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|The Traffic in Narcotics by Harry Anslinger|
H. J. ANSLINGER
United States Commissioner of Narcotics
WILLIAM F. TOMPKINS
United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Former Chairman, Legislative Commission to Study Narcotics, General Assembly of New Jersey
A PROGRAM OF ACTION
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION IS WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT THIS menace of drug addiction. Historically and inherently, the American people have never been faced with a difficult problem which they have been unable to surmount. Drug addiction can and will be no exception. However, like any other stubborn problem, there
is no panacea, no solution which will immediately dissipate the problem before our eyes, no magic wand which can be waved to make it vanish. During the recent upsurge in drug addiction, which, as noted elsewhere in this book had been forecast by leading authorities, many solutions have been offered by well-intentioned persons as well as by "experts" of very recent vintage. Overnight, authorities seem to have sprung up whose claim to fame is that they disagree with recognized students who have devoted their lives to the problem. And it is noteworthy that none of these so-called experts has come up with a new plan. On the contrary, these new approaches have largely consisted of untested, often discredited, or otherwise unsound plans whose disinterment hasn't contributed one iota to vanquishing this evil. An example of this is the recent suggestion that the use of narcotics be legalized. This plan is commonly known as the clinic or ration plan, and its very small group of proponents hail it as the fastest and surest way to break the illegal drug racket and conquer addiction. The history of the clinic Plan has been fully told elsewhere in this book in Chapter VIII.
Fundamentally, what is being sought under the guise of a solution appears to be a form of government subsidization of
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drug addiction--- a plan as fantastic as it is amoral. If drug addiction is an evil habit-and who will say that it is not-it should be rooted out and destroyed. And you don't put out a fire by feeding it. This plan which patently envisages compromise with vice would be foredoomed to failure. As the United States Supreme Court so well indicated, the issuance of a prescription to maintain an addict's customary use would be a perversion of the meaning of the very word itself.* Suffice it to say, this idea has never proved successful anywhere in the world, and the failure has not been from lack of trial.
Other suggestions have been advanced, such as increasing our customs service sufficiently to permit examination of all articles coming into the country. This idea is reminscent of Will Rogers' solution for the submarine menace during World War I, when he advocated drying up the ocean. When pressed for details, said Will, "I'm just supplying the solution; the mechanical details are up to the Navy."
The plain fact is that narcotics will somehow manage to seep into the country. By their very nature, they can easily be secreted. And this, despite the tremendous job that is being done by the government on both international and national levels, brings us to the question of what can and should be done.
Strong laws, good enforcement, stiff sentences, and a proper hospitalization program are the necessary foundations upon which any successful program must be predicated. These, plus an alert and determined public, will go a long way towards blotting out the problem. Probably the greatest reason for an increase in drug addiction has been the failure on the part of legislators, of police, and of other officials to observe these important fundamentals. Most important, good results can be attained by perfecting the framework of the present Federal and State laws, which are fundamentally sound.
First of all, there is no excuse for any State to have a law which is in any way weaker than the Boggs Act passed by the Congress
* Webb & Goldbaum v. U.S. 249 U.S. 96.
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in 1951. That bill provides penalties for illegal sale or possession of narcotic drugs of from two to five years for the first offense, five to ten for the second, and ten to twenty for the third. This law further provides that, except in the case of a conviction for a first offense, the imposition or execution of sentence shall not be suspended and probation or parole shall not be granted, until the minimum term provided for the offense shall have been served. In other words, it is a mandatory-sentence law in all cases except first offenses. Several States have enacted laws duplicating the Boggs Act, with New Jersey providing a wider range in its penalties, i.e., two to fifteen years for the first offense, five to twenty-five for the second, and ten to life for the third, with an added provision of two years to life for any offense where a minor is involved.
A great debate has been waged about what the penalties should be, with many suggesting a mandatory death penalty or at least a life sentence for any offense. Nobody, of course, will deny that the soul-destroying peddler should get less, or that such a penalty is not commensurate with the offense. However, a good deal of this demand for extreme mandatory sentences, it might be added, has stemmed from the fact that some judges have handed out ridiculously low sentences (the peddlers call them "vacations"), and some prosecutors have accepted "bargain pleas" to lesser offenses. For example, Isaac P. was fined $25.00 and costs for possession of 17,000 grains of marihuana-enough to make over 5,000 cigarettes-enough to do irreparable harm to any community and its youth. The following year he was convicted of raping a ten year old girl while under marihuana intoxication. In one of our western states, Robert M. pleaded guilty to furnishing marihuana to two fifteen-year-old girls, and faced a five years to life sentence. However, he was permitted to retract his plea of guilty and plead to the lesser offense of possession, for which he received six months in the county jail.
An aroused citizenry has become thoroughly disillusioned and discouraged by incidents which indicate a tendency on the part of some officials to compromise on crime, particularly regarding the murderous drug peddler for whom they feel right in demanding
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penalties that are swift, sure, and stringent--- a demand on the part of the public for mandatory laws.
The wide range and flexibility of the New Jersey law provides a good solution for the various divergent philosophies. Under it the youthful offender can get care, treatment, and rehabilitation; the destroying peddler, a severe sentence. The mandatory features applicable to second and third offenders should serve as a deterrent to those previously convicted.
BASIC REQUIREMENT FOR EFFECTIVE LAW
To make a law-such as New Jersey's-function, and to prevent any abuses, the following principles must be observed:
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Minnesota and Wisconsin have excellent laws providing for the commitment of addicts for the treatment of drug addiction without giving the addict a criminal record. The following law is patterned after the commitment law in those states, where addiction has been reduced to a minimum, or about 1 addict in every 25,000 of the population:
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The nature of the illegal narcotics traffic requires a combination of individuals, and this combination includes the vicious figures of the traffic, the higher-ups, the peddlers, and the pushers. Therein is found the hierarchy of the underworld, and taken together they represent a far more formidable threat to society than the individual offender. Furthermore, in all probability the greatest opportunity to convict these individuals would be under a conspiracy indictment. Therefore the penalty for conspiracy to violate the laws relating to narcotics should be made in every case a felony.
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In recent years a revision of the Mexican Penal Act established a new definition entitled "proselytism with regard to narcotic drugs," with the provision covering two basic aspects: instigating the use of narcotic drug, that is, inducing a person to begin or continue to use narcotics; and procuring the commission of acts connected with the production and manufacture of narcotic drugs. The act specifically refers to "any act of general provocation for illicit instigation, persuasion or aid to another person in the use of narcotic drugs or seeds or plants of the same character" and further provides if the person concerned is a minor or under a disability or if the offender takes advantage of his influence or authority the penalty shall be greater. Presently two states, California and New Jersey, have laws similar to the Mexican law. The California act provides for a penalty of five years to life for the first offense of dealing in narcotics with a minor and ten years to life for any subsequent offense. The New Jersey law is more closely patterned after the Mexican law and provides that "any person who induces or persuades any other person to use any narcotic drug unlawfully, or aids or contributes to such use of any narcotic drug by another person, or contributes to the addiction of any other person to the unlawful use of any narcotic drug, is guilty of a high misdemeanor." A broad law such as the New Jersey act, which carries a strong penalty, should be of immeasurable assistance to prosecutors, particularly in cases involving teenagers.
Before leaving this subject of proselytism in drug addiction, it is interesting to note that the passage of the New Jersey law was the direct result of a horrible case which occurred in a neighboring state, wherein a young mother was given an overdose of heroin, which killed her. Her body was put in a trunk and dumped on the grounds of an estate nearby. When the culprit was arrested it was found that the only thing for which he could be prosecuted was for transporting a dead body without a health permit, for which offense he received the maximum sentence of thirty days.
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LEVELS OF ENFORCEMENT
In order to secure good enforcement, there must be more state activity in the field, as well as in the larger cities. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics has been the cornerstone of the fight against the illicit traffic, but it should be remembered that its force consists of only about 275 men, a force certainly insufficient in number to police the streets of any medium-sized city. By policing the streets, of course, is meant handling the consumer who is the source of many other crimes and a menace to the health and welfare of the community. If we are to make an all-out offensive it means that the states and municipalities must assume their proper responsibilities. If that is done it will leave the Federal Bureau of Narcotics free to concentrate its major efforts on large scale national and international traffickers. Some States, including California and Pennsylvania, have met their obligation and have formed excellent Bureaus of Narcotics. New Jersey, in the Spring of 1951, created the first specialized narcotic squad in their State Police organization. These men were selected, screened, and trained by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a training which any State may secure. With its creation the State made available the necessary funds for the purchase of the equipment essential for the task. Among other things the equipment included automobiles with 3-way radios, walkie-talkies, cameras with telescopic lens, ultra-violet light equipment, and tape recorders. It is more than interesting to note that since this squad has been active Federal violations reported in New Jersey have fallen off over 50 percent, which is far the best showing made by any State where the problem was serious.
However, the best method of combating the street peddlers and the addicts who are the principal source of contamination is by having the larger cities set up specialized narcotic squads. Los Angeles took the initiative and was the first to establish an adequate narcotic squad. Since that time, however, cities such as New York, Newark, Chicago, and other metropolitan centers have established such groups. The records of arrests bear silent witness to the splendid jobs they have done.
A further suggestion would be that some centralized agency
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maintain a rogues gallery of major interstate racketeers and systematically collect, correlate, and disseminate information concerning them, a procedure similar to that of the Treasury Department, which maintains lists of major narcotic suspects. Often the operations of big-time racketeers are so diverse and so extensive geographically that few individual local officers can comprehend their magnitude or realize the significance of the small segment which is within their ken. A device of this sort which would spot-light the operations of a major criminal would prove most helpful.
Implicit in the foregoing suggestion is the very desirable element of complete cooperation between State, local, and Federal authorities. The various groups cannot afford to operate independently of each other. Sometimes that cooperation has been built on personal associations and therefore might tend to break down when the individuals concerned leave office. If that be the case, legislators should step in to insure permanent cooperation through legislation, since there can be nothing more deadly to the fight which must be waged against the illicit narcotic traffic than to have things come to a point where the various agencies instead of working in harmony are concealing information from each other and interfering with the investigation of another agency's case.
Any authority on drug addiction will agree that it is impossible for an addict to deny himself drugs, and that he must receive treatment in a drug-free environment where the addict can be kept in and the drug out. It is of vital importance, furthermore, to get the addict off the streets because as long as he is on the streets he is making other addicts. It is almost axiomatic that each addict will probably cause four other persons to become addicts and these four will make sixteen others, a progression of grave concern to any community. In addition to spreading physical destruction and moral degradation in their wake, addicts are also the source of such crimes as burglary, carrying concealed weapons, felonious assault, shoplifting, grand and petty larceny, robbery, receiving stolen property, unlawful entry, forgery, vagrancy and prostitution, and disorderly conduct. An addict is not a normal, healthy individual capable of following
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a legitimate occupation while addicted to narcotic drugs and must, therefore, engage in criminal activities to obtain the funds with which to supply his narcotics. Thus he maintains his habit at the expense of the community.
Accordingly, it is imperative that each state have a law that a drug addict submit to treatment, and provide the facilities for such treatment. Both are necessary because too frequently when a drug addict is arrested he is sent off to a county jail or penitentiary, a practice which experts unanimously decry. In this connection it is noteworthy that the New Jersey investigation disclosed the fact that many of the young people who were using drugs were week-end addicts, and that true addiction had not set in. All of the members of this Commission were in complete agreement that the chances of rehabilitating these young people were excellent, provided the proper hospital facilities, adequate mental health services, and a program of follow-up care were established. As the Newark (N.J.) Evening News so wisely editorialized, "If anyone knows of a better investment for the tax dollar than the reclamation of young people who have fallen victim to narcotics it has not yet come to our notice."
There is nothing sensational in the suggestions contained herein. Many people feel that to succeed some new and different approach must be made. Many feel that a program is valueless unless a new and different twist is added. Others have resurrected such ideas as the discredited ration plan. However, strict adherence to the fundamentals of narcotics control can and will supply the answer to the problem. The best analogy is that a well-coached football team, crisp in its blocking, sharp in its tackling and well-drilled in all the fundamentals, rarely loses a game. A strict adherence to all of these fundamentals of control, together with the complete backing of an aware and determined public, will enable this country to stamp out the narcotic traffic.
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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