There were no
legal restrictions on the importation or use of opium until the early
1900s. In the United States, the unrestricted availability of opium, the
influx of opium-smoking immigrants from East Asia, and the invention of
the hypodermic needle contributed to the more severe variety of
compulsive drug abuse seen at the turn of the 20th century. In those
days, medicines often contained opium without any warning label. Today,
there are state, federal, and international laws governing the
production and distribution of narcotic substances.
Although opium is
used in the form of paragoric to treat diarrhea, most opium imported
into the United States is broken down into its alkaloid constituents.
These alkaloids are divided into two distinct chemical classes,
phenanthrenes and isoquinolines. The principal phenanthrenes are
morphine, codeine, and thebaine, while the isoquinolines have no
significant central nervous system effects and are not regulated under
It is known as a
Schedule II drug in Pennsylvania
Schedule II-In determining that a
substance comes within this schedule, the secretary shall find: a high
potential for abuse, currently accepted medical use in the United
States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions, and
abuse may lead to severe psychic or physical dependence. The following
controlled substances are included in this schedule:
(i) Any of the following substances,
except those narcotic drugs listed in other schedules, whether
produced directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of
vegetable origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis,
or by combination of extraction and chemical synthesis:
- Opium and opiate, and any salt,
compound, derivative, or preparation of opium or opiate.
- Any salt, compound, derivative,
or preparation thereof which is chemically equivalent or
identical with any of the substances referred to in subclause 1,
except that these substances shall not include the isoquinoline
alkaloids of opium.
- Opium poppy and poppy straw.
- Coca leaves and any salt,
compound, derivative, or preparation of coca leaves, and any
salt, compound, derivative, or preparation thereof which is
chemically equivalent or identical with any of these substances,
but shall not include decocainized coca leaves or extracts of
coca leaves, which extracts do not contain cocaine or ecgonine.