Tenth Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NARCOTICS TREATIES ON INTERNATIONAL CONTROL
THE PROPOSED SINGLE CONVENTION
Twentieth Sessionof the Economic and Social Council
Pages: 28 to 29
Creation Date: 1955/01/01
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs met in New York on Monday, 18 April 1954. The session lasted until 13 May.
At the first meeting the Commission elected as officers:
Mr. C. VAILLE (France) - Chairman
Mr. HARRY J. ANSLENGER (U.S.A.) - Vice-Chairman
Mr. W. SALDANHA (India) - Rapporteur
The main items on the agenda adopted were the Control of Implementation of the Existing International Conventions on Narcotic Drugs; the Problems of Cannabis Sativa L., of Coca Leaf, of Diacetylmorphine, and of Synthetic Drugs; the Illicit Traffic; Drug Addiction; the Proposed Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
Representatives of Afghanistan, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany (Federal Republic of), Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Pakistan, South Africa, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, were also present, in addition to the members of the Commission, in connexion with items of particular concern to them.
In addition, the following bodies were represented at the meetings of the Commission: Permanent Central Opium Board and Supervisory Body, World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization; International Criminal Police Commission, World Federation of Trade Unions, International Conference of Catholic Charities, International Federation of Women Lawyers, World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, World Women's Christian Temperance Union.
The Commission took various decisions and recommended for adoption by the Economic and Social Council resolutions dealing with: implementation of the treaties on narcotics (return of the copies of export authorizations to the exporting countries; facilities for the working of the Permanent Central Opium Board and the Drug Supervisory Body; transmission of statistics; accuracy of estimated requirements of narcotics; drug addiction; cannabis; synthetic drugs (control of their use; prohibition of synthetic drugs not considered indispensable to public health); control of documentation.
The Commission called the attention of governments to the necessity of transmitting regularly and exactly the information pertaining to statistics and estimates of narcotics needs.
The Commission established a Committee on Illicit Traffic to meet each year three days in advance of the regular session and entrusted it with the task of making a preliminary study of that traffic; drew attention to the need for fuller reporting by governments in connexion with the use of ships and aircraft by traffickers; to the importance of providing for adequate penalties on all traffickers; and asked for the specific collaboration of certain countries in which the situation presents a particular problem, by sending representatives acquainted with the illicit traffic in their country to the next session of the Commission.
The salient facts disclosed in the review of the illicit traffic in 1954 were: the traffic in raw opium seemed to be most important in the Middle and Far East and to have neither increased nor decreased appreciably. Very little prepared opium had been seized except in the Middle and Far East. There seemed to be a tendency to extract morphine from opium at an earlier stage in its movement from the poppy field to the addict. Large seizures of morphine had been made in various parts of the world. Diacetylmorphine (heroin) was still by far the most widely used "white" drug of addiction, but cocaine, which had been steadily declining on the illicit market, showed a tendency to increase again. The traffic in cannabis and cannabis resin seemed to be still increasing and it was at the same time the most widespread drug, geographically speaking, and one of the most widely consumed (rivalling opium). The illicit traffic in synthetic drugs was relatively small.
The problem of the origin of the drugs seized was extensively discussed. The Commission adopted a resolution noting that to name a country without previous consultation with its government was likely to be morally harmful to that country without contributing effectively to the campaign against the illicit traffic, and recommending governments to communicate, either directly or through the International Criminal Police Commission, to countries from which the seized narcotic drugs would seem to come, all such information as would enable those countries to conduct an enquiry into their origin.
The Commission noted that the entry into force of the United Nations Opium Protocol for Limiting the Cultivation of the Opium Poppy would give increased importance to work on the determination, by chemical and physical means, of the origin of opium seized in the illicit traffic. The United Nations Laboratory for the development of these methods will be set up this year in Geneva and the Commission, after considering the results already obtained in this connexion, recommended that governments apply them in their own laboratories as well as send samples of opium seized in the illicit traffic to the U.N. Laboratory for determinations.
The Commission asked the Council to recommend the continuation of the studies on drug addiction in consultation with the World Health Organization, the Social Commission and other bodies concerned. The Commission expressed the view that the ambulatory treatment (including the so-called "clinic" method) was not advisable and asked the World Health Organization to prepare a study on the appropriate methods of treatment.
The Commission also asked the Council to recommend that governments should transmit in their Annual Report information on drug addiction on new lines elaborated by the Commission, and that they should create the necessary administrative machinery to enable them to do so.
The Commission recommended that governments should limit their imports of coca leaf and crude cocaine to supplies originating in the countries which are now the principal coca producers.
The Commission urged the governments which have not yet done so to prohibit the manufacture, import, export and use of diacetylmorphine.
The Commission considered the utilization of the poppy straw (19,548 kg. of morphine produced from it in 1953, i.e., 26.4% of the total morphine produced), and recommended the application of provisions similar to those embodied in the Opium Protocol, to that substance.
The Commission considered the study prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization, in consultation with the Secretariat, on the development of a plant devoid of harmful resin or to replace the cannabis crop by other crops serving similar industrial purposes. This work was considered of great interest and the Commission recommended that the Economic and Social
Council should ask the governments of countries where the cannabis plant is grown for industrial purposes to furnish information on the extent to which illicit traffic in cannabis and its products was related to this crop. The recommendation further urged the governments of countries in which research was being conducted on the possibility of producing a strain of the cannabis plant without harmful resin, to lend it such support as they considered practicable; to call the attention of other governments to the desirability of participating in this work; and to invite the Food and Agriculture Organization to act as a co-ordinating agency in this research, in co-operation with the Secretariat.
The Commission reaffirmed the danger of drug addiction that synthetic products present and suggested to the Council to recommend to governments to alert the members of the medical professions to this danger and to prohibit the production and use of such synthetic drugs as could not be considered indispensable to public health.
The text of this Convention has been under consideration during the six last sessions of the Commission. At its recent session, the first reading of the draft Convention was completed. The provisions to be incorporated in the Convention will now include most of the measures which have been taken by the Commission on poppy straw, coca leaf, cannabis, and synthetic drugs. The Secretariat was requested to revise the draft treaty according to the Commission's decisions and present the completed text for review by the Commission.
At its twentieth session, the Council considered the report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its tenth session and took note thereof.
The Council approved with few modifications the draft resolutions transmitted to it by the Commission on the international control of narcotics, cannabis, drug addiction, the control and limitation of documentation. Its action was different in the case of the resolution on synthetic drugs.
An extensive discussion took place on this problem: The opinions expressed on the advisability and timeliness of recommending governments to prohibit the production and use of such synthetic narcotics as they do not consider indispensable to public health were nearly evenly divided.
However, there was general agreement on the need for strict control over synthetic narcotics, and the Council finally decided to take no action on the measures of prohibition proposed by the Commission, pending consideration by that body of the study now being prepared by the World Health Organization on the relative addictive properties and therapeutic advantages of synthetic and natural narcotics. The Council also recommended governments to invite the members of the medical and related professions to study the desirability and possibility of. prohibiting the production and use of such synthetic narcotic drugs as they do not consider indispensable to public health, and to warn the members of. those professions of the special dangers to the public that might be caused by any new narcotic drugs placed on the market. The Council requested the Secretary-General to invite the governments concerned to report on the steps taken in implementation of a resolution it had adopted at an earlier session, calling upon governments to exercise strict control over synthetic narcotics, and inviting them to carry out: an educational campaign amongst the members of the medical profession on the danger of synthetic drugs and the necessity of exercising the same care in prescribing them as with natural drugs.