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Berlin Toxicologist, in Book, Holds Prohibition Cannot Be Justified by Science.


Prof. Lewin Denies Its Normal Use Diminishes Intellectual Vigor or Clearness of Judgment.

New York Times December 23,  1931

Prohibition is criticized as scientifically, morally and economically unsound, and the use of alcohol is defended as "a vital necessity" of mankind by Professor Louis Lewin, toxicologist of the University of Berlin, in his new book, "Phantastica: Narcotic and Stimulating Drugs, Their Use and Abuse."

The volume, an extensive study of the drugs of the world and the part they play in modern civilization, is released in this country by E. P. Dutton & Co.

Prohibition in the United States has led to a tremendous increase in the use of narcotics and other excitants, Professor Lewin declares. The idea that the world can be improved by prohibition is "destitute of all reasonable foundation," he asserts, pointing to increased crime in this country as a proof of his argument. The growing addiction to narcotics here as a result of prohibition he regards as a problem of vast importance.

"The absolute coercion which is imposed on the Americans by the prohibition act with respect to alcohol has necessarily had the result of greatly increasing the use of other excitants and narcotics," Professor Lewin asserts. "The enormous use of the latter seems to be totally ignored by the abstainers in America. Morphinists and cocainists are continually growing in number. The consumption of coffee has also developed in an undreamed-of manner."

He denies there is any foundation for the charges of abstainers that alcohol paralyzes the higher mental functions, diminishes the quality of intellectual work, the sharpness and accuracy of conception, the clearness of judgment and the faculties of memory. A person in a state of drunkenness may suffer from these deficiencies, he points out, but this is not true of a regular, moderate user of alcohol.

"Prohibition as it is compulsorily enforced in the United States cannot be defended by recourse to accurate scientific psychological research nor by the testimony of physical disturbances produced by the moderate use of alcohol," the author declares.

"The use of alcoholic beverages has become for the greater part of mankind a vital necessity. The desire to procure alcohol in the United States inevitably leads to infringements of the law, fraud, smuggling, &c., especially in the 'dry States.' The quantities of alcohol which a person with normally inhibitory senses consumes are neither physically nor intellectually injurious. He is beneficially affected by them quite apart from the alimentary qualities of alcohol."


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