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Legal References on Drug Policy

Federal Court Decisions on Drugs by Decade


1900 1910 1920 1930 1940
1950 1960 1970 1980 1990
Year Title and Summary

US Supreme Court

BLOCKBURGER v. UNITED STATES   -  January 4, 1932

1. Two sales of morphine not in or from the original stamped package, the second having been initiated after the first was complete, held separate and distinct offenses under 1 of the Narcotics Act, although buyer and seller were the same in both cases and but little time elapsed between the end of the one transaction and the beginning of the other. P. 301.

2. Section 1 of the Narcotics Act, forbidding sale except in or from the original stamped package, and 2, forbidding sale not in pursuance of a written order of the person to whom the drug is sold, create two distinct offenses, and both are committed by a single sale not in or from the original stamped package and without a written order. P. 303.

3. Where the same act or transaction constitutes a violation of two distinct statutory provisions, the test to be applied to determine whether there are two offenses or only one, is whether each provision requires proof of a fact which the other does not. P. 304.

4. The penal section of the Act, "any person who violates or fails to comply with any of the requirements of this act" shall be punished, etc., means that each offense is subject to the penalty prescribed. P. 305.

US Supreme Court

NARDONE ET AL. v. UNITED STATES - December 20, 1937

1. In view of the provisions of 605 of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U. S. C. 605, evidence obtained by federal agents by tapping telephone wires and intercepting messages is not admissible in a criminal trial in the federal district court. P. 382.

2. In the provision of 605 of the Communications Act of 1934, that "no person not being authorized by the sender shall intercept any communication and divulge or publish the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect or meaning of such intercepted communication to any person; . . ." the phrase "no person" embraces federal agents engaged in the detection of crime; and to "divulge" an intercepted communication to "any person" embraces testimony in a court as to the contents of such a communication. P. 383.

3. Evidence in congressional committee reports indicating that the major purpose of the Federal Communications Act was the transfer of jurisdiction over wire and radio communication to the newly constituted Federal Communications Commission, and other circumstances in the legislative history of the Act, held insufficient to negative the plain mandate of the provisions of 605 forbidding wire-tapping. P. 382.

4. Whether wire-tapping as an aid in the detection and punishment of crime should be permitted to federal agents is a question of policy for the determination of the Congress. P. 383.

5. The canon that the general words of a statute do not include the Government or affect its rights, unless that construction be clear and indisputable from the language of the Act, is inapplicable to this case; but applicable is the principle that the sovereign is embraced by general words of a statute intended to prevent injury and wrong. Pp. 383-384.