Wednesday, January 24, 2007



In 2001, the Taliban decreased heroin production in Afghanistan so drastically that the street price soared. Then the US invaded, and lo' and behold the heroin production soared and the street price went down. Irony keeps right on rolling though, as now, while horse can be found loose on the streets of Camden Town or most other drug bazaars, heroin for the National Health Service is in short supply. You'd think that when the troops confiscate a field of poppies they might turn it over to medical authorities, but no, they just get out the flamethrowers and go to work. Not that the US troops are getting rid of that much.

The House of Lords is looking into the problem and the question came up as to what crop they could replace it with. Afghanistan is known for it orchards and nut plantations, but these take years to get started. Hemp, a perennial which could be harvested easily in 3 months, is a natural solution. This opinion has been put forth many times over the years, perhaps the best example is Marc Deeley's piece in the BBC from November 2004. Deeley, a development worker with Spirit Aid, noted then that Afghanistan produced 75% of the world's herion supply; today it is estimated to be 90%.

Comments on the piece note that the farmers only get 5% of the profits, the warlords take most of it, so eliminating herion would not hurt the farmers so much as the goons with the guns. I'm all for putting them out of business and getting horse off the streets here in Camden. All or most comments were in favour of planting hemp instead of heroin, but we did not see any action from the legislators, did we? Recently, Baroness Jenny Tonge emailed to inquire about the feasibilty of this, and I was pleased to inform her that this was an excellent idea. The British Isles Hemp & Natural Fibres Industries Association will be working on a report on this, portions of which will be published here in the near future.


marc said...

the full report written for Spirit Aid has been published in full since 2004 and is available as a free download in PDF

Mriko said...

Replacing the poppy crop with industrial hemp ? Farmer would never ever get the money they get from poppy actually, and there's absolutely no reason at all to introduce foreign (western ?) strains of the cannabis plant, for the country holds a huge genetic reservoir when it comes to that plant. Introducing fiber strains would simply ruin the local genepool which holds a therapeutic potential of which only the surface have been scratched to this day.
The UN would better do to abolish the racist & fascist 1970 laws which have prevented dozens of countries to get an income from a traditionnal resource, helping to maintain them in a more or less permanent state of poverty & instability and thus dependent from Western "generosity", or should I say blackmailing.

The surest way to get rid of the Afghan heroin, is to allow Afghanistan to legally trade its hashish production. Afghan farmer should be allowed to grow & trade their local psychotropic hemp, and we should surely not force upon them our fiber strains.