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The New York Times June 6, 1916
Supreme Court Decides It Only Applies to Those Who Deal in Drugs.

WASHINGTON, JUNE 5 --- The Supreme Court has interpreted the Harrison Federal Drug Act of 1914, making it unlawful for any person not registered under the law to have opium in his possession as applying only to those who deal in the drug and not to those who use it.
President Wilson signed the Harrison act on Dec. 17, 1914 and it became effective on March 1, 1915. Its provisions were held to apply in the same manner as the New York State law known as the Boylan act, which is now enforced here under the personal liability clause of the measure, applying penalties to the user and seller for any violation. Under the State law it is a violation to have forbidden narcotics in one's possession except in the case of a prescription or registration to sell.

Charles B. Towns, 293 Central Park West, one of the experts who drafted important features of the State law and the Harrison bill, made this comment on the decision:

"The ruling of the Federal court is upon one of its most important features. Under this ruling a user of narcotics may have a barrel of poisonous and habit-forming drugs in his possession without being subject to personal liability to the law, or even to tell where he obtained the drugs. While the State law covers this point in New York, it opens the way in other States for return of the old abuses and makes it easy for the user to continue the habit. It is a very serious conflict with the provisions of the New York State law.

"The national law should be equally effective, if any actual reform is to be accomplished throughout the country, because of the ease with which opium and other drugs may be smuggled into the United States. Opium and other narcotics purchasable without regulation in Canada are easily smuggled across the wide and unprotected border. It is sent also from Cuba and Porto Rico.


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