Narcotics Addiction: Punishment or Treatment

Archive Report

Review of Approaches to Drug Problem

By striking down a California statute which made drug addiction itself—as distinct from sale or possession of narcotic drugs—a crime punishable by imprisonment, the Supreme Court on June 25 gave indirect support to pleas for wider recognition of the fact that victims of the drug habit are physically and in most cases mentally ill. For decades there has been a tug of war between persons who emphasize the medical approach to the drug-problem and those who stress the criminal approach and the harsh mandatory penalties now imposed on all violators of the narcotics laws. Actually, both approaches have been used in recent years. Yet the problem remains unsolved. A White House conference on the question, to be held late ...

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