In 1962 a White House Conference on Narcotic and Drug Abuse was convened in recognition of the fact that drug traffic and abuse were growing and critical national concerns.Large quantities of drugs were moving in illicit traffic despite the best efforts of law enforcement agencies. Addiction to the familiar opiates, especially in big-city ghettos, was widespread. New stimulant, depressant, and hallucinogenic drugs, many of them under loose legal controls, were coming into wide misuse, often by students. The informed public was becoming increasingly aware of the social and economic damage of illicit drug taking.
Organized criminals engaged in drug traffic were making high profits. Drug addicts, to support their habits, were stealing millions of dollars worth of property every year and contributing to the public's fear of robbery and burglary. The police, the courts, the jails and prisons, and social-service agencies of all kinds were devoting great amounts of time, money, and manpower to attempts to control drug abuse. Worst of all, thousands of human lives were being wasted.
Some methods of medical treatment, at least for opiate-dependent persons, were being tried, but the results were generally impermanent; relapse was more frequent than cure. The established cycle for such persons was arrest, confinement with or without treatment, release, and then arrest again. And the cause of all of this, the drug-prone personality and the drug-taking urge, lay hidden somewhere in the conditions of modern urban life and in the complexities of mental disorder.
Responsibility for the drug abuse problem was not at all clear. Was it a Federal or a State matter? Was it a police problem or a medical one? If, as seemed evident, it was a combination of all of these, which agencies or people should be doing what? The Conference did not answer these questions, but it did bring to them a sense of national importance and commitment. 1____________________