1832 - 1839 CE
Opium legalization recommended, debated and rejected in China

Some imperial officials, first in Canton in 1832 and then in Kwantung in 1836, acknowledge the failure of prohibition and recommend legalization. They see smoking opium as “a vile practice” but argue that rather than preventing evils prohibition creates many more. Legalization, they argued, would allow the government to reduce crime, violence and corruption; collect duties and stop the drain on the treasury.

Others disagree and argue for stricter enforcement of the laws and more severe penalties including for foreigners. The Emperor sides with the prohibition side and, in 1839, issues a 39-article statute – the strictest opium law yet that calls for the execution of both smokers and dealers, including the foreign importers and traders.

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

Drugs: Opium (morphine, heroin, opioids)
Regions: China
Topics: Prohibition, Taxation and regulation