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 the CSA.
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:
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- 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.
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