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OPIUM AS AN INTERNATIONAL PROBLEM
THE GENEVA CONFERENCES
|Kg. of Hashish|
The following quantities were seized by the Coastguards Administration:
|Kg. of Hashish|
Unfortunately, I have no information regarding the quantities seized by the police, which must certainly be greater than the above-mentioned figures. There can be no doubt, however, that the goods confiscated represent only a small fraction of what is introduced clandestinely.
It is known, for example, that in a single year (about 1909) more than 140,000 pounds of hashish were consumed in Egypt.
Some idea of the ravages produced by these enormous quantities of hashish clandestinely consumed may be gained from the fact that the real requirements of the country hardly exceed 20-30 kilogrammes annually.
For example, the requirements of hashish for medical purposes in an average year may be estimated at
|1.331||"||of soft extract,|
In 1919, the Egyptian Government allowed the importation of 65 kilogrammes of hashish for medical purposes and in 1920 of 23 kilogrammes.
The illicit use of hashish is the principal cause of most of the cases of insanity occurring in Egypt. In support of this contention, it may be observed that there are three times as many cases of mental alienation among men as among women, and it is an established fact that men are much more addicted to hashish than women. (In Europe, on the contrary, it is significant that a greater proportion of cases of insanity occur among women than among men.)
Generally speaking, the proportion of cases of insanity caused by the use of hashish varies from 3 to 60 percent of the total number of cases occurring in Egypt.
At the conclusion of M. El Guindy's speech, Dr. Sze expressed the approval of the Chinese Delegation of the proposal that the Conference should do what it could to remove the danger threatened to humanity by this drug. Mr. Porter in behalf of the American Delegation declared:
The very carefully prepared statement of the Delegate of Egypt, together with my own knowledge on the subject, have satisfied me that we are under an obligation in this Conference to do everything we can to assist the Egyptian and Turkish people to rid themselves of this vice. We are asking them to help us to destroy the vice of opium, coca leaves and their derivatives, and I believe that this is a good time to practise a little reciprocity. They have their troubles and we have ours, and I can see no reason why this Conference, aided as it is by the distinguished men on Sub-Committee F, should not deal with this question. Happily, as I understand it, no question of revenue is involved. That fact ought to make the solution muche easier.
Mr. Clayton, in behalf of the Indian Delegation, said that, though his Government would
no doubt view with sympathy the proposal of the Egyptian Delegation, it would be
impossible for his Government, in the state of its present knowledge, to enter into any
precise engagement with regard to it, and that, in fact, he had not been aware that the
question of hashish would be raised, and had therefore no instructions regarding it.
Later, the Indian Delegation reported that he had communicated with his Government and had
received a reply that it would be able to coöperate to the extent of controlling the
export of the drug by applying the import certificate system.
The Government of India has not yet had time to consult Provincial Governments and the Governments of the Indian States on the further question of controlling, in the manner suggested by Sub-Committee F, the production and sale and use of these drugs within the borders of India itself. The control already exercised by the Provincial Governments over the production, transport and sale of these drugs is of a very stringent nature. Charas is not prepared in India but is imported from Central Asia; import is controlled by licence. The production of ganja is prohibited except in small areas, the product of which is controlled by the excise authorities. The Government of India, however, at the present stage of their examination of the subject point out various serious difficulties of an administrative order in confining the use of hemp drugs to medical and scientific purposes; for example there are social and religious customs which naturally have to be considered, and there is the doubt whether the total prohibition of drugs easily prepared from a wild-growing plant could in practice be made effective.
For these reasons the Indian Delegation is glad to be able to promise the coöperation of its Government in limiting the export of Indian hemp to the needs of the importing countries as certified by their Governments by means of the import certificate system; but would be unable in existing circumstances to accept a proposal that the articles of the Convention should include the full extent of the suggestions put forward by Sub-Committee F in so far as they affect the methods of internal restriction applied by the various Governments in India.
In further explanation of the attitude of the Indian Government with reference to hashish, Mr. Walton, at the twenty-seventh meeting of the Conference, pointed out that one of the greatest difficulties with regard to control of its production arose out of the fact that the plant from which the drug is obtained grows wild and that the drug itself is derived from the plant by a very simple process. "Consequently," he said, "it is difficult to control the production of the drug, and the particular proposal to confine its use entirely to medical and scientific purposes becomes a very difficult matter from the administrative point of view."
Sir Malcolm Delevingne, in opposition to M.E. Guindy's proposal, argued that the Delegations most interested - India and France - had neither the necessary information nor instructions from their Governments to enable them to act. He furthermore questioned the competence of the Conference in the matter. He said:
It was not intended, when this Conference was summoned, that hashish should be discussed, and I do not think that all the ingenuity which different delegations have displayed in reading certain subjects into the Agenda will enable them to find hashish there. That is the reason why the matter is still, if I may use the expression, in an unprepared state. It seems impossible in those circumstances for us to do what the Egyptian Delegate wishes us to do, namely, by an agreement at this Conference to decide to bring hashish under the full provisions of The Hague Convention.
Mr. Bourgois, speaking for the French Delegation, said that he wished to associate himself with the views of Sir Malcolm. He further said:
From the medical point of view, there can be no doubt that hashish is very dangerous, and there is also no doubt that the Governments wish to remove this danger.
In France, hashish is treated exactly the same way as the drugs to which The Hague Convention applies. Each colony has its own regulations, based, in the first place, on local conditions and, in the second, on administrative possibilities.
I would like to draw your attention to the difficulties encountered on both these points. Without going into the subject in detail, I may quote the fact that in the Congo, for example, there are several tribes of savages and even cannibals among whom the habit is very prevalent. It would therefore be hypocritical on my part to sign a Convention laying down strict measures in this respect. I can undertake to have these measures applied in France, because this would be a practical proposition, but the same does not apply to the Congo.
M. van Wettum of the Netherlands Delegation said that he also was without instructions to discuss the subject. However, notwithstanding these expressed doubts as to the competence of the Conference, and the lack of instructions declared by several of the Delegations, it was voted to refer the matter to Sub-Committee F.
In a special report on Indian hemp (1) this Sub-Committee declared its opinion that the campaign against the narcotics derived from this plant needed to be organized on international lines. The report continued:
It should, however, be remembered that all derivatives of hemp are capable of providing, in addition to products injurious to public health, fibres which can be used in industry (cloth, cordage, matting etc.) and that the oil seeds may also be employed for domestic purposes.
That being the case, it would not appear to be an easy matter to limit the amount grown. An effort should, however, be made to adopt drastic measures with a view to prohibiting the growing of specially poisonous species and completely abolishing the traffic in the resin.
While effective practical measures could apparantly be taken fairly easily in highly developed countries this is not the case as regards Central Africa and Central Asia.
The growing of Indian hemp is prohibited by the Ottoman Governments of Egypt, Greece and a few other countries, while the protecting Powers have issued severe measures in Africa to achieve the same result, measure the enforcement of which will serve as a test of their administrative capacity and their influence on the natives of the centre and south of the continent.
After discussing the definition of Indian hemp and the distinction between the raw material and the resin extracted by various processes (the resin being the most dangerous drug), the Committee reported that it had agreed upon the following Resolution:
The use of Indian hemp and the preparations derived therefrom may only be authorised for medical and scientific purposes. The raw resin (charas), however, which is extracted from the female tops of the cannabis sative L., together with the various preparations (hashish chira, esrar, diamba, etc.) of which it forms the basis, not being at present utilised for medical purposes and only being susceptible of utilisation for harmful purpose, in the same manner as other narcotics, may not be produced, sold, traded in, etc., under any circumstances whatsoever.
This report and Resolution came before the Conference at its twenty-first meeting, with the result that a special Sub-Committee was appointed to give further consideration to the subject.
This Committee reported to the Conference at its thirty-fourth meeting the following text for insertion in the Convention:
(1) The provisions of Chapter V of the present Convention shall apply to Indian hemp. In addition and subject to the other provisions of Chapter V each Contracting Party undertakes (a) In the case of the resin prepared from Indian hemp to prohibit export except to any importing country which may not have prohibited its use, and in such case shall require the production of a special import certificate, by the importing Government, and to certify that the importation is approved and destined exclusively for the objects specified in the certificate and guaranteeing that the goods shall not be re-exported.
(b) In the case of Indian hemp each Contracting Party undertakes before issuing the Export authorisation referred to in Article 13 of the present Convention to require the production of a special import certificate issued by the Government of the importing country and certifying that the importation is approved and is required exclusively for medical and scientific purposes.
(2) The Contracting Parties shall exercise such effective control as to prevent the illicit traffic in Indian hemp, and especially in regard to resin.
It was also recommended that a paragraph (g) should be added to Article 4 of the Convention reading: "To Galenic preparations, extracts or tincture of Indian hemp."
These proposals were approved by the Conference and referred to the Drafting Committee for final wording. Only slight changes were made in the draft of Article 11 as reported by the Drafting Committee for final adoption by the Conference (thirty-eighth meeting).
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