Report of the International Narcotics Control Board

Sections

Iran
Turkey
Afghanistan
Burma
Thailand
Laos
Nepal
Lebanon
Bolivia
Peru

Details

Pages: 39 to 42
Creation Date: 1970/01/01

Report of the International Narcotics Control Board

The following extracts give some of the highlights in the second report of the Board to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations:

"In pursuing its task of supervising the operation of the narcotics treaties currently in force, the Board in its second year of office has directed itself to a critical scrutiny of its procedure for the implementation of the treaties. It has also devoted much of its time to assisting national narcotics administrations to cope with difficulties inevitably encountered in applying the provisions of the 1961 Convention following its coming into effect in 1964.

"In its report for 1965 [ 1] the Permanent Central Narcotics Board [ 2] made a broad assessment of the quantities of such raw materials at the disposal of the illicit traffic and deduced that, whereas the quantity of opium licitly produced for medical and scientific purposes amounted to about 800 tons a year, the total quantity annually available from illicit or uncontrolled sources and by clandestine diversion from licit production was of the order of 1,200 tons. In regard to coca-leaf the Board found that only a tiny fraction of the authorized production was used for manufacture of cocaine for medical purposes and as a flavouring agent and that the vast bulk was consumed by the inhabitants of the Andean uplands and in the illicit manufacture of cocaine. It was unable to arrive at even an approximate figure in regard to cannabis, which it found was grown in considerable quantities in many countries..."

"Since 1966 the Permanent Central Board and the present Board have advocated the adoption of comprehensive measures to reduce illegal and uncontrolled production of narcotic raw materials. The Board is gratified that these recommendations were taken up by the General Assembly in its Resolution 2434 (XXIII) of December 1968 which directed the Secretary-General to draw up proposals for submission to the Assembly at its 25th session in 1970. At a meeting convened in June 1969 in pursuance to this resolution, representatives of United Nations Organs, of specialized agencies concerned with development, and of the Board framed recommendations with the twin objectives of reducing the availability of these materials by controls over production and of abating the demand for narcotic drugs by programmes for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation..."

"Looking back over the years it is clear that during the formative stages of the control measures introduced by the treaties the illicit traffic supplied itself more or less freely by recourse to unprotected sectors of the licit trade. As the controls began gradually to take effect this became progressively more difficult and traffickers have been obliged to look more and more to sources which are still beyond control, whether because they operate in defiance of the law or because for one reason or another it has so far been impossible to make them amenable to legal authority. Unfortunately these sources are both extensive and prolific and they constitute an enormous reserve. Some of these sources are remote and even now are difficult of access, but easier and speedier communications today are bringing them more and more within reach; and until they can be eliminated the illicit traffic can continue to flourish despite the constant efforts of national and international authorities to enhance the security of the centres and channels of the licit trade.

"The areas of production are vast and are spread across the world, extending through much of Latin America, the Near and Middle East, South East Asia and large parts of Africa. As already stated, the Permanent Central Board estimated in 1966 that the total annual yield of opium for illicit purposes was in the region of 1,200 tons. This was a cautious assessment arrived at by careful analysis of the mass of statistical and other material in its possession; and from a similar analytical study the present Board is led to believe that the amount currently available for illicit purposes is certainly no less and may well be substantially more. Coca cultivation is similarly immense: even the official figures concede an annual production of 13,000 tons of coca leaves, of which less than 2 % is required for medical purposes and for use as a flavouring agent. As for cannabis, new sources are constantly revealing themselves and the ever-growing mass of abusers round the world find little or no difficulty in providing themselves with ample supplies..."

The Board then goes on to consider the problem of cannabis as a drug of abuse, noting that both in terms of quantity and geographical spread it more than retains its primacy:

"Further research in regard to cannabis is indeed urgently necessary, not only to establish the degree of danger attaching to its individual misuse but also because of its association with the misuse of the opiates on the one hand and of other dangerous psychotropic substances on the other. The report on cannabis published in 1968 by the United Kingdom Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence outlined a wide field of research which would be immediately helpful including, for example, the pharmacological effects of natural cannabis in its different forms; the effects of synthetic cannabis substances; clinical study of ill-effects, both immediate and long-term; investigation of possible cases of cannabis psychosis; and 'sociological studies to establish the prevalence of usage, and to define more closely the different social groups, and the personality patterns, of consumers of cannabis as well as the effects of the drug-use upon their social efficiency'."

"Recent studies have shown that misuse of cannabis has resulted in social deterioration of persons resorting to it. So far as concerns control over cannabis responsible public opinion in all countries holds that it would be unwise to relax restraints until full and expert investigation of the whole subject has shown what, if any, relaxation would be justified. There has however been some public debate as to whether the legal penalties for certain offences in respect of cannabis might be made less severe than those for morphine and heroin."

The report of the Board then goes on to make observations in respect of particular countries as follows:

Iran

"The announcement in January 1969 of Iran's decision to rescind the ban on poppy cultivation for the production of opium, which it had imposed in 1955, came as a sharp disappointment to the Board.

"Prior to 1955, Iran ranked among the largest producers and exporters of opium. For example, in the period 1950-52 between 32 and 39 per cent of the total opium exports from opium producing countries to morphine manufacturing countries came from Iran.

"Not only did production satisfy licit needs, it was also the source of supply for a considerable volume of abusive consumption both in Iran and elsewhere. In 1955 when the ban was introduced the number of addicts in Iran was authoritatively estimated at one and a half millions.

"The decision to impose the ban as part of a campaign against opium addiction, which in the opinion of the authorities was then gravely undermining the health and social well-being of her people, was widely acclaimed both then and since; and it achieved notable success. With some technical assistance obtained by bilateral agreement and from United Nations sources, poppy cultivation which then extended over approximately 20,000 hectares was virtually eradicated and repeated tributes were paid by international bodies to the Government's resoluteness in applying the ban. This success was not achieved without cost. All preventive measures are expensive and these were on a wide scale. Moreover, of the estimated annual production which varied between 700 and 1,200 tons of opium prior to the ban, some 90 tons were exported on the licit market and the loss of the foreign exchange thereby earned was yet another sacrifice entailed by the campaign. Furthermore, to the dismay of the authorities the vacuum created by the extinction of internal sources of opium soon began to be filled by illicit supplies from certain adjoining countries, necessitating additional costly preventive measures.

"In the face of the severe handicap imposed by this inflow, the success of the campaign against addiction was understandably less than complete. Even so the dimensions of the problem were notably reduced. Whereas at the beginning of the campaign the total number of addicts in Iran was estimated by the Government to be one and a half millions, they are now said to number several hundred thousands.

"The Government's sense of frustration at finding its strenuous and costly campaign thwarted by unscrupulous operators must command general sympathy. Yet from the international standpoint it is tragic that so enlightened a measure as Iran's suppression of poppy cultivation has been abandoned, particularly in view of the substantial success which it had achieved.

"This experience has confirmed the view that prohibition of opium production by itself, however administratively successful, cannot suffice to eradicate a demand which arises from a compelling craving, and that suppression of production must be supplemented by adequate treatment of addicts and by their rehabilitation and social reintegration. Provision of treatment facilities is now even more urgently necessary because the situation has recently been gravely complicated by increasing numbers of heroin addicts particularly among young people.

"The intention of the present policy is to produce opium for medical and scientific purposes within the country and also for exports. The Government is satisfied that it will be able to keep production securely at this level and to prevent any leakages into illicit channels, and the Board trusts that this confidence will prove well founded.

"It seems to the Board that if this policy of containment is to succeed it must embrace all aspects of the problem and must include: effective limitation of cultivation, leading again to prohibition; strict control over quantities harvested; suppression of illicit traffic; treatment and rehabilitation of addicts; and prevention of abuse by education and other means.

"Side by side with all this there must be international co-operation in checking the flow of illicit opium into Iran from adjoining countries. Finally, if the Government of Iran should feel the need for technical expertise in carrying out this programme the Board would hope that international assistance would be readily forthcoming."

Turkey

"For some time past Turkey has been progressively reducing the area assigned to poppy cultivation with a view to concentrating her production of opium and improving the efficiency of control. In 1955 cultivation was authorized over a total area of 43,980 hectares; and the total opium production amounted to 221 tons. By 1965 the cultivated area was reduced to 22,300 hectares. The quantity of opium produced in that year was 86 tons. Over the next three years the area was further reduced and in 1968 was 13,000 hectares; and, as a security measure, cultivation began to be withdrawn to areas distant from the frontiers.

"The area of cultivation and the quantities of opium produced during the past five years were:

 

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

Area of cultivation in hectares
28,000 22,300 24,000 20,600 13,000
Production in tons
83 86 139 115 122

"It is too early to judge the significance of these fluctuations. Variations in yield per hectare are inevitable in a crop which is particularly vulnerable to weather conditions. On the other hand the concentration of production has already begun to improve the yield per hectare (from 3 kg in 1964 to 9.4 kg in 1968). The stricter supervision of cultivation which will be possible in a reduced total area should lead to still further improvement in the future.

"The Government of Turkey has declared that the area cultivated will be further contracted in 1970 to 12,000 hectares; and that in the latter year production will be completely concentrated in central districts.

"These figures reflect the Government's determination to bring the situation under control. If the measures now planned are resolutely carried into effect they should go far to curb the illicit outflow of Turkish opium."

Afghanistan

"The Board continues to be much disquieted by the opium situation in this country. In its report for 1966 the Permanent Central Board commented at length on this subject. [ 3] Much of what it then wrote is still valid today. The Government has prohibited cultivation of the poppy. Nevertheless cultivation persists and a considerable quantity of opium flows into illicit channels.

"The Board fully appreciates the extreme difficulty of coping with such a situation in a country which possesses few of the administrative resources that come with economic development and which is in particular handicapped by poor communications. It remains urgently necessary however that a vigorous campaign should be waged against illicit traffic in the area, that there should be close co-operation between the border authorities of Afghanistan and adjoining countries and that everything possible should be done to improve the economic and social structure of the regions whose inhabitants now depend on opium.

"Measures of this kind are clearly beyond the resources of the Afghan Government and it is essential that increased financial and technical assistance should be made available from international sources."

Burma

"Information available to the Board from various sources suggests that the situation in Burma is gradually improving. Measures towards economic and social development are reported to be in progress in the Shan State east of the Salween River where opium is licitly produced; and communications are being improved. The plans for economic development include the setting up of model farms for growing sunflower and beans and the substitution of wheat for poppy over large areas; they also provide for the imparting of instruction on collective cultivation of paddy and on the raising of cattle and poultry.

"The Government hopes that by these and other means it may be possible in due course to eradicate poppy cultivation and to eliminate drug addiction. It has closed the shops for the sale of excise opium in this area. As part of a four-year plan it is arranging to purchase locally-produced opium and it is considering the possibility of bringing this region within the scope of its narcotics laws. These are steps in the right direction and the Board hopes that they will be steadfastly completed and will be reinforced by treatment and rehabilitation of addicts.

"The international organs stand ready to assist these endeavours in whatever way may be found feasible and it is earnestly to be hoped that the Government of Burma will soon see their way to take advantage of such co-operation."

Thailand

"In 1966 the Permanent Central Board made a background study of opium production and consumption in Thailand and set out its conclusions at some length in its report for that year. [ 4] Subsequent reports from Thailand indicate that the situation has not materially improved since that time. On the contrary it would seem that the problem has been exacerbated by increased resort to opium alkaloids and their derivatives in addition to opium. Clandestine heroin laboratories have been discovered and in 1967 the seizures of illicit heroin rose sharply to 226 kg - five times the previous average. Even more startling was the seizure in 1968 of 474 kg of morphine, another 400 per cent increase. At the same time opium seizures remained at a very high level.

"The Government of Thailand is alive to the problem. It has successfully reduced the import of acetic anhydride destined for the clandestine heroin laboratories, and it has embarked on important counter-measures. It is clearly essential that these should be carried into fulfilment as quickly as possible and the Board hopes that when the Government applies for technical aid from international sources its application will be treated as a matter of urgent priority and the aid will be instantly forthcoming."

Laos

"As related by the Permanent Central Board in its 1966 report [ 5] the circumstances surrounding opium production in Laos were similar to those in Thailand. The Board has no information to show that the situation has in any way improved since then. On the other hand remedial measures would scarcely be feasible in the disturbed conditions now prevailing in that region."

Nepal

"Both opium and cannabis are produced in Nepal and both substances are misused by inhabitants of that country. Most of the cannabis production is however illicitly exported.

"The Board is in correspondence with the Government of Nepal and it hopes that in time more effective internal controls can be progressively introduced."

Lebanon

"The campaign to replace the cultivation of cannabis by other crops is being steadily pursued and considerable progress has already been made. According to figures supplied by the Government to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs the programme began in 1966 with the substitution of sunflower (Helianthus) for cannabis on about 83 hectares; in the following the area of replacement expanded to 1,000 hectares; and in 1968 it reached 2,887 hectares.

"This presents a highly encouraging picture and it gives rise to the hope that cannabis cultivation in this country, which was estimated by the Lebanese authorities to cover between four and five thousand hectares, could in due course be eradicated.

"The Government deserves every support, bilateral and multilateral, in its efforts to carry this commendable programme through to fulfilment."

Bolivia

"The Board earnestly hopes that the Bolivian authorities will concentrate their efforts on the prompt implementation of the reforms envisaged in the Agreement concluded with the Bolivian Government in 1964 and confirmed during the second mission of the Permanent Central Board to Bolivia in 1966. Under the terms of this Agreement, the authorities agreed to eliminate progressively the production and chewing of coca leaves in this country.

"The Board's anxieties in regard to coca leaf production and consumption in this and neighbouring countries in South America continue, therefore, unabated."

Peru

"Uncertainty still surrounds the constitutional position of Peru in regard to the 1961 Convention, to which reference was made in the report of the Permanent Central Board for 1966, [ 6] and for the reasons given in that report it is essential that the dubiety should be removed without further delay.

"As was indicated in paragraph 100 of the same report Peru has contemplated a programme of gradual reduction of coca bush cultivation; but the production statistics which are supplied to the Board, and which are compiled on the basis of taxes collected on the sale of coca leaves, have not so far reflected the decrease in cultivation which might have been expected from this programme."

1

United Nations document E/OB/21.

2

This body was the predecessor of the INCB.

3

United Nations document E/OB/22, paras. 66-68.

4

United Nations document E/OB/22, paras. 75-82.

5

United Nations document E/OB/22, para. 74.

6

United Nations document E/OB/22, paras. 101-102.