today's conference was to define what constitutes a drug addict. The conference finally accepted this definition; One who requires or demands the daily administration of a narcotic for a longer period than three weeks. The average addict takes from 10 to 20 grains a day; of course there are some who take as high as 60 grains. Having defined for purely administrative purposes, what constitutes and addiction, the State Narcotic Commission can go ahead and determine how and when to deal with them.
"Those who still think that the practice of taking habit-forming drugs is a small thing and greatly exaggerated should know that in last January alone the demand upon the wholesale drug dealers was more than the demand for the entire year of 1918. IN February the demand took such a leap that the wholesalers were compelled to put in effect restrictions limiting the amount to be sold to each person.
"One thing I'd like to emphasize," he continued, "is that the legitimate practitioner has nothing to fear. In fact, we want them to cooperate in treating those persons who now find that they can no longer have recourse to the illicit and unscrupulous physicians."
Dr. Copeland said that the Police Department had informed him that the drug peddlers, for a time practically extinct, were again reappearing on the streets. He said that apparently these men knew that the illicit prescriptionists were running to cover and that they could reap a harvest on the streets. He disclosed that great quantities of opiates were being smuggled into the country. He said that recently a plan much used by the smugglers had been brought to light. He said that smugglers had been found operating across the Mexican border and that they would go into Mexico and get morphine. They would then dissolve the drug in a pail of water strip off their suits, and soak them in the water. When the clothes were dry, the smugglers would don them and cross into the States, put the suit in water, evaporate the water, and regain the morphine. He said that auto tires were also being filled up with drugs.
Arrest Doctors in Brooklyn.
Internal Revenue agents aided by United States marshal Power and Detective Boyle, Higgins, and Moog of the Narcotic Squad, last night conducted a raid in Brooklyn, arresting two physicians, three druggists, and an addict. The addict was taken to the bedford Avenue Station and then to Kings county Hospital for treatment, while the others were arraigned before United States Commissioner Michael F. McGoldrick and held in $2,000 bond for hearing on April 15.
The physicians arrested were Dr. Samuel Swetnich of 284 South Fourth Street and Dr. Emille F. Iorlo of 1,810 Eastern Parkway. The druggists were Srol Krulevetsky of 196 Roebling Street, Louis P. Moses of 6 Sumner Avenue, and George H. Balloss of 92 Liberty Avenue. The doctors were charged in Commissioner McGoldrick's warrants with illegally prescribing, the druggists with illicit selling.
The same method of obtaining evidence was followed in Brooklyn as lead up to the raids in Manhattan, the detectives and agents posing as drug seekers. While the raiders were at the home of Dr. Swetnich, the addict arrested, Frank Robutz, 22 years old, of 148 North Ninth Street came in and asked for a drug. When it was refused he almost collapsed. While the detectives were in the Balloss store two young women bearing prescriptions issued in Manhattan entered and when questioned they left the store hurriedly. According to the Federal agents, the records seized in the drug stores showed that 4,000 prescriptions had been filled in six months, in some cases the druggists averaging sixty prescriptions a day.
Physicians Association Protests.
At a meeting of the Physicians' Protective Association, held last night at the Harlem Board of Trade, Lenox Avenue and 125th Street, a resolution was adopted unanimously protesting against the raids against the traffic in habit-forming drugs. The resolution was introduced by Dr. John P. Davin of 117 West Seventy-sixth Street, and it denounced the action of the board of Health and the Federal agents, contending that the section of the Harrison anti-narcotic law which demands that physicians shall reduce the amount of drugs administered is "a fallacy."
Asserting that such a ruling had driven "unnumbered victims" to suicide and to the underworld, the resolution closed with the statement that the doctors' organization would uphold the right of practitioners of medicine to prescribe for the disease of drug addiction, unhampered by a rule of treatment laid down by any court of law. Dr. Davin declared at the meeting that it was impossible for any court to decide that a physician in order to show good faith, should reduce the quantity of the drug ordered for a patient with each prescription.
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Schaffer Library of Drug Policy
Major Studies of Drug and Drug Policy
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - The Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
Licit and Illicit Drugs
Short History of the Marijuana Laws
The Drug Hang-Up
Congressional Transcripts of the Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
Frequently Asked Questions About Drugs
Basic Facts About the Drug War
Charts and Graphs about Drugs
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Guide to Heroin - Frequently Asked Questions About Heroin
LSD, Mescaline, and Psychedelics
Drugs and Driving
Children and Drugs
Drug Abuse Treatment Resource List
American Society for Action on Pain
Let Us Pay Taxes
Marijuana Business News
Reefer Madness Collection
Medical Marijuana Throughout History
Drug Legalization Debate
Legal History of American Marijuana Prohibition
Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years
DEA Ruling on Medical Marijuana
Legal References on Drugs
GAO Documents on Drugs
Response to the Drug Enforcement Agency
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