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          The Addict and the Law


                            By Alfred R. Lindesmith

                             Washington Post, 1961    


         Introduction | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10  



"An editorial entitled “Dismantling a Narcotic Theory,” in the Wall Street Journal early in 1964 commented favorably on the recommendation of the President’s Advisory Commission that the Federal Bureau of Narcotics be eliminated in its present form and that its functions be turned over to other agencies.’ The Bureau, said the editorial, “has become a symbol of a single theory of dealing with drug addiction. This theory rests on the premise that addiction is a crime and, for all practical purposes, little more than that.” Observing that this theory has been followed by the government for nearly half a century, the Wall Street Journal suggests that it be dismantled along with the Bureau of Narcotics. As presently organized the Bureau depends for its very existence upon the status quo, and it is therefore easy to understand that ‘it has come to be the symbol of a punitive approach and the most important and influential obstacle to reform.
Mr. Harry J. Anslinger became head of the Bureau when it was first organized in 1930 and was not replaced until 1962, when Henry L. Giordano was named as his successor. The new head has given some indications of a more flexible and liberal position but in the main seems to share the views of Mr. Anslinger. Even if Mr. Giordano wished to after the public image of the Bureau it would be a difficult matter after the thirty-two-year reign of his predecessor. The Bureau’s policy of harassing and intimidating those who disagreed with its views appears to have been largely abandoned by the new Commissioner, who has also initiated a policy in 1962 of listing new publications even when they are not in line with the Bureau’s views.2 On the other hand, as late as 1963 a district supervisor of the Bureau told the writer that he attended all publicly announced speeches given in his area by two prominent critics of the Bureau’s position. This may perhaps be defended on the ground that the Bureau needs to keep itself informed of latest developments and new research, although this could also be done through the mail.
Under the reign of Commissioner Anslinger, any individual investigator who found himself at odds with the comprehensive official line laid down by the Bureau had to contend with the solid, monolithic phalanxes of the government bureaucracy. The latter, with the mass Media and government printing presses available to them, could readily brand the heretic as an irresponsible "self appointed expert,” or inspire a stooge to attack him or to label his work “unscientific.” As 2 result, discussion of the narcotics question during the Anslinger era was 2 dialogue between two schools of thought, those who agreed with the Bureau and those who did not.
The President’s Advisory Commission recommended in 1963 that the government actively disseminate information concerning addiction and the drug problem in order to counteract mistaken popular ideas.3 At the White House Conference in 1962 a constantly recurring theme was that Popular misconceptions greatly increased the difficulty of dealing with the problem and various remedial programs were suggested. The ironic aspect of this was that, to a very large extent, popular stereotypes in this area were based on ideas disseminated by the government, i.e., the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.
At the same time that the Bureau was promulgating a philosophy of addiction and harassing or maintaining surveillance over its critics, it conspicuously failed to provide reliable statistical information on its own enforcement activities or on the narcotics problem in general. It does not seem credible that the extremely poor statistical reporting of the Bureau could be due to lack of funds, for Congress was extremely generous to it in this respect and has apparently never questioned the Bureau’s substantial public relations expenditures. It would appear that if the Bureau is not to be dismantled, it would be highly desirable that it put more money and manpower into improvement of its statistical services. If it is dismantled, as recommended by the President’s Commission, this matter would automatically be taken care of, since the Federal Bureau of Investigation would then take over this duty and might then publish comprehensive statistical data on narcotics in its regular issues of the Uniform Crime Reports.4 This effect alone, of incorporating the law enforcement activities of the Narcotics Bureau into the F.B.I., could be of very considerable long-range significance in that it would provide the American public, for the first time, with relatively reliable data about the problem.
While it is too early to know what the policies of the Federal Narcotics Bureau will be under its new head, Henry L. Giordano, it is of practical and also of historical interest to remind the reader what the Bureau did under Mr. Anslinger’s direction. When Mr. Anslinger was retired as head of the Bureau he continued to be the United States representative to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations. While he cannot now use the facilities of the Bureau to promote his views, the point of view which he represents and which he vigorously promoted for more than
thirty years is still very much alive and is still the major obstacle to fundamental reform.


On April 4, 1961, the Federal Bureau of ‘Narcotics sent a narcotics agent to Indiana University to question its officials and those of the Indiana University Press concerning the proposed publication of a book on the narcotics problem which expressed views contrary to those of the Bureau.” The agent inquired minutely into all the details of the publication, wanting to know how many copies were being printed, how the book happened to be published by the Press and so on. He was especially interested in knowing the details of how it was being financed, whether funds of the state of
Indiana were being used, and what funds would be used to make up the deficit if the publication were to lose money When pressed to explain his presence on the campus he extracted from his pocket teletyped orders from Washington and said he was simply following orders and that he presumed that his boss in Washington would like to stop the publication of this work.
When the visit of the narcotics agent to the Press became known. a reporter of the Washington Post, as well as reporters from other newspapers, addressed inquiries to the head of the Bureau of Narcotics. When asked what his agent was up to on the Indiana University campus, Mr. Anslinger was first reported to have said that he would have to get in touch with him to find out. Later he apparently said that he presumed that it was simply “a routine investigation,” and still later he suggested that the agent had made the hundred-mile round trip to buy an advance copy of the book. The agent made his visit on April 4, 196 1. The records of the Indiana University Press show that the legal division of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics had ordered the book in March. When the Washington Post reporter asked the agent how it happened if his
purpose was only to purchase the book, that he had talked to so many University officials, the agent referred the reporter to his superiors for “the real story.””
The book which stirred the Federal Bureau of Narcotics to take its action is entitled Drug Addiction: Crime or Disease?, and consists of the Interim and Final Reports of the joint Committee of the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association on Narcotic Drugs, with a brief introduction written by the present writer. The Joint Committee consisted of six distinguished members of the two associations. The bulk of the volume is made up of special studies by Judge Morris Ploscowe, former Chief Magistrate of New York City, and Rufus King, a Washington attorney, then head of the Criminal Law Division of the American Bar Association and well known for his writings on the narcotics problem. The work of the Committee was supported financially by the Russell Sage Foundation, which also financed the printing of a limited edition of the interim report in 1958 for the use of the Committee and the Houses of Delegates of the two associations both of which accepted the report.
The Interim Report was presented to Mr. Anslinger for his comments and criticisms in 1958 when it was completed. Mr. Anslinger condemned it, stating in a letter to Judge Ploscowe: “I find it incredible that so many glaring inaccuracies, manifest inconsistencies. apparent ambiguities, important omissions, and even false statements could be found in one report on the narcotic problem.”7 When asked for a bill of particulars, Anslinger refused to provide one but instead said that he was going to appoint his own advisory committee to make a report. Mr. Anslinger also discussed the report with officials of the Russell Sage Foundation.
The so-called Advisory Committee to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics which Mr. Anslinger created to reply to the joint Committee’s Interim Report consisted mainly of police and prosecuting officials and others throughout the nation who agree with the Bureau’s conception of the drug problem. The result of their work was a Symposium of intemperate and vituperative criticism of the Joint Committee, its work, and of other persons known to be in some degree sympathetic with its viewpoint. This report was published in 1959 with a title, format, and color which made de it hard to distinguish from the Interim Report itself. It was sold by the Superintendent of Documents for sixty cents and distributed gratis by the Bureau of Narcotics and by some members of Congress. Official circulation of the document was discontinued when the Washington Post in 1960 gave publicity to a criticism of the Supreme Court which it contained.” Unofficially, according to Benjamin De Mort, this publication, which he suggested “may well be the crudest publication yet produced by a government agency,” continued to be circulated. In a copy secured after official circulation had ceased, the offending sentence had been crayoned out with black crayon but was still legible. It was a statement made by Mr. Malachi L. Harney, a former assistant of Mr. Anslinger’s: “We are presently the victims of a Supreme Court majority which to me seems almost hysterical in its desire to suppress all freedom of action by law enforcement officers.”9
According to De Mott, the Bureau’s efforts to discourage the publication of the Interim Report were terminated by an order from the White House.10 It is possible that the publicity given the incident by the press was also an important factor, for it was picked up by countless newspapers and commentators. De Mort also stated that the Bureau had consulted with officials of the Russell Sage Foundation, apparently attempting to exert pressure upon them.


Professor Benjamin De Mort, who has provided a description of the top officials of the Federal Narcotics Bureau of the Anslinger
era, refers to the “fury of the Bureau’s anti-intellectualism.” This rage was directed particularly toward doctors, judges, professors, sociologists, and, of course, the Supreme Court. Mr. De Mott finds the roots of the Bureau’s attitudes in what he calls the “cop mentality.” “Bureau officials,” he says, “have a taste for public propaganda that panders to provincial superstition of ‘un-American’ types…. [T]he Bureau’s dismissal of its critics is often accompanied by an appeal to everything that is mean, ignorant, and illiberal in the American consciousness. . . . Narcotics Bureau propaganda reeks with station-house hints that any man who interests himself in the problem of ‘known criminals’ must have unsavory reasons for doing so.””
It has been pointed out that the Bureau has hammered away at the idea that judges were responsible for the postwar rise of addiction because of excessive leniency in imposing sentences, and, on the other hand, that the police are to be credited with the alleged decline of addiction during the decades before the war, when judges were just as lenient as later. These outrageous and inconsistent attempts to pass the buck have largely gone unchallenged, and appear to have been accepted with little question by Congress. The underlying conception seems to have been that the competence of a judge is directly proportional to the severity of the sentences he imposes, regardless of individual circumstances, and that it is his duty in handling narcotics cases, at least, to follow the advice of the police.
An example of the Bureau’s tactics in dealing with recalcitrant judges is provided by the following news release on February 27, 1962, which was printed in the Fort Wayne News in the form of an editorial:


Washington (UPI)-Members of a House subcommittee have demanded the Justice Department inquire into the fitness of a federal judge who reduced the bail of three racketeers charged with conspiracy in an international narcotics ring. The demand was contained in Congressional testimony made public today.
The judge is Edward J. Dimock of the Federal Court in New York City.
The three racketeers, who have been linked with the late underworld czar Salvatore (Luckv) Luciano, are Frank Caruso, Vincent Mauro and Salvatore Maneri.
They skipped the country late last year after Judge Dimock reduced their bonds from $250.000 to $50,000 each. Three months later they were arrested in Spain and returned to the United States.
Federal Narcotics Commissioner H. J. Anslinger told a House appropriations subcommittee that Judge Dimock “hated” the narcotics law under which the trio was arrested.
“He thinks it is too severe,” Anslinger said, “and because of that many- of these defendants … try to maneuver their cases so they come before that judge, and of course they naturally waive a jury trial and are tried by the judge himself.”
Anslinger’s comments made at a closed hearing late last month, prompted several Congressmen to voice bitter criticism of the judge.
Chairman J. Vaughan Gary, D-Va., said Dimock “should be removed from office” if the bonds were not collectible. [It later turned out they were and the money was forfeited.]
Gary, said he would demand the Justice Department look into the whole matter.
Rep. John R. Pillion, R-N.Y., agreed and Said any such review should include whether there was a possible “abuse of discretion.”
Pillion said the department also should inquire into “the judge’s fitness and competence to preside over cases involving narcotics offenders.”
Rep. Hugh 0. Alexander, D-N.C., said he thought “every avenue ought to be followed up.”
Anslinger noted that Judge Dimock was retired but still hears cases occasionally.
Rep. Otto E. Passman, D-La., said: “it might possibly be suggested to the judge himself, that in the circumstances, maybe he should be put in complete retirement.”
Federal judge Edward J. Dimock was one of the six members of the joint Committee of the American Bar and Medical Associations which issued the report that was sponsored by the Russell
Sage Foundation and published in 1961 by the Indiana University Press.
Readers who wonder why a judge would reduce bail in a case like this one should note that the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that excessive bail shall not be required of persons charged with noncapital crimes and recall that judges are sworn to uphold the Constitution. The purpose of bail is, of course, to permit the defendant to be free before the trial in order to facilitate his preparation of a defense, and reasonable bail is usually thought of as an amount which is not beyond the defendant’s reach.
Bureau hostility to the medical profession, Mr. De Mott has suggested, is indicated by the violence of the attack upon the A.B.A.-A.M.A. report as well as by insinuations that the doctors are seeking to cover up addiction in their own ranks. It is further exemplified by the kind of attention that some of the most important congressional committees have given to the private practitioner’s relations with addicts. The Senate subcommittee which was chaired by Price Daniel and managed by W. Lee Speer of the Bureau conducted what amounted to something resembling criminal trials of Philadelphia and Washington physicians who had prescribed drugs for addicts.12 The record of the hearings on one of these cases alone extends to more than a hundred pages, another occupies about seventy. Throughout the hearings repeated references were made to improper prescription of drugs by medical men. The net effect was to suggest irresponsibility on the part of the profession and the need for continued police surveillance.
On the other hand, almost no serious attention whatever was given to securing representative medical opinions from private practitioners concerning policies of dealing with addicts. The bulk of the medical testimony was from Public Health Service officials who supported the Bureau’s position.
These hearings and others have made it evident that the congressional committees have, on the whole, not wished to listen to views they might have obtained from judges and doctors which might have weakened or modified the simple philosophy with which they were indoctrinated. A pertinent aspect of this disinclination may have been their realization that the police conception, oversimple as it is, is more useful politically than any other. While Politicians may run for office on platforms which promise death for dope peddlers and jail for addicts, none has yet run on one advocating justice and medical care for drug users. Sensational newspapers and pulp magazines also find the police conception congenial to them, for it provides an inexhaustible source of sensational stories featuring cops-and robbers episodes, extraordinary degradation and depravity, undercover intrigue, plot and counterplot, diabolical Communist schemes, and wealthy gangsters-always with the bad guys, who are in favor of dope, sharply distinguished from the good ones, who are against it.


In the late 1940’s a documentary film was projected by the Canadian Department of National Health and Welfare on the subject of addiction. The film was prepared by the National Film Board of Canada with the cooperation of the police, who provided drug addicts to act in it. The film won for its director, Robert Anderson, a National Film Award.13 Mr. K. C. Hossick, the Canadian counterpart of Mr. Anslinger, brought the film to New York for a showing at the United Nations before the members of the Division of Narcotic Drugs, who later published a statement in the U.N. Bulletin of November 15, 1948, that, “It is the best technical film relating to the control of narcotic drugs which has yet been shown to them. The enlightened treatment of the problem of the drug addict must receive specially favorable criticism.”
Prior to the U.N. showing, Mr. Hossick was prevailed upon to show the film to a number of narcotics agents and officials in New York. When word of the nature of the film was conveyed to Mr. Anslinger he asked the State Department to request the Canadian authorities not to show the picture in the United States. This request reached the Canadian officials at about the same time as the statement from the United Nations to the effect that it was the best film on drug addiction that had been shown to that body.
Inquiries addressed to the State Department elicited a reply which read in part: “At Mr. Anslinger’s request, the Department informed the Canadian Department of External Affairs that the Commissioner of Narcotics objected strongly to the showing of the film anywhere in the United States because the position it takes concerning the handling of drug addiction is contrary to the longestablished policy of the United States…. The Public Health Service concurred in the attitude of the Commissioner of Narcotics.”14
A Reuters dispatch to the Chicago Tribune indicated that among the objections to- the film the most important was that it insisted that addiction should be viewed as a disease rather than a crime.15 Another objection was that the actors were too personable and attractive and might thus make addiction seem attractive. We have already noted that the actors were actual addicts. It was also contended that the role of the police was not properly emphasized.
It was evidently hoped that there would be no publicity attached to this incident, for when news of it was published in 2 column by Jacob Weiler in the New York Times, he was immediately visited by agents of the Treasury Department who flashed their badges and demanded to know the source of the item.”‘ Mr. Weiler cited a Toronto film trade journal as the source. The incident was subsequently discussed in the Saturday Review of Literature, the New York Times, and other publications. In reply to protests it was contended that the picture violated the Motion Picture Code. It was never permitted to be shown in this country except in 2 few special cases, and a scheduled showing at meetings of the American Psychiatric Association in Montreal was cancelled.
Mr. Anslinger evidently took steps to investigate the background for the endorsement of the film by the Division of Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations Secretariat. which was at that time headed by an American. When the film was shown this American was not on duty but was being temporarily replaced by an Englishman, B. G. Alexander. Subsequently, in answer to inquiries from a prominent criminologist at the University of Illinois, Mr. Anslinger enclosed a copy of a letter from the American head of the U.N. Division, which stated that the endorsement of the Canadian film was undertaken without authority by 2 man who was no longer a member of the staff.17 This was evidently a reference to Alexander, who had been acting as deputy chief of the Division when the film was shown and who subsequently returned to Britain.


That the Federal Narcotics Bureau has long made it a practice to conduct routine investigations of persons holding the wrong views is made evident by an incident in which I was involved. In 1939 a federal narcotics agent approached a member of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University and later the President of the university (of whose faculty I was, and still am, a member), with the word that I was a member of or associated with a disreputable organization. I was told of the agent’s visit by telephone. It was alleged that I was connected with what was described as a “criminal” association.
When the agent called on me he indicated that he was acting on orders from Washington and several times gestured toward a fat folder of papers in his possession, evidently sent to him from headquarters. The alleged criminal organization turned out to be one that was being organized on the West Coast called the “World Narcotics Research Foundation.” I had been corresponding for some rime with a person in Seattle who had recommended this group and urged me to permit it to use my name as one who was interested in its program. My informant wrote me that two brothers, prominent West Coast physicians and writers whose names were familiar to me, E. H. and H. S. Williams, were to be leaders of it.
E. H. Williams was at that time a nationally known writer on the narcotics problem who became involved with federal narcotics agents when he agreed, at the behest of the Los Angeles Medical Association and municipal health officials, to operate what amounted to a narcotics clinic in that city. As described in an earlier chapter (see page 14), he was convicted of a technical violation of the narcotics laws in a much criticized trial and lost the right to appeal through a mistake made by his attorneys. In the meantime, another doctor who was involved in the same incident, Dr. E. H. Anthony, -%vas exonerated upon appeal by Federal Judge Yankwich, who sharply rebuked the Narcotics Bureau for what he regarded as its misinterpretation of the law and its disregard for the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Linder case.
The agent called the World Narcotics Research Foundation a criminal body because of E. H. Williams’ connection with it. When his attention was called to the books written by Williams and to the numerous honors bestowed upon him, such as being included in Who’s Who and being an associate editor of the Encyclopaedia
Britannica, he remarked that he had never heard of the latter. Concerning Who’s Who, he made the enigmatic comment that if I were not careful I might end up there too and quoted, “Birds of a feather flock together.” He clearly knew nothing about the circumstances of the Williams trial and was unable to discuss it. The only relevant point, he said, was that Williams had been convicted of dime.
The real point of his visit became apparent when he turned his attention to my views of the narcotics problem. which he said were not approved of in Washington and would let me in “for trouble with Uncle Sam.” The new organization, he said, was going to have the same kind of trouble. He intimated that I might jeopardize my position at Indiana University by expressing my views and expressed the opinion that I was unfit to teach. I sought to defend my position and indicated that I thought British methods of handling the drug problem were more sensible and effective than our own. He replied that I was living in the United States, not in England, that he didn’t like the “damned Limeys”anyway. and that loyal citizens ought not criticize existing laws or policies of the government.
During the two- or three-hour interview the agent relied heavily upon documents in his possession and floundered when he had to depart from his script. From remarks which he made it was clear that investigations had been or were being made of the other persons associated with the organization in question and that dossiers were being collected on them and on me.
A year or so later, in reply to a 7-page article which I published,. Judge Twain Michelson of San Francisco published later in the, same journal a 27-page vitriolic personal attack upon me and other persons associated with the new organization.”‘ The material in this article was largely supplied by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, for substantial parts of it were identical with things that the agent had read to me. Michelson’s article was reproduced in quantity and distributed far and wide by the Bureau for many years, a tactic routinely used. The authors of such articles were invariably described as “impartial experts” and their publications listed by the Bureau in its annual reports under the heading, “Publications of International Interest.”
When the visits of the agent became known, interested persons evidently communicated with Treasury officials raising questions concerning the propriety of the action. I was again visited by a Bureau representative, this time by an assistant of Mr. Anslinger’s. This assistant explained that the agent who visited me had exceeded his instructions, which did not authorize him to employ threats. When asked why an officer supposed to be engaged in the pursuit of dope peddlers was sent to interrogate 2 university professors concerning his opinions, the assistant made the following interesting observation: The Bureau, he said, in addition to its law enforcement function also had the duty of “disseminating right information and preventing the dissemination of wrong information.” I was informally told many years later that the original incident was interpreted at Bureau headquarters as an attempt on my part to interfere with the civil liberties of the agent, the theory evidently being that his visit was a social one and that he had every right to give free expression to his views.


My correspondent in Seattle, from whom I learned of the proposed organization to be known as the World Narcotics Research Foundation, was the late Everett G. Hoffman, a retired automobile salesman. He had become interested in the drug problem and had obviously devoted a great deal of time and energy to collecting materials and promulgating his views, which I found were fairly close to mine as far as policy was concerned. Like others who have ventured into this field, Mr. Hoffman found himself in conflict with the views of the Federal Narcotics Bureau at many points, one of them being the number of addicts in the State of Washington. The Bureau at that time estimated there were 350 while Mr. Hoffman claimed to have the names and addresses of more than 3,000 which he had dug out of police records.
A letter that I received from him dated February 8, 1938, contained the following:
On January 31, 2 special friend of mine warned me again (for the third time) that I was to be framed by the Narcotic Bureau in Seattle. They are determined to get me for the information that I have been giving over the radio and speeches on the problem of addiction and the inability of all our lam, enforcement officials to make any change in the present set up. More especially that the number of addicts is increasing and that my state survey proves it.
I am not worrying, for the reason that I am not a law violator nor will I do something that will put me in this class. What I have to say is based on facts which no one can deny and which is not known generally. That is one reason why I am spreading this information. So that the public can know and make an intelligent decision regarding this work when called upon as they will be during our next legislative session.
This is the third person to warn me, so there must be something to it, and there is.
At 11:00 a.m. Thursday morning, February 3, 1938, 1 was served with a summons to appear before the Federal Grand Jury…. There was no mention, of course, what the reason was….
I cannot disclose what took place in the jury room, but, it was an attempt to establish a charge against me….
I have no desire to go to jail, of course, nor shall I do anything that is illegal-but-I shall continue to speak and work for the only plan which I think will ever help the situation. If doing this, regardless of the fact that I may step on some official’s toe at some time, gets me in prison, then I’ll take my medicine….
The Grand Jury did not indict Mr. Hoffman. Through him I learned that the Narcotics Bureau was somewhat more successful in silencing Earl Albert Rowell and his son, who were going about the country in the 1930’s giving lectures on the marihuana problem. Mr. Earl Rowell claimed to have made speeches in 40 of the states. His disagreement with the Federal Narcotics Bureau seemed to arise from his disposition to criticize the police for inactivity and complacency and from his contention that official handouts were covering up and minimizing a growing drug problem. Rowell’s viewpoint was evidently that of an alarmist, a zealot, and a prohibitionist. 19
According to Mr. Rowell’s reports to Mr. Hoffman, which were forwarded to me, the Federal Bureau and its agents utilized the following tactics against Mr. Rowell: In January 1938 he was arrested in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and threatened with prosecution on the ground that the opium pipe and small quantities of narcotics which he used as exhibits constituted illegal possession of narcotics although they had been supplied him by police officers for that purpose. Although there was no follow up of this charge, the Bureau broadcast far and wide that Rowell had been arrested; he was accused of obtaining money under false pretenses, of making a racket of his antinarcotics campaign. and of advocating programs contrary to the policies of the federal government. In Evanston. Illinois, he was threatened with prosecution for failure to pay an amusement tax, allegedly at the instigation of federal officials who were determined to curb his activities; he was followed and watched on his lecture tour by narcotics agents. Derogatory information concerning Mr. Rowell was sent by wire and by mail to influential persons in the communities -where speeches had been scheduled, causing some of them to be cancelled; when cancellations occurred and -when local citizens made investigations of Rowell after hearing from Washington. such cancellations and investigations were written up and circulated by narcotics officials to discredit Rowell in other communities.
The version of Mr. Rowell’s dealings with federal narcotics agents which is given in the preceding paragraph is Mr. Rowell’s
and is no doubt one-sided and slanted in his own favor. We have seen in our discussion of marihuana that Mr. Rowell was strongly opposed to the use of this “weed of madness,” which he thought was a direct cause of insanity and violence, and that he was only slightly less alarmed about alcohol and tobacco. This point of view alone could hardly have brought him into conflict with Treasury Department officials. The real point in this imbroglio is not the correctness of his views or even whether his crusade Was 2 racket or not, but whether it is the function of the federal antinarcotics police force to curb reformers as well as the use of drugs.
The Federal Narcotics Bureau was organized in 1930. The tactics which it has used to deal with critics seem also to have been used by the government agencies which preceded it. Brief reference has already been made to the fact that one of the nation’s most eminent medical authorities on addiction, Dr. Ernest S. Bishop of New York City, was indicted in January 1920 for alleged violation of the narcotics laws. Dr. Bishop had been a frank critic of government policies and of the manner in which the Harrison Act was being interpreted and implemented. The indictment issued in 1920 was allowed to hang over Dr. Bishop’s head for a period of years before it was withdrawn by another prosecutor, who denounced it as “outrageous.” It was strongly condemned by a unanimous vote of the American Medical Editors Association meeting in Cleveland in October 1922, in a vigorous protest resolution which was sent to the President of the United States and to the Secretary of the Treasury.20 Dr. Bishop was, at this time, of advanced age, and he died shortly after the indictment was quashed.
It is of incidental interest that the American Medical Editors Association, at the same meeting at which it adopted the resolution protesting Dr. Bishop’s indictment, also unanimously passed another resolution which was sharply critical of the way in which the Harrison Act Was being applied to the medical profession and which called for an investigation of the matter by a select committee of 15 to consist of all the doctors who were then members of the House of Representatives. This was in support of a resolution introduced by Congressman Lester D. Volk, who was also an M.D.
The resolution drawn up by the Medical Editors Association read in part as follows

WHEREAS, as a consequence of ignorant, misguided, mistaken and all too frequently questionable administration of the Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act, honest and law-abiding physicians are being persecuted, hounded and subjected to unjust and ill founded suspicion and accusation and
WHEREAS, because of the foregoing, not only have many honest medical men been led by the danger to their reputations, professional standing, and ability to live and support their dependents, to refuse to minister to the medical needs of those requiring the legitimate use of narcotic drugs, but all scientific study, and investigation of narcotic addiction have been suppressed, prevented and made impossible for those competent to undertake and pursue such studies and investigations, which thoughtful physicians recognize as one of the most imperative needs in scientific medicine, and
WHEREAS, the sick and suffering are not only being denied proper medical care and treatment, but are being harassed, terrorized and caused untold suffering and distress, while the quacks, charlatans, specific-cure-promoters and illicit dealers are preying upon their hopes, fears and imperative medical needs, and
WHEREAS, the fundamental requirement of efficient medical practice, as well as all progress in scientific medicine, always has been-and always will be-the privilege or right of honorable, conscientious and self-respecting physicians to administer to the disease-stricken and suffering and to practice their profession without interference or dictation from 12V administrators, who are essentially unfitted by their lack of medical knowledge, or experience to interpret or comprehend medical problems, or to regulate or restrict accepted methods of treating disease, and
WHEREAS, it is the consensus of opinion of the great majority of thoughtful medical men that while the original and fundamental purposes of the Harrison Anti-Narcotic Act are commendable and deserving of support and the results obtained in the early years of its rational execution promised real and substantial benefits, during the past few years much or all of the foregoing have been lost by a most regrettable change and perversion Of administrative policies and methods which have resulted from and been aided and supported by propaganda of a character warranting the gravest question, if not suspicion of the underlying motives . . . . 21
Evidently the relations between the medical profession and enforcement authorities were not quite as harmonious and amicable during these early days as is often assumed at present.


With infrequent exceptions, narcotics officials of the Public Health Service, in their public utterances on policy matters have supported the position of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and joined forces with it in assailing critics of the status quo. Students seeking information and bibliographical references on the drug problem from the Public Health Service have ordinarily been provided with articles -written by its officials and with bibliographies consisting largely of Public Health Service publications plus a few by Bureau spokesmen and outsiders who support the Bureau’s position. Bureau publications are ordinarily deferred to as authoritative with respect to questions of enforcement, while those of the Public Health Service officials are regarded as authoritative on the medical, psychiatric, and biological aspects of addiction. The Bureau reciprocates by referring students to Public Health Service publications and provides them with packets of reprints by its officials. Neither agency provides references to materials not in conformity with the official line established by the Bureau.
During the hearings before the Daniel subcommittee the following narcotics officials of the Public Health Service appeared before the subcommittee in a body: Dr. G. Halsey Hunt, Dr. Robert H. Felix, Dr. Clifton K. Himmelsbach, Dr. John A. Trautman, Dr. Harris Isbell, Dr. James V. Lowry and Dr. Kenneth W. Chapman. Dr. Hunt introduced the others of this group to the Senators.” Senator Daniel remarked:
“Well, Dr. Hunt, these men must have worked with all of the drug addicts who have been in the hospital at Lexington, at least since it was established; is that right?”
Dr. Hunt: “This Group before you, Mr. Chairman, represents a great many years of direct experience in the treatment of drug addiction at Lexington and Fort Worth, and additional years of administrative experience and of overall consultation experience with States and local communities, particularly with States on the part of the National Institute of Mental Health.”
Senator Daniel: “What I am getting at is, I believe we have already had this before the committee, that there are about 25,000 individuals as drug addicts who have passed through the hospitals at Fort Worth and Lexington.”
Dr. Hunt: “Yes, sir.”
Senator Daniel: “Now, these men, one or more of them, have been in the Service in some capacity seeing these 2 5,000 addicts. In other words, these men together represent 211 the years those hospitals have been in operation and one or more of these men have been in those hospitals during the entire period of operation.”
Dr. Hunt: “Almost entirely, yes.”
Senator Daniel: “Almost entirely. Do you know of any-panel of men. in the country whose experience together has put them in touch with more drug addicts?”
Dr. Hunt: “I think that the Public Health Service does have the greatest concentration of people with long experience in the treatment of drug addiction, and most of these people are sitting before you today.”
Having established to his own satisfaction that he had before him the top experts in the country if not in the world, Senator Daniel went on to question these men concerning their views of a proposal made by the New York Academy of Medicine to provide legal drugs for addicts in clinics.
Dr. Hunt then read a prepared statement evaluating the proposal of the New York Academy of Medicine. The statement was surprisingly favorable and ended with the recommendation that the Academy’s proposal be tested in a limited Way with a small number of addicts. When Dr. Hunt was asked if this was the official view of the Public Health Service he said it was not but that it was the collective view of the officials who had been concerned with the problem. Asked if this is what the Surgeon General would have said had he been there, Dr. Hunt replied:
“I am reading the material the Surgeon General had had prepared in case this question came up.”
Senator Butler: “Is it the composite view of this group or others, this group and others?”
Dr. Hunt: “I think I can say this group. There are possibly a few others who May have contributed to it, or who may be involved, but essentially this is the group who are most vitally and directly concerned with these questions.’23
From this colloquy it is evident that the statement submitted by this group had been cleared with the Surgeon General. In this case a qualified and extremely cautious approval was given to the Academy’s proposal, which was surely known to be anathema to the Commissioner of Narcotics as well as to a number of the Senators.
In subsequent questioning by Senator Daniel the Public Health Service officials more or less withdrew even this mild approval of the New York Academy’s suggestion. Senator Daniel asked each of the officials if he personally, from the thousands and thousands of addicts he had known, would be willing to administer narcotics to any of them indefinitely solely to maintain their addiction. Each of the men said either that he knew of no such person or that he knew one or two or 2 few. The upshot was that Senator Daniel’s view prevailed and in the subcommittee’s report on “Treatment and Rehabilitation of Narcotic Addicts” no mention was made of the fact that the Public Health Service had recommended that the New York Academy’s plan be tried.”
Thus, while these officials explicitly and unanimously opposed the conception of the drug addict as a malefactor and advocated that he be treated as a patient rather than as a criminal, they did not themselves suggest a plan for accomplishing this and they contributed to discrediting the plan that was suggested. The net effect was that the subcommittee counted them as supporters of the harshly punitive program of legislation which it recommended to Congress and which was enacted by that body in 1956. It is of interest that research done at Lexington on barbiturates and alcohol indicated that these substances create addiction in the same sense that the opiates do, i.e., they produce tolerance and physical dependence. Nevertheless, the narcotics officials of the Public Health Service joined with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in opposing any legislation which would cause barbiturate addicts to be treated as criminals. These officials have also, of course, not recommended that alcoholism be handled in this way, since this would amount to the reestablishment of prohibition.
In recent years the remarkable agreement between the medical officials of the Public Health Service and the police officials of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics has again been illustrated by their concern with a program of compulsory civil commitments for drug users. Agreement on this issue is puzzling, since in virtually all fields of psychiatry and treatment of behavior disorders, compulsion is being increasingly avoided whenever possible, for example, with the mentally ill. Moreover, the Public Health Service authorities have expressed themselves in opposition to the use of compulsion with barbiturate and alcohol addicts. Why then, one wonders, do they favor it for heroin addicts)
Lexington officials have sometimes admitted publicly that their establishment is in reality a prison. Like other officials with an eye to their budgets, they have sought to present their efforts in the best possible light and to secure favorable publicity for themselves. Exaggerated claims concerning the effectiveness of the program have been allowed to stand uncorrected. In some instances, the cases of prominent persons who were accorded the red carpet treatment at Lexington, as for example that of Barney Ross, appear to have been exploited for public relations purposes.
There is room for a great deal of legitimate difference of opinion on many aspects of the narcotics problem and no student of the problem should be surprised to find himself at odds with another or with a public official. What is noteworthy in this situation is that, with so many reasons for expecting different views, officials should express so little disagreement on the hotly debated policy questions. The consensus among them inevitably suggests that the apparent uniformity of views is artificially imposed from above or that it arises from the nature of the institutional environment within which the officials deal with addicts.


It is axiomatic among students of human behavior that once certain institutional arrangements have been made and are established they tend to be extremely resistant to change. One of the reasons for this is that vested interests develop; persons, groups, associations, and organizations find that they are benefiting in one way or another from existing arrangements. They consequently oppose change, but in doing so rarely mention the real grounds for their conservatism-indeed, they are sometimes unaware of the influence of self-interest. Significant change or improvement in institutional arrangements therefore invariably arouses opposition for the very good reason that such change means that there will be a price to pay, that some persons will lose jobs, power, prestige, or money and that others may gain these things, At the very least, a change that is worth making is likely to cost money. Programs which elicit universal agreement are usually futile for the very reason that nothing is really being changed. It is much easier, for example, to sponsor an anticrime week with posters, slogans, and speeches, than to reform a police department or to establish a rational penal system.
It is evident that there are vested interests in narcotics just as there are in tobacco and alcohol. On the monetary side alone there is a big take which obviously does not go to the addict or to the small-scale peddler. Neither does it go exclusively to big importers and dealers of the underworld. It is not possible to identify exactly all those who manage to share in the illicit profits, but it is easy to guess who they might be.
It is generally impossible or difficult for a profession or a system to reform itself solely from inside impetus. Legal reform and medical reform, for example, have usually been brought about by public pressure. One of the prominent reasons for this is that a feeling of solidarity within the profession makes its members reluctant to attack, expose, or publicly criticize fellow members. The same kind of influence operates among narcotics officials. In private, they may concede that the system of which they are a part has serious weaknesses, but to do so in public is another matter because it would cast discredit upon fellow officials and be interpreted as something akin to disloyalty if it did not put their jobs-in jeopardy. This is why building a series of Lexington-type institutions throughout the country would probably delay fundamental reform, for it would greatly increase the size of the narcotics bureacracy. The greater the number of persons who depend upon the status quo the more difficult it is likely to be to change the system.
Finally, it needs to be noted that the drug addict has become a popular Symbol and scapegoat and that politicians have been elected to office on platforms promising more severe punishment for him. Alexander Trocchi, the Scottish writer and addict who
sought refuge from “the American system” by returning to Britain and who was the star on Chet Huntley’s 1963 television show, has a character in his book say the following about narcotics and narcotic addicts as popular symbols: It’s 2 nice tangible cause for juvenile delinquency. And it lets a lot of
people out because they’re alcoholics. There’s an available pool of wasted-looking bastards to stand trial as the corrupters of their children.
It provides the police with something to do, and as junkies and potheads are relatively easy to apprehend because they have to take so many chances to get hold of their drugs, a heroic police can Make spectacular arrests, lawyers can do 2 brisk business, judges can make speeches, the big peddler Can make a fortune, the tabloids can sell millions of copies. John Citizen Can sit back feeling exonerated and watch evil get its deserts…. Everyone gets something out of it except the junkie.23
Speaking of the way in which the arrest of a peddler was described to the newspapers by the police, Trocchi indicates how the addict sometimes manages to mitigate the harsh impersonality of law:
They built it up big for the tabloids so-that John Citizen had the impression that Lucky Luciano’s first lieutenant had been trapped by intrepid agents and that half the opium smuggled by Mongolian faced agents of Chou-En-Lai from Communist China to sap the strength of the American people had been seized in the raid; and in return for two Leica cameras they played it down before the judge who, it must be assumed, didn’t read the tabloids.26

introduction | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

z. Wall Street Journal, Feb- 7, 1964, p- 8.
2. The Bureau’s annual report for 1962 lists, e.g., the book by W. B. Eldridge, Narcotics and the Lau-, Lawrence Kolb’s Drug Addiction: A Medical Problem (Springfield, Ill.: C. C Thomas, 1962), and an article by Dr. Charles Winick, “The Narcotic Addiction Problem”
(P. 43)
3. Final Report: The President’s Advisorv Commission on Narcotic and Drug Abuse, pp. ig-zo.
4- Cf. ibid., P. 2 9.
5. See the Washington Post, April ig, ig6i, p. B4, and April 25, z96z, p. A14- Also, the New York Times, April 30, 1961, P- 76, and Time
Magazine, 77 (May 12, 1961), 74-76.
6. See the Washington Post, April 21, 1961.
7. The letter is reproduced on p. vii of Contments on Narcotic Drugs, the Bureau’s attack upon the Interim Report.
8. Benjamin De Mort, “The Great Narcotics Muddle,” Harper’s
Magazine, 2 24, No. 1342 (March, 1962), 46-54
9. The statement is in Comments on Narcotic Drugs, P. 53
io. B. De Mott, “The Great Narcotics Muddle,” 53. The proposed, book was published on schedule by the Indiana University Press. It was entitled Drug Addiction: Crime or Disease? Interim and Final Reports of a Joint Committee of the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association on Narcotic Drugs (Bloomington: ig6i).
ii. B. De Mott, “The Great Narcotics Muddle,” 50, 53
iz. Daniel Subcommittee Hearings, Part 7, PP. 443-519, 415-30.
13. The writer attended the ceremonies and, during a visit in Ottawa, interviewed most of the Canadian officials involved in this episode.
14. From a letter dated June 30, 1949, from the Department of State signed by Otis E. Mulliken, Acting Chief, Division of United Nations Economic and Social Affairs.
15. Chicago Tribune, Feb. io, 1949.
16. The story appeared in Weiler’s column in the theater section, New York Times, Nov. 7.8, 1949. Other information was secured from a personal interview with Weiler.
17. Letter from Donald R. Taft, March 29, 1949. The writer also interviewed members of the Division of Narcotic Drugs of the U.N. Secretariat.
18. My article was “Dope Fiend Mythology,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 31 (ig4o), iqq-2o8. Michelson’s repiv was entitled, "Lindesmith’s Mythology,” ibid., 31 (1940), 373-400,
ig. Judge Michelson ieferred to the Rowells in his 1940 article cited above and also in his statement for the Bureau’s Comments on Narcotic Drugs, PP. 72-io4, Actually, Michelson’s position appears to be fairly close to that of Rowell.
2o. American Medicine, 7.8 (Dec., 1922), 721-22.
2 1. Ibid-, 719-20.
27.. The material that follows is taken from Daniel Subcommittee Hearings, Part 5, PP. 1461-1500.
23- Ibid., p. 1465.
24. Treatment and Rehabilitation of Narcotic Addicts: S. Rep. No. 18p, April 25, 19S6. In this report Drs. Isbell, Felix, Vogel , Lowry, and Chapman are cited as opponents of the proposed reform.
75. Alexander Trocchi, Cain’s Book (New York: Grove Press, ig6o), P. 77
26. Ibid., pp. io6-7.


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