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Rising Tide of Narcotics Over World

Smugglers Baffle Officials After Curb Placed by Geneva

The Literary Digest - May,16, 1936, page 32

Sweating Canton coolies plod up and down row after row of tall poppy plants not yet in flower, stripping the green pods from tender buds and fetching them in woven-fiber baskets to sun-baked bamboo clearings. There other coolies puncture them veith deft jabs, draining off the juice. The same sun beats down on Peruvian mestizos, busily harvesting lush coca leaves, and upon Louisiana cajuns, stuffing the dried flowering tops of Indian hemp into huge burlap sacks.

Down the gang-plank of a transatlantic liner trips a beautiful woman, her childishlv innocent face illumined with the awe of the great City of New York. Out from the shadows of the pier-shed two uniformed men appear. The woman's smile dims perceptibly. Ten minutes later she darts into a taxicab; the smile is genuine once more; they have searched her clothing and her luggage, but the trim French heels are still secure on her Talbot slippers.

Pain-And Peace-Into a dimly-lighted evil-smelling third-floor room in some near or distant city a human derelict shuffles. Unmindful of a dozen similar wrecks about him, he squats, twitching, in a corner; from a baggy pocket he brings a battered spoon, pours something into it, heats it over a trembling match; then, with a common pin, he stabs a wrist-vein, moans as the hot liquid touches the wound. A moment later-peace. The circle is complete. Thanks to the woman's slipper, the harvest from the Yangtse flowers in the backwashes of American cities.

A year ago, foes of the highly organized world traffic of one to two hundred million dollars a year in narcotics believed success was in sight.

The Geneva Drug Limitation Conference of 1931 had set forty tons a year (5,000,000,000 doses) of cocaine, opium, morphine, heroin, and marihuana as a limit. Sixty factories were licensed in the United States, England, Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Holland. First results were

Then the tide turned suddenly. The flow of poppy"mud (opium) from Turkey, and Yugoslavia increased. "Snow" (cocaine) from the coca plants of Peru, and Bolivia sifted over the world; "reefers" (cigarettes of marihuana from hemp) bobbed up to supply the craving of their 2,000,000 users, the hemp drawn from half the States of the Union.

The mad hunger of ten million "junkies," -"snowbirds," "hopheads, and ~mugglers"-seemed stronger than all the  combined forces of men and women who wished; -for the addicts sake to break the vicious circle. In New York, Paris London,  wholesale quotations of $350 pound for opium, $375 for morphine, - $2750 for cocaine, tumbled 30 percent.

Next month determined delegates to the World Narcotic Conference in Geneva hear the report of the Permanent Central Opium Board of the League of Nations take steps to dam the tide more effectively. Meanwhile, in the United States, the World Narcotic Defense Association, led by Admiral Richmond P. Hobson, of Spanish American War fame, is redoubling its fight.

Heavy Confiscations-Spurred on by crusaders, "whiskers" (Federal agents) seized 21,000 antiasthma cigarettes made of crushed poppy-heads, took 62,000 shots of morphine from a ship in Seattle Harbor confiscated 1,000,000 doses of cocaine.

Typical of the legal difficulties in peculiarly American war against marihuana is the case of a Florida youth became a hopeless addict after a chance peddler had supplied him with a  "sample" cigarette.

One night he became obsessed with the idea that people were trying to cut off his arms and legs. Seizing an ax, he killed his father, mother, two brothers, and a sister as they slept.

In only thirty-three States is there law against the sale of narcotics, Since there is no national statute, the Federal men would have been powerless to prosecute the "ice-tong doctor" who sold the boy his "reefers," had they caught up with him.

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