Alternative narcotics policies

Alternative narcotics policies


Rudd’s Opium Campaign ‘Risks HIV Plague’, Annabel Stafford, Age, 2008-04-10

Dr Alex Wodak, who has travelled to Afghanistan as part of the World Bank’s efforts to prevent an outbreak of HIV, said the Australian Prime Minister’s plan to eradicate opium poppy crops was a “high-risk strategy” that would push up the price of opium and lead many users to inject heroin. “Then we would inevitably have an HIV epidemic among drug users,” Dr Wodak said.

Afghanistan: Wrong Track on Opium, Hamish McDonald, APO, 2008-03-20

“Next month’s conference on Afghanistan should consider a novel scheme to neutralise the impact of soaring opium production. Neutralising the illegal opiate industry both from the supply end and the demand end would be a far better way of winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan than the eradication path on which the coalition is embarked.”

A strategy to help Afghanistan kick its habit, Edmund Phelps and Graciana del Castillo, Financial Times, 3 January 2008.

“Is it possible to turn the entre­preneurial spirit of the Afghans away from producing drugs into lawful production such as cotton and textiles? Crop eradication – which often kills subsistence crops and pollutes water at the same time – has proved ineffective in controlling drug cultivation. It has proved to be a way to create huge profits for criminal and armed groups. It is likely to increase the power of the Taliban further.

“The replacement of the illicit economy requires viable options. Both the US and the European Union assist their farmers through loan and price support programmes and other incentives. If donors want to “do good”, they should support a two-pronged economic reconstruction strategy.

“First, donors should channel reconstruction aid through the budget to enable the government to provide subsidies or other incentives (such as price support programmes) to replace poppies with lawful crops such as cotton, which was produced in the past. The UK government is at present considering price support for Afghan farmers. Other donors should do the same.

“Second, once production of lawful crops increases, donors should provide know-how, technical support and credit for the local industrialisation of such crops. At the same time, donors should open their markets through special preferential tariff treatment to light, labour-intensive manufactures from Afghanistan, including textiles.

“Such a strategy – or any similar one producing and adding value to fruits, vegetables, grains, lavender or anything else that Afghans can produce – could help the country to stand on its own feet. By increasing dynamism and social inclusion this strategy would create a good economy. It would also be a way of establishing the legitimacy of the Afghan government and decreasing the attractiveness of the Taliban.”

Opium Licensing: Poppy for Medicine in Afghanistan – A village-based counter-narcotics model, Senlis Council

“A village-based economic solution to Afghanistan’s poppy crisis is available, which links Afghanistan’s two most valuable resources: poppy cultivation and strong local village control systems. This economic solution is the controlled cultivation of opium poppy for the village-based production of codeine and morphine. The Senlis Council has developed a village-based poppy for medicine model for Afghanistan based on extensive on-the-ground research as a means of bringing illegal poppy cultivation under control in an immediate yet sustainable manner. The key feature of the model is that village cultivated poppy would be transformed into codeine and morphine tablets in the Afghan villages. The entire production process, from seed to medicine tablet, can thus be controlled by the village in conjunction with government and international actors, and all economic profits from medicine sales will remain in the village, allowing for economic diversification. Pilot projects are needed to precisely define the specifications necessary to enhance the controllability and economic effectiveness of this counter-narcotics initiative.”

Integrated Social Control in Afghanistan: Implications for the Licensed Cultivation of Poppy for the Production of Medicines, Ali Wardak, The Senlis Council, June 2006.

“Effective control lies at the very heart of a fully functioning poppy licensing system. This paper presents an analysis of how such control might be attained. It is clear that formal, state governance structures alone are insufficient to propagate effective, nationwide control. Rather, effective control of a poppy licensing system can only be achieved through the integration of traditional, local governance with and alongside state institutions and processes. The model control system presented here proposes to integrate existing formal and informal local level social control structures with formal, state government institutions, maximising the capacities and aptitude of both for the efficient and extensive control of licensed poppy cultivation.”

18 April 2008