Cannabis condemned: the proscription of Indian hemp

Addiction. 2003 Feb;98(2):143-51. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2003.00273.x.


Aims: To find out how cannabis came to be subject to international narcotics legislation.

Method: Examination of the records of the 1925 League of Nations' Second Opium Conference, of the 1894 Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission and other contemporary documents.

Findings: Although cannabis (Indian hemp) was not on the agenda of the Second Opium Conference, a claim by the Egyptian delegation that it was as dangerous as opium, and should therefore be subject to the same international controls, was supported by several other countries. No formal evidence was produced and conference delegates had not been briefed about cannabis. The only objections came from Britain and other colonial powers. They did not dispute the claim that cannabis was comparable to opium, but they did want to avoid a commitment to eliminating its use in their Asian and African territories.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cannabis*
  • Congresses as Topic / history
  • Drug and Narcotic Control / history*
  • Drug and Narcotic Control / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Europe
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • International Agencies / history
  • Marijuana Abuse / history*
  • Marijuana Abuse / prevention & control
  • Opium / history
  • United States


  • Opium