511.4 A 1/1972a

The Secretary of State to the Diplomatic Officers of the United States Accredited to the Governments Party to The Hague Convention of January 23, 191252b

Sir: It is desired that you bring formally and officially to the attention of the government to which you are accredited the following observations:

In 1912 the United States participated with other nations in a conference held at The Hague for the purpose of considering means for the control of the traffic in narcotic drugs.52c There was drawn up as the result of the deliberations of that conference an international agreement looking to the “progressive suppression of the abuse of opium, morphine, cocaine, as well as drugs prepared and derived from these substances giving rise, or which may give rise, to analogous abuses”.52d The alarming growth of the abuse of such drugs within its territories made apparent the need not only for domestic legislation to the end that the production of, and traffic in, such drugs in the United States might be controlled, but also for international cooperation in the control of the traffic between nations. The convention drawn up and adopted by that conference was ratified by the United States on December 15, 1913. It contains the following articles:

[Here follow articles 9 to 14, inclusive, of Chapter III; see Foreign Relations, 1912, pages 199 to 200.]

The Congress of the United States proceeded at once to the enactment of the legislation which would provide for control of the production and traffic in the dangerous drugs mentioned in The Hague Convention within territory under its jurisdiction, as well as the participation in the international traffic in such drugs by its citizens or those within its jurisdiction. The substance of this domestic legislation is briefly summarized below, copies of the law and the regulations drawn up for their enforcement being enclosed.52e

The question of the domestic production and traffic in drugs was dealt with by the Act of December 17, 1914,52f amended by Sections [Page 251] 1006 and 1007 of the Revenue Act of 1918,52g and by Section 703 of the Revenue Act of 1926.52h This act gives the Government of the United States control, within territory over which it has jurisdiction, over the importation, manufacture, compounding, sale, dealing in, dispensing, and giving away of opium, coca leaves, their salts, derivatives or preparations thereof. This act, as you will note, requires that every importer, manufacturer, producer, compounder, seller, or anyone otherwise interested in disposing of opium or coca leaves or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, or preparation thereof, register with the Collector of Internal Revenue of the District his name or style, place of business and place or places where such business is to be carried on. Persons not so registered may not lawfully manufacture, produce, compound, sell, deal in, dispense, distribute, administer, or give away any of the drugs or their derivatives mentioned in the act. The act makes it unlawful for persons registered to deal in or handle any such drugs except in the original stamped packages or from the original stamped packages; the absence of appropriate tax-paid stamps from any of the drugs being made prima facie evidence of a violation of the law by the person in whose possession they may be found. It is made unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any of the drugs mentioned in the act except in pursuance of a written order on a form issued for that purpose by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The law provides for the keeping by druggists, chemists, surgeons, dentists, physicians, veterinarians, et cetera, of accurate records of all drugs dispensed, administered, or otherwise disposed of by them (except to patients personally attended) and requires that all such records be kept in such a way as to be readily accessible to inspection by the officers of the Government whose duty it is to make such inspections. The provisions of this law are extended to the Territory of Alaska, the Territory of Hawaii, the insular possessions, including the Philippine Islands, and the Canal Zone.

The matters of the domestic production and traffic in drugs were also dealt with by the Act of January 17, 1914, (38 Stat. 277) which imposed a commodity tax upon smoking opium manufactured in the United States of $300.00 per pound and required the filing of a bond by each manufacturer of smoking opium in a penal sum not less than $100,000.00. Severe penalties were imposed by the Act for violation of the terms thereof, the purpose being to impose prohibitive restrictions upon the manufacture of smoking opium, and the result has been that smoking opium is not being legally manufactured in the United States as recognized by Section 3 of the Act of May 26, 1922, known as the Narcotic Drugs Import and Export Act, which enacted that on and after July 1, 1913, all smoking opium or opium prepared for smoking found within the United States shall be presumed to have been imported after April 1, 1909.52i

Participation by American citizens and those within the jurisdiction of the United States in the international traffic in narcotic drugs [Page 252] is controlled under a second Act of January 17, 1914,52j and the Act of May 26, 1922,52k amendatory thereof, known as the “Narcotic Drugs Import and Export Act”.

Exportations of narcotic drugs are by that law restricted to shipments only to a country which has ratified and become a party to the International Opium Convention of 1912, and then only if (1) such country has instituted and maintains, in conformity with that convention, a system of permits or licenses for the control of imports of such narcotic drugs which the Federal Narcotics Control Board, consisting of the Secretaries of State, the Treasury, and Commerce, deems adequate; (2) the narcotic drug is consigned to an authorized permittee; and (3) there is furnished to the Federal Narcotics Control Board proof deemed adequate by it that the narcotic drug is to be applied exclusively to medical and legitimate uses within the country to which exported, that it will not be reexported from such country, and that there is an actual shortage of and a demand for the narcotic drug for medical and legitimate uses within such country. An individual permit for each shipment is issued by the Federal Narcotics Control Board upon proper application accompanied by an import certificate issued by a duly authorized official of the country of destination covering information required under (2) and (3), as stated in the preceding sentence, fulfillment of (1) being prerequisite to the issuance of such an import certificate.

No exportation is permitted by post. No permit is issued for the exportation of crude opium or coca leaves as such. All exporters must be properly qualified under the internal revenue law and all narcotic products exported are duly sealed with United States internal revenue stamps.

Importations are by this law restricted to crude opium and coca leaves, and are limited to such quantities thereof as are considered necessary by the Federal Narcotics Control Board for legitimate and medical uses only. Individual import licenses for specified quantities within such limits are issued by this Board to manufacturers, properly qualified under the internal revenue law, having apparatus or equipment in use in the manufacture of derivatives of opium and coca leaves. The American Consul at the port of exportation will not certify the invoice covering such shipments until duly informed of the issuance of such a permit. All narcotic drugs arriving in the United States without due authorization are subject to seizure and confiscation.

In-transit shipments of smoking opium or opium prepared for smoking are forbidden by law. Other narcotic drugs may be shipped through the United States or a port thereof only upon permission of the Federal Narcotics Control Board. The general policy of this Board with respect to the issuance of permits authorizing in-transit shipments is the same as that for exports, i. e., a permit for an in-transit shipment will be issued only if a permit for exportation could properly have been issued. This policy is based on the theory that this Board should not permit the in-transit facilities of the United States to be used for transactions forbidden by its laws if occurring within the jurisdiction of such laws, such theory [Page 253] being especially supported by the fact that the same law is the authority for both the export and the in-transit permits.

As late as the year 1914 morphine and other narcotic drugs could be freely manufactured and purchased in the United States without restriction. Government reports indicate that in 1920 the importation of crude opium into the United States amounted to 628,896 pounds and that in the same year 230,388 pounds were exported leaving 398,508 pounds either consumed in the country or exported as derivatives. For the year ending June 30, 1925, imports had been reduced to 105,014 pounds.

The Government of the United States, while gratified at the results of the enforcement of this domestic legislation, is constantly made aware of the fact that its efforts to control the consumption of these dangerous drugs within territory subject to its jurisdiction are being nullified to an alarming extent by the activities of smugglers who appear to find little difficulty in acquiring large quantities of these drugs for the purpose of introducing them secretly into the United States.

Large quantities of morphine (chiefly morphine hydrochloride, of which little is manufactured in the United States), heroin (not manufactured in the United States after June 7, 1924), and cocaine are landed illegally on the east coast of the United States from ships arriving from European ports. Due to extensive shipping and the ease with which these drugs may be concealed customs officers experience difficulty in making seizures. Seizures made at ports and borders during the year ended June 30, 1924, under the Narcotic Drugs Import and Export Act, are as follows:

Opium 2,285 pounds (avoirdupois)
Morphine 2,504 ounces
Heroin 313
Miscellaneous opium derivatives 93
Cocaine 761

Seizures made at ports and borders during the year ended June 30, 1925, under the Narcotic Drugs Import and Export Act, are as follows:

Opium 1,178 pounds (avoirdupois)
Morphine 2,425 ounces
Heroin 282
Miscellaneous opium derivatives 6
Cocaine 548

This Government believes that only a small part of the drugs manufactured in the United States is diverted to illicit channels, and that the most of the narcotic drugs illicitly consumed in this country are smuggled drugs. The conviction has been reached that no great improvement in this situation is possible until there is a control, in countries other than the United States, over the manufacture and export of narcotic drugs which will prevent their sale to any but licensed importers in countries which maintain an import license system or, in the case of countries which do not have such a system, to any but reputable firms or individuals and in quantities commensurate with the estimated legitimate medical needs of the country.

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The United States does not suggest that the method which it has adopted to control the importation and manufacture of dangerous drugs within its jurisdiction and their export therefrom represents all that can be accomplished in the way of legislation, but it does feel that considerable success has attended this legislation by enabling it to follow the raw material that goes into its factories and to know exactly what comes out of the factories and into whose hands the product of the factory goes. The fact that large quantities of the products of factories in other countries constantly reach its ports in the hands of smugglers brings the conviction that the quantity of such illicit drugs might be much reduced if a stricter control over the operation of those factories could be exercised. As a step in this direction a control which would provide an accurate public record of manufacture and sales, showing exactly to whom sales are made, would be very helpful.

In communicating the above views of this Government to the government to which you are accredited you will state that a similar communication is being made to other countries party to The Hague Opium Convention of 1912. You will say that it is the hope of this Government that in its efforts to control the manufacture and sale of narcotic drugs within its territories the country to which you are accredited will take into consideration the situation herein described and comment thereon offering any suggestions that may occur to it arising out of its experience in dealing with a similar situation, if such exists, within its own jurisdiction. You may state that this Government is prepared to cooperate with it in efforts to accomplish the ends aimed at by the provision of The Hague Convention above quoted and express this Government’s hope that the government to which you are accredited will find it possible to lend its aid to that end.

I am [etc.]

Frank B. Kellogg
  1. This circular instruction was sent to the following missions: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxemburg, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Salvador, Serbia (Yugoslavia), Siam, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1912, pp. 182 ff.
  3. Ibid., p. 196.
  4. Enclosures not printed.
  5. 38 Stat. 785.
  6. Approved Feb. 24, 1919; 40 Stat. 1057, 1130, 1132.
  7. Approved Feb. 26, 1926; 44 Stat. (pt. 2) 9, 96.
  8. See 38 Stat. 275 and 42 Stat. 596, both amending the Act of Feb. 9, 1909 (35 Stat. 614).
  9. 38 Stat. 275.
  10. 42 Stat. 596.