The Secretary of State to
the American Representative on the Preparatory Committee
Washington, February 21,
Sir: The United States has been invited to send
a representative to attend the meetings of a Preparatory Committee at
Geneva, Switzerland, which has been called by the League of Nations to
prepare a draft program for the Narcotics Conference in November, 1924.
You are instructed to proceed to Geneva, Switzerland, and attend these
meetings in a consultative capacity.
There are enclosed certain suggestions, the international adoption of
which, this Government believes, would be of material value in lessening
the world-wide traffic in harmful drugs. You are authorized to bring
these suggestions to the notice of the Preparatory Committee and to
explain that the suggestions are tentative in character and are intended
to serve as a basis for discussion.
You will be careful to avoid any attempt to commit this Government in
your discussion, as the Department understands that the work of this
Committee is purely suggestive and not final. Any recommendations or
conclusions which may be reached by the Committee will, therefore, not
be binding on the Governments which are represented there.
It is assumed that much of the work will be of a technical character and
will involve discussion of the narcotics laws of many nations [Page 94] of the world. The Department has,
therefore, requested the Treasury Department to allow an officer from
the Narcotics Section who is familiar with the actual operation of the
several Statutes of the United States on this subject to proceed with
you. That Department has also been requested to authorize the presence
of the Treasury agent in Switzerland at Geneva during your stay there,
as it is probable that the discussions will involve questions affecting
the shipment, trans-shipment and bonding practices of the nations
concerned. In view of the questions of hygiene which may arise, the
Department is requesting the Public Health Service to authorize the
Surgeon in charge at Paris to proceed to Geneva in case of
I am [etc.]
Suggestions of the United States To Be Presented
to the Preparatory Committee
The Resolution calling the Narcotics Conference reads as follows:
“The Assembly, having noted with satisfaction that in
accordance with the hope expressed in the fourth resolution
adopted by the Assembly in 1922, the Advisory Committee has
reported that the information now available makes it
possible for the Governments concerned to examine with a
view to the conclusion of an agreement, the question of the
limitation of the amounts of morphine, heroin or cocaine and
their respective salts to be manufactured; of the limitation
of the amounts of raw opium and the coca leaf to be imported
for that purpose and for other medicinal and scientific
purposes, and of the limitation of the production of raw
opium and the coca leaf for export to the amount required
for such medicinal and scientific purposes.
“Requests the Council, as a means of giving effect to the
principles submitted by the representatives of the United
States of America and the policy which the League, on the
recommendation of the Advisory Committee has adopted, to
invite the Governments concerned to send representatives
with plenipotentiary powers to a Conference for this
purpose, to be held, if possible, immediately after the
“The Assembly also suggests for the consideration of the
Council, the advisability of enlarging this Conference so as
to include within its scope all countries which are Members
of the League, or Parties to the Convention of 1912, with a
view to securing their adhesion to the principles that may
be embodied in any agreement arrived at.”
It is assumed that all suggestions for the practical application
thereof should be in accordance with its terms.
The Government of the United States believes that the following
suggestions should be considered, but does not commit itself thereby
to a definite plan, reserving the right to add to, alter or propose
other suggestions in the light of proposals from other Powers.
- The cultivation of the opium poppy and the coca leaf plant to
be reduced to the amount required for the production of opium
and coca leaves sufficient for medicinal and scientific
requirements only, as determined by proper authority. As a
preliminary measure no increase of poppy or coca leaf plant to
be permitted, and those nations in whose territory these
articles are not produced to prevent their introduction.
- No encouragement to be given to poppy or coca leaf cultivators
by the State.
- The acceptance of the principle that no state should rely upon
the revenue from the control of opium and the coca leaf for
purposes of operating the Government, beyond the expenses
incident to controlling the narcotics traffic.
- Consideration of difficulties arising out of treaty
obligations which prevent certain states from raising increased
revenues from Customs taxes as a substitute for the tax on opium
or coca leaf and their derivatives.
- The provisions of Articles 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Hague Opium
Convention to be applied to coca leaves.
- Opium to be exported only upon license from the importing
country which must be party to The Hague Opium Convention,
issued upon prescribed rules and regulations showing that it is
imported either for purposes temporarily permissible under
Chapter II of the Convention or for medicinal purposes. The
exportation of opium of less than 9% morphine content, or for
purposes under Chapter II of the Convention to cease after a
fixed period, say ten years.
- Coca leaves to be exported only upon permit issued upon
prescribed rules and regulations for medicinal purposes, from
the importing country, which must be party to the Hague Opium
- Derivatives or preparations of opium and the coca leaf to be
exported solely for medicinal or scientific purposes.
- No vessel or other common carrier to receive for transport any
opium, coca leaf or derivative of either, which is not
accompanied by a certificate from the country of destination
showing that it may be lawfully imported, and, by a document
from the country of export showing that it may lawfully be
exported. Reciprocal right of search on the high seas in regions
agreed upon from time to time, to enforce this provision.
- Transshipment and bonding privileges to be restricted, to the
end that, as a general rule, there shall be no re-export of
opium, coca leaf or their derivatives and preparations.
- The provisions of Articles 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of The Hague
Opium Convention to apply to all derivatives or preparations of
opium and coca leaf with suitable exceptions for small
quantities in medicines.
- Countries with well developed chemical and pharmaceutical
facilities to prohibit the importation of narcotic drugs,
derivatives of opium and the coca leaf, permitting only raw
opium and the coca leaves to be imported, except small
quantities for scientific purposes.
- The export of manufactured drugs preparations or derivatives
of opium or the coca leaf to be permitted only to nations which
are party to The Hague Opium Convention and which have adequate
systems of domestic control, except that medicines in small
quantities may be exported.
- A consideration of the administrative features of the
Convention with a view to prescribing definite powers for a
permanent central organization.
- Annual Reports to be submitted by all Powers party to the
Convention. The reports should show the amount of opium and coca
leaves produced, imported, exported or used for local
consumption; the amounts of derivatives or preparations made
therefrom, imported, exported or used for local consumption, and
should cover the same periods of time.
- Illegal possession of opium coca leaf or their preparations or
derivatives to be a penal offense.
E. General Provisions
1. The foregoing provisions to be applied to all drugs which might,
after generally recognized scientific investigations give rise to
similar abuses and result in the same injurious effects.
Management of Conference
- Day for hearing petitions and suggestions.
- Order of business.
- Place of Conference.