U.S. Supreme Court
LINDER v. U.S., 268 U.S. 5 (1925)
Decided April 13, 1925.
The court below affirmed the conviction of petitioner by the District Court, Eastern District of Washington, under the following count of an indictment returned therein June 26, 1922. As to all other counts the jury found him not guilty.
Count II. And the grand jurors aforesaid upon their oaths do further present: That Charles O. Linder*, hereinafter in this indictment called the defendant, late of the County of Spokane, state of Washington, heretofore, to wit, on or about the 1st day of April, 1922, at Spokane...did then and there violate the Act of December 17, 1914, entitled 'An act to provide for the registration of, with collectors of internal revenue, and to impose a special tax upon all persons who produce, import, manufacture, compound, deal in, dispense, sell, distribute, or give away opium or coca leaves, their salts, derivatives, or preparations, and for other purposes,' ...in that he did then and there knowingly, willfully and unlawfully sell, barter and give to Ida Casey a compound, manufacture, and derivative of opium, to wit, one (1) tablet of morphine and a compound, manufacture, and derivative of coca leaves, to wit, three (3) tablets of cocaine, not in pursuance of any written order of Ida Casey on a form issued for that purpose by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue of the United States; that the defendant was a duly licensed physician and registered under the act; that Ida Casey was a person addicted to the habitual use of morphine and cocaine and known by the defendant to be so addicted; that Ida Casey did not require the administration of either morphine or cocaine by reason of any disease other than such addiction; that the defendant did not dispense any of the drugs for the purpose of treating any disease or condition other than such addiction; ...nor were any of the drugs consumed or intended to be consumed by Ida Casey in the presence of the defendant, but that all of the drugs were put in the possession or control of Ida Casey with the intention on the part of the defendant that Ida Casey would use the same by self-administration in divided doses over a period of time, the amount of each of said drugs dispensed being more than sufficient or necessary to satisfy the cravings of Ida Casey therefor if consumed by her all at one time; ...and that the drugs so dispensed by the defendant were in the form in which said drugs are usually consumed by persons addicted to the habitual use thereof to satisfy their craving therefor and were adapted for consumption-contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the United States.
The Harrison Narcotic Law, approved December 17, 1914....is entitled 'An act to provide for the registration of, with collectors of internal revenue, and to impose a special tax upon all persons who produce, import, manufacture, compound, deal in, dispense, sell, distribute, or give away opium or coca leaves, their salts, derivatives, or preparations, and for other purposes.'
Section 1 provides:
Sec. 2 provides:
'The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, shall cause suitable forms to be prepared for the purposes above mentioned. ... It shall be unlawful for any person to obtain by means of said order forms any of the aforesaid drugs for any purpose other than the use, sale, or distribution thereof by him in the conduct of a lawful business in said drugs or in the legitimate practice of his profession. ...'The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, shall cause suitable forms to be prepared for the purposes above mentioned. ... It shall be unlawful for any person to obtain by means of said order forms any of the aforesaid drugs for any purpose other than the use, sale, or distribution thereof by him in the conduct of a lawful business in said drugs or in the legitimate practice of his profession....
In effect, the indictment alleges that the accused, a duly registered physician, violated the statute by giving to a known addict four tablets containing morphine and cocaine with the expectation that she would administer them to herself in divided doses, while unrestrained and beyond his presence or control, for the sole purpose of relieving conditions incident to addiction and keeping herself comfortable. It does not question the doctor's good faith nor the wisdom or propriety of his action according to medical standards. It does not allege that he dispensed the drugs otherwise than to a patient in the course of his professional practice or for other than medical purposes. The facts disclosed indicate no conscious design to violate the law, no cause to suspect that the recipient intended to sell or otherwise dispose of the drugs, and no real probability that she would not consume them.
The declared object of the Narcotic Law is to provide revenue, and this court has held that whatever additional moral end it may have in view must 'be reached only through a revenue measure and within the limits of a revenue measure.' Congress cannot, under the pretext of executing delegated power, pass laws for the accomplishment of objects not intrusted to the federal government. And we accept as established doctrine that any provision of an act of Congress ostensibly enacted under power granted by the Constitution, not naturally and reasonably adapted to the effective exercise of such power, but solely to the achievement of something plainly within power reserved to the states, is invalid and cannot be enforced....
Obviously, direct control of medical practice in the states is beyond the power of the federal government. Incidental regulation of such practice by Congress through a taxing act cannot extend to matters plainly inappropriate and unnecessary to reasonable enforcement of a revenue measure. The enactment under consideration levies a tax, upheld by this court, upon every person who imports, manufactures, produces, compounds, sells, deals in, dispenses or gives away opium or coca leaves or derivatives therefrom, and may regulate medical practice in the states only so far as reasonably appropriate for or merely incidental to its enforcement. It says nothing of 'addicts' and does not undertake to prescribe methods for their medical treatment. They are diseased and proper subjects for such treatment, and we cannot possibly conclude that a physician acted improperly or unwisely or for other than medical purposes solely because he has dispensed to one of them in the ordinary course and in good faith, four small tablets of morphine or cocaine for relief of conditions incident to addiction. What constitutes bona fide medical practice must be determined upon consideration of evidence and attending circumstances. Mere pretense of such practice, of course, cannot legalize forbidden sales, or otherwise nullify valid provisions of the statute, or defeat such regulations as may be fairly appropriate to its enforcement within the proper limitations of a revenue measure....
The Narcotic Law is essentially a revenue measure and its provisions must be reasonably applied with the primary view of enforcing the special tax. We find no facts alleged in the indictment sufficient to show that petitioner had done anything falling within definite inhibitions or sufficient materially to imperil orderly collection of revenue from sales. Federal power is delegated, and its prescribed limits must not be transcended even though the end seems desirable. The unfortunate condition of the recipient certainly created no reasonable probability that she would sell or otherwise dispose of the few tablets intrusted to her; and we cannot say that by so dispensing them the doctor necessarily transcended the limits of that professional conduct with which Congress never intended to interfere.
The judgment below must be reversed. The cause will be
remanded to the District Court for further proceedings in harmony with
*I was curious about this doctor with my last name (and
even middle initial), and discovered he was also the pioneer of ozone
therapy. In 1914, Dr. Charles O. Linder was advertising the
availability "At a great expense" on his part, of his new medical ozone
machine in the at the Apple Show near Spokane, WA. He was passing the
ozone through eucalyptus, pine, and cedar oils as scrubbers before
inhalation of the gas.
I also found this account of Dr. Linder's arrest: "In 1924 Dr. Charles O. Linder, completing a lifetime of honorable practice in Spokane, WA, was induced by a plant from the Treasury Dept. to write a prescription for 4 tablets of cocaine and morphine. Several Treasury agents thereupon descended on his office on a Saturday afternoon, stamped through his waiting room crowded with patients, and broke in on him in the midst of a consultation. He was indicted in the Berhman formula, convicted, sentenced, and lost his intermediate appeal to the Circuit Court. But Dr. Linder persisted. The Supreme Court's unanimous decision came on April 13, 1925, in which his conviction was reversed and he was completely vindicated." The Drug Hang Up, America's Fifty-Year Folly, by Rufus King. Chapter 6: "Dr. Behrman, Dr. Linder, and the High Court."
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