845.114 Narcotics/8–844

The Secretary of State to the Officer in Charge at New Delhi (Merrell)

No. 217

Sir: There is enclosed herewith a copy of a letter, dated August 8, 1944, from the Treasury Department,44 in regard to the lack of restrictions in Karachi on sales of opium, bhang and ganja to members of the armed forces of the United States.

It is suggested that you make immediate inquiries in New Delhi concerning the sales practices of the shops licensed to sell opium and hemp drugs and consult the United States military authorities in regard to the need for requesting the Government of India to prohibit sales of those dangerous drugs to our servicemen in India. It is also suggested that you request the American Consular Officers in Charge in Karachi, Bombay, Colombo and Calcutta to make similar inquiries and hold consultations within their respective jurisdictions and to present reports to you at the earliest possible moment.

If, in your judgment, the information you receive warrants such action, it is requested that you make representations to the Government of India, in any manner you deem appropriate, along the following lines: [Page 1102]

Draw attention to the report contained in the Treasury Department’s letter of August 8, 1944 and to other reports you may receive from our consular officers and military authorities in India which indicate laxity of control over the sale of opium and hemp drugs.

State that in view of the existence of hundreds of shops licensed to sell opium and hemp drugs and the presence of thousands of American citizens in India, your Government is concerned over the ease with which these drugs are reported to be obtainable.

Express the fear that under prevailing conditions many American soldiers will acquire drug addiction, for it is the experience of narcotics experts that most persons who begin to take drugs do so because of the accessibility of drugs, or because of close association with persons who indulge in drugs.

State that your Government assumes that the conditions described in the reports are of equal interest and concern to the Government of India as they are to the Government of the United States in as much as both Governments are parties to the International Opium Convention signed at The Hague on January 23, 1912, which contains provisions relating to the control of the distribution of opium.

State that although the distribution of hemp drugs is not regulated by international agreement, your Government feels that the Government of India will agree that these dangerous drugs should not be made freely available to armed forces.

Request that the Government of India give immediate consideration to the advisability of taking such measures as may be necessary to prohibit the sale of opium and hemp drugs to the members of the armed forces of the United States in India.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
A. A. Berle, Jr.
  1. Not printed.