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The Rufus King Collection
Comments on Narcotic Drugs


Comments on


Interim report of the Joint Committee of the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association on Narcotic Drugs

by Advisory Committee to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics

JULY 3, 1958.

Note: To fully understand this document, and the context in which it arose, you should also read these other documents which are in the Schaffer Online library:

Memorandum for the Advisory Committee

When one examines the composition of the joint committee of the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association, one finds that the members are, almost without exception, individuals who had identified themselves with one panacea. These single minded individuals then emerged under what appeared to be the sponsorship of the ABA and the AMA. The public is conditioned to expect that ABA and AMB committees are oriented toward impartial deliberation, rather than propaganda. In this instance it would appear that the conclusions of the committee were determined by the composition of its membership, and for all practical purposes, their conclusions preceded the formation of the committee. This should be called to the attention of whosoever may be interested in the report.

The issue crystallized by the committee tends to obscure many important areas for research in the field of narcotics addiction.


Commissioner of Narcotics.



February 24, 1958.

Commissioner HARRY J. ANSLINGER,

Bureau of Narcotics, Treasury Department

Washington 25, D. C.

Dear Comissioner Anslinger:

Our Committee has carried its assignment forward to the point where we now have the enclosed interim report with the appendices. I take pleasure in providing you with this material for your information and also so that we may have your comments and suggestions.

The Committee feels it would be very helpful to sit down with you at your convenience in order to discuss the enclosed materials. I would appreciate your letting me have 3 or 4 alternate dates for such a meeting. It is as you know difficult to arrange a date and time which will be agreeable to everybody.

I look forward to hearing from you soon and also look forward to a discussion of narcotics problems with you.

Sincerely yours,

Morris Ploscowe,

Director Narcotic Drugs Control Study, Russell Sage Foundation, in cooperation with, the Joint Committee of the American Bar Association and the American. Medical Association, on Narcotic Drugs.


American Bar Association.

Edward J. Dimock, judge, United States District Court

Abe Fortas, Esq., Arnold, Fortes and Porter

Rufus King, Esq., American Bar Association

American. Medical Association.

R. H. Felix, M. D., National Institute of Mental Health

Isaac Starr, M. D., University of Pennsylvania

Joseph Stetler, Esq., American Medical Association


March 4, 1958.

Hon. Morris Ploscowe,

Director, Narcotic Drugs Control Study, Russell Sage Foundation,

505 Park Ave., New Pork 22, N. Y.

Dear Judge Ploscowe:

For your kindness in sending me, with your letter of February 24, the interim report of the Joint Committee of the American Bar association and the American Medical Association on Narcotic Drugs and asking for my comments and suggestions I am grateful. As for my comment, after reading this report I find it incredible that so many glaring inaccuracies, manifest inconsistencies, apparent ambiguities, important omissions, and even false statements could be found in one report on the narcotic problem.

My suggestion is that the person (unquestionably prejudiced) who prepared this report should sit down with our people to make necessary corrections. We do not wish to censor the report. Our concern is to have you submit for consideration a factual document, regardless of policy, whether it be narcotic law enforcement, clinics, the British System, hospitalization, or penal provisions.

It would then be possible for those who are to recommend appropriate action to have the facts at their disposal.

Sincerely yours,

H. J. Anslinger,

Commissioner of Narcotics.

On March 6, Mr. Ploscowe asked for a bill of particulars.

On March 17, I informed him that we were appointing an advisory committee composed of distinguished experts in the field of narcotics.


Division of Medical Sciences


At the 14th meeting of this committee, held October 1-2, 1954, the following resolution was unanimously approved:

The committee disapproves a policy of legalization of administration of narcotics to addicts by established clinics or suitably designated physicians because:

1. It is impossible to maintain addicts on a uniform level of dosage;

2. ambulatory treatment of addiction is impossible and has been so judged by the American Medical Association and other informed groups;

3. The clinics would facilitate the production of new addicts by increasing drug availability; and

4. The policy is contrary to international conventions and national legislation.