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Letter to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, in Support of a Narcotics Control Bill.

August 24, 1951

Dear Mr. Chairman:

From the time of the establishment of the Bureau of Narcotics in 1930 until two or three years ago, the narcotic menace in the United States was on a steady decline. Organized traffic in narcotics had been nearly wiped out and the number of drug addicts had been reduced by more than half.

However, we have recently been faced with a different and dangerous situation. The narcotics traffic has increased sharply, mostly as a result of narcotic drugs brought in illegally from abroad. The number of addicts has also increased sharply, mainly among young people under twenty-one. Two years ago, there were only a handful of young men and women under twenty-one in the Federal Narcotics Hospital at Lexington, Kentucky. Today, there are several hundred. This increase is dangerous, not only because of the tragic effect of drug addiction on the individuals concerned, but also because it is a direct cause of much crime. A confirmed addict spends as much as $15 a day on narcotic drugs alone. Since many addicts are unable to work at regular jobs, they must obtain this money through criminal activities.

I am deeply disturbed by this situation. I know that you share my concern as indeed do all citizens who are interested in the welfare of the Nation. The investigations of the Senate Crime Investigating Committee have pointed up the fact that the prevention and punishment of crime is essentially the responsibility of states and communities. However, in the narcotics field there are specific steps which the Federal Government can take to stamp out the illicit traffic in dangerous drugs.

Federal officials who have studied the problem have reported to me that severe prison sentences for the men and women who peddle narcotics are of primary importance in drying up this foul traffic. I am informed that H.R. 3490, which passed the House of Representatives a short time ago and is pending before the Senate Committee on Finance, would go far toward suppressing the abuse of narcotic drugs. I most sincerely hope that your Committee will consider this or a similar bill at the earliest possible time, so that it may be enacted into law during the present Session of the Congress. I am exceedingly anxious, as I know the Congress is, that the Federal Government take every step which is properly within its authority to eliminate organized criminal activity in the United States.

Very sincerely yours,


[Honorable Waiter F. George, Chairman, Committee on Finance, United States Senate, Washington 25, D.C.]

Note: For the President's statement upon signing the bill relating to narcotics laws violations, see Item 287.

Harry S Truman, Letter to the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, in Support of a Narcotics Control Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230649

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