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The New York Times January 17, 1913


Provides 7-Year Term for Sale or Possession by Unlicensed Persons---One Year Now


Who can Sell Only in Solution, and Doctors Cannot Keep More Than One Ounce---Approved by Many

A bill making the sale or possession of cocaine by any unlicensed person in this city a felony, punishable by seven years' imprisonment, has been prepared by Assistant District Attorney James A. Delehanty, and, having received the indorsement of two Judges of General Sessions, as well as many doctors and druggists, will be introduced in the Assembly next Monday or Tuesday.

This bill was drafted at the urgent request of those who have been waging a war against the unlawful sale of cocaine, and was indorsed by Judge Edward Swann of General Sessions after it became apparent that the present law was ineffectual in putting an end to the traffic. In order that no part of the bill might be found unconstitutional, Mr. Delehanty submitted it to Judge Otto A. Rosalsky in General Sessions, who passed on it and said that the drafters of the bill need have nothing to fear on that score.

The bill is indorsed by Clarence A. Bigelow of the State Board of Pharmacy, Dr. H.C. Lovis of the firm of Seabury & Johnson, manufacturers of chemicals at 59 Maiden Lane; Thomas F. Main, President of the wholesale drug firm of Tarrant & Co. At 164 Chambers Street; W.J. Schieffelin of Schieffelin & Co., manufacturing chemists, and one of the oldest firms in the United States; Frank Holliday, general agent of the national Wholesale Druggist's Association; Father James B. Curry of St. James Rectory, 23 Oliver Street, and Dr. Brooks H. Wells, President of the County Medical Society. A copy of the bill has been sent to District Attorney James C. Cropsey of Kings County.

Father Curry says that he considers the bill a great improvement on the old law, which, while it made the sale of cocaine a felony, established a punishment of not more than one year in the penitentiary or a fine of $5,000. Father Curry said that he believed it was a great improvement over the old law, also in that it struck directly at the wholesaler and unscrupulous doctor. The present law was passed in 1907 and was amended to make possession of cocaine a misdemeanor in 1910.

The bill drafted by Mr. Delehanty not only makes the sale of the drug a felony and possession of it by an unauthorized person a felony, but even goes so far as to make it a misdemeanor for any licensed druggist to have more than five ounces of cocaine in his store at any one time. The punishment is made seven years in prison for the felony charge, and one year in the penitentiary and a fine of $5,000 under the misdemeanor section.

In limiting druggists to five ounces of cocaine the bill further states that they shall keep the cocaine in one place and shall also keep a record of every sale and cannot sell flake or crystal cocaine free, but must put it in a solution or ointment which shall not contain over 4 per cent cocaine. The bill also provides that the druggist shall keep each prescription for cocaine solutions offered and shall not refill the prescription. The bill also limits the sale of a solution to one ounce bottles.

The bill provides that doctors, dentists and veterinarians must not keep more than one ounce of cocaine in their possession at any one time, and must keep a complete record of any disposition of the drug. They must also have their books opened to examination at all times. The bill provides as follows:

"It is made presumptive evidence of an illegal sale if the amount shown by the amount on hand, plus the amount legally dispensed with, does not tally with the amount shown to have been purchased by the retailer."

The failure to abide by this section is made a misdemeanor.

In attempting to stop the sale of the drug in large quantities by wholesalers the new bill provides that the wholesaler must keep a complete record of the sale of every ounce of cocaine. This record must include the name of the buyer, his occupation, and the amount purchased. Provision is also made for an inspection of these books by the Board of Health, agents of the County Medical Society, and regular members of the police force. It is also required that at the time of the purchase the retailer must tell where the cocaine is to be kept, so that it can be easily traced. Failure to abide by any of these regulations is made a misdemeanor.

The bill also provides that in cases where a person is clearly shown to be a user of the drug the Judge shall use his discretion in passing sentence. It also provides that each package of cocaine shall bear a serial number while in transit, and that all provisions of the law must be fulfilled within thirty days after passage.

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