Stanley v. State

Decision Date02 March 1911
Citation70 S.E. 591,135 Ga. 859
PartiesSTANLEY v. STATE.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court.

The act of the General Assembly approved August 22, 1907 (Acts 1907 p. 121), entitled "An act to provide against the evils resulting from the traffic in certain narcotic drugs, and to regulate the sale thereof," is not unconstitutional on the ground that it violates that portion of article 3, § 7 par. 8, of the Constitution of this state, which provides that "no law or ordinance shall pass which refers to more than one subject-matter," because "said act refers to more than one subject-matter, in this: That its object, as stated in the title thereof, is to provide against the evils resulting from the traffic in certain narcotic drugs and to regulate the sale thereof, and in addition to said object said act seeks to prohibit the prescribing of certain narcotic drugs by practitioners of medicine dentistry, or veterinary medicine, and to regulate the prescribing of said drugs by practitioners of dentistry and lawfully authorized practitioners of medicine in certain case."

Nor is such act unconstitutional on the ground that it violates that portion of the paragraph of the Constitution above referred to, which provides that no law "shall pass which *** contain matter different from what is expressed in the title thereof," because "said act contains in the body matter different from what is embraced in the title thereof in that the title of the act contains nothing indicating a purpose to make penal the sale or prescription of the narcotic drugs named in said act, or to prescribe a punishment therefor."

Prosecution of H. B. Stanley for violation of Act Aug. 22, 1907 (Acts 1907, p. 121), to provide against the evils resulting from the traffic in certain narcotic drugs and to regulate the sale thereof. On certified questions to the Supreme Court. Questions answered.

P. W. Meldrim and Wilson & Rogers, for plaintiff in error.

W. C. Hartridge, Sol. Gen., for the State.

HOLDEN J.

The Court of Appeals has certified to this court the following question:

"Is the act of the General Assembly approved August 22, 1907, entitled 'An act to provide against the evils resulting from the traffic in certain narcotic drugs and to regulate the sale thereof,' unconstitutional and void because it is in conflict with that portion of the Constitution of the state of Georgia embraced in section 5771 of the Code of Georgia of 1895: (a) Because said act refers to more than one subject-matter, in this: That its object, as stated in the title thereof, is to provide against the evils resulting from the traffic in certain narcotic drugs and to regulate the sale thereof, and in addition to said object said act seeks to prohibit the prescribing of certain narcotic drugs by practitioners of medicine, dentistry, or veterinary medicine, and to regulate the prescribing of said drugs by practitioners of dentistry and lawfully authorized practitioners of medicine in certain cases? (b) Because said act contains in the body matter different from what is embraced in the title thereof, in that the title of the act contains nothing indicating a purpose to make penal the sale or prescription of the narcotic drugs named in said act, or to prescribe a punishment therefor?"

1. The title to this act of the General Assembly, approved August 22, 1907 (Acts 1907, p. 121), is as follows: "An act to provide against the evils resulting from the traffic in certain narcotic drugs, and to regulate the sale thereof." Counsel for the plaintiff in error contend that the act violates article 3, § 7, par. 8, of the Constitution of this state, which provides that "no law or ordinance shall pass which refers to more than one subject-matter." It is urged that absolute prohibition of the sale of certain articles involves a different subject-matter from that of regulation of the sale of such articles, and that "to provide against the evils resulting from the traffic" in certain articles necessarily involves the idea of absolute prohibition of the traffic, while "to regulate the sale" of such articles necessarily implies the continuance of the sale of them. Provision can be made "against the evil resulting from the traffic" in an article without absolutely prohibiting such traffic. Such provision might be made by abolishing the traffic; but it can also be made by permitting the traffic under certain restrictions and regulations designed to avert the evils flowing from the traffic without such restrictions and regulations. "To provide against the evils resulting from the traffic" in certain articles presupposes existing evils flowing from the traffic, and the language is such as to involve the idea of permitting the traffic to continue, with provisions throwing restrictions around the traffic which correct such evils. Provisions "against the evils resulting from the traffic" in an article and provisions regulating the sale of the article are not inconsistent. Such provisions involve no contradiction, and do not involve two subject-matters. The object or subject-matter of the act as expressed therein was not the absolute prohibition of the sale of or traffic in the named drugs.

The act does not absolutely prohibit the sale of, or traffic in, or prescribing for the articles referred to therein; but it permits the sale and prescribing under certain restrictions. To make unlawful and forbid the sale of or prescribing for an article, except in a specified way and to named classes of persons, does not involve a subject-matter different from that involved in a regulation of the sale of such articles. The act makes it "unlawful for any practitioner of medicine, dentistry, or veterinary medicine to furnish to or prescribe for the use of any habitual user of the same" any of the drugs specified; but it is provided that this "shall not be construed to prevent any lawfully authorized practitioner of medicine from furnishing or prescribing in good faith, for the use of any habitual user of narcotic drugs who is under his professional care, such substances as he may deem necessary for their treatment, when such prescriptions are not given or substances furnished for the purpose of evading the provisions of this act." The act makes it unlawful for any dentist to prescribe any of the named drugs for any persons not under his treatment in the regular practice of his profession, or for any practitioner of veterinary medicine to prescribe any of such drugs for any human being. The act also makes it unlawful for any person to sell, furnish, or give away (except as provided in the act) any of the drugs named, except upon the written orders or prescriptions of one of such "lawfully authorized practitioners," given in a specified way. A practitioner of veterinary medicine is prohibited from prescribing any of the drugs "for...

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