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Europe: Clamor for Licit Medicinal Afghan Opium Grows Among British MPs

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #478)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Dozens of members of the British Parliament (MPs) are calling on Prime Minister Tony Blair to allow Afghan farmers to head off what they call a world shortage of opiate pain relievers. Some 40 MPs, including senior Conservative opposition leaders Michael Ancram, Bill Cash and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, are urging Blair to support a UN-led pilot program to allow the cultivation of Afghan poppies for the medicinal market.

the opium trader's wares (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith during September 2005 visit to Afghanistan)
Afghanistan is the world's dominant opium producer, accounting for more than 90% of the global harvest last year. This year's crop is expected to grow even larger. The Afghan government and its NATO and US backers are attempting to suppress the crop, but doing so threatens to undermine the broader counterinsurgency effort against the resurgent Taliban.

The call from MPs came in a parliamentary motion last week. The motion followed by two weeks the revelation that the British Foreign Office had considered such a proposal, but gave up in the face of implacable opposition from the American and Afghan governments. Under the NATO-US agreement, Britain is charged with responsibility for the fight against opium, but despite spending more than $400 million in the past four years, both the poppy crop and the Taliban have instead expanded.

The call from the British MPs is only the latest to echo a 2005 proposal from the European defense and drug policy think thank the Senlis Council, which called for the diversion of illicit opium production destined to be turned into heroin for the black market into licit medicinal markets, especially in the poorer countries of the South. While not embraced by any government except Italy, the clamor for this radical idea continues to grow.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

"See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. (Genesis 1:29)

Has the USA started a war on seed-bearing plants or do they agree with Genesis 1:29…?

Torah Sparks: Vayikrah from Manhigut Yehudit
And if a person sins... though he knows it not, he is guilty. (Leviticus 5:17)
“One who knows for certain that he transgressed, brings a sin offering; one who doubts if he transgressed, must atone with a guilt offering. Why does the one who has perhaps not transgressed require the more valuable offering? Because his regret is not as complete.”

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”
- Thomas Jefferson

Fri, 03/23/2007 - 5:27pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

This non-sense from the US is the same as the Vietnam/CIA/heroin business 30 - 40 years ago.
Gee...every year a record breaking crop...heroin popularity in the US and elsewhere continues to grow...along with the increase in purity and a decrease in price comes a record number of overdoses and a climb in HIV and hepatitis rates.
I don't necessarily believe they thought of it ahead of time (I can't give their greed that much foresight), but do you think for a second that the creatins running our country could pass up an opportunity for the potential destablization that heroin and HIV is causing to the former Soviet Bloc countries (over a million injection related HIV cases among 17 to 30 year olds - an entire generation - in Russia), China and Iran?
And what better way to cripple opposition here at home than to keep us obscessed with our own jones or strung out family member, not to mention all those felony drug convicts who can't vote? Can't vote, but they can get a waiver and join the military and help secure the flow of dope.
Don'tcha just love racism and the war on the poor?

Fri, 03/23/2007 - 9:09pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I know about the Vietnam/CIA/heroin thing, but how is that like what's going on now? I was under the impression that we're actively trying to stop opium farming in Afghanistan, spraying fields, etc. Apparently we're not even putting a dent in it, but nevertheless our failed policy would seem to be at odds with maintaining economic and political control.
I can see how it could be used to create even more repression here, as was done during the Vietnam war, but is that what is happening now? Is the number of heroin addicts rising in the U.S.? Significantly?
I don't mind entertaining conspiracy theories at all (I sometimes even believe them), but when the reasoning is a bit flakey, and none of it is backed up by facts, I am forced into scepticism. Give me more facts and I'll be more inclined to believe.

Wed, 03/28/2007 - 3:37am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I’m an Afghani student of International student in International Atarurk Alatoo University
I have been studying International relation department for 5 years.
I really do appreciate your reports, but I suggest you to make a deep research about the traffic of opium!
Because whatever you have written is not the exact fact which must be revealing to the rest of the world.
Could you possibly write me who is behind the growing of opium in a poor country such as Afghanistan? And how it’s coming to the European markets? And is it possible for US to support the Iraq war and Afghanistan war without trafficking drug?
Thanks for attention and waiting forward for your reply to [email protected] address.

Wed, 05/23/2007 - 9:29am Permalink

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