We first became interested in the opium traffic during a visit to the Far East in 1916. Like most Americans, we had vaguely heard of this trade, and had still vaguer recollections of a war between Great Britain and China, which took place about seventy-five years ago, known as the Opium War.
Excise Department ... the chests of "provision" opium, for export, are sold at monthly sales, which take place at Calcutta.' For the meaning of the curious term, 'provision opium' we have only to read on a little further. 'The opium is received and prepared at the government factories, where the out-turn of the year included 8,774 chests of opium for the Excise Department, about three hundred pounds of various opium alkaloids, thirty maunds of medical opium; and 51,770 chests of provision opium for the Chinese market.' There are about 140 pounds in a chest.... Last year the government had under poppy cultivation 654,928 acres. And the revenue to the treasury, including returns from auction sales, duties and license fees, and deducting all 'opium expenditures' was nearly $22,000,000."
As the blue book states, this opium is auctioned off once a month. At that point, the British Government, as a government, washes its hands of the business. Who buys the opium at these government auctions, and what afterwa