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The New York Times June 13, 1919
The Treasury Department made public, yesterday, the report of
a committee appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury to investigate the traffic in
narcotic drugs in this country. In the report, the statement is made that in the United
States more opium per capita -- from ten to sixty times as much -- is being consumed than
in any other country in the world from which reliable statistics can be obtained. As not
all narcotic drugs are habit forming, the committee limited its investigation to traffic
in opium and coca leaves, their preparations and habit-forming alkaloids. The census of
1910 is used in all computations.
The causes given for drug addiction, in order of their frequency, were use of physicians prescriptions, association with other addicts, prohibition, use of drugs for chronic diseases, curiosity to learn the effect of the drug, use of patent or proprietary medicines, use of drugs as a stimulant, idleness, and use by dentists. The order of frequency in which drugs were used was: morphine, cocaine, heroin, opium, laudanum, paregoric, and codeine. The police reported 1,800 drug peddlers, whose "occupations" were given in this order: gamblers, taxicab drivers, domestics, solicitors, messengers, vagrants, lunch room helpers, pool room employees, porters, laundrymen, &c.
Increase in drug addiction was reported in fourteen cities and counties, and a decrease in 627 cities and counties. "The Health Office of Jacksonville, Fla.." says the report "reported 887 addicts in that city in 1913. This represents 1.31 per cent. of the population. Upon this basis, the number of addicts in the united States in 1918, taking the estimated population as 106,000,000, would be 1,388,000."
The Health Officer of New York City reported 103,000 addicts, equivalent to 1.8 per cent. Of the population. On this basis there would be 1,908,000 addicts in the country. The committee says that neither of these figures furnishes a basis for a fair estimate of the total number for the entire country.
The question, "Has narcotic drug addiction increased or decreased in the last few years?" was addressed to 3,023 Health Officers and 1,253 Chiefs of Police. Out of 962 who answered it forty-eight reported an increase and 914, a decrease. In virtually every instance, the increases were in the largest cities, "and in particular in those cities where more than the usual attention is being directed to the eradication of drug addiction."
Each of these cities, having an aggregate population of approximately 10,000,000, reported an increase: San Francisco, Wilmington, Del.; Macon, Ga.; Louisville, Ky.; Brockton, Mass.; Detroit, Kansas City, Mo.; Elmira, N.Y.; New York City, Utica, N.Y.; Yonkers, N.Y.; Charlotte, N.C.; Muskogee, Okla.; Oklahoma City, Toledo, Ohio; Portland, Ore.; Harrisburg, Penn.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Knoxville, Tenn., and Nashville, Tenn.
Expect Increase Under Prohibition
The range of ages of addicts was reported as 12 to 75, and the greater part of the
addicts are American born. "It is a rare occurrence," the report says, "to
find an addict among immigrants on their arrival in this country, although some become
addicted after taking up their abode. This does not apply to the Chinese and certain other
nationalities of the Orient."
In its conclusions the committee says : "From the data obtained the committee is convinced that there is a nationwide use of narcotic drugs for other than legitimate medical needs, and that such use has materially increased in certain sections despite efforts exerted in the enforcement of the Federal Anti-Narcotic law, and laws of the States and municipalities. Furthermore, it is apparent that there has been no definite or concerted action by a majority of State and municipal Governments to suppress the illicit traffic and use of habit-forming drugs, and there has been little attempt to obtain accurate information concerning the problem of drug addiction."
Would Stop Heroin Manufacture.
Pending ratification of The Hague opium convention and enactment of legislation to carry out its terms, it is recommended that the Government take up with Canada and Mexico the subject of more effective control of the manufacture and exportation of narcotic drugs. Recommendation is made that educational campaigns be started throughout the country to emphasize the seriousness and extent of drug addiction . The committee believes the medical need of heroin is negligible, compared with the evil effects of its use, and that "consideration should be given the subject of absolutely prohibiting it [sic] manufacture."
Of the 18,299,397 narcotic prescriptions filled last year New York State led with 2,763,292. Pennsylvania was second, with 2,365,608, and Illinois third with 1,670,711. From 1860 to 1869 the national consumption of narcotics was around 110,305 pounds annually; from 1870 to 1879, it was 192,002 pounds; from 1880 to 1889, 328,392 pounds; from 1890 to 1899, 513,070 pounds; from 1900 to 1909, 480,000 pounds, and from 1910 to 1918, 473,043 pounds, since 1910 the annual average has been 470,000 pounds.
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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
|Drug Information Articles|
Taking a drug test:
How To Pass A Drug Test
Beat Drug Test
Pass Drug Test
Drug Screening Tests
Drug Addiction Treatment