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As Special Assistant to the Deputy Assistant Administrator of DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, I was part of the senior management team responsible for managing Federal government programs concerning the investigation of diversion of legally produced drugs into the illicit market, assuring drug industry compliance with narcotic and dangerous drug manufacturing; security and recordkeeping, legislative and regulatory requirements; US compliance with international drug treaties; drug scheduling, and the drafting of narcotics related policies, legislation and regulations.  In addition to acting as DEA’s senior treaty negotiator for the 1988 Vienna Convention on Trafficking, I was a representative to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and COTR for the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), which collects and analyses drug injury data from hospital emergency rooms.  

THE HISTORY OF DRUG DIVESION:  As the 20 anniversary of the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration approached, I was asked to put together a brief history of drug diversion and the role DEA and the Office of Diversion Control played in combating trafficking in drugs diverted from the licit market.  The paper, “Drug Diversion – A Historical Perspective” was published in April of 1993.  It covered such topics as the diversion of medicinal drugs prior to the passage of the 1914 Harrison narcotic Act; diversion of legitimate drugs during the period prior to and following World War II; the passage of the Controlled Substance Act of 1971 (CSA) and its impact on diversion; the first major set of amendments to the CSA in 1984 which expanded DEA’s authority to combat diversion and offered a range of recommendations for future controls.  Many of these recommendations have since been implemented.


STATE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE LAWS:  Following the major expansion of DEA authority to combat diversion of legally produced drugs into the illicit market that occurred in 1984, I was asked to chair a joint Federal/State committee to make recommendations on how states might make legislative and regulatory changes to harmonize state authorities to combat diversion with those of the Federal government.  The result of these committee deliberations was the Committee Report on CSA Laws that was presented to the 2nd National conference on the Control and Diversion of Controlled Substances, held in Tucson, Arizona in 1986.  Among the topics covered were:

  • DEA’s new authority to revoke practitioner controlled substance registrations based on a “public interest” standard;
  • The need for a national clearinghouse for state disciplinary actions;
  • DEA’s authority for  “emergency” scheduling of drugs of abuse;
  • Addressing the problem of “look alike” substances, and
  • The need for revisions to the Uniform Controlled Substance Act and new “model” acts based on recent changes in federal legislation.


DRUG REGULATION: DEA’s regulatory controls are found in 21 CFR 1300-1399.  These regulations encompass a wide variety controls to reduce the diversion of narcotics and dangerous drug from licit channels.  They include: registration of manufacturers, distributors, importer, exporters and dispensers of controlled substances; labeling and packaging requirements for controlled substances; manufacturing quotas; records and reports; prescription requirements; schedules of controlled substances; records and reports of precursor chemicals and manufacturing machines; importation and exportation of controlled substances, precursors and essential chemicals, as well as administrative functions, practices, and procedures.

DRUG SCHEDULING:  DEA’s authority to control narcotics and dangerous drugs is found in 21 USC Sections 811-814.

DRUG SCHEDULES:  See a complete list of controlled substances and the schedule in which they have been placed.  This list includes controlled precursors.

SINGLE CONVENTION ON NARCOTIC DRUGS:  The Single Convention is the cornerstone of international narcotics control.  It’s passage codified all existing multilateral treaties on drug control and extended the existing control systems to include the cultivation of plants that were grown as the raw material of narcotic drugs. The principal objectives of the Convention are to limit the possession, use, trade in, distribution, import, export, manufacture and production of drugs exclusively to medical and scientific purposes and to address drug trafficking through international cooperation to deter and discourage drug traffickers. The Convention also established the International Narcotics Control Board, merging the Permanent Central Board and the Drug Supervisory Board.

CONVENTION ON PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS:  The passage of the Psychotropic Convention was the second major landmark in international drug control.  The Psychotropic Convention established an international control system for psychotropic substances in response to the worldwide growth in the abuse and trafficking in amphetamines, barbiturates and other non-narcotic substances. It introduced controls over a number of synthetic drugs according to their abuse potential on the one hand and their therapeutic value on the other.

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