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RARE Original Document - Act to Regulate - WALKER, Lieut.-Gov. William - 1861. 
British Guiana 1861 - Georgetown, Demerara, British Guiana, 9 October 1861. "An Ordinance to Regulate the Sale of Opium and Bhang." Original Act from the colonial Court of Policy, issued and signed in the original by William Walker, Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of British Guiana, dealing with the legalization of opium, and also of bhang (an edible preparation of cannabis), in terms of importation, duties and taxation, sales, and medical prescription. Featuring also the signature of Magistrate James Ochterlony Lockhard Mure, then Acting Secretary under Walker. Tall 8vo. 4 pages, one double-leaf measuring approximately 19,5 x 31 cm, printed by Robert Short, Georgetown, Demerara. With official paper seal and two original signatures. Very good condition, crisp and bright. Rare. Vice-Admiral William Walker, was twice Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of the Colony of British Guiana, from 1848-1849 and 1853-1854. He entered British Colonial Service in 1836, becoming Lieutenant Governor and Government Secretary of British Guiana in 1847. He also served as Acting Governor in 1857 and in 1861, during the tenure of Lieutenant Governor Sir Philip Edmond Wodehouse, most likely when the latter took leave for rest or recovery from attacks by civilians opposing his tax laws. In 1867 he was part of a committee preparing for British Guiana's participation in the Universal Exhibition held in Paris. James Ochterlony Lockhard Mure was in British Guiana as early as 1839, working as a stipendiary magistrate for the colony. By 1860 he was Justice of the Peace and in 1862 he served as Administrator-General of Demerary and Essequebo. He died in Georgetown, 28 February 1863. An immensely fascinating document concerning the legalisation of opium and cannabis in British Guiana 1861, making the narcotics available at licensed retail shops or by medicinal prescription, though subject to the autocratic policy of the British Governor himself. This original colonial document represents the direct consequence of the 1860 trade agreement signed in Peking which effectively coerced China to open its country to foreign trade, and also to legalize the opium trade. To legislate and control the trade and usage of opium would generate a sizeable revenue stream for Great Britain, not only in China, but also in her overseas colonies. Immediately after the Second Opium War (1856-1860) concessions were put into place to achieve exactly that. This particular ordinance was enacted on 9 October and to come into effect on 15 November, 1861. In British Guiana, a mild form of marijuana called 'bhang' was included in the newly taxable and regulated popular narcotics. Both opium and bhang are the subject of this Act, which sets forth in painstaking detail and legalese, strict rules for obtaining a retail license to begin with. Once approved and licensed to sell opium or bhang, fees having been paid to the colonial government of course, all sorts of other regulations followed, including mandatory storefront signage, detailed record keeping and inventory control, specific importation procedures which could only be done through the government's authorized warehouse. Duty and taxes are outlined, as are penalties and fines for any breach of obligation. The document specifically mentions that it is unlawful for hospitals to sell their supply of opium, and the penalties that would incur from doing so. To enforce the iron-fisted control over these coveted substances, the Act provides for random inspections, as well as seizures and forfeitures by any commissary of taxation, police officer, or constable. Strict limitations were imposed as to the quantities one could sell or prescribe as medication, within a twenty-four hour period, quantities which, it has been said, were inadequate for any reasonable use. [James Rodway, for example, in his book published in 1902, "The Forest People of British Guiana," discussed "some absurd restrictions. really little better than instruments of oppressio
[Bookseller: Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts]
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