890.114 Narcotics/8

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War ( Stimson )

My Dear Mr. Secretary: From the time the Government of the United States took the initiative in bringing about the first international conference on the subject of narcotic drugs, which was held in Shanghai in 1909,1 and proposed the convening of the international conference which resulted in the opium convention signed at The Hague on January 23, 1912,2 it has been the consistent policy of our Government to cooperate with other nations in the control of the legal trade in these dangerous drugs and in international efforts to suppress their abuse. At those and subsequent conferences representatives of the Government of the United States have clearly stated that the policy of the United States Government is to limit the production and manufacture of narcotic drugs strictly to medicinal and scientific requirements and to consider use for any other purpose as abuse. This policy is incorporated in the laws of the United States, which prohibit the use of prepared opium. The same policy has been pursued where-ever the jurisdiction of the United States Government has extended. For example, shortly after our assumption of control over the Philippine Islands, Congress enacted legislation prohibiting the importation of opium in the Philippines except for medicinal purposes.

The Government of the United States has on every appropriate occasion endeavored very earnestly to induce other governments to accept the doctrine that the use of opium should be restricted to medical and scientific purposes. A number of governments have signified their acceptance of this principle, but unfortunately some countries have not found it possible, owing to special circumstances, [Page 1069] to eliminate completely the use of opium for smoking and eating, particularly in their territories and possessions in the Far East.

The Department is desirous at this time of formulating a common policy to be adopted by the interested governments having as an objective the suppression of the abusive use of narcotic drugs in areas in the Far East now occupied by Japanese forces when such areas are reoccupied by the armed forces of the United Nations. These areas are the Philippine Islands, parts of China including Manchuria, Hong Kong, French Indochina, Kwangchow-wan, Thailand, Burma, the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States, Johore, Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, Trengganu, Brunei, Sarawak, British North Borneo, the Netherlands Indies, New Guinea, and other territories in the Southwest Pacific.

It is anticipated that in all of these territories there will be found organizations sponsored by the Japanese military forces for the sale of narcotic drugs for other than medical purposes. Owing to the presence of opium, opium shops and opium smokers in these areas, in the opinion of the United States Commissioner of Narcotics,3 there would be danger of infection of susceptible individuals because it has been well established that most persons who begin to take drugs do so because of the accessibility of drugs and because of close association With persons who indulge in them. From the standpoint of the health and discipline of the men of the armed forces of the United States, it is believed that it will be advisable, immediately upon the occupation of part or the whole of any one of the above-mentioned territories by our forces, to seize all drugs intended for other than medicinal and scientific purposes which may be discovered and to close any existing opium shops or dens. Such drugs include opium prepared for smoking or eating and heroin, the use of which to satisfy addiction is injurious, according to the majority of experts. Wherever our forces are in complete control, it is assumed that they will be guided by our long established narcotics policies, but where they are collaborating with other members of the United Nations, our Government will take steps to obtain the concurrence on the part of those members in our proposed action.

The Department will be pleased to receive at an early date any comments or views which the War Department may wish to express concerning the desirability, advisability and practicability of pursuing the course suggested in the preceding paragraph. If any orders have been issued by the War Department to its Commanding Officers in the Far East on this subject, the Department will be pleased to be informed of their purport.

[Page 1070]

Similar letters5 are being addressed to the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of the Treasury.

For the strictly confidential information of the War Department, there are enclosed herewith the minutes of meetings which have recently been held under the sponsorship of the Foreign Policy Association on this subject.6 The attention of the War Department is particularly drawn to the last paragraph on page 9 and the first four paragraphs on page 10 of the minutes of the meeting held on January 13, 1943.7

Sincerely yours,

Cordell Hull
  1. For documentation on the Joint International Commission for the Investigation of the Opium Question in the Far East, see Foreign Relations, 1909, pp. 95 ff.; see also Report of the International Opium Commission, Shanghai, China, February 1 to February 26, 1909, (Shanghai, North China Daily News & Herald Ltd., 1909).
  2. First International Opium Conference held at The Hague December 1, 1911–January 23, 1912; for documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1912, pp. 182 ff.; for text of convention, see ibid., p. 196.
  3. Harry J. Anslinger.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Minutes of meetings of December 4, 1942, January 13, 1943, and March 17, 1943; none printed.
  6. These paragraphs read as follows:

    “Professor Chamberlain [Professor of Public Law, Columbia University] stated that officers of the United States Army and Navy are studying problems, including the opium smoking problem, in connection with the study of the administration of territories about to be reoccupied.

    Mr. McIntyre [Second Secretary of the Australian Legation] inquired whether these officers had been given instructions in regard to the suppression of opium smoking.

    Mr. Anslinger replied that such instructions had been given categorically.

    Professor Chamberlain said that by the time United States forces get into the Pacific, the Army and Navy win understand the problem and will be ready to move against it.

    Mr. Anslinger said that he desired to avoid a clash with the British and the Dutch in the Far East over this matter by ironing out the difficulties first.” (890.114 Narcotics/4)