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3 THE NEED FOR REFORM OF INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS LAWS PDF Print E-mail
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Books - Dealing with Drugs
Written by Arnold Trebach   
Monday, 06 September 2010 00:00

3 THE NEED FOR REFORM OF INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS LAWS

Arnold S. Trebach

 

INTRODUCTION
The world is in the midst of a drug epidemic. Literally millions of people now use heroin, opium, morphine, cocaine, and marijuana regularly, in flagrant defiance of national and international law. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, are engaged in supplying their illicit needs and desires. The response of most national and in-ternational leaders has been rigid support of the existing system of abstinence and prohibition, often through harsh criminal sanctions involving long prison terms and, in at least thirteen countries, even the death penalty. As a result of all this, drug-related crime and of-ficial corruption are rising wherever the epidemic spreads. Interna-tional drug control organizations, such as the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs, blindly support the existing system and the increas-ingly harsh domestic laws that prop it up. However, compromises and adjustments must be made to meet new realities. These are not radical thoughts but essentially conservative ones. Unless rational and humane changes are made soon, the entire structure of inter-national drug control may collapse completely.

If this were simply the case of a multitude of evil people doing bad things to the rest of us, it would be easier to cope with. We would gird our loins, make alliances, and World War II-style, carry the fight to the enemy, accepting whatever casualties were necessary to win final victory. It is, however, infinitely more complicated than that. The international framework of control on drugs, as supported and amplified by domestic legal systems, seeks not to repel foreign invaders. Rather, it seeks to prevent our neighbors, most of whom are basically decent and good at heart, from obtaining chemicals and leaves that they wish to use on themselves to feel better. There are, of course, many bad people involved in the process of supplying these drugs. Some of the users, moreover, take the drugs unwisely and hurt themselves, sometimes fatally.

It is, however, very difficult to save people from themselves and their own habits. The Hague Convention of 1912 and the laws of more than a hundred nations say that dangerous drugs are to be restricted to medical and scientific uses. Vast stores of national treas-ure and armies of police and soldiers have been devoted over the years to supporting that overarching legal restriction. After seven decades, it would seem that this international principle would have had its impact on the habits of the world. This is simply not the case—at least not for millions upon millions of illegal drug users.

THE WORLDWIDE DRUG EPIDEMIC

The most dramatic new fact in the drug abuse field is the growth of heroin use in America and throughout the rest of the world. Many other drugs are involved in this epidemic, but heroin operates almost as a chemical marker, delineating the development of new drug prob-lems that overwhelm traditional approaches and assumptions.' For most of this century, the conventional assumptions were that the United States was the center of heroin abuse in the world, that var-ious countries in the Far and Middle East produced the raw material, and that manufacturing and trafficking often went on under various European auspices. For some reason, the use of heroin did not seem to occur, to any great extent, in those countries involved in produc-tion, manufacturing, and trafficking. Indeed, there was almost a smugness among some experts in Europe and the Third World about the failings of American society (capitalism, racism, lack of cultural cohesiveness, and so on) that inevitably produced such social path-ologies as mass heroin addiction among its citizens. But times and heroin use patterns are changing; so are fundamental concepts about the drug's impact. Use is no longer equated invariably with abuse, even of heroin.

The changes started in the late sixties, beginning, as far as we know, in America. From all over the country came scattered evidence showing a dramatic upswing in heroin dependence, accompanied by a related huge rise in street crime. Because newly elected President Nixon made an antiheroin campaign the central part of his anticrime strategy, some liberal commentators have attacked the core statistical reality of the existence of the new epidemic itself—even though there were some seemingly reliable official reports that charted a rise from 50,000 to 500,000 heroin addicts between 1965 and the early seven-ties.2 (Despite the official nature of these statistics, caution should be used respecting the reliability of the precise number of drug users. Other researchers have focused their attention on the enormous dif-ficulty of obtaining high levels of reliability for any estimates of drug use. For a more thorough analysis of this problem, see Robert Mi-chaels' chapter in this volume.)

Thus, the formulation of solutions to the heroin problem is con-founded by the fact that some leading American thinkers have gone to great pains to document that the heroin problem in America really does not exist, at least not in dimensions worth getting bothered about, and that the very emphasis on heroin in enforcement and treatment programs arises either from ignorance or a shoddy desire to manipulate the public for purely political ends. Grave doubts about the "war on drugs" of the Nixon administration were ex-pressed, for example, in "A Statement of Concerns" by the 1972- 73 Fellows of the Drug Abuse Council, a prestigious private study group then operating in Washington. That statement objected to the fact that "the drug problem in America has often been simplified by portraying it as essentially a heroin problem." The Fellows went on to point out that many other drugs are more commonly used and abused, that the impact of heroin on crime is often hysterically overstated, and that there may be greater danger to American society and human rights from antiheroin programs spawned by the gov-ernment than from heroin addiction itself.

These themes have been carried forward and magnified by polit-ical scientist and investigative reporter Edward Jay Epstein, who was also a Fellow of the Drug Abuse Council. In his book Agency of Fear, published in 1977, Epstein attempted to make the case that the American heroin epidemic simply did not exist but was manufac-tured by the Nixon administration.' The purpose of this manufac-tured epidemic was not simply to win votes and reelection for President Nixon but, according to the dust jacket blurb, "to subvert the American system through a kind of coup d'etat." It is difficult to determine the exact nature of that coup d'etat. However, it is clear that the strategy, whatever it was, rested on the creation of a heroin epidemic.

Some highly respected voices have expressed agreement with the Epstein thesis. Charles E. Silberman, for example, in his widely ac-claimed book Criminal Violence, Criminal Justice, made it clear that he accepted the manufactured epidemic theory: The tenfold growth in addiction from the late sixties to the early seventies was a statis-tical artifact purposely created by the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the immediate bureaucratic ancestor of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).4 Silberman wrote: "What hap-pened, as discovered by Edward Jay Epstein . . . was that the BNDD applied a new formula to the old 1969 data. . . . From beginning to end, as Epstein has documented in great detail, the crusade against heroin was nothing but a cynical public relations device to create the illusion that the Nixon administration was cracking down on crime."5 There seems no doubt that the Nixon administration used the heroin issue for political ends. But this is quite another matter from creating a heroin epidemic.

Unfortunately, the Epstein-Silberman thesis has led a number of people to view any governmental action in this arena as suspect. A major article on drug policy in the April 1972 issue of Playboy mag-azine, for example, which reflects the opinions of more thinking Americans than care to admit it, repeated the Epstein theory un-critically and in addition dismissed the current existence of a major problem of heroin abuse in America.6 One cannot be sure of the precise dimension, but there seems good evidence to suggest an over-all increase in heroin use in the United States and throughout the world in the last fifteen years.

One official who openly expressed alarm about the worldwide di-mensions of the problem was Dr. Peter G. Bourne, who wrote the following when he was candidate Jimmy Carter's chief adviser on drug policy in 1976: "What was once the 'American Disease' has become a worldwide affliction. Heroin addiction has become a ma-jor problem in a dozen new countries, with the number of addicts continuing to increase by several thousand every month. Not only are those who are becoming addicted for the most part the children of the social and intellectual elite of these countries, but the massive amounts of money now involved in trafficking have corrupted many high level officials and undermined already unstable economies."' The years that have passed since 1976 have shown, sadly enough, that while the substance of Bourne's statement was accurate, even prescient, the dimensions may have been understated.

Unfortunately, there are no reliable official international compi-lations on the real extent of drug abuse. However, a unique inter-national survey was published in 1977 by three experts who had obtained information, based on a uniform design, from research sci-entists or physicians in twenty-five countries. As is usually the case, there was a variance between the reports provided by local experts for this survey and other estimates by still other experts regarding such facts as the precise number of opiate addicts in each country, but there was nothing in the report inconsistent, in terms of broad trends, with other reports I have reviewed relating to the mid-seventies. The country with the largest estimated number of "opiate addicts" was the United States with 620,000, followed by Iran with 400,000, Thailand with 350,000, Hong Kong with 80,000, Canada with 18,000, Singapore with 13,000, Australia with 12,500, Italy with 10,000, and the United Kingdom with 6,000. The principal opiate of abuse in Iran and Singapore was listed, by the domestic experts re-porting to the survey, as opium itself, but in all of the other six lead-ing countries it was heroin. The other remaining countries in the sample of twenty-five reported minor opiate abuse problems at the time, the calendar year 1975.

The directors of this survey—Drs. John C. Ball and Harold Graff of the Department of Psychiatry, Temple University, and Jean Paul Smith of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—concluded, "One of the major findings to emerge from the present study is the contemporary increase and spread of heroin dependency throughout most of the nations surveyed. . . . The predominance of heroin abuse is even more marked than this tabulation indicates, as traditional patterns of morphine and opium use are shifting to heroin; this shift is especially notable in Europe and Asia for morphine and opium respectively."8 Even on the basis of this valuable survey, however, it is impossible to determine with any degree of certainty the number of heroin addicts in the world, or even in the twenty-five countries covered. However, if the opinions of the drug abuse specialists who designed the study and who wrote the country reports are listened to, then this provides more evidence that the numbers of heroin ad-dicts are increasing dramatically throughout the world. My estimate for the world—and it is only a guess based on scattered pieces of data—is that there are at least 2 million heroin addicts and perhaps as many as 4 million.

There continues to be much debate in drug abuse circles over the exact definition of the terms "addicts," "users," and "abusers"—and over the reliability of the count in each country. I chose not to get involved in these debates, except to make the judg-ment that I have seen enough evidence to become convinced that the problems of heroin use and related crime are terribly serious ones. The problems arise not only from the simple use of the drug, but from the criminal conditions created in large part by their illegality. Moreover, it would make little difference to my position if there had been no great rise in the number of addicts or users—terms I use here interchangeably—from the sixties to the seventies so long as it was accepted that their numbers are now large and that, under cur-rent prohibition laws, many of those addicts or users constitute a major social problem.

Because the United States has been viewed for so many years as the nation with the answers to modern problems, many countries are looking to us for answers on how to cope with what appears to be an epidemic of heroin use. Sadly, these countries seem to be learning only the harsh aspects of our drug history—prohibition, law en-forcement, punishment, severe sentences—and ignoring the more humane features of drug treatment. Even more distressing, the les-sons that can be learned from Great Britain, the other major model of drug abuse control (which operated in accord with more tolerant rules), are almost totally ignored elsewhere. Thus, much of the world seems intent on repeating—indeed, enlarging upon—those chapters of American drug abuse history that, at best, deserve only to be quickly learned, then just as quickly rejected.

In the discussion concerning international drug use that follows, it should be kept in mind that estimates concerning the number of users are not always completely reliable, nor can they be considered comparable. As all researchers who work in the field know, it is often impossible to compare figures respecting drug use from one country to another. This is especially true given the differences in methods of data collection and in the definitions used.

Witness the difference in language used to refer to the number of deaths due to drug use: "heroin-related deaths," "heroin overdose deaths," "drug overdose deaths," "drug-related deaths," "narcotic overdose deaths," etc. The disparity in numbers of deaths from drug use in Italy and France, as compared with Denmark, Switzerland, and West Germany, is particularly striking. The reader will note that while France and West Germany are estimated to have approxi-mately the same number of narcotics addicts, the number of over-dose deaths in West Germany is seemingly five times as great. This is not a comment on the more deadly nature of drugs in West Ger-many but on the imprecision and incomparability of the data. I should repeat that the exact amount of drug use is not central to my thesis. What is beyond question, however, is the substantial increase in drug use throughout the world that has occurred since the early 1970s.

THE FAR EAST

We can appreciate this phenomenon by looking at the spread of her-oin addiction and the attendant problems often created by its ille-gality, even in a faraway tropical island like Borneo. To most Occidentals, Borneo would seem to have nothing to do with a dis-course on heroin and crime. But such is not the case. Located in the northern part of the island is the state of Sarawak, which in turn is part of a relatively new country, the Federation of Malaysia. The capital city of Sarawak is Kuching.

The Borneo Bulletin of April 29, 1978, carried a story in which Vincent Kho, First Division police chief in Kuching, reported that heroin addiction among the youth of the city had grown considerably in the last three years. "Addicts short of money have been resorting to stealing, extortion, and other crimes to find the cash needed to buy their 'fixes,' " the Bulletin reported. The police chief stated that he wanted a rehabilitation center, which Sarawak lacks; moreover, "As with other senior lawmen, Mr. Kho says he is also anxiously awaiting the extension of the amended Dangerous Drugs ordinance to Sarawak—which will mean the death sentence can be applied for drugs possession as is the case in Peninsular Malaysia."

That ordinance was applied in the prosecution of convicted heroin trafficker Hong Hoo Chong, 40, in Peninsular Malaysia, which bor-ders Thailand, in early December 1979. Hong Hoo Chong had been arrested by the police in 1978 with 1,550.1 grams of heroin in his possession. The Penang High Court, the equivalent to the Supreme Court of a state or province, had imposed the penalty of life im-prisonment as well as 14 strokes of the rotan. In the first appeal ever by the government against a life sentence in a drugs case, the Direc-tor of Public Prosecutions, Encik Mohamed Noor bin Haji Ahmad, pointed out to the court of appeals, an intermediate appellate court, that the defendant was a convicted armed robber and burglar who had gone on to trafficking; the DPP then observed, "We should regard him as public enemy No. 1 who is a danger and menace to society and, therefore, the death sentence should be the only way to exterminate him from society." In rendering his decision, Chief Jus-tice Raja Azlan Shah of the court of appeals lectured the trial judges of the country by telling them that they should not develop a phobia against inflicting the death penalty, because "we feel the time has come for some more vigorous element of deterrence to be brought upon those trafficking in drugs." Finding "no redeeming features" in Hong Hoo Chong's case, the chief justice took the extraordinary step, supported by his learned colleagues on the court of appeals, of overturning the life term and imposing in its place a sentence of death.9

Criminal justice officials apparently took the chief justice's lecture to heart. Two years later, in December 1981, a leading law enforce-ment official, Datuk Abdul Rahman, was able to report that since 1975, when the new death penalty ordinance went into effect, 530 people had been charged with drug trafficking; 112 were found guilty; 18 were sentenced to death, and 94 to life imprisonment; 4 were hanged; and 14 had appealed but remained under sentence of death.'°

During the month before, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Musa Hitam announced that the government was contemplating the en-actment of even more amendments to existing law, especially one that would allow detention for the simple fact of being an addict (a status offense declared unconstitutional in America) and would pro-vide for banishment of detained users and pushers to a new island penal colony (a now-discarded invention of advanced European na-tions). Even before this new legislation was put into effect, however, the police launched Operasi Berkas (Operation Detain) and in a few days had picked up approximately a thousand suspected drug ad-dicts. There was an almost immediate negative response from some jail keepers, one of whom complained, "We are full house." It appeared likely that many of the detained suspects would soon be released because the authorities simply had not planned treatment or control facilities to deal with them."

Despite all these Draconian measures, the authorities reported in late 1981 widespread use of illicit drugs. While their methods of counting, it must be assumed, suffer from all the usual methodo-logical defects in this area, officials have made alarming claims about the dimensions of use and abuse. At least 300,000 youth in this small country (population in 1980: 13,435,588) were using illegal chemicals regularly during school days. Moreover, there were 61,334 known drug addicts in the country, 80 percent of whom were men below 30 years of age. Most of these were heroin addicts and many were engaged in crime to support their habits.12 The point is not that Ma-laysia is so bad by comparison with other nations; it is, rather, that Malaysia is very probably quite typical of what is happening in many countries from which less information is available. Much of this problem, moreover, has surfaced within the space of a few years, mirroring epidemic heroin addiction eruptions in the United States and other nations.

Similar events have occurred in neighboring Singapore, which also emerged from colonial status to independence in the 1960s. Singa-pore seems to have learned little from its former British rulers. As in England there is a law labeled the Misuse of Drugs Act, but there the essential resemblance seems to end. In 1975, the Singapore law was amended to impose the death penalty for the illicit manufacture of any quantity of morphine or heroin and for trafficking 30 grams or more of these drugs. Corporal punishment in the form of whip-ping was brought back in 1973 as a mandatory sentence in several dozen crimes. In a story on the new, harsh discipline of the law, Wall Street Journal reporter Barry Newman wrote on July 6, 1977, "While some people here oppose beating and say it doesn't reduce crime, they are a definite minority and have little influence. So Singapore is flexing its `rotan'—a thin rod of rattan that, when brought down hard against the buttocks, splits the skin, draws blood and scars for life." But later that month, a leading police official said he doubted that these new harsh measures had much effect on controlling heroin traffic or use. The director of the Central Narcotics Bureau in Sing-apore, John Hanam, observed, "On the contrary, heroin seems to be more widely used than ever before."

Moreover, treatment of known heroin addicts seems, in some cases, to be rather abrupt. Addicts are withdrawn "cold turkey" as a first step in treatment at the Telok Paku rehabilitation center. Home Affairs Minister Chua Sian said that the "suffering experienced by the addict in 'cold turkey' will long be remembered by that person. We hope it will deter him or her from ever going back to drugs." But while heroin abuse was virtually unknown in Singapore ten years ago, the recent worldwide heroin epidemic has also arrived there. As late as 1973, only ten arrests involved heroin; by 1976, over 4,500. As of 1975 in Singapore there were an estimated 2,000 heroin ad-dicts, 3,000-4,000 morphine addicts, and 7,000-8,000 opium smok-ers out of a population of 2,249,900.13 By March 1977 the number of heroin addicts was estimated at 13,000. Singapore invoked the death penalty for drug trafficking five times between 1976 and early 1980. Three Malaysians and two Singaporeans have been hanged un-der this statute. One official explained the generally harsh govern-mental response in this way: "The message to the heroin user was either opt out of drugs or opt out of society." By July 1979 there was some evidence that the epidemic was slowing down, but the problem of heroin addiction still deeply troubled the small city-nation." At a six-day meeting of Asian drug experts in December 1981 in Singapore, a call was made to nations of the region to consider preventive detention laws for drug traffickers, manufacturers, fin-anciers, and addicts. It was pointed out that Singapore and Malaysia already had such laws for detaining drug offenders without trial. A joint press release declared, as reported in the Kuala Lumpur New Straits Times, that "illicit drug trafficking and abuse pose a threat to national security, stability, and resilience."'s

The pattern is similar throughout a large part of the world: in-creasing heroin addiction, destructive crime by addicts, and a social response that is dominated by the criminal sanction in its most awe-some forms, even though treatment facilities of one kind or another are to be found in virtually every country affected by the epidemic. The capital of heroin addiction in the world may no longer be New York, as many had heretofore imagined, but Bangkok, Thailand. It has been estimated that 6 to 8 percent of that city's 6 million inhab-itants are addicted to hard drugs. According to a Reuters story of August 23, 1978, Dr. Khachit Chupanya, the director of drug re-habilitation in the city, estimated that there were 300,000-400,000 addicts there. "Most of them were addicted to heroin number four, the purest grade sold on the street," the report said. Khachit earlier had estimated that there were 500,000 drug addicts in Thailand. If these estimates are anywhere near the truth, then it is quite conceivable that Thailand, considered in its entirety, with its 41 million peo-ple (approximately 1 percent addicted) has a much worse heroin problem than the United States, which may have 500,000 heroin ad-dicts and regular users out of a population of approximately 220 million (0.23 percent addicted). The spectacle, moreover, of an op-ium producing country with a major heroin addiction problem is also part of the new reality of the world.

Another part of that emerging and distressing reality is the per-ceived need at times for military force to control the activities of some of the most powerful manufacturers and traffickers. Think of the implications of this fact: Because of the huge gap that national and international leaders have allowed to develop between the habits of millions of the world's people and the fabric of the laws, some of those who cater to the illicit demand for drugs become so rich and powerful as to become impervious to ordinary law enforcement measures. Thus, military formations must be deployed against them. For example, in late January 1982, eight companies of Thai border patrol military units launched a major attack against the Shan United Army, headed by the notorious drug warlord Khun Sa in a Thailand province near the Burmese border. Airplanes, including helicopter gunships, were thrown into pitched battles by the government forces. Losses on the SUA side amounted to approximately one hundred dead. A few days after the carnage, however, Thai reporters saw that life in the border areas under control of SUA and other rebel groups, heavily involved in heroin production, was returning to normal. One reporter observed, "The major operation has died down. Casualties have been heavy on both sides. But Khun Sa's influence is far from over. . . . The heroin connection remains relatively unaffected.'"6

In the deep southeastern United States, law, order, and domestic tranquility are being disrupted to a frightening extent by the activities of smugglers from South America, especially from Colombia, some-times called Cocaine Cowboys. In Dade County alone, 135 murders were attributed to drug traffickers during 1980. The mass movement of smugglers' ships and planes from South America into the Florida Keys, the Florida mainland, and other parts of the American South has brought U.S. naval and air units into coordinated operations with the Coast Guard." In a very real sense, the American nation is now conducting a small war not against foreign invaders but against those who smuggle into this country chemicals that millions eagerly part with billions of dollars to obtain. The ironies are obvious, stun-ning, and usually ignored.

To return to the addiction situation in the Far East, the problem in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong would seem to rival that of Thailand. By some standards, it is worse. Authorities claimed that in 1975 an estimated 80,000-100,000 addicts inhabited the crowded colony, whose total population is 4.3 million. Thus, approximately 2 percent of the entire population was dependent on narcotics, per-haps the highest rate for any country in the world. Most of these addicts were smoking or sniffing the fumes of heroin-tipped ciga-rettes. However, data for 1978, generated by a new computerized Central Registry of Drug Addicts, established with help from the American National Institute on Drug Abuse, made Hong Kong of-ficials a bit more optimistic. It appeared that the number of addicts might be in the range of 35,000-50,000. Even with such lower fig-ures, Hong Kong officials were still deeply concerned.'8

United States territory in the Far East, moreover, has not been immune. The island of Guam, a remote corner of this planet if there ever was one, has its own Drug Enforcement Administration post, staffed by five special agents. The surprising nature of a major her-oin addiction problem in this bucolic and idyllic setting was de-scribed by Peter Rieff, the resident agent-in-charge of the DEA office there. "As late as 1968, even experienced police officers were unaware of the presence of drugs on Guam; it was not until 1970 that police became aware of the presence of hard drugs. Felony crimes during the 1968 to 1970 period were low and increased only minimally. During the early months of 1973, the drug abuse problem on Guam reached alarming proportions. The rise in crime from the two preceding years was unprecedented (up 34 percent). Unfortu-nately, the Guamanian community at large was unaware of this bur-geoning interrelated problem of crime and drugs." In 1977 it dawned on the community that Guam had an estimated 782 heroin addicts, approximately one for every 143 people.

Almost no part of the Pacific region seems immune from the rapid increase in heroin abuse and its attendant problems. On July 13, 1979, Detective Chief Superintendent Mal Churches reported that the amount of heroin seized in New Zealand, as well as the number of criminal charges made relating to heroin, could double the 1978 figures. In the first six months of 1979, Mr. Churches stated that there had been 302 criminal charges involving heroin, compared to 303 for all of 1978. Also, 1,752 grams had been seized by police and customs officers in the first six months of 1979, compared to 1,945 grams for all of 1978—insignificant by American standards, but alarming to New Zealanders.°

Similar reports emanated from neighboring Australia. They told a familiar story: major increases in heroin trafficking and use, re-lated increases in the marijuana arena, allegations of police corrup-tion, and recommendations by many officials, including the police, to get tough in the fight against drugs. A rare, frank glimpse into the mind of one Australian drug enforcement official was provided in 1979 when the retired commander of the southern region of the Australian Bureau of Narcotics, Bernard Delaney, wrote a book about his experiences. Mr. Delaney claimed that drug law enforce-ment in Australia had been a miserable failure; that corruption in police forces, especially in New South Wales, was making it impos-sible to catch the "Mr. Bigs" of the illegal trade; that civil libertar-ians and other do-gooders were hindering the battle against drugs; and that politicians must approve the greater use of wiretapping and electronic surveillance in order to catch the pushers and the dealers. Mr. Delaney openly told how he illegally tapped telephones in order to carry out drug investigations and criticized officials in the Posts and Telegraphs Department for attempting to stop him. He justified his actions by stating, "The only way Narcotics Bureau officers could succeed in their difficult area was by cheating the system.2°

Typical of the new and difficult problems faced by the Austra-lians—but almost traditional for Americans and becoming so for the people of many other countries—was a report in August 1979 by Melbourne police Detective Chief Inspector Paul Delianis, head of the homicide squad. He stated that two New Zealanders recently had been murdered by a New Zealand-based syndicate that had just smuggled nearly a ton of 90 percent pure heroin into Australia. The value of the drugs was estimated at more than $45 million; once the heroin was cut and adulterated, the street value would, of course, increase many times beyond that figure. Thus, Australia is afflicted not only with increased heroin abuse and trafficking but also by the usual attendant violent criminal activity.2'

Another familiar aspect of the Australian scene was a call to con-sider new approaches to treating drug addiction. Speaking in the Senate on August 28, 1979, the leader of the Australian Democratic Party, Senator Donald L. Chipp, asked for the "legalization" of her-oin on a limited basis to help in the campaign against heroin abuse. Stating that he did not want to make the drug available for anyone to try, he asked, "But if there is a person who has been diagnosed as a heroin addict, why can't a medical practitioner prescribe heroin on a limited basis?"22 Nevertheless, the criminal sanction continues to dominate official response to drug problems Down Under.

WESTERN EUROPE

According to a variety of official reports and newspaper accounts, western Europe is also experiencing a massive increase in heroin use. On January 9, 1977, the Sunday Times of London estimated that in 1971 there had been no more than 11,349 heroin addicts in western Europe, including England; by 1976, the Times estimated that the number might have reached as high as 180,000. By late 1978, the American DEA placed the number of heroin users in western Europe at approximately 200,000, with seizures by European police in the previous year exceeding those in the United States. Heroin-related deaths have been officially reported as having reached 1,000 in west-ern Europe during 1978. If these figures are correct; then the rate of growth of heroin addiction in the area might well have outpaced that in the United States during the 1970s.

Health authorities in West Berlin estimated that the number of addicts rose from 2,000 in 1972 to approximately 20,000 in 1977, with 84 heroin overdose deaths in the city for that year. The number of heroin overdose deaths for all of West Germany reached 334 in 1976, and then increased to over 380 in 1977, during which years the United States respectively recorded 1,597 and 596 such fatalities. By 1978, the two countries were drawing even closer together on this unhappy statistic-430 heroin overdose deaths in West Germany and 471 in the United States.

Reports from West Germany in 1979 indicated that the trends were worsening. Journalist Hartmut Palmer wrote on May 4, 1979, in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich, that only "bad news" was to be found in the latest reports from the "drug commissioners" of the Laender (German states or provinces) because these reports revealed "that the efforts made until now by state and private institutions have not succeeded in banishing the danger, in stopping the trend, and much less in reversing it. In the past 6 months, especially for young people, susceptibility to the so-called 'hard drugs' seems to have increased alarmingly. According to the estimates of the drug commissioners, the 'hard core' of chronic users has increased from 40,000 to between 44,000 and 46,000." The West Germans also were facing familiar conflicts over philosophy and policy. Palmer wrote: "In all Laender—no matter of what political color its govern-ment—there exists an almost traditional conflict of objectives be-tween local authorities in charge of police and crime control on the one hand, and health and welfare authorities on the other hand. The first see repressive control of drug abuse as the most pressing task; for the others, therapeutic, preventive measures are the most press-ing. Both claims are [well] founded, but they are difficult to rec-oncile." There is some evidence, however, that the tilt in Germany, as in so many other countries, as in the direction of "repressive control."

The West German Minister of the Interior, Gerhart Baum, stated, according to a report in the September 1, 1979, issue of Die Welt of Bonn: "As far as I am concerned, the fight against the international narcotic trade has the same priority as the fight against terrorism. We are therefore intent on exhausting every possibility in the police sector. . . . " Mr. Baum went on to explain that a new national sys-tem of narcotic information, in cooperation with Laender narcotic offices, would be created; new techniques of police surveillance and investigation would be inaugurated; and hopefully, the legislature would follow his request for harsher criminal penalties for narcotic trafficking. While thus emphasizing the archetypical law enforcement approach to the narcotic problem, Interior Minister Baum also stated that he placed a high priority on the demand side of the equa-tion—on the treatment of drug abusers. At the same time, he said that treatment facilities seemed inadequate to meet the increasingly heavy need. Of particular concern also to Mr. Baum was the pos-sibility of an American-style drug scene growing on West German soil, for not only was heroin abuse growing rapidly, but South Amer-ican cocaine was also starting to appear.

Preliminary reports for 1979 showed that heroin overdose deaths in West Germany, approximately 611, might have exceeded those in the United States, approximately 566. With 61 million people, West Germany has only one quarter of the population of the United States. If these figures are accurate, they are of major significance, because this would represent the first time that any country had recorded more heroin overdose deaths than the United States. But a host of qualifications are necessary: (1) It is difficult for any pathologist to tell precisely what drug killed a person; (2) not all drug deaths are reported; and (3) it is not known if the methods of collecting data in the two countries are precisely comparable. These are statistical qualifications, however, which apply to all such drug abuse statistics. In substantive terms, there is every reason to believe that heroin use has increased significantly in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Reports from West Germany in 1981 showed that the demand for all kinds of illegal drugs was growing and along with it a vast increase in traffic. A good deal of these drugs was coming through the border from the Netherlands, where, German observers claim, hashish, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and LSD are freely peddled on the streets and in the pubs. Similar claims were also made about West German streets and pubs. A sense of resignation and a belief that the control system was breaking down was expressed by Chief Customs Inspec-tor Curt Obaron of Dusseldorf's inland revenue office on October 28, 1981: "My people are just about to keel over; I must state un-equivocally that we can no longer deal with the drug problem."23

The disease has also appeared in neighboring France. Increased and alarming heroin use was described by Monique Pelletier, who was appointed by the president of the French Republic to monitor the development of the drug phenomenon in the country. She esti-mated the drug-dependent population of the country at 30,000 to 50,000, according to a story in Le Figaro of January 14, 1980, with clear indications of an upward trend. Five drug overdose deaths were counted for the entire country in 1970; 37 in 1975; and 117 in 1979.

The smaller European countries, including those with reputations for idyllic life-styles and low levels of social disruption, have not been immune. Large quantities of illicit heroin and morphine are now being imported into Denmark, for example. A Copenhagen newspaper reported in January 1980 that the number of narcotic-related deaths had risen from three in 1970 to over 100 in 1979.24

Many of the other familiar "side effects" of large-scale narcotic abuse, such as official corruption, are beginning to appear in coun-tries unaccustomed to their presence and deeply disturbed by their discovery. In late January 1980, Belgium was shocked by the arrest of Major Leon Francois, head of the National Narcotics Bureau, the equivalent of the American DEA, on charges that he cooperated in a narcotics smuggling conspiracy that moved some mysterious suit-cases through Brussels National Airport. The case was shrouded in mystery and confusion, although it appears that heroin was in-volved, and it is certain that M. Francois and other Belgian drug officials were incarcerated for some time, although they were later released, again under rather mysterious circumstances.25

The number of heroin abusers in Switzerland was reported by au-thorities to have been 10,000 in 1978, only 300 of whom were in treatment. On February 16, 1980, the Neue Zuercher Zeitung com-mented that "despite intensive education, Switzerland's drug scene is becoming increasingly brutal." Heroin, the story noted, was being widely traded in the country. It was also the major cause of narcotic overdose deaths. In 1974, there were 13 drug-related deaths; by 1977, there were 78. Then in 1979, the number topped 100 for the first time, when it reached 102. Other indicators of drug abuse and related crime were equally depressing: Reports to the police of violations of the controlled substances law rose from 6,299 in 1978 to 7,045 in 1979; the number of convictions from 4,465 to 5,466. Large quan-tities of heroin, hashish, and amphetamines were also seized by the police.

In mid-1981, Laura Wicinski, of the Heroin Section, DEA Office of Intelligence, reported that Europe was "awash" with Southwest Asian heroin, more potent than the type from Southeast Asia, which was being replaced in the illegal marketplace. Wicinski placed the number of heroin addicts in western Europe between 190,000 and 330,000. The problem seemed worst in West Germany, where the heroin-addict population had reportedly risen to between 68,000 and 80,000. The final heroin overdose figure for 1979 was now calculated at 623. Italian authorities estimated the heroin addict population in that country at 40,000-50,000 with heroin-related overdose deaths rising from 40 in 1977 to 129 in 1979.26 The apparent dramatic rise in heroin use throughout the world as well as changes in national patterns of addiction were reflected in comparative data (Table 3-1), which revealed heroin overdose deaths per million of popula-tion in a few key countries.

There is more and more evidence of growing official impatience in Europe with those who use and sell drugs, and of increasing resort to htirsher legal controls and criminal sanctions. In December 1981, moreover, the Swedish parliament adopted a law providing for the compulsory treatment of drug abusers. This placed drug addicts in the same category with alcoholics in that country and allowed social welfare authorities the power to detain addicts within closed insti-tutions for years, if necessary. A usual period of forced treatment, however, was estimated at two months.27 While such measures in Sweden and elsewhere in western Europe are totally incompatible with a free society, there is at least no use of capital punishment for drug trafficking, as is the case in some other parts of the world.

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IRAN

In the midst of the worldwide spread of heroin abuse in the late seventies, there came the Iranian revolution, known for its fanatical rejection of all things American. That upheaval destroyed the limited control the shah's police had on the export of heroin and thus al-lowed a vast increase in the international market. But there was an incredibly ironic twist to the story. In the land leading the retreat to Moslem fundamentalism and the rejection of the vices of the modern world, heroin use suddenly became so widespread and open that in early 1980 American television audiences were introduced by name to Iranian heroin smokers and saw them in their homes, with friends and families. Iranian heroin thus seemed to be replacing the more traditional Persian opium.

By the summer of 1980, reports on the Iranian heroin situation, like so much else in that tortured country, took on breathtakingly cruel proportions. The official government statistics indicated that there were 3 million heroin addicts, approximately one for every twelve Iranians. It appears that a large number of opium addicts were included in that clearly improbable figure. A high school teacher in Teheran, dismayed over the widespread addiction among his stu-dents, observed, "Heroin and opium were the only commodities that became inexpensive and plentiful after the revolution."28 The cheap, high potency heroin of Iran's clandestine laboratories was flooding into many other countries, including the United States and those in western Europe. Although at first slow to respond, officials of the rev-olutionary government finally intervened with what may be, if the stories can be believed, the harshest response to drug selling in the annals of modern history. The roving executioner of the revolution, Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, held brief trials of alleged drug traf-fickers; shouted, "I shall exterminate you vermin!"; and ordered summary executions, which were carried out within minutes. During a seven-week period, the Washington Post Foreign Service reported, 176 people had been executed for heroin and opium offenses. On July 8, while licking an ice cream cone, the revolutionary executioner held a press conference in a deserted mosque where he displayed goods confiscated primarily from the condemned, including approx-imately a hundred kilo bags (220 pounds) of heroin.

Even though he seemed ruthlessly efficient in his chosen field, the Ayatollah Khalkhali was stung by criticism that he had not acted swiftly or harshly enough to curb rising drug traffic and addiction. Defensively, he explained that there were practical limits even to his direct method of controlling drug abuse: "If we wanted to kill every-body who had five grams of heroin, we'd have to kill 5,000 people, and this would be difficult."29

While he had probably not intended to, the Ayatollah Khalkhali provided the rudiments of a most instructive lesson in criminology and drug abuse control policy for those who would listen carefully to his words. Think of the power he had and of how it must have appealed to at least a few officials in more democratic nations, who, beset by hordes of addicts and traffickers, in their worst moments want to take very direct action—action that, of course, is forbidden by laws, constitutions, and their oaths of office. The ayatollah, how-ever, could and did take that direct action. His word was the supreme law. Not only dealers but simple addicts were sometimes lined up against a neighborhood wall and shot. This policy proved ineffec-tive, not so much because of the stirrings of tender mercy in the hearts of the executioners but rather because of the existence of such huge numbers of Iranian citizens who were flagrantly violating the drugs laws, even in the face of the imminent possibility and reality of immediate death sentences. This is what must amount to the ul-timate documentation of the proposition that no law can be enforced if a sufficient number of citizens are determined to violate it. At that point, the authorities have the choice of ameliorating their enforce-ment of the law or of embarking on a course tantamount to fighting a civil war. That is a proposition which applies, of course, to other nations and to the world situation regarding the current drug epi-demic. We do not know what has happened in Iran recently, of course, because of unreliable news service. But while there have been reports that thousands of addicts have been rounded up, I have en-countered no mention of the execution of a drug offender for many months. Perhaps officials in Iran have learned the ayatollah's lesson.


CAPITAL PUNISHMENT OF DRUG OFFENDERS

There is no reliable compilation of the extent to which capital pun-ishment has actually been used to punish drug offenders in other nations throughout the world in recent years. However, there is a partial listing of countries that provide for the use of the ultimate sanction in their drug laws. This information is contained in a report, The Global Legal Framework for Narcotics and Prohibitive Sub-stances, issued by the U.S. Department of State in 1979. Of the 153 countries surveyed, full information was obtained on 80 countries, partial on 44, and none on 29. According to this report, the most severe sanctions in the countries surveyed are for trafficking in op-iates. The laws of nine countries provide for the extreme penalty in such cases: Burma, Taiwan, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and Turkey.3° Admittedly, this list is incom-plete. We have already seen that Singapore provides the death pen-alty for some drug offenses. Moreover, Algeria provides, under the terms of an ordinance of February 18, 1975, that a capital sentence may be imposed for offenses that jeopardize the moral health of the people, which applies to some drug crimes. Also, the Philippines Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 (Article III, Section 4) provides for the death penalty for traffickers when a particular drug has been "the proximate cause of death of a victim thereof." It would also appear that the use of the death penalty for serious drug offenders has the support of law in China."

Thus, at least thirteen nations provide for the death penalty for some drug offenses. At this point in the progress of civilization, this may seem to be a shocking overreaction to an activity that is, in at least some senses, voluntary on the part of willing purchasers of the contraband. Even more surprising is that at least five countries are known to provide for the extreme penalty in marijuana trafficking cases: Burma, Taiwan, Guinea, South Korea, and Malaysia.32

The existence of the death penalty in a relatively few countries, however abhorrent it may be in its own right in such cases, is not the main point here. That penalty is a symbol of a much broader set of problems: the rock-hard persistence of the major international organizations and national governments in supporting rigid adher-ence to the old system of international narcotic control. Many coun-tries, other than those with capital punishment, support that system with a vast network of criminal laws, often including life impris-onment; with huge allocations from the national treasury, amount-ing in the worldwide aggregate to many billions of dollars; and with the efforts of many thousands of enforcement officials. But, as the Ayatollah Khalkhali could teach even the most sophisticated and in-telligent police and narcotic control officials, there are simply prac-tical limits to the enforcement art in the face of massive, flagrant violations of the law.

The ultimate meaning of the lesson of Ayatollah Khalkhali is more difficult to fathom. Some will argue that it documents the need to drop all legal controls on the recreational use of addicting chemicals. This extreme alternative, however, is likely to strike many as sim-plistic and most as impractical. It is necessary, therefore, to work out a new system for the control of dangerous drugs, and such a system must begin on the middle ground between the extremes, where few matters are black and white, where most are gray, and where a patient sense of humane balance is crucial. In other words, ingenious compromise, cautious experimentation, and readjustments in the face of new experience must become the tools of creating that new system.

THE NEED FOR FLEXIBILITY

What balanced adjustments and compromises can the nations of the world now make? To start with, they can begin to admit what is happening before their very eyes: The system of international control has been almost completely undermined by the desires and actual day-to-day behavior of millions of the world's citizens. Next, they can start thinking in terms of specific compromises and adjustments rather than rigid support of a system that has no relevance to present reality.

It is crucial that some of these changes start soon in the personnel and attitudes of the international drug control bodies, such as the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Robert Pisani's de-scription of the seemingly benign attempt of the International Cannabis Alliance for Reform to be granted Non-Governmental Or-ganization status with the U.N. lends support to the need for change. The U.N. bureaucrats who turned down this request were not in touch with the real nature of the drug situation in the world today. Even speaking on a regular basis to those quite respectable profes-sionals who are openly working for reform of marijuana laws was considered to be too radical for the United Nations. The U.S. del-egate on the subcommittee of the Economic and Social Council hear-ing the application for NGO status observed that the actions of the International Cannabis Alliance might be incompatible with the Sin-gle Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the omnibus treaty that is the keystone of international legal control." Such rigid reactions in international bodies, which should be leading the way to realistic re-forms, are recipes for disaster. Any future scheme of control must provide for a great deal of flexibility allowing for many national and regional variations based on local cultures and also on the type of drug involved. After many years of reviewing the evolution of heroin policy in Britain and America, for example, I concluded that my recommendations for dealing with that drug could be specific to it (as well as to related opiates) and did not necessarily apply to other drugs such as cannabis, alcohol, or barbiturates.34 All countries, moreover, should reassess their drug laws and methods of enforce-ment so as to bring these laws and enforcement practices closer into line with the wishes of their citizens, with local cultures, and with evolving new practices.

Does this mean I am recommending that all drugs should be le-galized? Far from it. I am suggesting rather that national leaders seek out the acceptable middle ground that might save the venerable Hague system, which in its essence maintained that addicting drugs should not be treated as ordinary articles of commerce but should be controlled by special laws. Thus, drugs were not to be available to anyone who simply wanted to try them. Doctors, on the other hand, had relatively free use of them in the practice of their profes-sion. It is possible to seek to preserve the essential elements of that scheme by suggesting amendments, exceptions, and modern redefi-nitions. The essence of that future scheme must be flexibility and realistic adjustment, not surrender.

An amendment might include major changes of existing controls; such reforms would be framed in innovative packages that accord-ingly might be socially and politically more appealing than in the past. Why not, for example, encourage nations to consider coupling reform of laws controlling both marijuana and tobacco? The latter substance is not even recognized as a drug by the international con-trol system and is totally without regulation in most countries. Yet, it seems fair to say that tobacco smoking may well cause far more organic damage to more human beings than any illicit drug, such as heroin or marijuana. On March 11, 1982, the U.S. Public Health Service flatly declared cigarette smoking to be "clearly the single most preventable cause of premature illness and death in the United States," with estimated deaths of over 300,000 annually traceable to this drug."

A modern control scheme might move both tobacco and mari-juana into a newly defined middle ground where both would be gov-erned by roughly the same rules. Tobacco would be placed under greater controls, marijuana fewer. These new common rules would include allowing both drugs to be used legally but with restrictions on advertising, distribution, and sale. This policy is more in touch with the real nature of drug taking today than the current system.

A modern redefinition might well deal with the meaning of "le-gitimate medical practice." Of the two major national models of addiction control in the world, that of the United States has had, unfortunately, the greatest impact on establishing the meaning of that phrase. While in this country, addicts are now treated as dis-eased and thus deserving of medical treatment, the most onerous controls have been placed on American doctors in terms of their dealing with addicts. These controls are particularly harsh in regard to the prescription of addicting drugs in nondiminishing doses over extended periods of time. Indeed, for forty years, from the early twenties to the early sixties, it was absolutely forbidden under pain of criminal prosecution for a doctor to provide any narcotic to an addict except for a brief period to aid detoxification. Since 1974, it has been legal, although haltingly so, for doctors to prescribe oral methadone to narcotic addicts for long-term maintenance. Heroin addicts are not allowed to receive that drug legally from doctors; nor for that matter may codeine addicts receive codeine from their phy-sicians. It is oral methadone or no narcotic. Even so, this system has helped a great many people, which is testimony to the courage and wisdom of some American doctors and other addiction treatment specialists.

While many countries have adopted methadone and other Amer-ican methods, they and their addicts would do much better by learn-ing from the more reticent British. British physicians have the power to choose from a wide variety of modalities in dealing with their addict-patients. In some cases, as in America, they may choose psy-chotherapy and oral methadone, and often do. In others, injectable methadone; in still others, injectable heroin and cocaine. This holds true in spite of the changes made to British regulations and medical practice since 1968. The original British model could well help a great many nations to a much greater extent than the more rigid and re-pressive American system.

To those, however, who see the British approach as a total sur-render, I hasten to point out why it is a moderate approach, which allows rational adjustments to meet local conditions. The British ap-proach applies only to the opiates and cocaine. It does not apply to a whole host of other drugs, such as marijuana or smoking opium. The British take an American approach to both. Recreational users cannot apply to a doctor for their drugs. Be that as it may, the British have created a humane system that we would do well to emulate.
Such qualities have been found in humane models of drug abuse control and treatment located elsewhere than in Britain—in Shreve-port, Louisiana, for example, from 1919 to 1923 in the renowned clinic of Dr. Willis Butler.36 Still other models of change may be found in even the most unlikely places, if we will but look with open eyes. Before Khalkhali and Khomeini, the law of Iran allowed reg-ular doses of opium to patients designated as addicts by licensed physicians. The law favored older smokers, but younger ones con-ceivably could have been registered by a physician under provisions of the regulations.37

The foregoing are but a few illustrations of the types of moderate reforms that are possible in many countries, aided and encouraged by new international control agreements and by a more flexible in-ternational control climate. Each country, moreover, must carefully weigh the consequences of inaction in the face of the current epidemic. For example, unless the United States makes adjustments at home soon, we may have to consider an even greater commitment of naval and air forces to keep drugs from our shores. In that mil-itary situation, an American president might someday consider it perfectly logical to order a marine incursion into Colombia. The same might be true of army search-and-destroy missions within this coun-try, say in California where, some authorities claim, the number-one cash crop is now marijuana.

Of course, the demand for heroin has not yet reached that of mar-ijuana, but that demand is escalating and is coming from all seg-ments of American society now. To meet that demand, those in the trade have had to import their product from outside the country, because in the past there have been no domestic crops. But the hardy opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, like the virtually indestructible marijuana plant, will grow almost anywhere. Indeed, the poppy once grew all over the United States, and mass cultivation could easily be reintroduced. Under present world conditions, that horticultural event seems foreordained, unless, of course, it has already occurred.

THE UNLEARNED LESSON

The lesson remains unlearned by most policy makers and social lead-ers around the globe. That is the sad conclusion we must draw as we reflect on the course of events during the few years since an earlier version of this chapter was originally written. Not only are govern-mental leaders becoming more insistent in their demands for greater force in dealing with drug problems, but traffickers are also com-mencing to strike back, for the first time in modern history, directly against drug abuse officials.

In March of 1986 the bodies of American DEA Special Agent En-rique Camarino Salazaar and his Mexican pilot, Alfredo Zavalar Av-elar, were found near a rural road in Mexico. It appeared probable that the pilot had been buried while still alive. U.S. Ambassador to Mexico John Gavin declared that the murders, apparently by Mex-ican drug traffickers aided by corrupt police officers, represented "losses in an ongoing war." Defense Minister General Juan Arev-alao Gardoqui had already responded to criticism of his country's commitment to the drug war by pointing out that many Mexican drug enforcement agents had been killed recently."

Urgent calls for more military force and other retaliatory actions came from political leaders of both major political parties. Con-gressman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Chair of the House Select Com-mittee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, declared that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were dragging their feet and preventing a full com-mitment of the military in the war on drugs. He asked for greater involvement of the armed forces. Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) introduced legislation that would authorize $100 million to create a new air command equipped with advanced radar for easier detection of planes smuggling drugs into the country. Senator Paula Hawkins (R-Fla.), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, demanded that President Reagan enforce the so-called Hawkins Amendment of 1983, a law that empowers the pres-ident to suspend foreign aid to those countries that do not cooperate with the United States in the war against drugs. "What will it take for us to uphold the law?" the junior senator from Florida asked. "Another kidnapping? Another death?"39

On May 4, 1984, Senator Hawkins had dispatched a highly pub-licized letter to President Reagan urging him to use "whatever re-sources necessary including U.S. troops . . . helicopters, flame throwers . . . and firearms" to aid Colombia in its war against drugs. Her letter was sent in the wake of the murder by drug traffickers of Colombia's Minister of Justice, Rodrigo Lara Bonilla.4° On April 25, 1984, Senator Hawkins had introduced a bill that would have made murder in connection with the drug trade a federal crime car-rying the possibility of a death sentence.'"

A vocal group of leading American officials and drug abuse ex-perts have been calling in recent months for even harsher criminal sanctions, including the death penalty in cases of simple trafficking where no violence was involved. Such a bill was introduced into the House of Representatives in early 1985. Moreover, Congressman Henry Hyde called for the firing squad in those cases where narcotics agents were found corruptly involved in trafficking.42 Commentator Patrick Buchanan, during my appearance on the tel-evision show "Crossfire" on the Cable News Network in late No-vember 1984, vehemently disagreed with my arguments for drug law reform and declared that he much preferred the Singapore method for dealing with drug traffickers, especially those who sold to chil-dren. A rope around the neck and spring the trapdoor, that will stop them, Mr. Buchanan stated definitively.43 Several months later Mr. Buchanan was appointed to the powerful position of director of communications in the Reagan White House.

The experience of Singapore seems to have become a shining ex-ample for those who refuse to learn, or are ignorant of, the lesson of Ayatollah Khalkhali. Dr. Gabriel G. Nahas, for example, has for years argued for harsher measures to deal with users and sellers of illicit drugs. Dr. Nahas is a professor of anesthesiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and a consultant to the United Nations Commission on Narcotics. In a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal of February 13, 1985, the physician ex-plained what America must do in order to revive the cultural taboos against illicit drug use that "were shattered 20 years ago by the false prophets and social nihilists of the drug culture." Dr. Nahas ex-plained that the United States did not have to go as far as Eastern bloc countries and China, which have succeeded in controlling "il-licit drugs with repressive measures against traffickers and addicts alike." Rather, we should follow the advice of the World Health Organization and "suppress the drugs as much as possible, as if they were infectious agents, and . . . rehabilitate addicts through quar-antine until they are able to lead drug-free lives."

The medical school professor stated that a number of Asian coun-tries had succeeded in controlling illicit drug use through these meth-ods, especially Singapore. Dr. Nahas described the situation in positive, even glowing, terms. The number of traffickers hanged in-creased from five, several years ago, to fifteen. Over 2,000 people suspected of being traffickers had been arrested in recent years, and many were retained in preventive detention, without benefit of trial. Thousands of suspected users were arrested, given a urine test, and committed for forcible treatment in drug rehabilitation cen-ters—again all without the messy formality of a trial. The jewel in the crown of this argument was that the number of addicts had al-legedly dropped from 13,000 in 1977 to 6,000 in 1983.

If this reduction in the number of addicts did actually take place, and if it was achieved even partly because of these harsh governmental measures, the experience of Singapore might represent an important exception to the lesson being expounded here. However, caution must be used in accepting claims of such success in the face of simple common sense. What happened to the other 7,000 addicts? Did they simply stop taking drugs as a result of fear of death or as a result of treatment? Did they leave the country? Such questions are difficult to answer since drug users live in a world hidden from the view of most governmental officials. A reduction of such mag-nitude in a few years is, however, highly unlikely. In time we may learn, as more evidence becomes available, that the reductions were not real. We know already that Dr. Nahas's claims about the success of the Eastern bloc countries are not true, at least about Poland, which has recently admitted to a significant increase in heroin use. Perhaps the most important question is, Why would any citizen ed-ucated in the traditions of democracy knowingly support such harsh programs that so curtailed the rights of all its people, including those who allegedly used and sold drugs? Yet large numbers of our fellow citizens do exactly that.

Among advocates of these harsh measures are people holding in-fluential government and academic positions, including Mr. Bu-chanan and Dr. Nahas. They say they are quite prepared to trade American freedoms, hewn out of centuries of hard battle with some-times well-intentioned zealots, in order to win total victory over the drug menace. Even if the success of Singapore were real, which is doubtful, the lessons of other countries make it more likely that in the long run repressive measures to control drug use will produce a loss of freedom for all of the nation's people, not simply those in the drug scene; violent reactions from drug users and traffickers; and no reliable evidence of a significant drop in drug use.

That seems to be the case now in Iran. In a statement made at a recent United Nations meeting on narcotic drugs, the Islamic Re-public of Iran explained the "strict and decisive campaign since the revolution in 1979. . . . Many major international traffickers had been convicted and sentenced to capital punishment by Islamic Rev-olutionary Courts. This, however, had not stopped the traffic which entered . . . Iran almost exclusively across the country's eastern frontiers. A total of 84 Iranian drug law enforcement officers had been killed in this area during [the first six months of 1984]. The brutality of the organized and heavily armed trafficking gangs was shown by the fact that those members of the drug law enforcement agencies who were captured or wounded had their faces burned and disfigured by the traffickers, either before or after death." At this meeting, the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran circulated a number of photographs of the bodies of police officers who had been so brutally disfigured."

It is distressing that influential opinion leaders in one of the coun-tries that lies on those eastern frontiers read the lessons of Iran and of the United States so differently from their presentation here. The chairman of the Pakistan Narcotics Control Board stated in early 1985 that heroin use was first observed in the country during 1980, and by the end of 1984 heroin abuse had spread to all major cities. The board estimated a total of 270,000 heroin addicts, all of whom had appeared in this short time. There were another million addicts of other drugs. In a long editorial of January 23, 1985, the Karachi Morning News observed that even in the United States with all its vast resources, almost every strategy to control drug use has failed. The reason for this failure, the Pakistani editors declared, "is be-cause the U.S. laws are rather 'soft' for dealing with criminals en-gaged in the dope traffic. And so are the laws of Pakistan dealing with this crime."

And what about the success of Iran in dealing with this mysterious and stubborn problem? Remarkably, in light of published official reports on the drug traffic across the common border, the editorial declared, "In Iran which has enforced the death penalty for drug traffickers, these criminals are fighting a losing battle. A large num-ber of them have already been hanged in that country." Accordingly, the logical next step in this typically illogical chain of reasoning was to call for the extreme criminal sanction, which did not really work in the neighboring country, to be applied at home. The Morning News recommended strongly that "Pakistan must enforce the death penalty for all criminals engaged at any stage of the heroin trade, from production and distribution to smuggling and retail trade on the streets. Because in the light of past experience it is obvious that physical destruction of the heroin dealers is the only appropriate measure that would discourage these fiends out to destroy the whole future of the nation."

Thus, the irrational refrain continues. Trafficking in and consumption of addicting drugs persist in the face of criminal laws, armed force, and the death penalty. The entire structure of inter-national drug control moves more and more toward complete col-lapse. The necessary compromises and adjustments are not being made because so many powerful officials view those humane inno-vations as surrender. When humane instincts are driven from the arena of an emotional conflict, the executioners among us reign su-preme. Enlightened progress then becomes impossible.

By the summer of 1986, the drug-war situation became even more threatening. Leading officials sought to convince the public of their devotion to uncompromising measures to control the drug men-ace—and that they were tougher in this regard than their political competitors. In the process, they took measures that, in earlier sec-tions of this chapter, I have suggested as absurd examples of what might happen if the war logic were pushed to foolish extremes. One such example was the idea of sending American troops into South America. In July Army troops were actually dispatched to the co-caine fields of Bolivia. At the same time it was revealed that troops had previously been sent on secret missions of a similar nature to Colombia.

Then the president and leading White House officials volunteered to take urine tests for drugs—to set an example for the nation. Soon, candidates for election in the fall campaign were volunteering them-selves for urine tests and daring their opponents to provide a jar themselves. It if were not so tragic it might have been good comic opera.

Also tragic was an action taken by 13-year-old Deanna Young of Los Angeles in August. For the first time in recent history, to my knowledge, a child turned her parents in to the police for using drugs. Deanna took drugs and paraphernalia from her home to the local police station after hearing an antidrug lecture by a deputy sheriff at a church meeting. Joyce Nalepka, leader of the White House-endorsed National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, de-clared, "This child did exactly the right thing." Within a few weeks three other children around the country had imitated Deanna and done that right thing.

By September, the frenzy hit Congress with full force as the fall elections loomed in the face of rising public fears about drugs. Sev-eral billions of dollars were pledged by the legislators to support an irrational series of measures that increased criminal penalties and invaded freedoms. It was proposed again to apply the death penalty to murders committed in the drug trade; only this time the measure seemed close to passage. Also thrown in the legislative hopper were provisions for restricting the exclusionary rule on evidence in drug cases. The use of the military in an increased drug-war role was a central part of this congressional steamroller.

All of this took place in disregard of the data coming out of NIDA which seemed to indicate that the drug epidemic in America had lev-eled off by the mid-80s. While this plateau may only have been tem-porary, the data showed either decreases or only slight rises in recorded drug use for a period of several years. This flattening of data applied to cocaine, even its recent new form prepared for smok-ing, known as "crack." When the media was reporting an epidemic of crack abuse in 1986, there was little official data to support the cries of disaster. But the cries from the media continued and had an impact on the government.

Even though the epidemic seemed to have abated, the demand for illicit drugs remained strong and continued to produce a market mea-sured in the multiple billions of dollars. As a result of all the con-tradictory pressures, another unthinkable event began unfolding: mass production of opium poppies on American soil. Huge fields have been discovered by lawmen in remote areas of the country.

In Britain, the model system of addiction treatment began to get tougher in the face of American pressure and rising crime. The core of the relatively gentle system seemed still intact, but there was cause to worry among those who were accustomed to using the British ap-proach as a lodestar for humane and effective treatment policies.

The only silver lining in this dark cloud is that a small group of drug-law reformers has been gaining strength in the United States and in other countries recently. If they can achieve some political stature as a centrist and moderate force, then rational reform is pos-sible. If enough good people from all segments of the political spec-trum—but especially from the dominant middle—come forward soon enough, the disastrous consequences of our current war against drugs can be averted and the war itself ended.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: An earlier draft of a portion of this chapter originally appeared in the Journal of Drug Issues, Fall 1983, pp. 379-97. C) Arnold S. Trebach, 1982, 1986.

1. Arnold S. Trebach, The Heroin Solution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), pp. 1-21.

2. Domestic Council Drug Abuse Task Force, White Paper on Drug Abuse (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1975), p. 14.    1

3. Edward Jay Epstein, Agency of Fear (New York: Putnam, 1977).
4. Charles E. Silberman, Criminal Violence, Criminal Justice (New York: Random House, 1978) pp. 173-78.

5. Ibid., pp. 175-76.

6. Lawrence Gonzales, "The War on Drugs: A Special Report," Playboy, April 1982, pp. 134, 204.

7. Peter G. Bourne, "The New International Heroin Trade," Addictions (Summer 1976): 32.

8. John C. Ball, Harold Graff, and Jean Paul Smith, "International Survey," Addictive Diseases: An International Journal 3, no. 1 (1977): 130.

9. New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur), 6 December 1979, p. 1.

10. Ibid., 16 December 1981, p. 2.

11. Ibid., 1 January 1982, p. 3.

12. Ibid., 10 December 1981, p. 6.

13. Ball, Graff, and Smith, "International Survey," pp. 94-95.

14. W. H. McGlothlin, "The Singapore Heroin Control Programme," Bulletin on Nar-cotics 32, no. 1 (1980): 1.

15. New Straits Times, 9 December 1981, p. 15.

16. The Nation Review (Bangkok), 13 February 1982, p. 13.

17. The Navy has provided sophisticated E-2C fixed wing aircraft, with sensitive electronic equipment, to detect the planes of drug smugglers. These Navy planes have been directly assigned to coordinated operations with the Coast Guard. In addition, those Navy ships which happen to be in the area have been alerted to be aware of drug smuggling activity, especially by surface craft, and to take appropriate action. Interview, Commander Richard Bennett, U.S. Navy, Washington, D.C., April 23, 1982.

18. Action Committee Against Narcotics, Hong Kong Narcotics Report 1978 (Hong Kong: The Government Printer, 1978), p. 25.

19. Evening Post (Wellington), 13 July 1979, p. 1.

20. Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 31 August 1979, p. 5.

21. The Age (Melbourne), 28 August 1979, p. 28.

22. Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 31 August 1979, p. 5.

23. Frankfurter Allgemeine (Frankfurt), 28 October 1981, p. 12.

24. Berlingske Tidende (Copenhagen), 6 January 1980, p. 17.

25. Le Soir (Brussels), 25 January 1980, p. 1.

26. Laura M. Wicinski, "Europe Awash With Heroin," Drug Enforcement 8, no. 1 (Sum-mer 1981): 14-16.

27. Dagens Nyheter (Stockholm), 16 December 1981, p. 2.

28. Time, 30 June 1980, p. 39.

29. Washington Post, 9 July 1980, p. A19.

30. U.S. Department of State, The Global Legal Framework for Narcotics and Prohibitive Substances (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1979), p. 13.

31. The statements in the text about the death penalty in drug cases in Communist China are made with deliberate caution. Stories abound about the execution of drug dealers and of some addicts in mainland China, especially during the period of revolutionary ferment of the late forties. However, no legal provision has been found, as of the date of this writing, that attaches the death penalty specifically to drug offenses. This may be due to the fact that the Chinese are very sensitive and secretive about the topic. They often claim that the problem of drug addiction was conquered by the advent of the new revolutionary order. Yet, the law does provide the death penalty for economic crimes against the state and for counterrevolutionary activity. Chinese have been executed under these provisions, for example, on charges of smug-gling gold; thus, it would appear that drug smuggling might well qualify, in some cases, for the extreme penalty. Drug offenses are dealt with in articles 164 and 171 of the Substantive Criminal Code, People's Republic of China, as approved by the 5th National People's Con-gress, July 1, 1979, effective January 1, 1980. Article 171 provides for a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment for "anyone who manufactures, sells or ships opium, morphine or other narcotic drugs." Counterrevolutionary activities, which carry the death penalty, are dealt with in Part II, Chapter 1, Articles 90-104 of the criminal law. A recent enactment providing for the death penalty for serious economic crimes was a resolution of the 22nd Session, Stand-ing Committee, 5th National People's Congress, entitled Resolution for Severely Punishing Criminals Who Do Great Damage to the Economy, passed March 29, 1982, effective April I, 1982. For assistance in dealing with the law of the PRC, I am indebted to Jeanette Pinard, Far Eastern Law Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., and to my dean at the American University, School of Justice, Richard A. Myren, who recently returned from a criminal justice study trip to that country. See also Albert P. Blaustein, ed., Fundamental Legal Documents of Communist China (South Hackensack, N.J.: Rothman, 1962), p. 220.

32. U.S. Department of State, Global Legal Framework, p. 8.

33. For a description of the manner in which established international organizations re-buffed the cautious attempts at dialogue by the International Cannabis Alliance for Reform, see Robert L. Pisani, "International Efforts to Reform Cannabis Laws," Journal of Drug Issues 13, no. 4 (Fall 1983): 401-15.
For details of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, see Kettil Bruun, Lynn Pan, and Ingemar Rexed, The Gentlemen's Club—International Control of Drugs and Alcohol (Chi-cago: University of Chicago Press, 1975). As explained on page 16 of that book, the Single Convention of 1961 was aimed at replacing virtually all of the international treaties on drugs, starting with the Hague Conference treaty of 1912. It thus provided a major codification of international drug law and also provided some wholly new laws, such as that prohibiting cannabis.

34. Trebach, Heroin Solution, pp. 3-6, 291-95.

35. Edward N. Brandt, Jr., "Statement by Edward N. Brandt, Jr., M.D., Assistant Sec-retary for Health, Before the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, Committee on Energy and Commerce, March 11, 1982."

36. Trebach, Heroin Solution, pp. 148-67.

37. The full text of Article 4 of the amendment, approved on March 4,1969, to the Iranian Law on Limited Poppy Cultivation and Export of Opium reads as follows:
For those addicts of opium and its derivatives who may be over 60 years of age, or whose withdrawal from addiction is considered impossible for the time-being because of old age or illness, the procedure shall be as follows:
(a) the attending physician shall issue, in his handwriting and signature, a special certificate according to a pro-forma to be prepared and announced by the Ministry of Health;
(b) after confirmation of the certificate by one of the centres, to be announced by the Ministry of Health, the said centre shall issue a card, bearing the photograph of the addict, for the purchase of his quota, in which shall be set out full details of the addict, the daily dose, the address of the selling centre, and the period of validity of the card, which in any event shall not exceed six months. Note. Any quota card shall be valid only for the selling centre, the address of which shall be mentioned on the card.

38. Washington Post, 27 February 1985, p. A15.

39. U.S. News and World Report, 25 March 1985, pp. 16-17.

40. "News From Paula Hawkins, United States Senator," 4 May 1984.

41. Ibid., 25 April 1984.

42. Washington Post, 20 March 1985, p. A3.

43. "Crossfire" television program, Cable News Network, 26 November 1984.

44. The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, "Situation and Trends in Drug Abuse and the Illicit Traffic, Including Reports of Subsidiary Bodies Concerned With the Illicit Traffic in Drugs. Subcommission on Illicit Drug Traffic and Related Matters in the Near and Middle East," Report on the Eighteenth Session, 1-3 October 1984 (Vienna: United Na-tions, 1985), pp. 4-5. (Mimeographed.)

 

Our valuable member Arnold Trebach has been with us since Monday, 20 December 2010.

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