1773 CE
A monopoly on opium cultivation in Bengal, India

The British East India Company establishes a monopoly on opium cultivation in the Indian province of Bengal.

Following the collapse of the Mughal Empire, opium cultivation entered a period of disorganization until the East India Company was drawn into politics by overthrowing the Indian government in Bengal. A group of British merchants organized an informal opium monopoly in the 1760s that was replaced by an official Company monopoly in 1773.

General Warren Hastings became governor in charge of the Company’s affairs in Bengal and thereby the first governor-general of British India from 1773 to 1786. In creating the Company monopoly, his intent was to control production and limit supply. Later the Company developed a method of growing opium poppies cheaply and abundantly and the focus became expanding cultivation and maximizing profits.

Source: Austin, A.A. (1978). Perspectives on the History of Psychoactive Substance Use. NIDA.

Drugs: Opium (morphine, heroin, opioids)
Regions: India
Topics: Cultivation, production and trade, Taxation and regulation