Schaffer Online Library of Drug Policy Sign the Resolution for a Federal Commission on Drug Policy


Contents | Feedback | Search | DRCNet Home Page | Join DRCNet

DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library | Historical Research




SITUATED in South America. Area, 89,480 square miles. Population at census of 1911, excluding aborigines in the unfrequented parts of the colony, 296,000. The Statesman's Year Book, which gives us these brief facts, has very little to say about this British colony in our Western Hemisphere, and gives no dates or information as to how and when it was acquired. The Government reports are also meager and unsatisfactory, and there is no wealth of detail as to exports and imports. The country, however, is rich in gold, mining having commenced in i886. Diamonds have also been discovered.

The chief sources of revenue, however, are customs, excise and licenses. With the word "excise" we have come to have unpleasant associations. From "The Statistical Abstract for British Self-Governing Dominions, Colonies, Possessions and Protectorates" we find a table showing the imports of opium into the various countries under British rule. The opium imports into British Guiana are as follows:

1910 1,251 pounds sterling

1911 1,270

1912 2,474

1913 4,452

1914 5,455

1915 4,481

These figures would seem to indicate that even on the Western Hemisphere the taste for opium may be cultivated. It need not necessarily be confined to the Oriental peoples. The population of much of South America is a mixed lot, the result of mixed breeding between Spanish settlers, Indians, native tribes of all sorts. All this jumble, including the aborigines referred to, might, with a little teaching become profitable customers of the Opium Monopoly. Time and a little effort, given this fertile field, ought to produce a "healthy expansion" in the opium trade.

And that this insidious habit is indeed taking hold, in at least one more country in South America, one may infer from the following paragraph which appeared in the New York Times, 4 October, 1919:


Buenos Aires Opens Fight on Use of Narcotics

The city government of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has begun a determined fight to wipe out the drug evil by the enactment of stringent laws governing the sale of narcotics. This step was taken after an investigation by the authorities had disclosed that not only was the narcotic habit strong among the poor, but that it was spreading throughout virtually every class in the city.

Until the passage of the laws druggists were permitted to sell cocaine, morphine and opium to any purchaser. The new laws forbid the sale of these drugs except in filling prescriptions prepared by registered physicians. The city also has established dispensaries for the treatment of drug addicts.

Contents | Feedback | Search | DRCNet Home Page | Join DRCNet

DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library | Historical Research