Dealing With Drugs: Consequences of Government Control

When I was writing The Cartoon Guide to Recreational Drugs I scoured the local libraries and bookstores looking for useful and interesting historical works. Dealing With Drugs: Consequences of Government Control is one of my sources.

The parts I generally took notes from were either about the drugs themselves or the prohibition of drugs. You’ll find the information garnered from these books throughout the Prohibition Politics section of this site. It will also have informed some of my own postings stored in the older Prohibition Politics archive.

If you find this information useful, you will want to search out the books themselves to read the text in context. All of the books here are at least moderately interesting.


Ronald Hamowy edits this collection of articles about the consequences of prohibition on crime levels, racism, and corruption. Arnold S. Trebach describes U.S. drug policy in terms familiar to anyone who has read Animal Farm.

p. 1

1st ten years of prohibition: $88.1 million, translates to 506.2 million in 1983 dollars (via Consumer Price Index). In 1983, Feds budget at least $836.3 million.

In 1985, feds budgeted at least $1.2 billion. Washington Times, Sept 25, 1984, estimates that funds at all levels of government, plus prevention and rehabilitation projects, is about $5 billion per year.

P. 3

Cocaine use: 1.2 to 2.0 million 1976-1979; 4.4-6 million 1979-1984. [Users, President’s Commission on Organized Crime]

Heroin users, marijuana consumption relatively constant.

P. 12

“The intent of physicians, legislators , and other social reformers who lobbied for these laws was to protect whites from what was commonly regarded as a loathsome Oriental vice. What Orientals themselves did was of minor concern. Indeed, Idaho’s original statue of 1887, making it unlawful to maintain or frequent a house where opium was smoked, explicitly referred solely to “any white person.” It was not until 1893 that the law was amended to apply to “any person.”

P. 20

Kenneth Clark, 1936, Universal News Service:

Murders Due to ‘Killer Drug’ Marihuana Sweeping United States Shocking crimes of violence are increasing. Murders, slaughterings, cruel mutilations, maimings, done in cold blood, as if some hideous monster was amok in the land. Alarmed Federal and State authorities attribute much of this violence to the “killer drug.” That’s what experts call marihuana… Those addicted to marihuana, after an early feeling of exhilaration, soon lose all restraints, all inhibitions. They become bestial demoniacs, filled with the mad lust to kill…

p. 32

Many arguments have been offered “calling for repeal of our drug laws. Of far greater importance, however, is the fact that any statute aimed at preventing behavior that does harm to no one but the actor—that is legislation that creates victimless crimes—raises significant ethical questions in a society the most important of whose founding principles is individual freedom.”

P. 33

“This country was not founded on the principle that our governors are our parents.”

The Need For Reform Of International Narcotics Laws

Arnold S. Trebach

p. 122

Iran resorted to death penalty after revolution:

“The roving executioner of the revolution, Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, held brief trials of alleged drug traffickers; shouted “I shall exterminate you vermin!”; and ordered summary executions, which were carried out within minutes.”

P. 123

Even this didn’t work.

P. 159-161

“Harry Anslinger, founder and longtime head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, declared “Reefers and propaganda… go hand in hand.” He warned Americans to “be on guard against the use of drugs as a political weapon by the Communists” who “may try to make narcotics a new ‘sixth’ column to weaken and destroy selected targets in the drive for world domination.”

‘His favorite bête noir was Red China, which he accused of planning a “long range dope-and-dialectic assault on America and its leaders.””

He claimed that “Red China” was the primary source of heroin entering the United States.

These stories wax and wane with foreign policy towards China: A San Francisco drug bust in ‘59 was called “the biggest Chinese narcotics operation that we’ve ever come across” by the agent in charge. Anslinger used it as proof of Red China’s involvement. “Buried in news accounts was the fact that one of the ring leaders was an official of the Chinese Anti-Communist Committee, whom U.S. officials permitted to flee to Taiwan.”

“As late as 1970 the BNDD [Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs] stated flatly that “opium is cultivated in vast quantities in the Yunnan Province of China.””

But by 1971, when Nixon started his talks with China, the State Department claimed “There is no reliable evidence that the Communist Chinese ever engaged in or sanctioned the illicit export of opium or its derivatives.” The White House instructed its agencies to beware of communist dope stories, alleging that they originated in the “propaganda mills” of Taiwan.

P. 192

“Racemic amphetamine sulfate (Benzedrine) was first synthesized in 1887, but it was not introduced as medicine until 1932, when the Benzedrine inhaler became available over the counter in drug stores as a treatment for nasal congestion and asthma.”

“Soon amphetamine was receiving sensational publicity with numerous references to “brain,” “pep,” and superman” pills.”

“Since 1970 use and abouse of amphetamines have declined because of legal restrictions.”

Until ‘70s, were drug of choice for weight loss.

P. 221

[Robert Byck: Cocaine, Marijuana, and the Meaning of Addiction]

“The smoking of cocaine paste, a crude derivative of coca leaves with 30 percent to 90 [maybe 40, can’t read my own handwriting] percent cocaine freebase, has become a new form of abuse among the urban youth of South America.”

In the U.S., freebase (but a material refined from street “cocaine” is smoked. Cocaine is destroyed in the burning, but the hot gasses vaporize much of the drug.

Table I-1 (I have a xerox): Dates of First Enactment of State Laws Prohibition the Sale of Certain Drugs Except by Prescription. Covers Cocaine, Opium, Morphine, Heroin, Marijuana, and Peyote.

Table I-2 (I have a xerox): Dates of Enactment of Statues Prohibition the Keeping of an Opium Den.