General Provisions

The manufacture, trade, and distribution of psychotropic substances are subject to licensing, record keeping, and reporting. The convention generally permits governments great flexibility in applying the provisions to meet their particular needs, because it recognizes that psychotropic substances are widely used in medical practice to treat mental and physical disorders. In addition, the convention includes provisions for the prevention of abuse and for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts. Because of the convention, a substance abuser may receive treatment, education, aftercare, and rehabilitation as an alternative or in addition to punishment.

A patient may not obtain any of the substances regulated under the convention without a medical prescription, although exceptions are allowed under certain circumstances, when licensed pharmacists may supply small quantities of the substances that are less likely to be abused. In addition, the convention set forth precautions to be taken to ensure that the distribution of psychotropic substances conformed to sound medical practice. An example of such practice is the proper labeling of retail packages to include adequate directions for use and warnings, if necessary.

A party to the convention may prohibit exportation of psychotropic substances from its country. It may also notify other parties, through the United Nations secretary-general, that it prohibits the import of schedule II, III, or IV substances into its country.

All signatories must provide detailed annual statistical reports on the production, trade, and consumption of psychotropic substances to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the central authority that was established to coordinate control of the illegal manufacture and use of narcotics. The reports for substances in schedules I and II must be more detailed than those for substances in schedules III and IV, which are not as rigidly regulated.

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