Activism Discussion: Afghan Poppies Could Be Painkillers For The Poor

Afghan Poppies Could Be Painkillers For The Poor
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Dan Clore
2007-10-16 10:52:09 EST
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

[I've been pointing out for years that while governments force chronic
pain patients to do without effective painkillers, the same governments
constantly whine about the "problem" of people growing these useful
drugs.--DC]

http://tinyurl.com/27lll9
Monday, October 15, 2007
The New York Times
Could Afghan Poppies Be Painkillers for the Poor?
by Donald G. McNeil Jr.

As opium harvests in Afghanistan have steadily increased, some think
tanks and politicians -- mostly in Britain -- have raised a trenchant
question: rather than trying to eradicate Afghanistan’s poppies, why not
instead buy them and make morphine?

Given that the World Health Organization estimates that over 6.2 million
of the world’s poor are dying of cancer, AIDS, burns and wounds without
adequate pain relief, the argument goes, wouldn’t it make sense?

Most prominent among these proposals is an analysis by the Senlis
Council, a drug-policy research group with offices in London, Brussels
and Kabul. The council argues that the United States and Britain waste
more than $800 million a year, as well as soldiers’ lives, trying
futilely to eradicate poppies.

Instead, it calculated two years ago, Afghanistan’s whole crop could be
purchased for about $600 million -- the “farm gate” price, not the
street value of the heroin into which it is refined, which is over $50
billion. (The “farm gate” estimate has gone up as the crop has
increased, and may be $1 billion now.)

Whatever the price, “enforcement will not work,” said Romesh
Bhattacharji, a former narcotics commissioner of India who has
investigated the Afghan situation for the United Nations Office on Drugs
and Crime. “The Afghan farmer will not switch to alternative crops as
long as there is a market for his opium.”

Mr. Bhattacharji says he now endorses the idea of buying the crop.

The United States and British governments are vigorously opposed;
instead they favor tough eradication tactics and more encouragement to
farmers to grow wheat, cotton or fruit.

“They’re growing a poison, sir -- one that kills Afghanistan’s neighbors
and corrupts officials,” Thomas A. Schweich, chief of the State
Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, said
in a telephone interview. “There needs to be better and more forceful
eradication.”

There is an American precedent for buying. In the late 1960s, the Nixon
administration, fighting a heroin epidemic, pressured Turkey, then the
world’s chief grower, to eradicate its poppy crops.

Unable to do that (both because of corruption and because peasant
farmers vote) Turkey in 1974 started licensing farmers to grow for the
morphine trade, and the United States in 1981 gave protected-market
status to Turkey and India, obligating itself to buy 80 percent of the
raw material for American painkillers from them. Why not, the Senlis
Council and others argue, let Afghanistan join the legitimate supply
chain? Mr. Schweich and others reply that it is simply impractical --
Afghanistan grows 93 percent of the world’s poppies; its crop is 15
times the size of India’s.

Also, heroin smugglers pay better. For example, India officially paid
its legal farmers only $20 to $50 per kilogram last year, while farmers
interviewed in central India in May said illegal buyers were offering
$100 to $190. Prices in Afghanistan, at roughly the same time, were
about $125.

“Why would anybody switch to legal opium when they can get those
prices?” Mr. Schweich asked. Making up the difference with price
supports -- another idea with American precedents -- would cost as much
as an extra $800 million.

“You can do the math,” he said. “If we did it, no one in Afghanistan
would grow any other crop, we’d be paying billions for it, and it would
become a narco-welfare state.”

The idea meets opposition from other quarters, too. Jagjit Pavadia, the
current narcotics commissioner of India, said in an interview that if
the world becomes ready to buy more morphine for the dying poor she
would like Indian farmers to benefit first. Because of falling demand,
India has slowly cut its licensed farmers from 150,000 to 62,000.

A third-generation opium farmer in Neemuch, India, was even more
adamant. “We have 150 years’ experience in selling to government,” said
Ramchandra Nagda, who also grows wheat, garlic and spices. “There is
better control here than there ever will be in Afghanistan.”

The United Nations drugs office estimates that heroin rings buy about 30
percent of India’s crop, despite the efforts of 1,200 narcotics control
bureau officers. Diversion in Afghanistan, a lawless warlord state,
would presumably be far harder to control.

In the British press, there is some serious discussion of the Senlis
proposal. But in the United States, the idea has attracted little
attention. The council attributes this partially to the lobbying power
of the religious right and law enforcement groups, both of which react
with horror to any talk of legalization.

“It’s almost theological, their opposition to our idea,” said Norine
MacDonald, the council’s founder.

Also, both she and Mr. Bhattacharji said, with a $600 million annual
budget for eradication, the field attracts paramilitary contractors with
deep connections to the Bush administration, including Blackwater USA
and DynCorp International, both of whom train Afghan anti-narcotics police.

Mr. Schweich called such a view “cynical and inaccurate” and maintained
that local Afghan governors were the leading force in eradication,
though he agreed that their efforts were plagued with nepotism and
corruption.

In any case, many experts -- even those favoring the use of
Afghanistan’s crop for morphine -- say it does not change one looming
reality: the heroin trade is so large and so lucrative that someone,
somewhere, is going to grow the poppies for it.

--
Dan Clore

My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
http://tinyurl.com/3akhhr
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
http://www.geocities.com/clorebeast/
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

Said Smygo, the iconoclast of Zothique: "Bear a hammer
with thee always, and break down any terminus on which
is written: 'So far shalt thou pass but no farther go.'"
-- Clark Ashton Smith




















Gary Childress
2007-10-17 20:13:05 EST
On Oct 16, 10:52 am, Dan Clore <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo
>
> [I've been pointing out for years that while governments force chronic
> pain patients to do without effective painkillers, the same governments
> constantly whine about the "problem" of people growing these useful
> drugs.--DC]
>
> http://tinyurl.com/27lll9
> Monday, October 15, 2007
> The New York Times
> Could Afghan Poppies Be Painkillers for the Poor?
> by Donald G. McNeil Jr.
>
> As opium harvests in Afghanistan have steadily increased, some think
> tanks and politicians -- mostly in Britain -- have raised a trenchant
> question: rather than trying to eradicate Afghanistan's poppies, why not
> instead buy them and make morphine?
>
> Given that the World Health Organization estimates that over 6.2 million
> of the world's poor are dying of cancer, AIDS, burns and wounds without
> adequate pain relief, the argument goes, wouldn't it make sense?
>

I can see it now...governments buying and distributing morphine to the
dying poor. Somehow I don't see that going over very well with most
anarchists.


Dan Clore
2007-10-17 20:23:09 EST
Gary Childress wrote:
> On Oct 16, 10:52 am, Dan Clore <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
>> News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo
>>
>> [I've been pointing out for years that while governments force chronic
>> pain patients to do without effective painkillers, the same governments
>> constantly whine about the "problem" of people growing these useful
>> drugs.--DC]
>>
>> http://tinyurl.com/27lll9
>> Monday, October 15, 2007
>> The New York Times
>> Could Afghan Poppies Be Painkillers for the Poor?
>> by Donald G. McNeil Jr.
>>
>> As opium harvests in Afghanistan have steadily increased, some think
>> tanks and politicians -- mostly in Britain -- have raised a trenchant
>> question: rather than trying to eradicate Afghanistan's poppies, why not
>> instead buy them and make morphine?
>>
>> Given that the World Health Organization estimates that over 6.2 million
>> of the world's poor are dying of cancer, AIDS, burns and wounds without
>> adequate pain relief, the argument goes, wouldn't it make sense?
>>
> I can see it now...governments buying and distributing morphine to the
> dying poor. Somehow I don't see that going over very well with most
> anarchists.

No reason to have governments do it.

--
Dan Clore

My collected fiction, _The Unspeakable and Others_:
http://tinyurl.com/3akhhr
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
http://www.geocities.com/clorebeast/
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

Strange pleasures are known to him who flaunts the
immarcescible purple of poetry before the color-blind.
-- Clark Ashton Smith, "Epigrams and Apothegms"

Gary Childress
2007-10-21 13:57:52 EST
On Oct 17, 8:23 pm, Dan Clore <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> Gary Childress wrote:
> > On Oct 16, 10:52 am, Dan Clore <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> >> News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo
>
> >> [I've been pointing out for years that while governments force chronic
> >> pain patients to do without effective painkillers, the same governments
> >> constantly whine about the "problem" of people growing these useful
> >> drugs.--DC]
>
> >>http://tinyurl.com/27lll9
> >> Monday, October 15, 2007
> >> The New York Times
> >> Could Afghan Poppies Be Painkillers for the Poor?
> >> by Donald G. McNeil Jr.
>
> >> As opium harvests in Afghanistan have steadily increased, some think
> >> tanks and politicians -- mostly in Britain -- have raised a trenchant
> >> question: rather than trying to eradicate Afghanistan's poppies, why not
> >> instead buy them and make morphine?
>
> >> Given that the World Health Organization estimates that over 6.2 million
> >> of the world's poor are dying of cancer, AIDS, burns and wounds without
> >> adequate pain relief, the argument goes, wouldn't it make sense?
>
> > I can see it now...governments buying and distributing morphine to the
> > dying poor. Somehow I don't see that going over very well with most
> > anarchists.
>
> No reason to have governments do it.
>
> --
> Dan Clore
>
> My collected fiction, _The Unspeakable and Others_:http://tinyurl.com/3akhhr
> Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:http://www.geocities.com/clorebeast/
> News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo
>
> Strange pleasures are known to him who flaunts the
> immarcescible purple of poetry before the color-blind.
> -- Clark Ashton Smith, "Epigrams and Apothegms"- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

Regardless of who buys up popies from Afghanistan and distributes them
to the dying poor I just don't see most anarchists resting very well
with it.


Dan Clore
2007-10-21 16:39:08 EST
Gary Childress wrote:
> On Oct 17, 8:23 pm, Dan Clore <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
>> Gary Childress wrote:
>>> On Oct 16, 10:52 am, Dan Clore <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
>>>> News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo
>>>> [I've been pointing out for years that while governments force chronic
>>>> pain patients to do without effective painkillers, the same governments
>>>> constantly whine about the "problem" of people growing these useful
>>>> drugs.--DC]
>>>> http://tinyurl.com/27lll9
>>>> Monday, October 15, 2007
>>>> The New York Times
>>>> Could Afghan Poppies Be Painkillers for the Poor?
>>>> by Donald G. McNeil Jr.
>>>> As opium harvests in Afghanistan have steadily increased, some think
>>>> tanks and politicians -- mostly in Britain -- have raised a trenchant
>>>> question: rather than trying to eradicate Afghanistan's poppies, why not
>>>> instead buy them and make morphine?
>>>> Given that the World Health Organization estimates that over 6.2 million
>>>> of the world's poor are dying of cancer, AIDS, burns and wounds without
>>>> adequate pain relief, the argument goes, wouldn't it make sense?

>>> I can see it now...governments buying and distributing morphine to the
>>> dying poor. Somehow I don't see that going over very well with most
>>> anarchists.

>> No reason to have governments do it.

> Regardless of who buys up popies from Afghanistan and distributes them
> to the dying poor I just don't see most anarchists resting very well
> with it.

Any reasoning behind your belief?

--
Dan Clore

My collected fiction, _The Unspeakable and Others_:
http://tinyurl.com/3akhhr
Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
http://www.geocities.com/clorebeast/
News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

Strange pleasures are known to him who flaunts the
immarcescible purple of poetry before the color-blind.
-- Clark Ashton Smith, "Epigrams and Apothegms"

Gary Childress
2007-10-21 19:56:12 EST
On Oct 21, 4:39 pm, Dan Clore <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> Gary Childress wrote:
> > On Oct 17, 8:23 pm, Dan Clore <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> >> Gary Childress wrote:
> >>> On Oct 16, 10:52 am, Dan Clore <cl...@columbia-center.org> wrote:
> >>>> News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo
> >>>> [I've been pointing out for years that while governments force chronic
> >>>> pain patients to do without effective painkillers, the same governments
> >>>> constantly whine about the "problem" of people growing these useful
> >>>> drugs.--DC]
> >>>>http://tinyurl.com/27lll9
> >>>> Monday, October 15, 2007
> >>>> The New York Times
> >>>> Could Afghan Poppies Be Painkillers for the Poor?
> >>>> by Donald G. McNeil Jr.
> >>>> As opium harvests in Afghanistan have steadily increased, some think
> >>>> tanks and politicians -- mostly in Britain -- have raised a trenchant
> >>>> question: rather than trying to eradicate Afghanistan's poppies, why not
> >>>> instead buy them and make morphine?
> >>>> Given that the World Health Organization estimates that over 6.2 million
> >>>> of the world's poor are dying of cancer, AIDS, burns and wounds without
> >>>> adequate pain relief, the argument goes, wouldn't it make sense?
> >>> I can see it now...governments buying and distributing morphine to the
> >>> dying poor. Somehow I don't see that going over very well with most
> >>> anarchists.
> >> No reason to have governments do it.
> > Regardless of who buys up popies from Afghanistan and distributes them
> > to the dying poor I just don't see most anarchists resting very well
> > with it.
>
> Any reasoning behind your belief?
>
> --
> Dan Clore
>

Because I'm sure at some point someone among anarchists would say
feeding opium to the dying to ease their pain would be nothing more
than a quick and simple gimmick for the healthy to conveniently get
the screams of the dying out of their ears so they can go on with
their lives, or something along those lines. At some point my guess
is that the healthy would be placed into some kind of culpability for
something by someone.

Wasn't it Marx who said that religion is the "opium of the masses"?
Apparently he didn't approve of opium either. Whoever started such a
practice of mass distribution of opium would no doubt be accused of
starting all the "addictions" that would arise as well.

How would the opium be paid for? If the dying are required to pay for
their own opium in any fashion, then I would see cries of exploitation
arising from someone directed toward someone else.

I don't think anarchists could agree on what a just method of
distribution of opium would be anymore than anyone else can and the
dissenters would be screaming "exploitation" in some fashion somewhere
along the line.

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