Chapter 3
Old Time Radio Programs

World Narcotic Defense Association


The Growing Menace of Narcotic Drugs

Wednesday, February 24,1937

FEBRUARY 23, 1937

Mr. FISH. Mr. speaker, under leave to extend my remarks, I include a radio speech made by me under the auspices of the World Narcotic Defense Association as a part of its annual Narcotic Education Week program over the Columbia Broadcasting System, Tuesday evening, February 23, 1937, from Radio Station WJSV at Washington:

The present century, is suffering from the most serious narcotic drug problem the world has ever known. This is largely because science has discovered the ways of producing high-powered drugs extremely profitable in exploitation from the basic drugs, opium, and cocaine. There are two angles to this scientific research. One is the commercial angle, seeking to find drugs that can develop a ready market in countries from which certain narcotic derivatives are excluded. These drugs must be so constituted that they can slip through the network of the laws covering exportation and Importation, national and International. This research has developed narcotic forms that escape the law by some technicality, and yet are in demand because they can be restored to the narcotic character they are supposed to have lost by clever chemistry.

Synthetic chemists are progressing in the art of manufacturing narcotic drugs like morphine and heroin from a coal-tar base. Much of this research is quite honest in its effort to discover drugs that possess the pain-relieving qualities without the habit-forming qualities of basic narcotics. In fact, heroin masqueraded in this guise for some time, though it is now known as the most pernicious of all narcotic drugs in common use. It is the conscienceless exploitation by greedy commerce that has made the narcotic-drug problem so difficult to be handled. The narcotic-drug traffic has become a serious danger and the economic and social questions involved In its control are both vast and complicated.

The opium problem is no longer that of China and India specifically so long and so ruthlessly exploited by the opium traffic directed from Europe. Nor is the cocaine problem one of Peru and Bolivia, Ceylon and Java, exclusively. The opium and coca leaf produced is no longer used almost entirely by the addicts of those countries. A considerable part of this production now goes to the narcotic factories of the western countries, there to be turned into narcotic drugs such as morphine, heroin, and cocaine.

It is estimated that the amount of narcotic drugs consumed by addicts is 30 times the amount required for legitimate use. This amount is supplied by the greed of commerce and distributed largely through the craft of narcotic drug smugglers and clandestine manufacturers. The economic angle in the producing countries is one which must be given consideration if anything effective is to be done to reduce production. . Every effort must be made to give such countries assistance in finding other crops and products to replace opium and coca leaf which now form an important part in their domestic and foreign commerce.

From the social angle the problem is equally serious. Poverty, crime, insanity follow in the train of the narcotic peril. Poverty is an inevitable corollary of such addiction for two reasons. One is that no one wishes to employ a drug addict, since the unreliability of these unfortunates is proverbial. The other reason is that the habit is an expensive one. The money by the user of cocaine or heroin or morphine is mortgaged to the satisfaction of the false appetite he has developed. No matter what the cost in money, reputation, or professional advancement the drug addict must have his customary dose of narcotic. If for any reason the supply is interrupted, the mental life of the addict is upset. Such a person is virtually insane for the time being. From whatever angle the question is considered, one fact emerges: There is a relation between the increase in certain crimes and the Increasing illicit traffic in drugs. It has been estimated that 80 percent of drug addicts become criminals, and that about 32 percent of the prisoners in Federal institutions are either drug addicts or were convicted in violation of Federal narcotic laws. From the army of indictments t narcotic drugs, which are derived from the evidence presented by the records of criminal courts, physicians in charge of narcotic clinics, officials of prisons, of hospitals of welfare institutions, reports of State and National narcotic bureaus, reports of police departments and of public-health services, the conclusion that can be formed is that every narcotic drug addict is a potential criminal or social derelict.

The reasons underlying this conclusion axe twofold; not only are the effects of narcotic drugs on the nervous system such that the physical organism is injured but the mind and will are so influenced by the habit urge that the addict is compelled to continue his indulgence an the penalty of suffering beyond endurance. The effects of heroin, cocaine, and marihuana are especially to be dreaded, because there is in these drugs an initial stage of false stimulation during which the user is at the may of excited and uncontrolled brain and nerves. It is in this stage that young recruits to criminal bands are made. Many young persons are today facing ruined lives because they started an Indulgence in heroin, cocaine, and marihuana, for the fun of it or on a dare. All in all, the army of narcotic drug addicts in this country furnishes one of our major social problems.

When we are considering the seriousness of the narcotics-drug peril there is one phase of it that we must bear constantly in mind. That is the impossibility of practicing this habit in moderation. These narcotic drugs are teed to enslave you if you tamper with them. There is no halfway stage. You are free from the narcotic-drug habit absolutely or you are a victim of it absolutely. The narcotic-drug addict has sacrificed himself through the inevitable habit he has set up in his system. The addict to these drugs, opium, morphine, cocaine, heroin, marihuana, is a victim of a malignant habit from which he Is powerless to free himself once a tolerance for the narcotic poison has been developed.

This serious narcotic situation must be remedied as a measure of social salvation, not only for the United States but for all countries. Secretary of State Cordell Hull has said: "Experience has demonstrated that nations acting alone are unable adequately to protect themselves against the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs; isolated action by one country can have no permanent or effective result while other countries allow free import and export of drugs.

America has taken the leadership In developing this cooperation. Her leadership appeared in 1909, when the first international conference was held in Shanghai under the presidency of the late Bishop Brent, and has been maintained ever since. American leadership extends to the technique of control, the United States Bureau of Narcotics being recognized as a model for efficiency, and the legitimate manufacturers in America as an example of 100-percent cooperation with the Government.

I have introduced in the Congress a bill (H. R. 229) to prohibit the importation of certain drugs which are used for making marihuana, a narcotic that is being extensively used, by the younger generation in America. This bill is now before the House Ways and Means Committee, and I hope to get favorable action on It during the present session of Congress.

Marihuana is used largely in the form of cigarettes, which cause delusions and produce insanity and often lead to atrocities that only a drug-soaked mind could conceive. Marihuana is a sinister drug that has only recently become available and popular among the younger element. It is much cheaper than cocaine heroin, or morphine, and to that extent more dangerous, and is fast becoming a serious menace.

There should be drastic laws not only against the importation of the ingredients but even more so against the manufacture and sale of marihuana in cigarettes or in any other form. This is a matter for the State legislatures and the Congress to take up and adopt effective legislation without further delay to curb and, if possible, wipe out this growing evil and menace to the youth of America.


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