511.4 A 1/1707a

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Treasury ( Mellon )

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my letter of December 1, 1922,64 informing you that the President is agreeable to the designation of Surgeon General Blue to serve in an unofficial and consultative capacity with the Advisory Committee of the League of Nations in the study of ways and means to deal with the traffic in opium, and to communicate as follows for your information and the guidance of Dr. Blue in his work at Geneva a statement of this Government’s attitude on the subject of opium and its control which has been prepared in consultation with the Federal Narcotics Control Board.

This Government’s primary interest in the question of narcotics and the control thereof is in the protection of its own citizens.
This Government secondarily is interested in preventing the illegitimate participation of its nationals in the international traffic in narcotics as distinguished from a carefully controlled trade in narcotics for scientific and medicinal purposes.
This Government, thirdly, reiterates its historic interest in the efforts of the Chinese Government to suppress the traffic in opium and the cultivation of the poppy within its own borders.
This Government, fourthly, recognizes the general interest of its nationals in all efforts to regulate the traffic in drugs containing narcotics, measures to that end having been the object of conferences and conventions in which this Government has participated.

In connection with Paragraph I, this Government’s primary concern is with domestic regulations to prevent drugs containing narcotics [Page 95] reaching its nationals, except for medicinal and scientific purposes, and secondarily with the regulations of various producing or manufacturing countries governing the export of the raw or manufactured product, and thirdly with the prevention of such accumulation of the raw material and products thereof, within any given territory, as would tend to frustrate efforts to suppress illegitimate traffic between the countries.

The fact should be borne in mind that there is a tendency for opium, or harmful drugs however produced, to reach channels of illegal traffic. While this Government is theoretically interested in the production of narcotics, in other countries, only in so far as such production serves the legitimate needs of the world for medicinal and scientific purposes, yet it cannot ignore the practical danger that accumulated surplus supplies of narcotics—over and beyond the quantities required for local consumption and for exportation for medicinal and scientific purposes—tend inevitably to create a seepage into the illegitimate traffic in such drugs; and it therefore considers that there is a point beyond which such over-production in any territory becomes a matter of general international concern.

Under paragraph II, this Government is concerned, apart from any question of the position hitherto taken by other governments, with the control of the manufacture of habit-forming drugs with the end in view of persuading the interested Powers to bring their domestic and export regulations up to standards which the United States has adopted and proposes. In this connection, American manufacturers have pointed out the tendency of American legislation (Narcotics Act of May, 192265) to handicap the American trade by reason of its more stringent provisions.

In connection with Paragraph III, this Government is not unmindful of the existence of two distinct programs for the control of the production of and traffic in narcotic drugs; one involving the legitimization of the traffic by the establishment of a governmentally controlled monopoly for the purpose of a gradual diminution of the production of, and traffic in, narcotic drugs, accompanied by a simultaneous production of revenue for governmental purposes; the other, aiming at a complete suppression and prohibition of the production of and traffic in narcotics, except for scientific and medicinal purposes, with consequent sacrifice of revenue.

This Government has from the beginning been committed to the latter of these two programs in dealing with the question within its own territories, notably in the Philippine Islands; and having cooperated sympathetically with the efforts of the Chinese Government [Page 96] to deal in the same manner with the opium question in China, it would view with concern any measures which might now be proposed in contravention to the policy which was inaugurated in 1908 by the Chinese Government with the effective cooperation of the interested Powers, and which has already resulted in a very considerable progress towards the desired conditions.

As regards Paragraph IV, it is proper to emphasize the interest of the people of the United States in this question, as shown in their sympathetic recognition of the efforts of the oriental peoples to control the narcotic evil, through the insertion of prohibitory articles in the earliest of our treaties with China, Japan and Siam. It should be recalled also that this Government took a leading part in the proceedings of the International Commission in China in 1909, and in the Conferences at The Hague. For these reasons it has been deemed advisable to participate, although unofficially, at the meeting of the Advisory Committee on Narcotics of the League of Nations.

It is desired that Dr. Blue, acting unofficially and in a consultative capacity in accordance with his designation, will carefully avoid apparent acquiescence in any action of the Advisory Committee that does not conform to this Government’s traditional policies. Should circumstances in Dr. Blue’s opinion require the formal statement of this Government’s position as herein outlined, the Department of State desires that a draft of such a statement be submitted by Dr. Blue before being given out by him, although this Department in no way desires to restrict the informal discussions of Dr. Blue with his colleagues. It should be remembered at the same time that it is not this Government’s intention or desire to interfere in any way with the internal and purely domestic measures which the several governments may deem it advisable to take with respect to the control of this evil in their own territories, unless a condition is brought about in which an accumulation of narcotics may create a danger of their diversion into the channels of illegitimate international traffic.

The production of opium as referred to in the Hague Convention is understood by this Government to mean not merely the manufacture and refining of the raw product but also the growing of the poppy for the purpose of producing raw opium.

It is hoped that Dr. Blue will communicate freely with the Department of State, both for the purpose of keeping it currently informed of the developments of the subject during the progress of the Committee’s deliberations, and for the purpose of obtaining such information and views as he may from time to time find necessary; and that he will transmit to the Department of State, for its archives, a full set of such documents as have come into his hands in connection with the work of the Committee.

[Page 97]

I venture to request that the views above expressed, if satisfactory and agreeable to you, may be communicated to Dr. Blue, together with the enclosures67 herewith for his guidance.

I have [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes
  1. Not printed.
  2. 42 Stat. 596.
  3. Not printed.