George A. Morlock

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The fourteenth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the twenty-eighth session of the Economic and Social Council

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Pages: 38 to 42
Creation Date: 1959/01/01

George A. Morlock

Mr. George A. Morlock died on 23 January 1959. His name was familiar to everyone interested in international narcotics control during his long tenure as the United States Department of State expert on narcotics.

Mr. Morlock was born at Winchendon, Massachusetts, in 1893 and was educated at Clark University at Worcester, Massachusetts. He joined the Department of State in 1919 and was assistant to Secretaries of State Charles Evans Hughes, Henry L. Stimson, and Cordell Hull.

In addition to being a participant in many international conferences on opium and narcotics, including the first to ninth sessions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 1946 to 1954, and the United Nations Opium Conference, New York, 1953, Mr. Morlock participated in the Washington Conference on the Limitation of Armaments, 1921-1922, the Geneva Disarmament Conference of 1932, the London Economics and Monetary Conference of 1933, the Inter-American Conference of 1937 in Buenos Aires, and the Conference on Peace in the Far East at Brussels in 1938.

He attended the North Atlantic meeting during August 1941, and accompanied Secretary Cordell Hull to the Moscow Conference in 1943 and Secretary Edward Stettinius to London in 1944.

In 1952, Mr. Morlock was awarded the Department of State's Meritorious Service Award for his outstanding contribution in carrying out the Department's responsibilities in the field of narcotics.

Mr. Morlock is survived by his wife, Mrs. Ethel Morlock, and his son, Mr. Harry K. Morlock, to whom the editors present their expression of sympathy.

The fourteenth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the twenty-eighth session of the Economic and Social Council

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs met in Geneva from 27 April to 15 May 1959, and the Economic and Social Council met in Geneva from 30 June to 31 July 1959.

The Commission re-elected the same officers as last year, as under:

Chairman
Mr. D. Nikolic (Yugoslavia)
First Vice-Chairman
Mr. K. C. Hossick (Canada)
Second Vice-Chairman.
Mr. M. Ozkol (Turkey)
Rapporteur
Mr. A. G. Ardalan (Iran)

The Commission and the Council discussed, inter alia, the following items:

Technical assistance for narcotics control

A report made by the Secretary-General, after consultation with WHO and FAO in accordance with the resolution taken by the Council at its twenty-sixth session, indicated that nineteen governments were interested in receiving various forms of assistance. The existing arrangements, however, were not proving sufficient to ensure satisfactory utilization of technical assistance in the field of narcotics control, and the Secretary-General therefore suggested that provision be made in the regular budget of the United Nations for a continuing programme.

The Commission addressed a resolution to the Council (E/3254, chap. XIV, resolution 11 (XIV)) expressing the view that the availability of technical assistance would significantly increase the effectiveness of the control system embodied in the international narcotics treaties; noting that many countries in need of technical assistance for narcotics control had not been able to include projects in their regular technical assistance programmes, and that it was difficult, under the present system, to request regional programmes, despite the urgent need for co-operation on a regional level in some parts of the world; and recommending that a continuing programme of technical assistance in narcotics control be established within the regular budget of the United Nations.

The Council approved the recommendation of the Commission and adopted a resolution (730 I (XXVIII)) recommending that the General Assembly decide to establish a continuing programme of technical assistance in narcotics control within the-regular budget of the United Nations, the assistance to be provided by the Secretary-General at the request of governments, subject to the direction of the Council and in co-operation with the specialized agencies. The Secretary-General would be authorized to take this programme into account when preparing the budgetary estimates of the United Nations.

Implementation of international narcotics treaties

The Commission examined the progress made during the last year towards universal adherence to the narcotics treaties. It stressed once more the importance of the Paris Protocol of 19 November 1948, bringing new narcotic drugs not covered by the Convention of 1931 under international control. On the Commission's recommendation the Council adopted a resolution (730 C (XXVIII)) in which it urged governments which had not yet done so to accede to the Protocol within the shortest possible time.

Changes in the Scope of International Control

The following new drugs were placed under international control during the year: Normorphine; dimethylaminoethyl 1-ethoxy-1,1-diphenylacetate (the proposed international non-proprietary name of which is dimenoxadol); Levomoramide, and their salts. In addition, the Commission decided under article 2 of the 1948 Protocol to place under provisional control, pending a decision of the World Health Organization, a new synthetic drug known as NIH 7519 (2'hydroxy-5,9-dimethyl-2-(2-phenylethyl)-6, 7-benzomorphan) and its salts, which was regarded as addiction-producing and dangerous.

Attention was drawn to the difficulties encountered in the international control system in recent years as a result of the fact that there had been delays in the placing of new narcotics under national control and that it had been possible for them to enter international trade without proper safeguards. The drugs normethadone and dextromoramide were cited in this connexion. On the recommendation of the Commission, the Council adopted a resolution (730 D (XXVIII)) drawing attention to the dangers of the situation. Governments were urged to ensure the effective control of new drugs produced in their own countries for which properties were claimed which made it appear likely that they were narcotics, by examining the possibility of subjecting them initially, and until WHO had pronounced upon them, to provisional control. Governments were also asked to examine the possibility of imposing the necessary controls, as a matter of urgency, upon receipt of a communication by the Secretary-General under article 1 of the 1948 Protocol announcing, in connexion with a particular drug, that a government considered it liable to produce addiction. In addition, the Council reminded governments that, on the communication to them by the Secretary-General of a finding by WHO or of a decision by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs for provisional control relating to a particular drug, they should impose the necessary controls with the least possible delay as a matter of urgency.

Illicit traffic

In it annual review of the illicit traffic situation the Commission was aided in its task by the Committee on Illicit Traffic, and was also, as usual, assisted by observers from a number of governments and organizations. Amongst the conclusions reached by the Commission in its review of the illicit traffic were the following:

The total seizures reported for 1958 were below those for 1957 in certain categories, but on the whole, the flow of illicit drugs remained at a high level and the Commission felt that there were no grounds for complacency. While recognizing the vigorous efforts that were being made by governments to combat organized international drug traffic, the Commission still thought it necessary to draw the attention of all governments to the need of closer international co-operation.

The most important drugs in the international illicit traffic were still opium, the opiates and cannabis. The Commission emphasized that a serious aspect of the traffic in opium and opiates was the existence of illicit cultivation of the opium poppy in several parts of the world, and requested all Governments to increase their efforts to suppress it.

In the period under review the Commission had received somewhat fuller information relating to the cocaine traffic. It expressed concern at what appeared to be a well-organized and increasing traffic in clandestinely manufactured cocaine affecting a number of South American countries. It was also particularly disturbed by indications of the absence of full co-operation between the national authorities responsible for combating illicit traffic in those countries, and called upon the governments concerned to encourage close co-operation among themselves, and to work closely with the international bodies interested in the subject.

There was no evidence of organized international trafficking in other derivatives of the natural narcotic drugs, and most of the reports of seizures of such substances concerned diversions from licit channels or small thefts.

Declared seizures of synthetic narcotics formed only a relatively small proportion of all seizures of narcotics, but the Commission felt that their significance should not be underrated.

Abuse of drugs (Drug addiction)

The Commission made its annual review of the problems of drug addiction, paying particular attention to the questions of the collection of statistical information, addiction in the medical profession, and publicity for new narcotics.

As regards the collection of information, it was noted that although the situation had improved, more data were needed and that it was difficult to ensure comparability between the data from different countries. There was a danger that greater weight might be given to incomplete reports than their contents warranted, and that in consequence they might be taken as the basis for decisions on control by authorities in other countries not fully aware of the defects of the reports.

Much concern was expressed at evidence of the prevalence of addiction in the medical profession. This was a serious matter in itself, but was even more disturbing in the wider context of the narcotics problem, since the medical profession was an indispensable element in the machinery of narcotics control.

As regards publicity for new narcotics, it was noted that it frequently contained assertions that new analgesic drugs were harmless. There had, however, been cases in which incorrect claims had led to addiction. The Commission considered that it was important that governments be urged to keep a close watch on such publicity, to ensure, as far as was compatible with considerations of freedom of the press, that claims should be based only on comprehensive and clinical tests.

Proposed single convention on narcotic drugs

The Council decided that the plenipotentiary conference for the adoption of the draft treaty should take place at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York during the period January to April 1961, and it made a recommendation to that effect.

The Commission had decided that in the Single Convention there should be a list of preparations containing narcotic drugs which, because of their composition, constitute no risk of addiction and are therefore exempted from the control measures provided by the Geneva Convention of 1925. However, some of the preparations exempted under the existing treaty system under decisions made many years ago are obsolete. Therefore the Commission invited the WHO to prepare a revised list of exempted preparations for inclusion in the Single Convention, taking into account current therapeutic practice.

Opium and opiates

Scientific Research

Although an increasing number of authenticated opium samples have been received from opium-producing countries, the Commission noted that there were still important gaps in the collection held by the United Nations Narcotics Laboratory, no or too few samples having been received in respect of some countries in South-east Asia, the Middle East and the American continent. Several members of the Commission observed that the progress made since the last session in the development of simple, rapid and easily reproducible methods for determining the origin of opium was encouraging. The Commission adopted a resolution (doc. E/3254, para. 271, resolution 6 (XIV)) pointing out that the determination of the origin of opium was directly linked with the number of authenticated samples for each region at the disposal of the United Nations Narcotics Laboratory, in particular those regions especially affected by the illicit traffic. It expressed its thanks to governments which has sent samples - in particular to the Governments of India, Iran and Turkey - for the extensive range of samples supplied by them, but renewed its urgent request for sufficient authenticated opium samples from countries in which the production of opium was licit. It also renewed its request to countries where the opium poppy might be illicitly grown to supply, where authentication was possible, samples of any opium produced from such plants which they might seize. It drew this request to the special attention of governments in regions directly affected by the illicit traffic in opium and those in the immediate vicinity of the sources of such traffic, in particular Afghanistan, Burma, Cambodia, Ecuador, Laos, Mexico, Pakistan, Thailand and Viet-Nam. It called for samples of seized opium of unknown origin, so that tests might be made to determine their origin. Finally, it approved the continuation and development by the secretariat of its work on analysis.

Coca leaf

It was noted that Argentina had decided gradually to limit imports of coca leaves for chewing purposes and that Chile had prohibited them completely. Colombia had continued its policy of prohibition with good general results, except that a sizeable problem remained in two provinces. However, in Bolivia and Peru, the main producers and consumers of the coca leaf, the number of chewers was still considerable.

It was recognized that the question of the coca leaf was closely related to that of technical assistance in narcotics control and related fields, since the solution of the many difficult economic and social problems which were at the root of the habit of chewing the coca leaf made heavy demands on the limited resources of the governments concerned.

Cannabis (Indian hemp)

Medical Use

Until very recently, it was thought that the use of cannabis preparations for medical purposes was practically obsolete. The WHO Expert Committee on Addiction-producing Drugs, in particular, had expressed that opinion, and therefore the Council had recommended at its eighteenth session (resolution 548 F (XVIII)) that governments should try to stop the medical use of cannabis as soon as possible. The same was assumed in the drafting of the Single Convention. The Commission, however, advised the Council of recent research which had been brought to its notice on the possible antibiotic value of cannabis products. It considered that the basic assumptions upon which the relevant provisions of the draft Convention were based might perhaps have to be re-examined. On the recommendation of the Commission, the Council adopted resolution 730 F (XXVIII), in which it asked the WHO to prepare a report on the use of cannabis for the extraction of useful drugs, especially antibiotics.

Identification and related Scientific Research

The Commission again expressed interest in tests which could be used by enforcement officers to identify cannabis. It adopted a resolution (E/3254, para. 308, resolution 8 (XIV)) in which governments were invited to make available the results of research work for the improvement of methods of identification. The Secretariat of the United Nations was requested to assist in co-ordinating the work done on the national level for improving the methods of identifying cannabis drugs, primarily by (i) maintaining a centre for the exchange of information and for the distribution of cannabis samples; (ii) by arranging collaborative studies by national scientists; and (iii) by carrying out chemical experiments for the purpose of assisting in the work done on the national level, in particular in order to test the comparability and reproducibility of techniques of cannabis identification. Governments were invited to nominate scientists to co-operate in this work.

Carriage of narcotic drugs in first-aid kits of aircraft engaged in international flight

The Commission studied the medical, legal and administrative aspects of the carriage of narcotic drugs in first-aid kits of aircraft engaged in international flight. The view was expressed by the WHO that it was necessary to have narcotics available in aircraft first-aid kits. The Legal Office of the United Nations gave the opinion that narcotics so transported were not subject to the system of import certificates and export authorizations established by the International Opium Convention of 1925, provided that they were carried under appropriate safeguards, solely for administration under suitable circumstances to persons aboard the aircraft, and would not be removed from the aircraft or cross customs stations at points outside the country of registration of the aircraft concerned. The Commission also took into consideration the views of the International Criminal Police Organization on the safeguards required to prevent diversions of such narcotics for illicit purposes. It came to the conclusion that the best course would be to frame a set of essential requirements which governments could use as a basis for their own regulations, rather than to attempt to elaborate very detailed rules.

On the recommendation of the Commission the Council adopted a resolution 730 G (XXVIII) in which it invited the Secretary-General to prepare, in co-operation with the ICAO and the WHO and in consultation with the ICPO-INTERPOL, such a set of requirements, and to distribute them to governments in time for consideration by the Commission at its next session.

Synthetic and other new narcotic drugs

The Commission considered several problems connected with synthetic and other new narcotic drugs. Some have been mentioned above (under illicit traffic, addiction, provisional control). Another one to which particular attention was paid was that of the identification of these drugs by enforcement officers. The Commission noted the increasing difficulty arising from the large number and complicated designation of synthetic and other new narcotics.

It decided to authorize the secretariat to consult the governments of States members of the Commission in order to obtain preliminary information that might be used as a basis for a study of a proposal to facilitate the identification of narcotic drugs, and to ask the Council again to urge governments to require the use of a clearly visible double red band on any packages containing narcotics and moving in trade.

The Council decided, however (resolution 739 F (XXVIII)), not to take action on the latter proposal for the present, since the matter would be before the plenipotentiary conference on the Single Convention.