Scans are from the McGraw-Hill first edition. Copyright © 1959 Frank Rowsome, Jr
The War on Drugs, which is one of the most miserable failures of the past forty-plus years, has been like Prohibition of the twenties and thirties. It does not work. Yet for the billions spent trying to stop the flow of illegal drugs only a small portion is spent on treatment for addiction.
According to the online article, “History of Drug Use and Drug Users in the United States” by Elaine Casey, in the 1920s “addiction became a federal crime . . . the [Supreme] court thus lowered narcotics use into the underworld, forcing addicts to migrate to the urban centers of illicit supply. It also forced formerly decent and responsible citizens who had acquired an unfortunate habit to become aggressive and violent criminals. It made addicts conform to the image of nonscience, as they robbed or cheated or prostituted themselves to support the illicit price, they did indeed become debauched, corrupt and depraved. In 1923, as many of 75 percent of the women in federal penitentiaries were Harrison Act prisoners (Clark, 1976).”
In 1918, a Congressional committee released findings that showed that the underground traffic in narcotic drugs was about equal to the legitimate medical traffic. Instead of opting for lessening of the laws to allow treatment or handling of addictions by physicians the Harrison Act was tightened. As the article says, “. . . the nation was finding that ridding itself of heroin would require considerably more than legislation.”
Caution on the bottom of the label: “May be habit forming.”
I have heard recently that cracking down on doctors prescribing the heavy-duty painkillers has just turned prescription pain pill addicts to that old standby, heroin. It is the Law of Unintended Consequences in action. The Feds put the squeeze in one area, and it opens up more business for the traffic in illicit drugs.
The past century has seen various attempts to control narcotics and illicit drugs and nothing seems to work. In many ways, by just putting the stuff on store shelves as was done in the 19th century, seems almost better than what has happened since then with the attempts to turn people away from illicit drugs.