Review of the twenty-third session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the forty-sixth session of the Economic and Social Council


Significant progress on draft protocol on psychotropic drugs
Abuse of drugs (drug addiction)
Work of the World Health Organization in the narcotics field
International Narcotics Control Board
Technical co-operation in narcotics control - THE UNITED NATIONS LABORATORY


Pages: 23 to 31
Creation Date: 1969/01/01

Review of the twenty-third session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the forty-sixth session of the Economic and Social Council

Significant progress on draft protocol on psychotropic drugs

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs held its twentythird session in Geneva between 13 and 31 January 1969.

The Economic and Social Council at its forty-sixth session in New York, held in May 1969, took note of the Report on that session and approved the several proposals made by the Commission.


The Commission's session was marked by significant progress in its work concerning the preparation of a Protocol for the control of psychotropic substances not yet under international control. The Commission's responsibilities as regards the psychotropic substances had been recalled to it by the General Assembly itself in resolution 2433 (XXIII) adopted unanimously on 19 December 1968, the operative paragraph of which urged upon the Commission to take urgent steps to ensure international control over these substances.

The Commission adopted a resolution requesting the Economic and Social Council for a special session of the Commission in January 1970, to give final shape to the Protocol in order to enable approval of a Treaty at a later date in appropriate form.

Among the major items discussed during the session was the decision of the Government of Iran to resume production of opium. Members of the Commission expressed the view that this move would put back the clock in the progress made in the field of narcotics during the last ten years when Iran had voluntarily banned the cultivation of poppy. They urged Iran not to implement the decision.

In the light of the discussion on the subject, the Commission requested the Secretary-General to contact Governments concerned, with a view to preparing a report on the problems of opium production, and its illicit traffic, for consideration by the Commission at its next regular session.

The Commission noted with great satisfaction the progress made by the Government of Lebanon in the replacing of the cannabis culture by sunflower under its Green Plan. It unanimously passed a resolution urging upon the international community to render all possible technical assistance to that country to make the programme a success.

The Commission also adopted a resolution unanimously urging countries which have not yet become Parties to the Single Convention of 1961 to do so at a very early date.


The Members of the Commission at its twentythird session were: Brazil, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, Federal Republic of Germany, France, Ghana, Hungary, India, Iran, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Republic, United Kingdom, United States of America and Yugoslavia. The session was also attended by observers from the following States: Algeria, Argentina, Belgium, Burma, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Viet-Nam, South Africa, Spain, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia and Venezuela. The following States were invited to send observers but were unable to do so: Afghanistan, Bolivia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Greece, Jordan, Laos, Malaysia and Singapore.

The Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the International Narcotics Control Board and the League of Arab States were also represented; among non-governmental organizations who sent observers was ICPO/INTERPOL.


The following were unanimously elected:

Mr. J. P. Bertschinger (Switzerland), Chairman; Mr. P. Beedle (United Kingdom), First Vice-Chairman;

Mr. Abdallah Kjiri (Morocco), Second Vice-Chairman; and Dr. H. H. El-Hakim (United Arab Republic), Rapporteur.


Pursuant to the decision of the twenty-second session of the Commission, the Secretary-General had circulated a questionnaire on the control measures on psychotropic substances (amphetamines, barbiturates, hallucinogens and tranquillizers) to 146 Governments. This questionnaire had been prepared in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the International Narcotics Control Board (formerly the Permanent Central Narcotics Board). At the twenty-third session the replies to the questionnaire that had been received had been analysed in a document placed before the Commission. 1 The Secretary-General had also prepared and presented a principal document Protocol on the Control of Psychotropic Substances Outside the Scope of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 2 which contained two alternative draft texts for a Protocol with a commentary of the whole and individual articles.

The significant difference between the alternative texts of the Draft Protocol presented by the Secretary-General - referred to as Drafts A and B--was that Draft B gave Parties the right of rejecting the decisions of the Commission for applying control measures to certain substances, whereas Draft A was rigid and gave no option in this regard.


There was considerable discussion in the Commission on the pros and cons of permitting this degree of flexibility in the Protocol. The point was made that a perfect instrument--in this sense a rigid instrument--might fail in achieving its purpose since many Governments might choose not to adhere to it; this had occurred in the case of the Protocols of 1936 (for the suppression of the illicit traffic) and of 1953 (for the cultivation of the poppy plant and the production of opium). The contrary view was that such flexibility would stultify the very purpose of having an agreed level of mandatory national controls, (and any necessary element of international control). If Parties were to have the power of not applying controls then the whole control régime would be put in jeopardy. It was also argued that control measures would not be decided by the Commission except after due deliberation, and on the recommendation of WHO.


Document E/CN.7/518 and Corr.1.


Document E/CN.7./519.

The Commission decided to take Draft A as the basis for discussion, and subsequently many of its provisions were redrafted to reflect different points of view.

While the Commission chose not to adopt the unrestricted flexibility proposed in Draft B, it nonetheless incorporated into Draft A provision for appeals regarding decisions of the Commission to apply control measures. Several alternative possibilities in this respect were incorporated in Article 2 of the Draft Protocol, as found in annex IV of the Report.

Apart from this question (the scope of control and the finality of decisions taken by the international bodies to apply such control), which related to the whole philosophy underlying the Draft Protocol, the Commission engaged in a careful discussion of certain other questions of general approach to the problem.


First it took into account the diversity, both in their nature and in the risk of their abuse, presented by the three principal groups which the psychotropic substances comprise: hallucinogens, stimulants, and sedatives including tranquillizers. Draft A had contained six Schedules for applying régimes of control, ranging from the very severe to the very mild, in order to reflect the inherent diversity of the problem. The Commission decided to reduce the number of Schedules to no more than four, with a fifth Schedule, which would, in fact, be a Schedule for "negative" control since it would list the criteria by which preparations containing the controlled substance would be exempted from the four régimes of control set down in the first four Schedules of the Protocol.

There was unanimity that substances such as hallucinogens which had no therapeutic use, or for which such use was negligible, and which were particularly dangerous, should be placed under the severest control régime which would make them much less accessible than the substances in Schedule I of the 1961 Convention, and even those which were included in the Convention's Schedule IV. In the Draft Protocol these substances would be listed in Schedule I to which these most restrictive provisions would be applied.

There was considerable discussion as to whether some stimulants of the amphetamine type should not be treated in the same way. Agreement was reached that highly dangerous substances for which there was a generally accepted medical use should be listed in Schedule II and be subject to a national and international régime nearly analogous in most respects to that of Schedule I of the 1961 Convention.

The psychotropic substances in Schedule III would be subject to extensive measures of national control, and less strict measures of international control.

The substances in Schedule IV would not be subject to some of the national control measures, and a slight international control; but they would in any case be required to be dispensed only under a medical prescription.

The Commission also agreed that when the Protocol was finally adopted it would have appended to it initially lists containing substances individually specified and divided among the four Schedules. The selection of these substances, and their apportionment to the Schedules, was a crucial technical task in which WHO would naturally play an important role.

The Commission thus avoided the discussion of such technicalities at this stage, and sought rather to describe the general control régimes to be applied to the substances, when they were placed in the Schedules. As regards Schedule V for "exemptions", it similarly concentrated on elaborating the principles which would determine exemption.


Before any of the control régimes could be applied, however, a substance would need to be judged from the point of view of criteria for controlling it. On this matter the Commission decided that the quality of producing dependence should not be brought into play, and the emphasis should be put on the public health and social problem created by the liability of a substance to abuse. It also decided that the criteria should include "capacity to produce stimulation, depression, hallucinations or disturbances in perception or thinking...". Precursors should be controlled in the same way as final substances if they were "readily convertible" into the latter. This provision was considered necessary since in the process of chemistry there are stages which can be identified when the final substance has not come into existence, but there are initial forms of it which can be changed into the final substance by chemical action. The Commission agreed, however, that control should not be applied to those psychotropic substances which were commonly used in industry, provided that the necessary measures were taken by the country concerned to ensure that the substances so used could not be abused and were not, in practice, easily recoverable.


What should be the procedure for applying controls? The Commission decided that a Party to the Protocol, or the WHO, should be empowered to initiate action for bringing new substances under control by including them in one of the Schedules. (The representatives of the USSR and Hungary held that notifications made to Parties by the Secretary-General should be circulated to all Governments and should not be restricted to any group of States defined by implication. The Commission concluded that the Draft Protocol should follow treaty practice in the United Nations in this respect).

When a notification had been made by a Party, or on its own initiative, WHO would study the evidence, and make a recommendation for control to the Commission, on which the Commission would take a decision; the Commission might adopt or reject the recommendation of WHO, but it would not make a decision which the latter had not recommended to it. As mentioned above, the degree of finality of the Commission's decision gave rise to the expression of a wide range of shades of opinion, and several alternatives that might be considered were incorporated into the relevant Article, Article 2 of the Draft Protocol.

The Commission also agreed on the proposal of the representative of the USSR, supported by those of Canada and Switzerland, that the Protocol should allow for the application of provisional control measures before the Commission had taken a decision.

In this general and graded scheme of control, the Commission singled out the most dangerous substances for the most severe provisions. These substances having little or no therapeutic use, and presenting particular danger to the individual and to society, would have their supply, distribution and use subjected to close official supervision, and direct official control at each stage, and in each case. The substances involved were hallucinogens, such as LSD. Though no medical use was to be foreseen for them, scientific and clinical research could be carried on, provided again that it was directly under the eyes of the Government, and subject to specific administrative regulation.


After very careful consideration, the measures the Commission proposed to Governments in this respect might be summarized as follows: Schedule I substances would be under a particularly restrictive régime more severe than that applied to narcotic drugs in the Single Convention. They would only move internationally by special and particular authorization in each case, and only between suppliers and recipients designated by authority. Many representatives in the Commission wished to see Schedule II substances put under the export/import authorization system applied to narcotic drugs, and some representatives would indeed prefer Schedule III and IV substances to be treated likewise. The representative of the United States was among those who held that transactions concluded with respect to substances in Schedules II, III and IV should be periodically notified by the importer and exporter parties to each other. Yet another alternative was proposed by some representatives for Schedule IV: notification of the transaction should be made only by the exporter party to the importer party, and not vice versa also.

Yet another reinforcement of these alternative control measures on international trade was proposed by some representatives: importing parties should have the right to prohibit certain imports into their territory and name the recipient of the substance that they allowed for import; the exporting party, being informed of such notification, "shall not knowingly" go against the importing party's notification. A more strengthened formulation of this alternative was also made that the exporting party "shall take the measures necessary to assist the notifying party in preventing imports which the latter has forbidden".


While there was general agreement that parties should inform the Secretary-General on the working of the Protocol in their territory, and on developments in the illicit traffic, there were differences of opinion as to whether any statistical reporting should be required. Some representatives wanted full statistics on production, consumption etc. Others wanted no statistical reporting whatsoever, while there was also sentiment in favour of a certain minimum of statistical data, for instance, as regards manufacture, export and import. Among those in favour of statistical reporting, some representatives were in favour of such data for substances in all the Schedules, while others were prepared to require such data only with respect to the more dangerous substances, i.e. those in Schedule I and II.

Among those in favour of such data for the dangerous substances, some delegations wished to include provision for estimates of requirements, as in the case of the estimates prepared under the Single Convention.

The representative of the INCB considered that while certain minimum data might be necessary to achieve the aims of the Protocol, the Board would consider all aspects of the question very carefully and give a considered opinion to the Commission at a later stage.


The Commission was also informed of a notification by the Government of Sweden that the substances amphetamine, dexamphetamine, methamphetamine, methylphenidate, phenmetrazine and pipradol should be brought under control in terms of Article 3 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961. Sweden and some other delegations felt that the Single Convention was applicable to them. The Secretary-General's view was reiterated that for legal and other reasons the Single Convention was not applicable. The Swedish delegation moved a draft resolution by which the Commission would decide in terms of Article 3 (3) (ii) of the Single Convention that, pending the decision taken as a result of the Swedish notification, Parties to the Convention provisionally apply to the above stimulant substances all the measures of control applicable to the narcotic drugs in Schedule I of that treaty.

There was general agreement that while these stimulants should be brought under control, with the other psychotropic substances, under an international treaty, the existing situation of abuse nonetheless required some interim emergency action. The Commission unanimously approved, after the Swedish delegation withdrew its resolution, a joint draft resolution moved by Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Mexico, Peru, Sweden, United Arab Republic, United Kingdom and the United States of America by which the Council recommended that "pending the entry into force of the international instrument for the control of psychotropic substances under consideration by the Commission, Governments shall use their utmost endeavours to apply the national control régime of Schedule I of the Single Convention to the above-mentioned substances. The resolution also required Governments to assist each other in regulating the movement of these dangerous psychotropic substances so as to provide effective safeguards against their misuse.


The Commission considered as a supplementary item to its agenda, the question of the likely resumption of opium production by Iran.

The representative of the United States, who had proposed the inclusion of the item stated that an emergency situation had been brought about by the reported decision by the Government of Iran to lift the ban on the cultivation of poppy and production of opium, which it had voluntarily decided upon in 1955, recalled the considerable technical assistance that the United Nations, as well as his own Government, had provided during the last decade to Iran. Emphasizing the moral obligation on the part of the Government of Iran not to produce opium, as it was already in over-production in the world, he felt that besides international implications, this move would actually hurt the people of Iran. Iran's justification for its decision was that there was large-scale illicit traffic in opium coming over its eastern and western frontiers, but it was not appropriate to do two wrongs to make one right.

Canada, France, Sweden and the United Arab Republic also emphasized that it was no solution to the problem of illicit trafficking of opium into Iran for Iran to embark on opium production itself. The delegates urged Iran not to implement its decision.

The representative of Turkey described the measures being taken to reduce opium production in his country, and added that as against 400 tollS of opium produced in 1955 (the year Iran banned opium) Turkish production had now been reduced to 150 tons a year. The area of cultivation which was at that time some 25,000 hectares has been reduced to somewhere around 10,000 hectares; the number of provinces in which opium poppy cultivation was authorized in 1967 was 21, and this was being progressively reduced, and in 1970 it would be down to 9. Turkey also had made appropriate budgetary provisions to strengthen both the control system for producing opium and the enforcement services to combat illicit traffic. He urged that close co-operation among the countries concerned to put an end to the illicit traffic was the only effective solution.

The representatives of the INCB and INTERPOL also expressed concern about Iran's decision, and doubted the wisdom of it.

The representative of Iran stated that the decision taken by his country in 1955 was inspired by the hope that neighbouring countries would also cut down on opium production. In fact what had happened was that production in neighbouring countries had been increased in an effort to replace Iran in the legal opium markets of the world apart from adding to the illicit traffic. The traffic had continued to grow and was the cause of a heavy drain of foreign exchange from the country, thus putting Iran's development plans in jeopardy. The law to suspend some of the provisions of the 1955 Act prohibiting opium production was now before the Majlis; if adopted, it would then have to be passed by the Senate, and at the third stage receive the assent of His Imperial Majesty.

The main provisions of the law were: (1) as long as neighbouring countries cultivated poppy the Iranian Government would permit cultivation over a predetermined acreage to produce a predetermined quantity each year. This measure would be automatically suspended as soon as its neighbours stopped opium production; (2) all opium poppy cultivation, opium production, and related transactions would be under State monopoly to ensure effective control; (3) very severe punishments, ranging from rigorous imprisonment to the death penalty, would be provided for in the law; (4) educational and curative programmes would be reinforced. It was Iran's sincere hope that the cause which led to this decision would soon disappear and that the Governments concerned would try to co-operate to evolve a satisfactory system to reduce and eliminate the illicit traffic of opium.

In the light of the concern expressed during the discussion, the Commission requested the Secretary-General to contact the Governments concerned, with a view to preparing a report on the problem of opium production and its illicit traffic for the consideration of the Commission at its next regular session.


The Government of Lebanon's effort in replacing cannabis cultivation by other crops, in particular by sunflower, under the Green Plan received the praise and particular attention of the Commission while discussing the report of the Secretary-General on the progress of this project prepared pursuant to resolution 1292 (LXIV) of the UN Economic and Social Council.

The Commission learned with satisfaction that the present situation in Lebanon in replacing cannabis cultivation is promising. Whereas in 1967, in an area of 1,000 hectares (10,000 donoum) had been planted with sunflower in the cannabis growing region, the 1968 crop season had seen this acreage increased almost three times to 2,800 hectares, or 28,000 donoum.

At the last session the Commission had been informed that the total acreage under cannabis might be of the order of 5,000 hectares. While the Secretariat study last year made the point that "the land sowed to sunflower cannot be identified hectare for hectare with the land that might be sown to hashish ..." it was understood that in 1968 nearly all of the 2,887 hectares planted to sunflower, in all likelihood, would have been cultivated for producing hashish if the sunflower project had not caught the attention of the farmers.

The Commission considered that if the Sunflower Project maintains this momentum and overcomes some of its present difficulties, the outflow of hashish from the Lebanon would be very notably cut down in a short period of time. Indeed the experts of the "Plan Vert" estimated that the replacement of cannabis by sunflower was achieved in 1968, in the case of thirty-four villages, in the following proportions: in nineteen villages 100% of the cannabis has been taken over by sunflower; in seven villages 85% has been replaced by sunflower; in four villages 80% has been replaced; in two villages 75%; in one village 40% and in another 30%.

The Commission heard with great interest the observer for Lebanon who supplemented the information in the Report of the Secretary-General and who emphasized the progress the project had registered and the substantial financial burden that his Government was carrying in continuing with it through the subsidy on the purchase price of sunflower seeds. He asked the Commission to note the regrettable fact that the existing situation in the Middle East, which was in the knowledge of all, compelled the Lebanese authorities to devote a considerable proportion of their resources to the attainment of objectives urgent for the well-being of the country; these demands of the moment had to be met at the cost of the resources available for other purposes, such as that expressed by the sunflower reform.

There were also positive aspects for the country itself in undertaking this reform, apart from its deter- mination to put an end to cannabis cultivation in the interest of the international community. Lebanon annually imported oil-seeds to a value of some 20 million US dollars. The sunflower harvest would thus allow the country to save on these imports, but he was glad to note the general realization in the Council, the Commission itself, and in bodies such as INTERPOL, that it was not this foreign exchange aspect that was the determining factor for Lebanon, but its will to be of service in the fight against illicit traffic in cannabis.

For the substitute crops to succeed, he said the essential requirements were to improve irrigation, as was indeed recognized in the advice that the Government had received from FAO. Irrigation pumps must be installed in the sunflower growing area, and in addition there was an urgent need to construct warehouses to store the sunflower seed, and, thirdly, to have the machinery necessary for oil extraction.

The Government of Lebanon was anxious to ensure that the peasants who gave up their old time cannabis crop realized an equivalent income from sunflower and other substitute crops, such as fruit trees, the vine, and high-yielding varieties of wheat.

The Members of the Commission were unanimous in expressing support for the sunflower project. The Commission learned with interest that the Secretary-General had been in consultation with both FAO and UNIDO, with a view to seeing what concrete assistance could be channelled through these bodies to assure continuing progress in the replacement of cannabis cultivation.

The representative of FAO agreed that the sunflower project had achieved remarkable advance in three years, and he said that FAO was prepared to act as the executing agency for any Special Fund projects which might be started in furtherance of it. (The Government had requested equipment to the value of $250,000.) FAO had already rendered short-term on-the-spot technical advice to the Lebanese authorities and sought to inform them closely of the experience in Romania with sunflower seed cultivation. This specialized agency had assisted the Commission in the past in studies for replacing narcotic crops, for example in Iran and Morocco, and it was prepared to entertain any appropriate request from Lebanon for practical assistance in connexion with the crop substitution work being done in that country.

In the light of the discussion and being impressed by the urgency of assisting the Lebanese effort by direct and practical assistance, the Commission unanimously adopted a resolution on "International Co-operation for the Replacement of Cannabis Cultivation in Lebanon" which called, among other things, for co-ordinated technical and other assistance from the United Nations, the FAO/UNCTAD and the UNIDO, and the cooperation of all Member countries in extending bilateral assistance.


The Commission reviewed the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs on the basis of data which had been jointly presented by the Secretariat and ICPO/INTERPOL. 3 The document before the Commission gave information on trends in the illicit traffic in different regions of the world as evident from seizures reported to the United Nations and to INTERPOL.

The main sources of supply for the illicit tragic in natural drugs continued to be opium produced clan-destinely or without effective control in the Near and Middle East and in South East Asia; coca leaf produced in South America, and cannabis which grows wild or is cultivated in many parts of the world.

The representative of ICPO/INTERPOL, reviewing the situation in 1968, stated that seizures had increased by 30%. Excellent co-operation among the police forces of Canada, France and the United States had resulted in some large heroin seizures. He also mentioned a statement made by the Bolivian representative at an INTERPOL conference held in Peru in 1968, that clandestine manufacture of cocaine had reached,alarming proportions.

The Government of Peru was seeking to improve the situation as regards the production and trafficking in coca leaves and cocaine by imposing quotas on the acreage planted to the coca bush and the yields of coca leaf to be obtained.

In the Middle East the Lebanese programme for substituting cannabis cultivation by other crops, and Turkish measures to improve controls on opium production by simultaneously reducing production, were likely to have salutary effects on the illicit traffic, both in cannabis and opium and its derivatives.

In the case of Europe, a study of the illicit traffic shows that in the first ten months of the year, 40 % of the seizures involved these substances.

The Commission reiterated, as on previous occasions, the view that severe penalties were one of the most effective deterrents against trafficking, and the fines by themselves were inadequate punishment. He emphasized that importance should be given to extraditing persons convicted of violating narcotics laws and a special provision should be included in narcotics treaties. The Commission stressed again that the international nature of the drug traffic and its wide ramifications called for continued and close co-operation between authorities of different countries, particularly those with mare illicit traffic routes, if enforcement was to be effective. The work done by ICPO/INTERPOL in this field should be considered as an example.


Document E/CN.7./520.

Abuse of drugs (drug addiction)

The Commission reviewed trends on drug abuse in various regions on the basis of a note by the SecretaryGeneral analysing different aspects from details furnished by Governments for the years 1966 and 1967. 4 It also had before it a survey of abuse of psychotropic substances not under international control and the Summary of the Reports of the Study Tour on Treatment and Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts in Asia which took place in 1968, as well as an analysis of the relation between the use of psychotropic substances and road accidents.

The Commission noted with concern that the form of publicity given by some newspapers to drug addiction and abuse of narcotic and other psychotropic substances is encouraging adolescents in some countries to take these substances.

The Commission, while reviewing the world situation, expressed the view that there was lack of uniformity in the data as regards drug addiction reported by Governments, and requested the Secretary-General to formulate for its consideration at a later session proposals for introducing greater precision in his requests to Governments for information, so that the quality of statistical data given in the annual reports could be improved.

From reports received from Governments in Africa, it was noted that cannabis was the main drug of abuse in Africa and 17 countries reported more or less widespread use. The situation appeared to have changed a little in the last few years.

In the Americas the problem of coca leaf chewing continued to be prevalent in certain South American countries, and information regarding coca leaf chewing had only been supplied by Argentina for 1967. Four countries had mentioned cocaine abuse and, although fairly large amounts of cocaine had been seized, the number of addicts was virtually negligible.

In the United States, 93.5%, and in Canada 64% of narcotic drug addicts used heroin. Addiction to morphine and other opiates was less common. Eight countries in the Americas reported cannabis abuse also.

In many European countries, drug addicts were persons who had become addicted to morphine or synthetic drugs during treatment and the problem of drug addiction was acute only in a few countries. In Sweden, the extent of abuse of central nervous system stimulants presented a social and public health problem to the country, and the abuse of amphetamines occurred in its most dangerous form: intravenous injections.

In several European countries the abuse of certain categories of pharmaceutical preparations including psychotropic substances had become a serious problem.


Document E/CN.7/517 and E/CN.7/517/Corr.1.

In the Far East, the abuse of opium, heroin and cannabis continued, but it was difficult to assess the number of drug addicts in the region. Opium was still widely abused in various countries of the Indo-Chinese peninsula and in India and Pakistan, although India reported a drop in the number of opium addicts. Though fewer in number, heroin addicts had increased in the region. In Hong Kong, Thailand and the Republic of Korea heroin had become the main addiction problem, particularly among young people. As for cannabis, no statistics of the number of addicts were available, but large quantities of cannabis were consumed in India and Pakistan, including its licit use. In most countries of this region, abuse of psychotropic substances was not yet a problem.

In the Near and Middle East, opium addiction continued to be a problem in countries which did not produce opium (Iran, United Arab Republic). The most alarming trend in the region was the addiction of heroin among Iranian youth which showed no signs of abating. Governments in the region also reported a more or less widespread abuse of cannabis. Abuse of psychotropic substances was sporadic.

In all these regions treatment facilities for drug addicts were inadequate.


The Commission acknowledged with satisfaction the information about treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts in Asia which was given in the SecretaryGeneral's note in the form of extracts from the Report of the Far East Study Tour on Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres organized in 1968. The visits to rehabilitation centres, prisons, and other institutions, the study of the methods of drug withdrawal, treatment and rehabilitation, follow-up and after-care in Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as the recommendations made by participants who came from eleven Asian countries were expected to contribute to the information of the treatment and rehabilitation results in the Far East. The Commission commended in particular Hong Kong's well-organized treatment and rehabilitation programmes.

Several members expressed the wish to have more comprehensive data about treatment and rehabilitation in other regions of the world, and invited the SecretaryGeneral to assemble fuller data.

The Commission considered the trends and forms of abuse of hallucinogens, stimulants and depressants, and noted that, although a large number of substances are used as hallucinogens, LSD seemed to be the most important of them. Since the production, marketing and consumption of hallucinogens is nearly always illicit, it was not possible to determine the actual quantities produced or the number of "consumers". For the latter, the estimates range from tens of thousands to millions.

The stimulants of the central nervous system most abused were the amphetamines and drugs akin to this group. The therapeutic use of these drugs in medical practice is fairly limited.

The Commission expressed its desire to obtain more detailed information on the abuse of psychotropic substances not yet under international control as it had assumed alarming proportions in many parts of the world and requested the Secretary-General to bring this matter to the notice of the Governments.

The Commission also noted the high proportion of accidents due to loss of control of the vehicle resulting from particularly exceptional situations caused in some cases by the use of psychotropic substances. The Commission asked the Secretariat to continue the study of the problem, with the collaboration of WHO and ILO, to seek further information from governments, to inform the Joint Meeting of the Working Party on Road Safety of the ECE and WHO about the work of the Commission and to present a note on the problem at its next session.

Work of the World Health Organization in the narcotics field

The representative of the WHO presented to the Commission the report of the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. 5 The Expert Committee had considered criteria for applying control to drugs and had concluded that risk to public health should be the prime determining factor in considerations of control. The Committee felt that sound decisions could only be taken if reliable and comprehensive data were available. It felt that the concern in connexion with drugs being developed for medical use was to protect the public from potential risk of drug dependence and related abuse, while assuring the availability of the drugs for necessary research. Once a decision had been taken to make the drug available for medical use, both national and international control might be required.

As regards the psychotropic substances, the Expert Committee had concluded that chemical or pharmacological classifications could not be used as a basis for determining the need for, nor type of control, The need, type and degree of international control would have to be based on considerations of the degree of risk to public health and the usefulness of the drug in medical therapy. In general the Committee felt that each substance would require individual evaluation before determining the level of control necessary.

Reiterating its earlier views, the Expert Committee said that there was no longer a medical need for cannabis and strongly reaffirmed that can- nabis is a drug of dependence, producing public health and social problems, and that control over it must be continued. The Commission was in full agreement with the view that strict international control must be maintained.


Document E/CN.7/515. WHO Tech. Rep. Ser. 1969.

International Narcotics Control Board

The President of the International Narcotics Control Board, Sir Harry Greenfield, presented the First Report of the Board during the Commission's 23rd session held in Geneva in January 1969. 6

[Extracts from the INCB report are published elsewhere in this number of the Bulletin.]

Technical co-operation in narcotics control - THE UNITED NATIONS LABORATORY

The Commission noted with satisfaction the progress made in the United Nations research programmes. International collaboration with the UN Laboratory in Geneva in considering these programmes had been broadened during the year and further scientists had been nominated by the Governments of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. A laboratory had also been designated for this purpose by the Government of Sweden.

Governments had continued to provide the UN Laboratory with basic research material. Since the previous session, cannabis samples of cultivated crop or from seizures had been sent by several countries and the Commission hoped this practice would be continued.

Scientists collaborating in the research programmes had shown considerable interest in the cannabis research programme and considerable progress had been made. An interesting recent development in the United States of America had been the organization of numerous projects in connexion with various aspects of cannabis research.

In the research on cannabis, the principal function of the UN Laboratory in Geneva had been the coordination of work carried out within the programme, to avoid any duplication of effort. The Laboratory itself confirmed its research on the application of thinlayer chromatography technique and there had been indications recently that substances of an alkaloid nature might be present in cannabis.

During the period under review, as in previous years, the Laboratory extended training to fellows from Afghanistan, Peru and the United Arab Republic.

Training had also been provided for a chemist from Japan who was a fellow under the WHO technical assistance programme.


Document E/INCB/1.


The Commission took special note of a Five-Year Plan of Technical Co-operation formulated by the Secretariat. Projected over the years 1970-1974, the Plan took into account the requests received from 74 Governments who had responded to a questionnaire sent by the Secretariat. General replies from 22 more Governments have yet to be received. However, the very great interest already shown in the Plan made it clear that the reports formulated would involve much larger financial resources and manpower than were available. Present requests involved an annual average of 206 training fellowships in all fields of narcotics control. Thirty-seven Governments had asked for seminars in different regions. Eighteen had asked for regional advisory services, three for a consultative survey or exploratory missions, eighteen for itinerant training missions, and thirty-two Governments had asked for specialists to be assigned in an operational or executive capacity (OPEX).

To make optimum use of the available funds, the Secretariat had suggested that the best solution for the time being might be to offer a very limited number of fellowships, while concentrating on training missions to contiguous countries in certain parts of the world, holding regional seminars and assigning regional advisers who would collaborate in organizing regional projects and in-service training of national narcotic control officials.

The Commission expressed the wish that the Secretariat should use, as far as possible, experts and instructors belonging to the area wherever regional training courses were planned.

The Commission noted also with satisfaction that within the approved allocations it had been able to extend fellowships and training courses in law enforcement, administrative and laboratory training to some 20 fellows in 1967 and 30 fellows in 1968. In addition there has been a study tour of treatment and rehabilitation centres in Asia and a regional seminar for law enforcement officers of the Middle East in Beirut.


The Commission noted that as of 13 January 1969, the number of accessions to and ratifications of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, was sixty-six. Bulgaria, Chile, Gabon and Guinea became Parties. The Governments of France and Switzerland had received legislative sanction for ratifying the Convention; Belgium, China, Cyprus, the Federal Republic of Germany, Iran, Luxembourg and Singapore had taken steps to become parties.

The Commission unanimously adopted a resolution urging Governments not yet Parties to the Single Convention, 1961, to take such steps as might be necessary for ratification of, or accession to, this Convention.