The Journal has received many letters on the Harrison law during the past week. Some of these comment on or criticize statements made by The Journal; others ask questions that have already been answered; and still others raise new questions. The Journal is making every effort to get official information concerning the interpretation and administration of the law. Like most laws, its phraseology is not the product of any one mind. In the three years in which this bill was before Congress, it was frequently amended and several times rewritten. Few new laws are sufficiently explicit or detailed to provide for every case which may arise under them. In making rulings and interpretations, it is practically impossible for an official to foresee all the conditions which may arise or to estimate accurately the extent to which the regulations will carry out the intent of the law. Following the enactment of any law of importance and especially of any law on a new subject, there is always a period of uncertainty and indefiniteness as to just what the law really means and how its provisions will be applied. The first regulations prepared by the administration are often found to be inadequate and to need modification. It is, therefore, for a time largely a matter of individual opinion what any particular clause in a law may mean.
The Harrison Antinarcotic Law. JAMA. 2016;315(15):1664. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.11632