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Harrison Narcotics Act Still Fostering Violence, Addiction 100 Years Later


marijuana prohibitionConcerned citizens and a coalition of organizations including representatives from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) will gather in cities nationwide on Wednesday, December 17th at noon on the steps of courthouses and other civic buildings. These demonstrations are in response to the 100-year anniversary of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 and call for responsible drug policy reforms that put doctors back in charge of helping people overcome substance addiction.

The Harrison Narcotics Act is considered one of the first American prohibitionist policies. While on its face the law merely regulated opiate and cocaine products in medical settings by licensing those involved in the market, a portion of the bill was interpreted to mean that doctors no longer had the authority to prescribe narcotics as a maintenance treatment for patients already suffering from substance addictions. As a result, addiction and associated violent crimes became a much more serious issue than before. In response, the Secretary of the Treasury organized a committee to identify possible solutions. Despite the fact that use of illegal drugs had increased since passage of the Act, the committee believed that punishment would be enough to deter addiction and concluded that enforcement should be more harshly imposed.

The consequences of this misinterpretation and increased enforcement have resulted in mass incarceration of people who would be far better served by medical and psychological professionals than the penal system. Despite significant research indicating that heroin prescriptions benefit the health and well-being of the user as well as the community in which they live, heroin maintenance programs are still not permitted in the U.S.

“The Harrison Narcotics Act resulted in widespread miscomprehension of addiction and 100 years later we are just now beginning to address the problems it created,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “We’re arresting countless nonviolent offenders, spending increasing amounts on incarceration and enforcement, yet the number of drug overdose deaths has risen dramatically. Cops clearly aren’t qualified to solve this problem.”

After the Harrison Narcotics Act was implemented, doctors immediately understood the problems associated with criminalizing addiction. An editorial in American Medicine in 1915 reported, “[The addict] is denied the medical care he urgently needs, open, above-board sources from which he formerly obtained his drug supply are closed to him, and he is driven to the underworld where lie can get his drug…and in violation of the law….”

In 1940, Indiana University psychologist Professor Alfred R. Lindesmith echoed his predecessors, “Solemn discussions are carried on about lengthening the addict’s already long sentence and as to whether or not he is a good parole risk. The basic question as to why he should be sent to prison at all is scarcely mentioned. Eventually, it is to be hoped that we shall come to see…that the punishment and imprisonment of addicts is as cruel and pointless as similar treatment for persons infected with syphilis would be…. The treatment of addicts in the United States today is on no higher plane than the persecution of witches of other ages, and like the latter it is to be hoped that it will soon become merely another dark chapter of history.”

LEAP is a nonprofit of criminal justice professionals who know the war on drugs has created a public safety nightmare of increased gang violence, police militarization and the fueling of dangerous underground markets.


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  1. Blah blah, kickashits, blah blah, good with axes, blah blah, going to jail, blah blah, veteran, blah blah, forcibly removed. Blah blah blah.

  2. Nope, I stopped reading after you repeated your threats, and went straight to the FBI. But I’m sure this is just me being unfair about being threatened. Have fun in prison, asshole.

  3. You’re about to be forcibly removed, AGAIN. You’ve issued threats of violence over the internet, so I’ve reported you to the FBI. The good news is that once you’re arrested, you’ll be able to see my name, as I had to supply my identity to file the complaint. The bad news, however — all your big talk is about to put you in big trouble.

  4. Mi-Cree-Ni Quash-Mah on

    “Stressing that addiction in the United States should not be handled by the Justice System is vitally important, but we must be wary of past lessons learned. We might end up swapping one label (criminal) for another (addict) with all the same societal trimmings, included”

    this makes you my friend and I can forgive my friends and forget the anger, which is the way of all great meetings of mind and matter. when the tribes first approach each other in the valley were one people and they knew and understood all that was inside the valley……. and on the out side nearer the mountains was another people and they understood the ways and nature of the mountain….

    no way could be readily seen no path of mutual communication …… so a rock was thrown to draw attention was the intention but the result was war at the idea that the valley was being attacked by the mountain.

  5. Mi-Cree-Ni Quash-Mah on

    Johnny green is a persona a non-person my name is not a persona I attach my name to my statements because I believe in what I preach I never intend to threaten or abuse anyone, However if you cannot stand in the heat don’t go in the kitchen because we are cooking in here no punks allowed. this is medicine and the laws are totally wrong the abuse is monumental the greed and manipulation is ongoing and institutional. WE ARE STILL IN A DRUG WAR only now we are able to fight in the open air of day.
    here is a small understanding …… if you think cannabis is going away don’t hold your breath………it could be fatal.

  6. Mi-Cree-Ni Quash-Mah on

    WOWFAD you have a total of 3 followers and no identity….. are you hiding because your creepy or because you lack conviction for what you espouse to believe? AS far as finding me just Google my name and read or ask a neighbor almost any cannabis smoker in the Willamette valley Eugene oregon will know who I am and where to find me no brag just fact bring it on dude It will give me something to chew on. warning I regularly practice my skills in martial arts I was a weapons sergeant my back yard is a weapons hanger and yes I can still split a mans skull with a hand axe at 50 yards in the dark deadly and final just like I was trained to do come on over I’ll show you and if your lucky and I like your story I may let you leave of your own will. yeah fucking right a veteran an angry post traumatic stressed out vet bring your pansy waste attitude and see how far you can walk carrying the load I dump on you for being stupid and racist and when people read about it you will still be stupid and racist. and that is not a slurred or hidden meaning. if I have to quote you again to show you your own mind set you really are stupid I suggets you delet the persona of WOWFAD and begin again with a new name like KKK the identifying letters of a national tribal affiliation not officially recognized by the federal government but still what can you say about folks that hide in political refuge.

  7. Mi-Cree-Ni Quash-Mah on

    As a child of 8 I was forcible removed from my grandfather’s home on the KICKAPOO RESERVATION IN KANSAS.
    taken several thousand mile away and placed in a school operated by subsidies from the federal govenment given to good christian people to BEAT THE INDIAN OUT OF THESE CHILDREN……. the Indian so affectionately referred to was the culture of wild crafted hand made existence eked out of what was left of a ravaged country torn apart by war and greed. the 1800’s too 1930 is a term in history that you don’t have a voice in WOWFAD unless your are a tribal enrolled member of a tribal nation on this continent I do I am an enrolled tribal member in fact I am a first nations Elder and you have my name in this post so your face could be wiped clean of egg if you don’t use the same wipe for your ass. while your eating a crow sandwich. hmm racism and ignorance i wonder if that is a symptom of? maybe your father’s instruction …. don’t’ worry you can change Wowfad really you can keep struggling you’ll get there keep trying to read and understand smoke more write less and read alot no insult intended really .

  8. Mi-Cree-Ni Quash-Mah on

    and you still don’t read do you? (However, don’t be surprised when you’re arrested by the FBI for issuing threats on the internet, instead. You see, threatening people is ILLEGAL, dip-shit. Veteran or no, you can spout on about the Kickashits and make all the threats you want to make in a 10×10 jail cell.) AT what point does inviting you to exercise your option to identify where and who I am and come visit me unannounced become a threat and further I would introduce you to many of the more extreme aspects of PTSD as it is contagious and I would gladly share it with youso you can get your OMMP card and actually begin to participate in the topic you so affectionately subscribe too non-grower non-cannabis user what the hell are you an alcoholic with a coffee addiction and a typewriter? why don’t you write another dictionary of bible or something. stop abuseing Native American People with racist comments and public slurrs about the pronounciation of a common cultural name. FBI hey they already know and visit my home on a regular basis. when you find and visit me un announced I will introduce you to them

  9. Mi-Cree-Ni Quash-Mah on

    The Kiikaapoi were one of many Great Lakes Tribes that occupied the western portion of the woodland area in southern Michigan near Lake Erie. However, European invasion changed the lives and cultures of these woodland tribes forever. When the Iroquois War (1641-1701) occurred it forced many northeastern tribes west into the Great Lakes Region. The refugees of the Iroquois incursions were forced to flee into neighboring Indian countries, leaving behind their homelands. Among these Great Lake Nations forced to flee, was the Kickapoo. The incessant depredations of the Iroquois had forced the Kickapoo to flee to neighboring Wisconsin, occupied largely by the Winnebago and Menomonee Nations. War, trading disputes, along with the epidemics of disease brought by the oncoming Europeans, was the driving factors of this shift of nations. By 1701, the Iroquois had lost a great deal of its power and fell at the hands of the Great Lake Tribes and Algonquian Nations. At this point, the tribes that had fled into neighboring Wisconsin were free to move on into their own territory. The Kickapoo never returned to Michigan, instead they found an opportunity to eliminate their adversary, the Illinois Tribes and conquer the lands they claimed in the present-day Illinois and western Indiana. A few factors that impacted the decision for the Kickapoo migration from Wisconsin into the Illinois country, was (1) Kickapoo-French relations (2) Sioux incursions and (3) the success of the tribes in the wars with the Illini Confederacy (Iroquois). The occupation of a great portion of the Illinois country and western Indiana proved to be beneficial to the survival of the Kickapoo Nation and their allies. Adaptation to the plains life was nearly effortless. The Kickapoo and their allies occupied this territory throughout the remainder of the 1700’s and on into the middle of the 19th century. Up until around 1832, the Kickapoos resided in the Illinois country, until the infamous United States treaty-making period. The Kickapoo Tribe entered into 10 treaties with the United States government from 1795 to 1854 These treaties brought devastating consequences; the treaties shifted the homelands of the Kickapoos from Illinois to Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico. Today, the Kickapoo is divided into four separate bands, The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, The Kickapoo Tribe in Oklahoma, The Texas Band of Kickapoo, and the Mexican-Kickapoos.

  10. LOL. Sure thing, sparky. Just give me your name and address. However, don’t be surprised when you’re arrested by the FBI for issuing threats on the internet, instead. You see, threatening people is ILLEGAL, dip-shit. Veteran or no, you can spout on about the Kickashits and make all the threats you want to make in a 10×10 jail cell. I wasn’t aware PTSD made people THIS rock-stupid. So go ahead, give me your information. I should warn you, it will be best if you keep your hands where the feds can see them at all times. Perhaps you’ve read about veterans who’ve been gunned down in their own homes by law enforcement simply because they thought their service rendered them immune to society’s rules. Time to see if you have the courage (and the stupidity) to stand behind your convictions, Mr Kickafeces. Let’s have that address.

  11. LOL — Like I said before, finish high school, then come back. By the by, intelligence has two L’s, and “affect” has to do with sensation — you were wanting to say “effect.”

  12. Mi-Cree-Ni Quash-Mah on

    Okay M SIMON: I have been reading and SO far this posting has resolved several political movements with a single statement ” chronic use is in response to chronic pain and can become very much like addiction but not a true physical addiction as in life threatening without blood type of need.
    The introduction of the topic was the Harrison act of 1914 I wanted to see what kinds of response would initiate from introducing a prior to 1914 common knowledge practices of a cannabis culture that existed before and during the time of prohibition so from 1800’s to 1930 when prohibition was enacted why to help show where and when the false ideas of addiction come from.

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