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Opium licensing for essential medicine could be a sustainable solution to afghan illegal drug production, ICOS says
Purpose of Opium Licensing Would Be To Shift Opium Production Away From Drug Lords and Toward Legal Production to Meet Demands of Worldwide Shortage of Morphine and Codeine
Licensing Could Provide Alternative to U.S. Plans for Crop Eradication
The purpose of such a framework in Afghanistan would be to shift Afghanistan’s massive levels of opium production through poppy farming away from drug lords and the illegal heroin trade and towards the urgent and legal global need for essential medicines such as morphine and codeine. The Council said that a larger global production of licensed opium would also respond to the significant world-wide shortage of morphine for pain relief, which is particularly relevant in developing countries.
“The world’s largest supply of opium could be turned into essential medicine such as morphine and codeine rather than heroin,” said Mr Emmanuel Reinert, Executive Director of ICOS. “For the moment, Afghanistan relies heavily on opium poppy cultivation for survival. Our solution would allow farmers to carry on producing opium for the legitimate and useful legal market instead of the illicit trade in heroin. Reducing the amount of heroin produced by Afghanistan’s poppy crop would shift the drug trade and its profits from the drug lords and terrorists to the people of Afghanistan,” said Mr. Reinert.
Under the current international system, countries are free to apply for a license from the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board to legally produce and sell opium for medical purposes. Many countries, including Australia, France, Turkey and India, already produce opium legally under such licences.
At a meeting organized by ICOS, the Council announced that it will undertake a comprehensive feasibility study for the licensing of Afghanistan for the legal production of opium. The study will also consider the need for the creation of a new international body responsible for granting licences. ICOS will consult authorities, international organizations, academics and experts relevant to the implementation of the study at the national and international level.
The findings of this study will be announced at an international drug policy symposium in Kabul in September 2005, organised by ICOS in cooperation with the University of Kabul.
“A license for opium production in Afghanistan would provide the country with the essential alternatives needed to counter U.S. plans to carry out crop eradication, to which President Karzai and his newly-formed government are opposed and which would endanger the future stability of the country,” said Mr Reinert. “We are calling on Europe, in its role as a major donor to Afghanistan, to use its political position as a major donor to take the lead against the U.S. Administration’s pressure for poppy eradication. The feasibility study is an example of one possible way of taking this lead.”