The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, adopted in 1961, was an international treaty designed to prohibit the production and supply of specific drugs and substances with similar effects. It allowed for the production of narcotics, but only for medical purposes or research. The treaty updated the Paris Convention of 1931 to ensure it included synthetic opioids created between 1931 and 1961.
The 1961 convention also ensured that new synthetic opioids would also be included in its governance. By 1961, however, a great number of synthetics had already been developed that are still used today, including methadone, morphine and dextromoramide. Research into fentanyl was well underway and scientists anticipated furthering these efforts to identify medications that could be effective in a number of situations and illnesses.
Before the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was adopted, other treaties had been in place, although they only exerted control over opium, coca and derivatives that included morphine, heroin and cocaine. The Single Convention was meant to consolidate earlier treaties and broaden their reach to include cannabis and other drugs with very similar effects to those already included in previous treaties.
Compliance is ensured through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, putting the majority of the national statutes in the UNODC legal library for future reference.
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs has had significant influence when it comes to the establishment of standard drug control laws in developed nations. The United States’ Controlled Substances Act of 1970, for instance, was designed to adhere to obligations within the treaty.