DETERMINING THE ORIGINS OF OPIUM

Sections

NATURE OF THE PROBLEM
POSSIBILITY OF TYPES
PRECEDING WORK
DEVELOPMENT OF METHODS OF EXAMINATION AND ANALYSIS
OPIUM TYPES REFERABLE TO CERTAIN COUNTRIES
SEIZURES
PROBLEMS
SOME FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

Details

Pages: 14 to 47
Creation Date: 1949/01/01

DETERMINING THE ORIGINS OF OPIUM

Physical and Chemical Tests Aid Narcotics Authorities in Identifying Opium Seizures

NATURE OF THE PROBLEM

Full size image: 47 kB

The determination of the country of origin of seized opium is a problem of enforcement of the international laws and rules governing narcotics. Where does all the opium come from that provides the illicit traffickers with their wares and the clan destine factories with the raw material for the manufacture of drugs for the illicit market? Is it produced illicitly, or diverted from legal production? At what stage and in what countries is control lacking? The problem is no small one. Seizures. in general, constitute only a small part of the total volume of illicit traffic, yet, for example, Egypt alone seized over 41/2 tons of opium in 1943.[1]

The 1931 Convention laid upon the High Contracting Parties the obligation of communicating, among other things and as far as possible, the origin of the drugs seized in each important case, and. their marks and labels. This provision technically applies only to manufactured narcotic drugs, but another provision calls for "any other information which would assist in the suppression of illicit traffic", so that seizures of raw opium are thus included.[2] At the time the 1931 Convention was drawn up, huge quantities of morphine and heroin were manufactured legally and yet used for addiction purposes. As a result of the operation of this convention and national laws, most of the narcotics manufactured legally now stay under close control and serve only medical uses. The heroin for addiction purposes is now chiefly manufactured illicitly, in clandestine laboratories. Such Laboratories require illicit opium. Thus illicit or diverted raw opium is now the foundation of the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs. It may he eaten in its crude state, it may he made into "prepared opium" for smoking, or it may he used to manufacture the still more potent "white drugs" morphine and heroin.

The Advisory Committee of the League of Nations on the Traffic in Opium and Other Dangerous Drugs. repeatedly urged member nations to obtain and transmit all possible information relative to the origin of seized narcotics, and the present Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations has done likewise.[3]

The origin may be deduced from attendant circumstances: the itinerary of vessels on which the narcotics are smuggled, newspapers used for wrappings, and so on. It may be learned from the statements of the traffickers when arrested, or from what they tell undercover agents of a Government. It maybe apparent from marks, labels and the like, particularly in case of drugs that are diverted from legitimate uses. But all these means have very decided limitations. Newspaper wrappings may not mean anything, traffickers may. not tell the truth, labels may he forged. It will be much more satisfactory if some characteristics of the drug itself can be used to tell its origin-at least to supplement and confirm the other evidence-possibly to show in some cases that suspicions may not be correct, in other cases to establish the truth beyond a reasonable doubt.

Not only is opium the most fundamental material of the illicit traffic, but also its characteristics make it the most suitable substance for an attempt to determine origins by physical and chemical means. Factory-made products, such as the pure salts of. morphine or heroin, show few points of difference, no matter where they are made although the products made in clandestine laboratories or factories are not wholly pure and still show some "marks of origin", frequently including characteristic adulterations. Opium offers by far the best chance of determining origin in this way. It is a crude, natural product and like other such products differs greatly when produced in different parts of the world. These differences are due to methods of handling and shaping the cakes of opium, both by the national monopoly and before that by the peasant producer-to the traditional methods of obtaining the opium: time of incision. number of incisions of each capsule, length of time the latex is left on the capsule before collection, how it is dried and so on - to differences in soil and climate of the poppy-growing regions - to differences in the variety of poppy grown. It is not necessary that we know the precise reason for every difference, though that may help, as long as we know that the differences exist and what they are.

An expert with many years acquaintance with opium from different sources, merely by looking at a piece and cutting into it, noting its appearance, colour, texture, odour, etc., can often tell where it came from. What is needed is to make such judgements more scientific, more definite, more quantitative, less dependent on vague impressions which cannot he fully explained; dependent rather on physical and chemical criteria that can he used by competent chemists, anywhere in the world.

POSSIBILITY OF TYPES

In beginning a study of methods for determining the origin of opium, it is well to look for difficulties in the way. First and broadest is the fact that the substance involved is always opium: that is to say, between two different seizures of opium we can hardly expect to find any absolute differences. Purely qualitative differences will not often be satisfactory: quantitative differences must be established instead. On the other hand, too great variation occurring irregularly will be equally destructive to any possibility of determining origin. If it turned out that every farmer produces a different "kind" of opium, equally likely to resemble some grown in a distant country or on an adjacent farm, it would he impossible to establish anything. This may he the case with respect to some kinds of variation. It is necessary to find types of variation that stay within certain limits in one region, and within different limits in another region. These limits must not overlap too much-preferably not, at all- or it will not be possible to assign man' individual samples correctly, even though the averages for regions way be different.

If the analysis is carried far enough, any two samples from different plants-even in the same field-will show some differences, large or minute. It is essential, therefore, not to make extremely fine distinctions, but to depend on general types. The first step is to show that such types do exist, the second to show that they correspond definitely (even if not. perfectly) to different countries of origin.

Various types of Opium as viewed through the polarizing microscope

Full size image: 19 kBFull size image: 21 kB

Two samples of Yugoslav opium.

To be of any use for the present inquiry, the types must correspond fairly well to geographical regions or localities. They may not, however, correspond to the political boundaries of countries in all cases. Macedonia, for example, is divided between three countries, each of which allows opium production in its part of Macedonia. No study has yet been made of the necessary criteria for distinguishing Yugoslav, Bulgar and Greek opium. On the other side of the problem, within a large producing country such as Turkey, Iran or India, there may well be several quite distinct geographical types, produced in different provinces or districts. Turkey, for example, recognizes a broad distinction between "druggist" opium and "soft" opium, and these two kinds are produced in separate districts.

A broad array of data is necessary. However, we do not have to begin the project by testing thousands of individual samples, for much scattered knowledge is already available about different geographical types of opium. By utilizing and con- firming this existing knowledge, several geographical types can he recognized and described from the examination of only a few samples of known origin. Furthermore, once we are sure that certain characteristics vary geographically, a new type can. be described from a few authentic samples, or even from a single one that is representative of at least part of the production of a country. For example, suppose a single authentic sample of Iranian opium, representative of the production of a particular province, is examined and fully described. Even if it should later be found that most Iranian opium is markedly different in certain respects, the sample first described would remain an example of one type of Iranian opium.

PRECEDING WORK

To some extent physical and chemical criteria have always been used in judging the origin of opium, ever since enforcement officials first became concerned with the problem. At least the general appearance, colour, texture, oiliness or lack of it, and so on, have been noted and used to help form an opinion by those who have had any experience with opium from different lands. The morphine content also has been generally used. It in well known, for example, that Turkish opium is generally around 12 to 13 per cent as compared with something like 9 to-10 per cent for Indian opium. The researcher; of Annett and collaborators clearly established that the low morphine content of Indian opium is chiefly due to a different method of collection; i.e., incising the capsules more than once instead of once only as in Anatolia.[4] Regardless of the reason, the difference is a long-standing one and still exists.

The oily character of Indian opium has often been noted. Rakshit has mentioned that the peas- ant cultivators of certain States of central India customarily add some oil to their opium, and can- not easily he dissuaded from the practice.[5] To some extent, therefore, the oily characteristic of Indian opium is not a natural one. It is still just as good an indication of origin, or even better, except that we must reserve the possibility that opium from other countries, if adulterated with oil, might he similar to Indian opium in this respect. Levine, while chemist for the United States Narcotics Bureau, used an empirical test for Indian opium which apparently depended on this characteristics.[6]

Other characteristics have been used for the present purpose only to a very limited degree.

The amount and colour of the ash have some bearing on the question of origin. Annett, in examining samples from all opium-producing parts of India, stated that the ash was, in practically all cases, pure white.[7] The ash from Turkish samples is usually grayish white and greater in amount than the ash from Indian samples. The ash of opium from other countries is often decidedly coloured. Generally the colour is yellowish to brown, and due to iron. This may he due to incidental contamination, perhaps from the use of iron utensils, pots, or the like, in connexion with collecting or processing the juice and the resultant opium.

The crystalline character of Persian and Indian opium was noted in the National Standard Dispensatory in 1905.[8] Levine also noted that crystals (rods) were easily discovered in Indian opium, under the microscopes Apparently the polarizing microscope, which makes the test so much easier and more effective, was not used in these earlier observations.

Besides morphine, other alkaloids can supply excellent indications of origin. The greater codeine content of Indian and Persian opium as compared with Turkish and Yugoslav has long been known. Accurate commercial analyses since 1938 have shown that the two types do not even overlap, the Turkish or Yugoslav opium usually containing not even half as much codeine as the opium of India, Iran, or Afghanistan.[10]

Full size image: 64 kB

Photographs of Indian opium.

Full size image: 62 kB

Three samples of Turkish opium.

L. van Itallie and M. Kerbosch in 1910 examined qualitatively the opium from seven regions of the world for the six principal alkaloids. In four of their five samples from India there was too little papaverine for detection by their test.[11] During the war, when the United States turned to Indian opium for a time, its low content of papaverine was commercially verified. The Afghan opium, but not Iranian, was also low in papaverine. Narcotise is known to he especially high in Iranian opium.

Rakshit remarked in 1921 that thebaine is "only nominally present in Indian opium".[12] This has been found not to he true of all Indian opium of recent years, but it is still true of a type of Indian opium.

In 1918 Watt commented on the relatively high content of cryptopine in Indian opium, about 0.3 percent,[13] which is high for this alkaloid, only seventh in average amount in opium (following morphine, narcotise, codeine, thebaine, papaverine and narceine).

One very minor alkaloid of opium is easily detected by its yielding a strong red colour when heated with mineral acid. It was discovered by Merck in Bengal opium in 1837.[14] It has been described under the names "porphyroxine" and "meconidine", but neither description was entirely correct.[15] It is known that this alkaloid occurs especially in Indian opium and several chemists have proposed tests for Indian opium based on its detection. However, such tests on a merely qualitative basis are not very satisfactory. As for the other alkaloids the determination has to be quantitative to be really useful.

DEVELOPMENT OF METHODS OF EXAMINATION AND ANALYSIS

At the time the present studies were begun the facts mentioned in the preceding section were, for the most part, just scattered observations. Few of them had been used at all for the specific purpose of determining the origin of a sample of opium. Very, seldom had even as many as three or four of the characteristics been -determined on a single sample, to show that they occurred in a definite combination. Indeed, methods were not available for making an the suggested observations on one sample in any reasonable time, the polarizing microscope had not 'been used, and there has been no quantitative determination of "porphyroxine".

The first task of the writer was therefore to devise some methods which could be used for the rapid analysis of opium for those characteristics most likely to be useful in forming a judgement of origin. At the same time these methods were applied to known samples, particularly of government monopoly opium, to test and prove the conception that results of certain kinds occur in definite combinations that represent distinct types of opium.

The tentative methods devised are included in the United Nations document E/CN.7/117/Add.2 and document E/CN.7/117, parts IIA and IIC.[16] It is not intended here to go into the details of the the chemical procedures, but the nature of the most useful methods will he mentioned. These procedures still take plenty of time, but at least an important seizure could now be examined as completely as necessary in the course of a few days.

The four methods thus far found most useful in giving results clearly corresponding to geographical areas are the following:

  1. Microscopic examination

  2. Calorimetric determination of "porphyroxine-meconidine".

  3. Codeine determination

  4. Morphine determination

Other very useful determinations are those for fats or oils, narcotise, papaverine, thebaine and ash (amount and colour).

Microscopic examination. A small piece of opium is dispersed on a microscope slide by means of a drop of water, and the preparation allowed to dry up. Examined under the polarizing microscope with crossed Nicholas, Indian opium shows -multitudes of bright, well-formed rods. Turkish opium on the other hand shows comparatively little birefringent crystalline material and it is, present merely in the form of small irregular particles, with few or no rode. The crystalline material has been found toy be narcotise in both cases, but the reason for the different shapes is not known. Many variations can be noted in size and shape of crystals Yugoslav opium is similar to Turkish. Iranian opium :is highly crystalline, sometimes very like the Indian and sometimes showing chiefly very numerous irregular particles with few rods compared to the Indian, but many more than in Turkish opium.

Full size image: 64 kB

Opium from Iran, Mexico and Palestine.

Colorimetric determination of "porphyroxine- meconidine" (Procedure 11). A lime extract (solution) of one gram of the opium is obtained, and extracted with ether in a continuous extractor. The ether solution is then poured into an evaporating dish (it would be well here to rinse out the receiving flask with a little methyl alcohol) and the solvent evaporated off. The alkaloids extracted are then treated with diluted hydrochloric acid and the solution heated. A beautiful purplish-red colour develops. The amount of red colour due to the "porphyroxine-meconidine" from one gram opium in five mils aqueous, solution is then read in the 1/16 inch cell of the Lovibond tintometer. Indian opium&rsquos show by far the highest values, although Turkish opium&rsquos also contain a fair proportion of the alkaloid in question. Iranian opiums; thus far tested are distinguished by their very small amount of this alkaloid.

Codeine determination (Procedure 12). A lime extract (solution) of two grammes of the opium is obtained, and extracted with ether in a continuous extractor. The ether solution is then poured into an exporting dish (it is well here also to rinse out the flask with a little methyl alcohol) and the solvent evaporated off. The alkaloids are taken up with five per cent acetic acid and the solution transferred to a separator funnel The solution is buffered with sodium acetate and the papaverine, thebaine and "porphyroxine-meconidine" shaken out with carbon tetrachloride, using a wash of acetic acid solution buffered with sodium acetate. The solution is then made strongly alkaline and the codeine extracted with carbon tetrachloride, which is washed with alkali solution and then with water. The washed and filtered solvent is evaporated. The dry residue of codeine (with more or less cryptopine) is dissolved in a little methyl alcohol and titillated with p/50 sulphuric acid to the end-point with methyl red indicator, boiled distilled water being added. The results show two kinds of opium with respect to codeine, Turkish and Yugoslav opium&rsquos containing 0.7 to 1.6 per cent while the opium&rsquos of India, Iran and Afghanistan contain twice as much, usually ranging from about 2.0 to about 3.3 per cent by this method. Observations on the amount of cryptopine can be made by colour tests, both for the cryptopine carried along by the carbon tetrachloride toward the end of the thebaine extraction, and for the cryptopine remaining with the codeine. Indian opium&rsquos are highest in cryptopine.

Chemical Analysis of Opium

Full size image: 19 kB, Chemical Analysis of Opium

Grinding up the opium with lime and water in the laboratory.

Morphine determination. The assay of the United States Pharmacopoeia has been used as a basis for comparisons. It is hoped that an accurate extractive method can soon he worked out, but all the data available now are in terms of the pharmacopoeia precipitation methods.

Other determinations. The determination of the fats or oils soluble in petroleum ether can easily be made by extracting the air-dried opium in a Sochlet apparatus. A result in excess of 9 per cent suggests Indian opium. The opium can then be extracted for four or five hours with chloroform, and the solution obtained used to determine narcotine, papaverine and thebaine, with some observation of the amount of cryptopine (Procedures; 4 to 8). Two grammes opium are used for these extractions.

An alternative way of determining these alkaloids is by Anneler&rsquos method.[17] This gives very good results for narcotise and thebaine, and is satisfactory for papaverine if the purification is omitted. The Annelar method is not satisfactory for codeine.

If an ash determination is desired it is made in the usual way.

OPIUM TYPES REFERABLE TO CERTAIN COUNTRIES

The pattern of three different types of opium may be indicated as follows:

Microscopic

TURKISH few particles, no rods

IRANIAN highly cryst., some rods

INDIAN highly cryst., some rods

Porphyroxine
medium
low
high
Codeine
low
high
high
Morphine
medium
medium
medium
 
high
 
low
Full size image: 20 kB

Filling the continuous extractor with opium solution and other.

Actual figures for certain samples were these:

  

TURKISH

IRANIAN 

INDIAN

 

(1)

(2)

 

(1)

(2)

Porphyroxine
9.5 R 11.7 R 2.9 R 19.2 R 16.8 R
Codeine
0.9 %
1.15 %
2.16 %
2.63 %
3.2
Morphine
12.6 %
13.0 %
11.3 %
10.5 %
8.2 %

The inclusion of other determinations would serve to define the types in greater detail, but the figures cited are enough to show some of the numerical differences and resemblance&rsquos. Of course, there may he other types- from the same countries, too. In fact, it is known, for example, that Turkey- produces some "soft" opium that is high in codeine. Present typing has been based chiefly on the opium&rsquos lawfully exported by the government monopolies; and minor types have not yet been studied. That will have to be done later, as some minor types are quite likely to he found in the illicit traffic. The present figures are sufficient to prove that opium types do exist and can be definitely referred to their respective countries of origin.

SEIZURES

The methods of determining the origin of opium are intended to he applied to seizures, to samples of opium in the illicit traffic. This is the purpose of the whole investigation. It is necessary, there- fore, to inquire what is the relation, if any, between illicit opium and that legally exported.

The opium legally exported for manufacturing purposes is standardised by the government monopolies of the exporting countries. The opium&rsquos from different areas or provinces within the country are mixed together to produce a fairly uniform opium which does not vary much in general characteristics from one sample to another, or even from one year to another. At the same time it does differ from the standardised opium of other countries.

Full size image: 19 kB

Official UN photos

Apparatus for continuous extraction and, right, Sochlet extracion.

In the illicit traffic anything is possible. It would he a: mistake to think that all illicit opium is necessarily at the other extreme, completely non-standardised. Some of it is, in fact, standardised government monopoly opium which has somehow been diverted into the illicit traffic. Some is opium originally intended for consumption only within the producing country-and standardised for that purpose-but smuggled out. Such is, or was, the stick opium of Iran. Some is semi-8tandardized, or standardised for a particular area, such as one of the Indian States. Much illicit opium, of course, is diverted directly from the farm, or even produced illicitly. Also, illicit opium may he of some abnormally poor quality, or it may be adulterated in any degree. Even fake opium has been found, made in part from opium residues, but practically valueless to an unfortunate purchaser.

The studies thus far made on legal, standardised opium&rsquos can, therefore, be applied to some of the opium in the illicit traffic. As yet, very little study has been made of known samples of opium as it comes from the farm. But such opium, even in the illicit traffic, will most often-though by no means, always-correspond more or less closely to the average for the country as represented by the standardised government monopoly opium. Because, of the possibility of adulteration, attention should be given to the ratios between the various, alkaloids and other substances quantitatively determined, especially if the morphine content is low.

In a seizure case of the United States, two different kinds of opium which appeared to be government monopoly opium were present. The fact that the same smuggling case involved monopoly opium of two different countries indicates that the diversion probably took place after legitimate export, and occurred in some other country, possibly from military stocks. The probability that in this particular case the countries of origin were not to 'blame, does not destroy the-interest of identification of the origin by chemical means.

That these opium&rsquos originated in India and Turkey respectively was nearly obvious anyway from their appearance, but the quantitative chemical analyses at least insure against the possibility, however remote it may be, that some kind of opium might be deliberately given a superficial appearance in imitation of some other kind.

SEIZURES OF STANDARDIZED OPIUMS

Appearance

Cubical, oily blocks

Rounded flat cakes coated with chaff

Colour
black
brown
Texture
smooth
granular
Microscopic
rods, very numerous
small irregular particles, rather few
Porphyroxine
24.3 R 12.1 R
Codeine
2.25%
1.42%
Morphine
8.8%
12.6%
Fats
9.7%
8.0%

Another seizure by the United States sonic months ago consisted of flat, rectangular cakes of opium, each cake marked off in smaller rectangles like cooking chocolate. This particular form had never been seen before by any of the U.S. Customs or Narcotics agents or officials. The vessel on which it was smuggled had come from western Europe. Analysis showed the following:

"Chocolate-cake" Opium

Microscopic-small irregular particles, few

"Porphyroxine-meconidine" colour value-12.8

Codeine content-1.27%

Morphine content-13.5%

Fats soluble in petroleum ether-9.8%

Evidently this opium was Turkish. or possibly Macedonian. The microscopic test and codeine content are fairly decisive. Although the fats are high, we do not know much about the variation of Turkish opium&rsquos in fats, and this characteristic could be partly artificial.

Except for such a well known form as the stick opium of Iran, most of the illicit opium is in rounded or rather shapeless lumps, sometimes wrapped in oiled paper and sometimes in poppy leaf. As already mentioned, little has been done as yet toward the study of known samples direct from the farms of producing countries. Such study is very necessary, as some areas that are particularly likely to smuggle opium produce their own distinctive types which do not contribute much to the characteristics of the usual export opium. Nevertheless, the examination of seizures should not wait upon the completion of such a study, but should be carried on simultaneously. If a seizure does not reasonably well match a known kind in characteristics, the analyst must simply admit that he cannot yet tell where it came from. Of course, it will always be possible to find some minor differences between any two samples; but a major discrepancy, particularly in a characteristic primarily relied on for classification, may indicate a new type and cannot be ignored.

An example of matching a seizure with opium of known origin was included as Annex 1 in document E/CN.7/117/Add.2. Twelve points were noted. Al- though there were a couple of minor discrepancies, the close correspondence on the whole and in regard to the major determinations was very striking. Probably if more previously-analysed authentic samples had been available, an even closer match might have been found, as there is no doubt at all of the correctness of the conclusion in this particular care.

The examination of a seizure sample should be- gin with consideration of its general appearance, colour, texture, etc- Collateral information as to the circumstances of the seizure, statements of defendants, etc., should he available. Microscopic examination takes only a few minutes. Perhaps some opinion of origin can be formed at this stage, but if the case is at all important, determination of at least the "porphyroxine-meconidine" colour, the codeine content and the morphine content, should be made. If the results correspond closely to a known type and are in accord with the known circumstances, the origin may he considered as established. When any doubt still remains, additional determinations can be made; and, above all, an effort made to match the seizure opium with an opium of known origin. For this purpose good supplies of authentic samples are vitally necessary to the experts who pursue these inquiries for their Governments.

PROBLEMS

Certain questions are often raised in connexion with this project, such as:

  1. What could be done if the illicit traffickers mixed different kinds of opium to conceal the origin?

  2. Can prepared opium be distinguished according to country of origin?

  3. What kind of opium would result if the seeds of a variety characteristic of one country were grown in another country?

  4. Does the type of opium produced depend primarily upon poppy variety, on soil and climate, or on other factors?

Such questions are beyond our power to answer definitely at present, especially as so little bar, been done in the study of opium direct from the farms. Moreover, they are largely hypothetical and may never have to he answered for practical purposes. However, some tentative opinions can be mentioned.

The mixing of different kinds of raw opium is unlikely to be practised often, if ever, by the illicit dealers. They are not necessarily-.4.oncerned with- trying to hide the country of origin, but rather to hide their personal guilt. For a particular gang to turn out a distinctive product would be very foolish from their. point of view. Moreover the lumps of raw opium in the illicit traffic are generally rather hard and dry, and could not he mixed readily except by grinding up and mixing in powdered or granulated form.

Prepared opium (opium prepared for smoking) is essentially a boiled-down aqueous extract of raw opium. Narcotise is eliminated to a considerable degree but most of the other alkaloids are present in the same relation to each other as in the raw opium. The problem is much more difficult, but if we had sufficient information in regard to the raw opium&rsquos, we perhaps could tell also, from the ratios of codeine, papaverine and thebaine, (and possibly "porphyroxine-meconidine") , to Morphine and to each other, the country of origin of pre- pared opium. Of course some other indication, such as the kind of container, might he more helpful in this case.

To take some seed from one country to another involves selection. Quite likely a new variety may be established, especially if cross-pollination with native varieties may occur. The influence of changed soil and climate must also be considered.

Possibly, if a particular farmer or group of farmers imported fresh seed every year from some other country, their opium might be mistaken for that of the country from which the seed came. However, it is hard to see how any growers could have sufficient motive to do this. In practice, the question will probably never arise in this way.

The writer&rsquos own opinion is that variety is pre-dominant in determining the kind of opium produced, al though other factors have some importance. But this does not mean that a variety can he transferred readily from one country to another. Each of the principal poppy-growing countries has its own varieties that are especially suited to conditions there, varieties that have been acclimated over a period sometimes of hundreds of years. Seed from the poppies of Korea or Yugoslavia could not be expected to do well in tropical India. However, the most important producing countries have- their own poppy varieties under study by their Agricultural Institutes. Large-scale replacement of one variety by another, equally adapted to the country and possibly more productive of morphine or other alkaloid, is a possibility, especially in India or Turkey. So far as the effect on the project of identifying country of origin by. physical and chemical means is concerned, this merely means that a continuing programme is necessary. The study of samples of opium of known origin cannot he made just once and then completely dropped. Still, observations indicate a great constancy and persistence of existing types. Some characteristics have been known for seventy-five or even a hundred years, and have not changed; e.g., the high "porphyroxine-meconidine" content of Indian opium.

The foregoing considerations are largely theoretical. Practically, we only need to concern ourselves with the fact that different countries, provinces, or areas, to produce different types of opium. The studies most needed now are chemical studies of the distinct types of raw opium produced with- in the different countries, especially studies of the unmixed raw opium in the same form and condition as it might be found in the illicit traffic. Simultaneously, seizures should be examined.

In filling in the groundwork on samples of known origin there should be no question of collecting masses of data merely to see what facts might emerge. Perfectly definite questions have to be answered, such as the following:

  1. Are all the main types of Indian opium high in "porphyroxine-meconidine"?

  2. Are all the main types of Iranian opium low in the same alkaloid?

  3. Does any type of Turkish opium overlap the usual range for Indian or Iranian opium in "Porphyroxine-meconidine"?

  4. Are any other types of opium besides Turkish and Macedonian as low in codeine in relation to morphine content?

  5. From what provinces of Turkey or Iran or States of India, must the opium he considered as a distinct type, differing from the usual opium of the country?

  6. What are the characteristics of opium from areas from which it has not hitherto been chemically examined; e.g., the Shane State of Burma?

These questions and others along the same lines can be answered readily enough if authentic samples are made available and chemists are given time enough to work on them. It is hoped that the United Nations will continue this work directly, as well as encouraging its continuance by experts in the various countries which have signified a willingness to take part." Some of 'the questions regarding established types could be answered most easily by chemists in the producing countries. The experts in other countries could work on seizures, but would also require known, authentic samples for comparisons.

The Economic and Social Council has recently adopted the resolution recommended by the Com- mission on Narcotic Drugs at its fourth session, which requests the Secretary-General to further, within the means available, research on the methods of determining the origin of opium, and which recommends that the Secretary-General accept, if he finds this desirable, the laboratory facilities which the Government of the United States has offered to place at his disposal for this purpose.[19]

SOME FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

  1. It has been established that certain types of opium exist and that they can be referred to certain producing countries.

  2. The same types of opium can be found in the illicit traffic.

  3. The studies are far from complete or sufficiently extended. They do not. cover opium from all producing countries of the world nor the separate types of opium from distinct areas within the larger producing countries.

  4. Much of the opium of the illicit traffic is diverted at the farm or even produced illicitly, and often it cannot be satisfactorily identified as to origin, until the great gaps in the present data have been filled by the study of known samples.

  5. There is every reason to believe that as studies are continued the methods will steadily become more accurate and more inclusive for determining the origin of opium in the illicit traffic.

REFERENCES

01

Egypt, Annual Report, 1948.

02

Convention for the Limitation of the Manufacture of Narcotic Drugs, Geneva, 1931, Article 23.

03

See, for instance, the discussion at the eighty-fifth meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and the decision to include in seizure reports '"all available information and reasonable suspicion which might throw light on the origin, sale and purchase." E/CN.7/SR.W.85

04

Annett, Harold Edward. "Factors Influencing Alkaloid Content and Yield of Latex in the Opium Poppy (Papa- ver somniferum)". Biochemical journal 14, 5, 618-636 (1920).

05

Rakshit, Jitendra Nath. "The Determination of Total Alkaloids, Sugar and Oily Substances in Opium." The Analyst 51, 491 (1926).

06

Levin&rsquos Test No. 2 as Modified January 24, 1946. Distribute by the United States Narcotics Bureau to United States Alcohol Tax Unit and Customs chemists, February 28, 1946.

07

Annett and Boos. "Studies on the Ash Constituents of Indian Opium", Memoirs of the Department of Agriculture in India, Chemical Series, 8, 45 (1925).

08

Hare, Casperi, Rusby, et al. The National Standard Dispensatory, Lea Brothers & Co, Philadelphia and New York, 1905.

09

Levine&rsquos tests were distributed by the U.S. Narcotics, Bureau to U.S. A.T.U. and Customs chemists in 1945 and 1946.

10

Figures furnished by the Mallinckrodt Chemical Works were included in E/CN.7/117, part II A.

11

Itallie, L. van, and Kerbosch, M. "Beitr├Ąge zur Zusammensetzung des Opiums" (Contribution on the composition of Opium,). Archiv der Pharmazie , 248, 609-613 (1910).

12

Rakshit, Jitendra Nath. "Morphine, Codeine, and Nara-

00

cotton in Indian Opium". The Analyst 46 , 481-88 (1921).

13

Watt, Pharm. ]our. 100, 147 (1918).

14

Merck, Annalen der Pharmazie 21, 201 (1837).

15

See document E/CN.7/117, part II D.

16

E/CN.7/117, Add. 2, 22 September 1948, Unrestricted.

E/CN 7/117, 14 April 1948, Unrestricted.

17

Anneler, Ernst. "Ueber die Bestimmung von Codeine, Narcotin, Papaverin, und Thebain im Opium" (The Determination of codeine, narcotine, papaverine, and thebaine in opium). Festschrift Herrn Emil Christoph Barel. Basel, 1936, pages 344-362.

18

See document E/CN.7/159 and Addenda.

19

See document E/1459, Resolution F, of 6 July 1949.