A Solution to the Afghan opium problem

The Reality-Based Community: Give them some money

The current Afghan poppy harvest of about 8,000 tons (WDR p. 38) – potentially 800 tons of pure opiate – could be absorbed several times over in the needed expansion of morphine supply.

It would of course be difficult to set up a well-policed licit opium supply chain in Afghanistan, and to upgrade and fund the medical distribution chain for morphine in say Africa. But no other strategy is any easier or cheaper; and this one offers Afghan peasants a real way out to an honourable livelihood, which crop-burning does not. So: Give them some money. If courage is lacking for a policy switch, at least experiment by giving $10m for a pilot to some maverick counter-insurgency colonel of the McMaster or Kilcullen stamp.

I’m left wondering why so many bright people have a blind spot here. Many of us have been indoctrinated to think that because heroin is an evil, so is opium. This is quite wrong. The world would be a far worse place without the blessed opium poppy than it manages to be with it.

There’s only one question I have, but it could be a showstopper:

What’s in it for Big Pharma?


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