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The Reefer Madness Collection


San Francisco Examiner, 1923

Physicians Called On to Urge harding Bid All Nations Meet to Throttle Dope At Its Source; United States Laws Too Lenient

" The Federal Government, operating under the Harrison Act, and the amending Jones-Miller bill, employs one hundred and seventy-three narcotic enforcement agents. For their year's labor Congress appropriates the sum of $750,000. The country is divided into thirteen districts under as many district chiefs, and their agents must cover the country. It is a feeble appropriation and a woefully light brigade."-Sidney Howard in current issue of Hearst's International.

Strange old story-the story of Medusa. It's come such a long way down to bright old days when "all the men were brave-and all the women beautiful." Medusa, the beautiful woman, half mortal and half goddess, with not hair that was not hair at all, but a coiling mass of hissing serpents. And he who followed the soft wooing of Medusa's voice and looked upon the twining serpents that were her hair was turned to stone-and never knew again the delights of human communication with human kind. Medusa-if we believed in her existence today-we should call her the patron saint of "dope." Morphine, cocaine, heroin, hasheesh, marihuana-these are the snakes that curl about the head of this modern Medusa. Where is the Perseus to look with unblinking eyes at this horror and put an end to it once and for all?


By the tons it is coming into this country-the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the vary heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms. Which is the worst of the five evils? Who can say? Marihuana is a short cut to the insane asylum. Smoke marihuana cigarettes for a month and what was once your brain will be nothing but a storehouse of horrid specters. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any "habit" could ever get him. Morphine shrivels the body to skin and bone, atrophies the will and turns a normal human being into the sick shadow of a man who will sell his own flesh and blood, no matter how young and tender, to the horrible bondage of the streets to get his drug. Cocaine stifles reason, chokes all sense of responsibility and sets loose upon the world a dangerous "Frankenstein" with neither reason nor conscience to control him. Heroin combines morphine and cocaine and is stronger and more deadly than either.


The legitimate practice of medicine needs less than three and one-half tons of these drugs the world around, even under the old belief in cocaine and heroin which the best physicians already have discarded. And over 1,5000 tons of morphine alone are turned loose every year to flood the world with untellable misery. We here in America use nearly three-fourths of the narcotic drugs that are manufactured everywhere in the world. What are we going to do about it? How are we going to stem this fearful tide that is sweeping so relentlessly and so certainly upon us? The first thing to do is to educate. The second thing to do is to educate. The third thing to do is to educate. We are all asleep and dreaming writing books about feminism, producing plays about the sex problem-and every line is a new problem. Making speeches about nothing, following every new band wagon that blasons some new fad or fancy-and while we tell ourselves how clever and wideawake and modern we are this real and terrible danger stands on our very doorsteps and pushes with relentless power its cruel way into the very hearts of our homes. Let's wake up! Let's face the truth! Let's know about "dope." Let's know all about it from the bad beginning to the dreadful ending!


Powerful organizations all over this country today are beginning to make a study of the subject---just beginning. Let's join one of those organizations you and I. Let's make this terrible business our own affair. Let's ask the President of the United States to proclaim an anti-narcotic week and help attract the attention of the whole country to the terrible truth. Laws-yes, and we need new laws. We need stronger State laws, stronger Federal laws and stronger city ordinances. In New York City, for instance, a "go-getter" from the dope ring" may make it his business to bring new victims into the toils of "dope" every day. The man who sells "dope" sells it for money and in order to get that money and plenty of it he will teach the habit to any one he can reach by hook or by crook-young or old, man or woman, girl or boy, good or bad, happy or miserable-what does he care?

Every now "dope" slays means new money in hip pocket. Arrest such a man under the city ordinance In New York City and what can you do with him? Try him for a misdemeanor-- not for a crime--and send him to the island for a few days and make him pay a few dollars' fine, which means just about as much to him as one or two street car fares would mean to you or me.


Change the city ordinances, make "dope" selling not a misdemeanor but a crime, and punish it as crimes are punished. In some States the State laws make it about as serious to be caught selling "dope" as it is to be caught throwing a torn envelope into the street instead of into the corner trash box. The Harrlson narcotic law is a good law as Federal laws go, but it does not go far enough. The Jones-Miller law, which was passed last May, is an excellent law. It makes the penalty for "dope" selling or "dope" buying or "dope" possession ten years in the penitentiary and $5,000 fine. It gives the power to deport immediately any foreigner caught selling "dope," and it lays a fine upon any ship caught bringing "dope" Into American ports. How is the Jones-Miller law carried out? As far as the fining of ships goes it Is a farce. The Nanking comes into the port of San Francisco voyage after voyage alive with "dope." The Collector of the Port estimates the value of the "dope" seizure and fines the ship.


The Secretary of the Treasury telegraphs from Washington and reduces the fine to less than one fourth of the sum which has been set by the Collector of the Port and not one penny of that even is collected. This same story can be told of half a dozen ships which are known to the whole Pacific fleet to be "dope" carriers Whether this sort of thing goes on in other ports or not the records of those ports will tell. It certainly goes on, In San Francisco and goes on week in and weak out, month out and month in--and the law is a byword and a laughing stock from one end of the water front to the other. The Jones-Miller law regulates the manufacture and retailing and wholesaling of drugs from the factory. Is the output of every factory checked up as it should be? Ask the Middle West narcotic agent who found 4,000 ounces of narcotics going out of one factory in the Middle West to a little drug concern In Brooklyn capitalized for $56,000. Every month this 4,000 ounces has been coming to that one little drug concern. What did the Middle West factory people think one small Brooklyn concern was going to do with 4,000 ounces a month?


The narcotic division of the Federal service is crippled for want of money. There are not half enough men in the narcotic division to do half or even one-fifth, of the work that should be at least attempted. Detroit alone faces a Canadian border line of thirty miles, with a narrow river between Canada and the United States. Detroit is crammed full of Turks, Armenians, Syrians, Lascars and a dozen other drug-using peoples. What can a handful of poorly paid Federal officers do against such an army of lawbreakers--to the north, to the south, to the east and to the west?


Why not get to the bottom of things and stop this dreadful business at the very bottom? Stop the planting and the harvesting of the opium poppy. Stop the planting and the harvesting of the coca plant and stop the planting and the harvesting of every plant from which these deadly drugs are made. Let some real committee of real physicians take this matter up and decide how much narcotics are really needed and let them then petition the President of the United States to call an international conference where ways and means to rid the world of this frightful menace can be discussed in sane, practical and friendly fashion. Why not? Let's strangle this Medusa of "dope" once and for all if it takes the combined effort of every real, courageous and earnest human being in the United States to do it.

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