To address nascent drug use and abuse, the U.S. Congress passed the Food and Drug Act in 1906.

The Food and Drug Act’s main purpose was to ban foreign and interstate traffic of all adulterated and mislabeled food and drug products in order to address the unsanitary standards in many U.S. food-processing plants, particularly those for meat. However, the provision in the bill that required the labeling of any drug’s active ingredients, particularly for the 10 drugs that were considered ‘addictive’ and/or ‘dangerous’, including alcohol, cannabis, opium, cocaine and morphine, was geared toward reducing the proliferation of patent medicines being misused by many Americans.

Internationally, the U.S. began to push for greater drug control through the First International Opium Conference, held in Shanghai in 1909, which resulted in the first international drug control treaty, the International Opium Convention of 1912. The U.S. led the initiative, along with twelve other (mostly European) countries, as well as Japan and China, who increasingly opposed the opium trade. The Convention was implemented in 1915 and went into effect as a part of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 after WWI. The Agreement essentially established a regime for the control over the production, sale, international trade and distribution of morphine, cocaine and their respective derivatives.

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Posted by Anaïs Faure