Two apparently quite unrelated though interesting affairs have been brought under one news item: the opium evil and the recent tendency of Americans to offer large prizes. Former Controller Metz has gone on record as willing to give $100,000 to the man who invents synthetic opium. Strangely enough Mr. Metz thinks he can succeed where the ill-fated Opium Conference failed. Put cheap opium production into the hands of western scientists, argues the prize offer, and you eliminate the opium complex of the East.
A revolution was predicted in India as the inevitable outcome of any tampering with the opium trade. Just what advantage is to be derived from destroying the opium interests of the East through economic rather than political means is dubious. Poppy raisers will doubtlessly object as much to disasterous competition by cheap synthetic opium producers as to fatal government protocols.
The other side of the picture becomes less inviting when it becomes obvious that the opium habit is destined to spread amazingly under the stimulus of cheapened drugs. To believe that the future manufacturer of opium will be more amenable to government control than the present poppy farmer is highly optimistic. A vested interest of the West will merely replace a vested interest of the East.