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The New York Times July 1, 1914




Prescribes Penalties for Misuse of Privileges by Physicians and Druggists.




Many Convictions Expected---Author of Measure Hopes for Interstate Regulations.


The Boylan act, to restrict the sale of habit-forming drugs, passed by the legislature on March 28, became law at midnight. Of the million or more blanks which will be needed for the enforcement of the law, not one had reached the Health Department yesterday afternoon. Word was received, however, that the blanks would probably arrive today. The Health Department issued a notice yesterday to physicians, dentists, and veterinarians that they are to be held strictly to account for the interexchange of drugs.

The enforcement of the Boylan law at the start will be carried out as well as may be, but it was apparent yesterday that special efforts were to be made to stop the sale of opium, morphine, and heroin. The police squads under Lieut. Scheibe will continue their activities, and the new law will give them an added weapon in their fight. It was said at the office of Health Commissioner Goldwater that the only concern was to see that the blanks were distributed.

Commissioner of Corrections Katherine B. Davis anticipates a great increase in the number of prisoners committed to city institutions after the new law gets to work. These institutions are now full, and the Commissioner may ask for a room in a city-owned building near the Criminal Court Building for male prisoners caught in the anti-drug net. At the Workhouse there is a room where women may be put, but it will be necessary to evict a number of very old women who occupy that room. These women will be allowed to stay in the chapel.

Assistant District Attorney Floyd H. Wilmot, who has charge of the prosecution of drug cases, said yesterday that the police would enforce the new law. It seemed to be the opinion in the office that the duty of the Board of Health extended beyond the mere distribution of blanks. There is the keeping of records of blanks given out and the inquiry as to sales and prescriptions. Probably there will be a conference of those interested to work out plans for making the law effective.

The lawmakers neglected to appropriate money to print blanks, but through an arrangement between the State Printer and the State Department of Health the printer agreed to go ahead on the blanks and await appropriation to reimburse him.

The object of the Boylan law is to restrict the sale of all habit-forming drugs to legitimate use. Prescriptions for these drugs must be written upon specially prepared official order blanks. These blanks, serially numbered and duplicated, are furnished by the Health Department. Those who prescribe any of the interdicted drugs must record the name and address of each person for whom the drug is prescribed. Not only does the law require the seller to keep a detailed record of each sale, but the physician writing the prescription is also required to keep the same record. This list must be kept for five years and must be open for inspection by the proper authority at any time.

The Boylan law provides that not only must the prescribing physician make a physical examination of his patient before giving the prescription, but also that the druggist must verify the prescription "by telephone or otherwise." No prescription will be filled that has been made out more than ten days before the date of presentation, and the prescription becomes the property of the druggist to whom it is presented, and he is forbidden to give the patient a copy of it.

Violation of the law is a misdemeanor, and the penalty is a year's imprisonment and a fine up to $500. Any person convicted of having habit-forming drugs in his possession may, at the discretion of the Magistrate be sent to a hospital, to an insane asylum or to any correctional or public institution.

Charles B. Towns of 119 West Eighty-first Street, who framed the law, believes that for the time being it will not affect habitual drug users, who have secret channels in the underworld for obtaining supplies. It will, however, cut off the supply of those who in the past have broken no law to obtain drugs. Persons wanting the drugs will still be able to purchase outside of New York, and for this reason Mr. Towns believes there should be national legislation to restrict the traffic.

While Commissioner Davis was planning to meet the demands of the boylan law , Michael Crovata, a 24-year-old tailor, was stretched upon a cot in cell 418, fourth tier, the Tombs, enjoying the doubtful delights that are said to follow opium smoking. Beside him reposed a home-made smoking outfit.

Keeper White was making his morning round when he detected the odor of opium. Crawling along the corridor on his hands and knees he reached Crovata's cell. What he saw made him call the Warden and his assistant. They opened the door and went in. Their coming did not disturb the tailor. He was beyond terrestrial annoyances. In his hand was a briarwood pipe which had been altered to meet the wants of the opium smoker. On a chair stood an improvised lamp, made of match boxes and a twisted tin tobacco box. The box top served to shield the flame of a bit of wax candle.

Crovata has been in the Tombs for three weeks. He is charged with grand larceny in two counts. He lives at 268 First Avenue.

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