Journal of Drug Policy Analysis vol:2 issue:1 pages:1-17
Corruption and poverty are pervasive in Afghanistan and opium production is rampant, especially in the country’s most insecure southern regions. Afghanistan’s opium production now accounts for the overwhelming majority of the world’s heroin supply. The International Council on Security and Development, a European think tank formerly known as the Senlis Council, is advocating a policy response that it refers to as “Poppy for Medicine.” Under the Council’s proposal, poppy farmers in Afghanistan would gain access to the world’s legal pharmaceutical market through a two-tiered licensing program. This proposal may be attractive at first glance; however, a careful examination of India’s experience as the world’s sole licensed exporter of raw opium and of the world market for legal opiates casts serious doubt on a pharmaceutically-oriented solution. Medicinal production is an improbable solution for at least five reasons: first, illegal production will continue; second, diversion from the legal market to the illegal market is inevitable; third, diversion will involve further corruption; fourth, there may not be a market; fifth, Afghanistan lacks the institutional capacity to support a legal pharmaceutical industry.