Report of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate on the illicit narcotics traffic

Abstract

By a resolution of 18 March 1955 the Senate of the United States of America authorized a nation-wide investigation of the illicit narcotics traffic and related matters. The aim of the inquiry was to find "ways and means of improving the Federal Criminal Code and other laws and enforcement procedures dealing with the possession, sale and transportation of narcotics, marihuana and similar drugs ". The task was carried out by the Sub-Committee on Improvements in the Federal Criminal Code which conducted hearings, heard witnesses and obtained evidence through questionnaires, etc. The Bulletin hereby presents the general recommendations of the Sub-Committee.

Details

Pages: 11 to 13
Creation Date: 1956/01/01

Report of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate on the illicit narcotics traffic

By a resolution of 18 March 1955 the Senate of the United States of America authorized a nation-wide investigation of the illicit narcotics traffic and related matters. The aim of the inquiry was to find "ways and means of improving the Federal Criminal Code and other laws and enforcement procedures dealing with the possession, sale and transportation of narcotics, marihuana and similar drugs ". The task was carried out by the Sub-Committee on Improvements in the Federal Criminal Code which conducted hearings, heard witnesses and obtained evidence through questionnaires, etc. The Bulletin hereby presents the general recommendations of the Sub-Committee.

General recommendations

The Sub-Committee recommends :

International controls

That the Senate adopt a joint resolution urging all nations to ratify at the earliest possible time the 1953 protocol which would limit the cultivation of the poppy plant, the production of, international and wholesale trade in, and the use of opium to the medical and scientific needs of the world. Further, that the United Nations be urged to expedite the final drafting of the proposed single convention which would modernize, codify, and replace existing conventions and protocols on narcotics.

That the Senate adopt a joint resolution urging all nations which have not previously outlawed heroin to do so at the earliest possible time.

That the Senate adopt a joint resolution urging the United Nations Laboratory, which tests samples of the opium seized in the illicit narcotics traffic, to report the results of those tests not only to the determined country of origin and to the country in which the drugs were seized, but also to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations.

That the Senate adopt a joint resolution urging that the Division of Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations, recently moved to Geneva, Switzerland, be relocated at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, where the full force of wide public opinion can be brought to bear in the fight against the illicit narcotic traffic.

That high-level conferences be initiated between officials of the United States and Mexico for the purpose of agreeing to a treaty of co-operation and exchange of personnel for a mutual fight against the drug traffic across our common border, including provisions for extradition of narcotic violators and fugitives.

That increased personnel be assigned to work with narcotic agents of other countries in a co-operative effort to stop at the source illicit dope shipments intended for the United States.

Increased penalties

That minimum and maximum penalties be increased for all violations of the narcotics laws, with greatly increased penalties for sales to juveniles.

That heroin, the most deadly of all narcotic drugs, which is used by 80 per cent of all drug addicts in the United States, should be completely outlawed. Federal laws should deal with heroin offences not only as tax law violations but as criminal acts injurious to the peace, health, and welfare of the nation.

That smuggling of heroin into this country and sales should be punishable by penalties ranging from a minimum of 5 years in the penitentiary to a maximum of death (when the death penalty is recommended by a jury).

Heroin smugglers and peddlers are selling murder, robbery, and rape and should be dealt with accordingly. Their offence is human destruction as surely as that of the murderer. In truth and in fact, it is "murder on the instalment plan", leading not only to the final loss of one life but to others who acquire this contagious infection through association with the original victim.

The death penalty recommendation in this case would be a maximum-not a mandatory sentence. It would be available for extreme cases, such as the man who started 40 high school students on heroin in San Antonio, Tex. It would put greater fear in all persons who might otherwise think of smuggling this drug into our country or selling it to our children.

That offences involving the smuggling of illicit narcotic drugs should be punishable, under the narcotic laws rather than the general smuggling statutes, in order that the higher narcotic law penalties might apply, and in order that the cases might be counted among previous narcotic convictions.

Enforcement procedures

That a chapter be added to the Federal Criminal Code providing for:

  1. More liberal search and seizure provisions in narcotics cases. When federal agents see the violation occur or have probable cause to believe that it is occurring, and in cases of consent searches, the agents should be permitted to make arrest without search warrants, and the government should be granted right of appeal from federal court decisions suppressing evidence thus obtained.

  2. Interception and admissibility of telephone communications in narcotics cases, with due safeguards, including the requirement of a sealed court order permitting such action.

    The big-time traffickers in illicit narcotics are seldom caught and convicted, because they avoid all direct contact with the peddlers and ultimate buyers. Their operations are almost wholly limited to the telephone. Federal agents are11 not permitted to intercept their communications or to use such evidence in court. As a consequence, the United States Government is unwittingly giving narcotics violators, especially the larger racketeers and wholesalers, a great advantage over federal law enforcement officers in their effort to stamp out the illicit narcotics traffic.

  3. Stricter provisions for granting bond in narcotic cases and speedier trials. All over the country the subcommittee heard evidence that narcotic violators intensify their sales after arrest and while out on bond. One witness became the biggest marihuana wholesaler in New York while out on bond during the two years between conviction and the disposal of his appeal.

  4. Statutory authority for federal narcotics agents to carry firearms, execute and serve search and arrest warrants, serve subpoenas, and make arrests without warrants for narcotics law violations occurring or observed in their presence.

  5. Mandatory reports from all federal officers and agencies to the Bureau of Narcotics of all narcotic addicts and violators who come to their attention, with pictures and fingerprints, in order that the Bureau may increase and complete its present record system and serve as a clearing-house for information concerning such persons; further providing that this information shall be available for law-enforcement purposes to state and local officials of all states which require their officers and agencies to report such addicts and violators to the Bureau of Narcotics.

    It is vitally important that the names, addresses, pictures, fingerprints, and records of all known narcotic addicts and violators be assembled in one central agency. A splendid effort is being made in this direction through a voluntary system of reports set up by Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger in co-operation with state and local officials, but the Bureau has no authority to require these reports and has not been given the authority, funds, or personnel necessary to expand and complete this vital record system.

    That narcotic addicts, illegal users of marihuana and narcotic drugs, and convicted narcotic violators (other than aliens) be prevented from leaving the continental limits of the United States except under special procedures approved by the Secretary of State and the Bureau of Narcotics.

Increased personnel and operating funds

Appropriation for at least 50 additional agents for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics should be provided at the earliest possible time, with ultimate addition of another 50 agents to bring the total to not less than 350 agents.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, under the able direction of Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger, has done a splendid job in holding the narcotics traffic to its present level, considering its limited personnel and operating funds. The Bureau is one of the few federal agencies whose personnel and funds have not been increased to meet the growing needs of our times.

Over a 25-year period a force of' approximately 227 agents with an average annual expenditure of less than $2 million has enforced the narcotic laws of this country. This is entirely inadequate to-day, as evidenced by the fact that New York City alone has more full-time narcotic agents than the United States Governmnent. Constant limitation of operating funds has seriously curtailed the activities of these agents in undercover investigations. The present force of 250 agents is 25 agents short of the number authorized by the Congress because of the inadequacy of its budget and appropriations, and at least 50 additional agents should be provided at the earliest possible moment.

Other recommendations

The sub-Committee will report in the very near future other findings and recommendations concerning treatment and rehabilitation of narcotic addicts, barbiturates, amphetamines, and special laws applying to the District of Columbia.

Campaign against drug addiction in Germany

A leading German medical journal, the "Deutsches Arzteblatt " 1recently published an article on the guiding principles concerning the dangers of drug addiction and the fight against it.

The following extracts, are of interest:

The "Law on the Traffic of Narcotic Drugs" (Opium Law) and the "Ordinance on the Prescription of Medicines containing Narcotic Drugs and the Dispensing of them in Pharmacies" together with the various additional and subsidiary regulations constitute practical legal provisions for an effective combating of drug addiction provided they are consistently followed by all parties concerned. In addition, doctors must not only be familiar with these regulations and the different L?nder regulations concerning the care of the mentally ill and those addicted to alcohol or drugs, but must also never hesitate to apply them to individual cases.

Doctors should be able to rely on the unqualified support of state authorities in carrying out such measures. There must be close co-operation and exchange of information between the medical profession and the public health authorities which supervise the narcotic drugs ordinance.

Many narcotics are being prescribed more frequently than is absolutely necessary. Since the drugs mentioned in the Opium Law, according to legal regulations, can only be obtained by producing a medical prescription, doctors, in both general practice and hospitals, must never forget the danger inherent each time a narcotic drug is prescribed. One of the obligations of superintendents in hospitals and clinics is the supervision of the prescription of narcotic drugs by the medical staff.

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No. 30, 21 October 1955.

The treatment of drug addicts can only be carried out in closed psychiatric departments. Ambulatory treatment has proved unsuccessful.

The treatment of drug addicts is carried out in two stages:

  1. disintoxication or withdrawal and (2) rehabilitation. Rapid withdrawal is the preferred method. It lasts four to eight weeks and should invariably be followed by a rehabilitation treatment which usually lasts six months. Disintoxication and rehabilitation together form an obligatory unit of treatment.

Rehabilitation need not be carried out in the same infirmary or institution as disintoxication. Wards must have adequate facilities for suitable kinds of occupational therapy as well as for an individual and adaptable psychotherapy; experience has shown that such a combined therapeutic procedure is essential for the success of the rehabilitation treatment.

On completion of the disintoxication and rehabilitation treatment the patient must submit voluntarily to regular supervision over a period of about two years. During this probationary period, urine tests should be made, without warning. Subsequent examinations adapted to the individual case should be carried out by the doctor in charge of the treatment.

The addict should be treated as a sick person and not as a criminal or immoral person. This fundamental attitude must not however hinder in any way the necessary legal and medical measures for combating addiction.