Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, February 26, 2007

Contention over licensing poppy fields to produce opium-based medicines.

In 1974, Turkey, with its vast poppy fields, made the shift from supplier of criminal narcotics into a licensed system of legal farming of opium for medicinal purposes. It turned out to be a success story and today Turkey earns a great deal – from the U.S. in particular – exporting the raw materials that are turned into medical morphine and codeine.

According to Lynda Hurst, in her analysis for the Toronto Star, it is argued by several analysts that the kind of policies used in Turkey can also be used in Afghanistan. Converting an illicit crop to a legal crop, could be a favorable financial answer for Afghanistan, where more than 2 million citizens are economically dependent on the crop. Today, the Afghan poppy fields supply the opium for 92 percent of the global heroin trade.

However, according to Hurst, the U.S. remains resistant. Hurst writes that Washington “remains implacably opposed, saying complete eradication, no matter how long it takes, is the only acceptable outcome.” Later she notes further oppositional sentiments. The U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics believes that, Hurst writes, “licensing sounds good on the surface but doesn’t withstand scrutiny.”

For the full article, click here.


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