Wednesday, February 21, 2007

February 21st 1971

On this day in history... (also, the very day of my birth, Socialism completists... hi Mum, that means you!)

1971: They're having way too much fun out there, so the grown-ups at the United Nations step in and sign the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, an international treaty aimed at reining in the use of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD by tightening laws on their manufacture and distribution.

Although people have been doing drugs for centuries, usage mushroomed, so to speak, during the freewheeling 1960s. Governments were alarmed but slow to react. LSD, for example, was not prohibited federally in the United States until 1967.

The convention, worded in such a way to include almost any conceivable hallucinogen, was an attempt to override existing international drug treaties that, by and large, had proven too weak to enforce.

But there were political considerations that conspired to complicate matters: The pharmaceutical lobby representing powerful drug companies in developed nations opposed laws strictly proscribing the manufacture of synthetic drugs because, well, guess who manufactured them?

In the end, the regulations that emerged came down hardest on the growers of cannabis, opium and coca, plants that are used to produce narcotics naturally. Not surprisingly, most of this trade came largely from the third world, where their farming often represented a significant percentage of a nation's income.