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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Drug Addiction, Crime or Disease?

Drug Addiction, Crime or Disease?

Interim and Final Reports of the Joint Committee of the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association on Narcotic Drugs.


An Appraisal of International, British and Selected European Narcotic Drug Laws, Regulations and Policies


In canvassing existing sources and planning its own studies, the Joint Committee of the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association on Narcotic Drugs had necessarily to inquire about the workings of comparable narcotic drug control systems in other parts of the world.

It quickly developed that American authorities are in conflict about other systems; especially with respect to the situation in Great Britain there is disagreement even as to whether a so-called narcotics problem exists on any significant scale.

It was therefore decided to make some of the resources provided by the Russell Sage Foundation available to permit observations at first hand (facilitated by the fact that a Joint Committee member was already committed to be in Europe in connection with Bar Association activities).

The conclusions which follow are thus supported by direct study and interviews with public officials and others in the United Nations headquarters in New York and Geneva, and in England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium and Italy. No effort has been made to appraise conditions in areas other than the United Kingdom and Western Europe because analogies with nations which produce drugs domestically on an extensive scale, or whose political and cultural patterns differ widely from our own, seem sharply limited in value as guidance for the Joint Committee.

The conclusions reached in this study are two: first, efforts to control drugs by international prohibition measures, though desirable and successful in part, are unlikely to be a major factor in solving our domestic addiction problem within the United States; and second, the experience of comparable national communities in Europe in recent years has been startlingly different from our own with respect to the drug addiction problem, owing largely to a difference in their attitudes and enforcement policies regarding addicted persons and the medical profession.

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