Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Chapter 7 - The Pure Food and Drugs Act

Consumers Union Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs - Table of Contents
Nineteenth-century America a dope fiend's paradise
Opiates for pain relief - for tranquilization - and for pleasure
What kinds of people used opiates?
Effects of opium - morphine - and heroin on addicts
Some eminent narcotics addicts
Opium Smoking Is Outlawed
The Pure Food and Drugs Act
The Harrison Narcotic Act (1914)
Tightening up the Harrison Act
Why our narcotics laws have failed: (1) Heroin is an addicting drug
Why our narcotics laws have failed: (2) The economics of the black market
The heroin overdose mystery and other occupational hazards of heroin addiction
Supplying heroin legally to addicts
Enter methadone maintenance
How well does methadone maintenance work?
Methadone side effects
Why methadone maintenance works
Methadone maintenance spreads
The future of methadone maintenance
Heroin on the youth drug scene - and in Vietnam
Caffeine - Early History
Caffeine - Recent Findings
The case of Dr. Sigmund Freud
Nicotine as an addicting drug
Cigarettes - and the 1964 report of the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee
A program for the future
The barbiturates for sleep and for sedation
Alcohol and barbiturates: two ways of getting drunk
Popularizing the barbiturates as thrill pills
The nonbarbiturate sedatives and the minor tranquilizers
Should alcohol be prohibited?
Why alcohol should not be prohibited
Coca leaves
The amphetamines
Enter the speed freak
How speed was popularized
The Swedish Experience
Should the Amphetamines Be Prohibited?
Back to cocaine again
A slightly hopeful postscript
The historical antecedents of glue-sniffing
How To Launch a Nationwide Drug Menace
Early use of LSD-like drugs
LSD is discovered
LSD and psychotherapy
Hazards of LSD pyschotherapy
Early nontherapeutic use of LSD
How LSD was popularized - 1962-1969
How the hazards of LSD were augmented - 1962-1969
LSD today: The search for a rational perspective
Marijuana in the Old World
Marijuana in the New World
Marijuana and Alcohol Prohibition
Marijuana is outlawed
America Discovers Marijuana
Can marijuana replace alcohol?
The 1969 marijuana shortage and Operation Intercept
The Le Dain Commission Report
Scope of drug use
Prescription - over-the-counter - and black-market drugs
The Haight-Ashbury - its predecessors and its satellites
Why a youth drug scene?
First steps toward a solution: innovative approaches by indigenous institutions
Alternatives to the drug experience
Emergence from the drug scene
Learning from past mistakes: six caveats
Policy issues and recommendations
A Last Word
Permission to quote
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Consumers Union Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs

The Consumers Union Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs

by Edward M. Brecher and the Editors of Consumer Reports Magazine, 1972

Chapter 7 The Pure -Food and Drug Act of 1906

A major step forward in the control of opiate addiction was taken in 1906 when Congress passed the first Pure Food and Drug Act despite opposition from the patent-medicine interests. The pressures to pass the act were intense-generated by Dr. Harvey W. Wiley and his crusading journalistic followers, notably Samuel Hopkins Adams, 1 who were known as "muckrakers."

The 1906 act required that medicines containing opiates and certain other drugs must say so on their labels. 2 Later amendments to the act also required that the quantity of each drug be truly stated on the label, and that the drugs meet official standards of identity and purity. Thus, for a time the act actually served to safeguard addicts.

The efforts leading to the 1906 act, the act itself and subsequent amendments, and educational campaigns urging families not to use patent medicines containing opiates, no doubt helped curb the making of new addicts. Indeed, there is evidence of a modest decline in opiate addiction from the peak in the 1890s until 1914. 3

For those already addicted, however, the protection afforded by the 1906 act and by subsequent amendments was short-lived, for in 1914 Congress passed the Harrison Narcotic Act, which cut off altogether the supply of legal opiates to addicts. As a result, the door was opened wide to adulterated, contaminated, and misbranded black-market narcotics of all kinds. The heroin available on the street in the United States today, for example, is a highly dangerous mixture of small amounts of heroin with large and varying amounts of adulterants. The black market similarly distributes today large quantities of adulterated, contaminated, and misbranded LSD and other drugs. The withdrawal of the protection of the food-and-drug laws from the users of illicit drugs, as we shall show, has been one of the sign)ficant factors in reducing addicts to their present miserable status, and in making drug use so damaging today.

Chapter 7

1. Samuel Hopkins Adams, The Great American Fraud: Articles on the Nostrum Evil and Quackery, reprinted from Collier's (1905, 1906, 1907, 1912) by American Medical Association, 1913.

2. Terry and Pellens, p. 75.

3. See, for example, Lawrence Kolb and A. G. Du Mez, The Prevalence and Trend of Drug Addiction in the United States and Factors Influencing It, Treasury Department, U.S. Public Health Service, Reprint No. 924 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1924), p. 14, Table 2.

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