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March 27, 2007


TM Lutas

It's about time. The only quibble would be that it's a not really a new idea. Drug war opponents could probably point to writings advocating this decades ago.


Whilst it's probably the best solution to the problem over the short to medium term, I suspect that there will be a few "unanticipated consequences", ranging from the traffickers "outbidding" the licensed buyers and, almost certainly, a big increase in production.


This should have been done three or four years ago. It's the only way to regulate the opium business in Afghanistan.

There might be a few unanticipated consequences, but they are worth the risk. For the Europeans, this means most of the heroin now has to come from Burma or Columbia, and the Taliban has to find a new source of funding (good luck with that).


Saw Sarah Chayes and Sebastian Junger at the Kennedy Library in Boston back in September 2006. One of the things they talked about was the poppy economy in Afghanistan.

From my notes at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/9/26/135910/830

"There was a question about the opium trade and Chayes explained that the opium traders are essentially the bankers of the community. When a family needs the bride price or to fund some other large expense, they take a loan from the local opium trader who is repaid in opium which he buys from the family for half the going rate, thus making 50% in interest. If you want to cut down on opium trafficking, establish another credit and banking system and concentrate not on the farmers but the traders. The extension of micro-credit would be very useful here."


Legalization legitimizes the farmer, i.e., you're no longer fighting the people. The demand is still there for the illegal trade, so production will probably increase. Focus can shift to the processors and trafficers.

For the people, their economic base has expanded and stabilized. The government is no longer fighting its people. The Taliban are no longer the protectors of the people.

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