The Changes Experienced by the Narcotics Monopoly in Turkey

Abstract

In this article, Dr Alaettin Akçasu, who works in the Department of Pharmacology, under Ord Prof Dr. Sedat Tavat, Faculty of Istanbul, relates how the narcotics monopoly in Turkey has been strengthened over the years, so as to eliminate almost completely all possibility of misuse

Details

Author: Alaettin Akçasu
Pages: 6 to 9
Creation Date: 1952/01/01

The Changes Experienced by the Narcotics Monopoly in Turkey

Dr. Alaettin Akçasu

In this article, Dr Alaettin Akçasu, who works in the Department of Pharmacology, under Ord Prof Dr. Sedat Tavat, Faculty of Istanbul, relates how the narcotics monopoly in Turkey has been strengthened over the years, so as to eliminate almost completely all possibility of misuse

Until 1933 the cultivation of the opium poppy, the manufacture of raw opium and the internal and external trade in morphine and other alkaloids obtained from opium were not subjected to any control within the frontiers of Turkey. Until then, anyone could grow any quantity of poppy anywhere he wished, and sell his crop to any dealer at any price. In Anatolia the extraction of oil from the poppy seed was preferred to the trade in raw opium for here poppy oil held an important place as a food product.

The conventions signed at The Hague (23 January 1912) and Geneva (12 February 1925) reduced the poppy cultivation within the frontiers of the countries Parties to the conventions and placed their opium exports under close control, therefore in these countries where cultivation of the poppy was free, production increased immediately and trade in opium became a source of considerable profit. The arrival in Turkey of immigrants from Yugoslavia who specialized in this crop also contributed to the increase in production.

The Government of the Turkish Republic fully recognized the harm done to humanity by the free production of and trade in opium, and despite the fact that it was a rich source of foreign currency, on 26 January 1933 it passed law No. 2108 for the signature of the conventions of 1912, 1925 and 1931.

These conventions bound those countries that had no law for the enforcement, within their frontiers, of the control of these substances, to pass such a law within the shortest possible time. For this reason, the Govern- ment of the Turkish Republic passed law No. 2313, on the restriction of poppy growing and the control of the exportation and importation of raw opium and its derivatives. This law entered into force on 24 June 1933. Poppy growing and the trade in raw opium was thus placed under State monopoly within the Turkish frontiers Since that date, districts where the poppy is cultivated have been restricted. These districts have been selected from among those where the poppy is a staple crop, where the best opium is produced and which are the most unsuitable for smuggling purposes. Persons intending to grow poppies are bound to declare the exact amount they wish to sow, and can only sell the opium produced to an official department, authorized to buy on behalf of the Government, or to merchants with special licences for internal trade. These dealers can only export such quantities and to such countries as are permitted.

Under a law passed in 1935 the production and sale of opium became a State monopoly, but none of the restricting clauses contained in the previous law were changed.

On 24 June 1938, the Office of Soil Products was set up under law No. 3491. This law invested the Office with the control of other agricultural products in addition to the control over the production of and

Building of Turkish National Monopoly.

Full size image: 32 kB, Building of Turkish National Monopoly.

Field of opium poppies

Full size image: 143 kB, Field of opium poppies

trade in opium and the production, exportation and importation of alkaloids obtained from opium, and declared the internal trade in raw opium free.

In accordance with this law, the producer could, without any restriction of time, sell his raw opium to the Office or to the merchants. The Office itself was not obliged to buy more opium than it could export. Thus the surplus product remained with the producer or the merchant, making smuggling all the easier. The only condition imposed on the dealers (in the internal trade) was that they must not up to that date have been the object of any prosecution for smuggling, and they were required to make a declaration to that effect.

This law was applied without any modification until 1950. "In spite of the vigilance of the Customs and enforcement officers, it has been ascertained that certain evil-minded persons taking advantage of the last paragraph of the clause 6 of law No. 3491 (that the trade in raw opium is free inside the country) have been able to send freely and without any fear of control, raw opium of better quality as far as the frontiers of countries where it could be sold at higher prices, and have found opportunities to send this opium past the border. This statement has been supported by complaints received from the outside at different times."1

In view of the above, law No. 5621 was passed on 23 March 1950, amending clause 6 of law No. 3491 and prohibiting free trade in opium inside the country. The producer was obliged to deliver his entire production of opium to the Board, or to an office authorized to buy in the name of the Board, up to the end of August of the same year.

This law remained in force for one year, after which, owing to changes in the economic system, trade in opium was again made free inside the country. It is for this reason that clause 6 of law No. 5621 was again amended on 18 April 1951, by another law (No. 5759), and the last paragraph of the above-mentioned clause stipulated that trade in opium was free inside the country but only within the district limits. This gave greater facilities to the producer, but it also made smuggling easier, and in order to prevent this, the penalties were increased. For example, clause 27 of law No. 5621 passed on 23 March 1950, fixed a fine of ?T.15 for every decare2 of poppy plantation outside the authorized areas, and of ?T.30 if the poppies were slit. In the later law, these penalties were doubled. Another clause of the law passed on 23 March 1950 provides that any person who fails up to the end of August of the same year to deliver his opium to the Office or to an organization acting in its name, or who after this date keeps such opium on his property or in any other place, or who tries to sell or transfer such opium in any other way to any person or body other than the Office above-mentioned, or an organization acting in its name, or who takes delivery of opium whether buying it or not, and conceals it, carries it or keeps it in any place whatsoever, or helps any other person or body to transfer such opium will be deemed to be a smuggler. The penalty is a heavy fine in proportion to the amount of opium in question, and the opium will be seized and confiscated. Whereas, the same clause of the law passed on 18 April 1951 and amended lays down that if any person does not as stipulated by clause 6 deliver the raw opium he has produced up to the end of September, to the Office of Soil Products or to the organization acting in its name in the district, such raw opium produced or gathered from the producers will be confiscated Furthermore, the producer will have to pay a fine based on the value of the raw opium, and the dealer a fine equivalent to twice such value, as a heavy penalty. If the raw opium produced or gathered from the producers has been concealed or smuggled, the penalty as laid down in the first paragraph is imposed whether it can be recovered or not. The law applied at present requires the producer to sell his product either directly to the Office of Soil Products or to an organization authorized to buy on behalf of the Office, or directly to dealers having a trade licence from the Government.

1

From the report on law No. 5621 on the need for amending some clauses of the law respecting the Office of Soil Products and the addition of a temporary clause.

2

About a fourth (?) of an acre. 7

Crushing raw opium into standardized opium.

Full size image: 146 kB, Crushing raw opium into standardized opium.

Processing and stamping of raw standardized opium.

Full size image: 95 kB, Processing and stamping of raw standardized opium.

Dealers and producers must deliver all opium in their possession to the Office in the district not later than the end of September of the same year. The producer must also submit to the Government a declaration of the quantity of opium sold, not later than three days after the sale, so as to prevent any opium from being smuggled by the dealer. This declaration is essential for any sale, and the dealer concerned is required to submit it to the Board when he delivers the opium The penalty for any person who fails to conform with this requirement is laid down in the first part of paragraph B of clause 27 of the above-mentioned law, which states that: "If any person sells or buys without a licence or transfer, conceals, transports, carries or keeps in any place raw opium, or participates in these acts, he shall be liable to imprisonment for not less than 3 months nor more than 1 year, and a heavy fine of not less than ?T 50 nor more than ?T 500. The opium shall be confiscated."

The Office of Soil Products is not only in charge of the control of the sale of opium, it also controls, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, the improvement of poppy growing and the production of opium, analyses the opium for sale, supervises the purification of the opium that has been bought, and provides for the standardization of opium. Also, in agreement with the Ministries of Economy and Trade, it sets up any plant or organization that may be needed.

Every year, the Office, in collaboration with the Ministries of Economy, Trade and Agriculture, and taking into consideration the agricultural and economic possibilities and the prospects for exportation, determines the regions where the poppy is to be grown and the persons to whom permission to gather opium will be granted. After submission for approval to the Council of Ministers, these particulars are made known not later than 1 July.

The Narcotics Monopoly, which has been turned over to the Office of Soil Products, controls, in addition to opium and its alkaloids, cocaine and similar substances, hashish and habit-forming synthetic narcotic drugs.