Monday, December 14, 2009

Literally, the Inside Dope

Harry J. Anslinger and Will Oursler. The Murderers: The Story of the Narcotic Gangs. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy. 1961.

The co-author Harry Anslinger in 1930 was appointed U.S. Commissioner of Narcotics. He fought against the international narcotics trade which he labels the Grand Council of the Mafia as led by Louis Bachalter. He warns of a syndicate with a code of silence that kills those of involved, a conspiracy that includes criminals, business investors, and “the Washington politician who stays on the fringes of the crime syndicate but consorts with penthouse prostitutes who provide boudoir marijuana and cocaine.” People did speak with investigators, but did so under the threat of death, according to Anslinger.

Anslinger was born in Altoona, Pa. in 1892 and recalls two of Altoona’s pharmacists dying from drug addiction and a nearby town where one tenth of all residents were addicts.

The book states investigators found narcotics were readily available, and even Senator Cole Blease demonstrated he could find people selling narcotics a block away from the U.S. Capitol. The book warned that organized crime gave drugs to recent high school drugs to cloud their judgment in order to get them to become prostitutes.
The book notes that marijuana increased in popularity after it was banned. (Technically, it was not banned but required registration and tax payment to sell marijuana.) The book claims smoking marijuana may cause one “to go berserk and try to stab somebody or harm oneself.”

The book notes the conclusion of the La Guardia Report that found marijuana harmless and potentially even useful in combating alcoholism. It ridicules the La Guardia study because marijuana was tested on prisoners. Anslinger believes that marijuana showing no social disorder among prisoners taking marijuana has no meaning as prisoners have no ability to show antisocial behavior in prison. Critics of Anslinger’s conclusion would argue that prisoners are more inclined towards antisocial behavior and that a drug showing no antisocial behavior on people who tend towards antisocial behavior would be a positive result. The book even later notes that marijuana is not physically addictive, something the La Guardia Report also observed.

The book details many of his agency’s investigations, convictions, and sometimes silencing by murder by mobsters, of illegal drug dealers. It is an interesting history of the fight against organized crime.


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