US Suppresses Needle Exchange
Afghanistan is on the verge of becoming a "narcotic state" with its biggest annual crop of opium since the overthrow of the Taliban, the United Nations drug control board warns today.
The International Narcotics Control Board reports that the opium crop in Afghanistan - which is the source of more than 90% of the heroin sold on Britain's streets - reached a bumper 4,200 tonnes, up 800 tonnes on the previous year.
The crop eradication programme is supported by a British-led international consortium, and tries to persuade farmers to grow alternative crops through negotiation. But it is now believed to be under pressure from the American administration which wants to adopt a forced crop eradication programme similar to that seen in Colombia in the last five years.
The UN report also warns of an alarming spread in HIV/Aids among injecting drug users in eastern Europe, Russia and central Europe with an estimated 4 million people now believed to be infected.
Britain's former deputy drug tsar Mike Trace said yesterday there would be an alarming US-led attempt next week at the UN's annual commission on narcotic drugs meeting in Vienna to rule out the use of needle exchange and other programmes to deal with the growing epidemic.
Needle exchange schemes have been used in Britain since the 1980s to ensure one of the lowest rates of HIV infection among heroin injectors in Europe.
Has the British-led crop substitution effort truly failed, or was it never given a fair chance to begin with?
The crop substitution programs I witnessed in Colombia were nothing more than token efforts designed to fail. The farmers there are expected to transport perishable crops in vehicles they do not have over roads that do not exist to a market that does not exist. (Colombia even imports rice and beans from the US because our government subsidizes the crops, distorting the market and making US imports cheaper than anything they could grow for themselves.)
But luckily the Colombian farmers don't really have to worry about selling their banannas since the US State Department flies over and poisons the damned things anyway. The fumigation kills everything except the coca bushes, which continue to thrive, but does a fine job of clearing potential oil fields and oil pipeline routes.
Pakistan issues warning on heroin
Pakistan officials say the international community's emphasis on fighting terrorism is impeding its anti-narcotics efforts.
Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has seen a dramatic rise in recent months, according to the annual UN drug report.
They fear increased production over the border might trigger a growth in storage facilities and heroin production factories in Pakistan.
Officials are also worried about Pakistan's own increasing opium and heroin consumption and the spread of HIV by intravenous drugs users.
Pakistan already has more than 500,000 heroin addicts, most of whom inject the drug, leading to the spread of killer diseases such as Aids and hepatitis.