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New York Times April 15, 1915
One effect of the Boylan anti-drug law and of the more recently enacted Federal Harrison law, coupled with the activities of Police Lieut. Henry Scherb and sixteen detectives of the "dope squad" under him, has been to deprive hundreds of habitual users of heroin and cocaine of their drugs and reduce them to a pitiful state of craving and suffering. Lieut. Scherb said yesterday that the supply of drugs in the hands of peddlers had about been used up and that, because of the laws and the watchfulness of the police, the peddlers were unable to replenish their stock.
"The result is," Lieut. Scherb said, "that the poor victims who have been getting their dope from peddlers on the street are having a pretty rough time. From every report I get there is a panic among them. Many of them are doubled up in pain at this very minute and others are running to the police and hospitals to get relief. Those who have been getting their drugs from dope doctors and fake-cure places are not so hard hit, because these traffickers have not been touched by the laws, but the poorer people, the men and women we call the 'bums,' who have always bought from street peddlers, are really up against it. The suffering among them is terrible."
Lieut. Scherb said that those who suffered from sudden deprivation of drugs did so either in ignorance or willfully, because anyone absolutely in need of a drug might be treated at any of the city hospitals. This was verified at Bellevue Hospital and the Metropolitan Hospital, on Blackwell's Island, where it was said that everyone suffering from sudden discontinuance of drugs who had applied for treatment had been received.
At the hospitals, of course, a cure is attempted in each case, but Dr. G. O'Hanlon, superintendent of Bellevue Hospital, said no patient in dire need of a drug was ever refused. The cure consists rather in gradual reduction of the dosage than in the sudden stopping of the drug.
Drug Victims at the Tombs.
Dr. Perry M. Lichtenstein, the physician of the Tombs prison, is another who has the treatment of drug victims on his hands. many drug users commit petty crimes, either stimulated by drugs or to obtain money with which to buy drugs, and as prisoners they find themselves under Dr. Lichtenstein's care. He said yesterday that he made a personal effort to cure every person addicted to the use of drugs who came into the prison, and that he never allowed anyone to suffer undue pain for the want of heroin, cocaine or any other habit-forming drugs.
The "Anti-Drug Committee," which was largely responsible for passing of the Boylan law, is taking steps to alleviate the condition of misery caused among drug users by the enactment of the law. One of the committee's measures is the establishment of a drug colony on the grounds of the proposed Inebriates' Home at Warwick, N.Y., and representatives of the committee appeared before the Finance Committee of the Board of Aldermen last Tuesday to urge the appropriation of $9,000 for the immediate transportation and care of 100 drug users. It was said yesterday that the appropriation would probably be passed by the Aldermen next week, and if the experiment is a success efforts will be made to increase the provision for drug users at the farm.
The suffering among the poorer drug users, according to the police, is intense. Lieut. Scherb said that many persons accustomed to get all the drug they wanted from illicit peddlers were now unable to obtain any and were consequently reduced to great suffering. A majority, he thought, did not know they that could be treated at the hospitals and he said he expected a rush of drug users to the city's institutions as soon as the suggestion of the hospitals had been generally disseminated.
To illustrate the extent to which the illicit supply of drugs had been reduced, Lieut. Scherb said that whereas the trade price of heroin was $6.50 an ounce, the last illicit street sale his men had stopped had been attempted on the basis of $12 for an eighth of an ounce. Also, the Lieutenant said, peddlers who formerly sold drugs are now making quick money selling useless concoctions that have the appearance of drugs with none of their vital characteristics. One man, Lieut. Scherb said made $111 in one night selling sugar of milk to frantic drug users, who paid for their purchases and allowed the peddler to get away before examining the substance sold them.
Some "Sanitariums" Give Drugs.
Dr. Lichtenstein expressed the fear yesterday that although the peddlers had been driven out of business, drug users would find a new market in the so-called sanitariums that pretended to cure the drug habit while really existing for the purpose of supplying drugs to those who wanted them.
"Prisoners who have come to me recently, " Dr. Lichtenstein said, "have told me that these fake sanitariums have begun to spring up every where since the Harrison law went into effect. they are allowed to exist by an exemption in the law. According to the law everyone who prescribes a drug must make a record of the prescription, to whom it is given and for what purpose. 'except' the law reads, 'such as may be dispensed or distributed to a patient upon whom such physician, dentist or veterinary surgeon shall personally attend.'
The Anti-Drug Committee that is back of the movement to establish the drug colony is composed of Judge Edward Swann of the Court of General Sessions; Dr. S.S. Goldwater, Commissioner of Health; Katherine B. Davis, Commissioner of Correction; Frank L. Polk, Corporation Counsel; Dr. John W. Brannan, President of Bellevue and Allied Hospitals; Dr. O.F. Lewis, Secretary of the Prison Association; Justice Cornelius F. Collins, of the Court of Special Sessions; H. Clark Barber, of the Society for the Prevention of Crime; Theodore Rousseau, secretary to the Mayor; Floyd H. Wilmot, Assistant District Attorney; Ernest K. Coulter and Charles G. Bond.
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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
Information on Alcohol
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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