6. WHITE HOUSE RELEASES ANNUAL LIST OF DRUG PRODUCING & TRANSIT
COUNTRIES, WA DRUG DECRIM INITIATIVE ORGANIZING, MORE... (9/16/21)
Granite State lawmakers are looking at a voter-approved constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana, Washington activists are laying the
groundwork for a 2022 drug decriminalization initiative, and more. https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2021/sep/16/white_house_releases_annual_list
7. CA PSILOCYBIN LEGALIZATION INIT CLEARED FOR SIGNATURE GATHERING, DE
SUPREME COURT ON POT ODOR, MORE... (9/17/21)
Supporters of a proposed Philadelphia safe injection site have asked the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision blocking it, the
Delaware Supreme Cout rules the mere odor of marijuana is not sufficient
cause for a warrantless arrest, and more. https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2021/sep/17/ca_psilocybin_legalization_init
10. CONGRESS TO TEMPORARILY EXTEND FENTANYL ANALOGUE BAN, HOUSE TO VOTE
ON MARIJUANA BANKING, MORE... (9/22/21)
Protections for banks dealing with state-legal marijuana businesses will
get a House floor vote as part of a defense spending bill, the Congress
is poised to temporarily extend the ban on fentanyl analogues, and more. https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2021/sep/22/congress_temporarily_extend
11. METH DEATHS WERE ON RISE BEFORE PANDEMIC, SCOTLAND MOVES TOWARD "DE
FACTO" DRUG DECRIM, MORE... (9/23/21)
Violence continues in Colombia's coca-producing regions, marijuana
researchers appeal a US 9th Circuit Court dismissal of their
rescheduling petition, and more.
One of the first announcements the Taliban made as it seized power in Afghanistan last month was that they were going to end illicit drug
production. But, as with other promises of change from the Taliban --
like women's rights or press freedoms -- there is a whole lot of
skepticism about the claim.
At its first press conference in Kabul after entering the city and
solidifying their control over the country, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid vowed that their new government would not let Afghanistan become
a full-fledged narco-state: "We are assuring our countrymen and women
and the international community that we will not have any narcotics produced,"Mujahid said (https://www.wionews.com/south-asia/taliban-vow-to-ban-heroin-but-can-they-survive-without-it-407214).
"From now on, nobody's going to get involved (in the heroin trade),
nobody can be involved in drug smuggling."
But in addition to the general skepticism about the Taliban's plans for
the country, the notion of them imposing a ban on opium production runs
afoul of economic and political realities on the ground. The challenge
is that the opium crop is a key component of the Afghan economy,
accounting for somewhere between seven and 11 percent the country's
Gross Domestic Product (https://www.unodc.org/documents/crop-monitoring/Afghanistan/20210217_report_with_cover_for_web_small.pdf),
and bringing in as much as $2 billion in 2019, more than Afghanistan's
entire licit agricultural sector.
It is also a job creator in a country where opportunities are scarce.
The opium harvest employs the equivalent of 119,000 full-time jobs (https://www.unodc.org/documents/crop-monitoring/Afghanistan/20210217_report_with_cover_for_web_small.pdf),
not counting the farmers themselves and their family members. The
broader opium economy also supports untold thousands in the domestic
trade (opium traders, heroin producers, domestic dealers) and as service providers for that trade (packers, transporters), as well as
internationally connected individuals working in the international
trade. The opium economy is especially strong in areas of key Taliban
support, such as Helmand and Kandahar provinces in the south.
"As relentless warfare between CIA and Soviet surrogates took its toll,
Afghan farmers began to turn to opium 'in desperation', since it
produced 'high profits' that could cover rising food prices. At the same
time, the state department reported that resistance elements took up
opium production and trafficking 'to provide staples for [the]
population under their control and to fund weapons purchases'."
"As the mujahideen guerrillas gained ground against the Soviet
occupation and began to create liberated zones inside Afghanistan in the
early 1980s, the resistance helped fund its operations by collecting
taxes from peasants who grew the lucrative opium poppies, particularly
in the fertile Helmand valley. Caravans carrying CIA arms into that
region for the resistance often returned to Pakistan loaded down with
opium -- sometimes, reported the New York Times, 'with the assent of
Pakistani or American intelligence officers who supported the resistance.'"
And nearly four decades later, Afghanistan remains the world's number
one supplier of opium and its derivative, heroin, with the latter going
into the veins of habitues from Lahore to London. And now, with the
withdrawal of the West and all its billions of dollars of economic
assistance and with the key role opium plays in the economy, the Taliban
is going to ban it?
It would be a risky move for the Taliban, said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a
senior fellow for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.
"The Taliban can risk a ban, but it would be politically costly in ways
that are more complex than in 2000 [when they also banned it] and it
could lead to tremendous destabilization,"she told the Chronicle in a
phone interview. "This is a country where 90 percent of the population
lives in poverty. It's also a situation where many mid-level Taliban
commanders are dependent on opium for their income and livelihoods for
their fighters. To impose a ban would require the Taliban to maintain a
high level of aggression, which would create political fissures and
fractures and would play into the hands of other actors. One reason
local warlords didn't fight the Taliban this summer was that the Taliban
was promising them access to the local economy, and in many places, that
Even in the best of circumstances, replacing a lucrative illicit economy
with legal alternatives is a long-term project, and these are not the
best of circumstances, to say the least.
"The Afghan economy is more or less tanking,"Felbab-Brown said. "A
massive influx of foreign aid has been an inescapable component of the
economic life of the country, and now, the Taliban does not have any way
of dealing with stopping opium by delivering alternative livelihoods.
Even if they had a well-designed program, you are looking at decades to suppress it,"she said.
Still, the Taliban has done it before.
"When it comes to banning opium, we are looking at a possible replay of
the 1990s,"said Felbab-Brown. "What the Taliban want is international recognition. In the 1990s, they kept promising they would ban poppies in
return for international recognition, but then said they could not do it because they could not starve their people, until in 2000, they did it.
Will they risk that again? My expectation is that we are going to see
the same bargaining with the international community, but as I said, if
the Taliban does try to do a ban, they will struggle to enforce it."
The Taliban also face a possible loss of the opioid market share if they
enact a ban and then change their mind because of adverse circumstances, Felbab-Brown said.
"The difference now is the synthetic opioids,"she said, alluding to the production of fentanyl and its derivatives coming from Chinese and
Indian chemical factories. "If the Taliban move to ban and then decide
it is too difficult to sustain politically or financially, it might not
find it easy to just return to the same markets; the European markets,
for instance, could be snatched away by synthetic opioids."
As for how the much vaunted "international community"should approach
Afghan opium production, that's a complicated question.
"There is no unity in the international community on how to deal with Afghanistan,"Felbab-Brown said. "The Chinese and Iranians are warming up
to the Taliban, and the Russians will be urging the Taliban to go for a
ban. I suspect the ban talk is mainly to satisfy the Russians. But we
should not be pushing the ban; that would be catastrophic in terms of humanitarian consequences."
Afghan government and Western efforts to suppress the opium trade proved
futile throughout the Western occupation, and now the likelihood of any
sort of robust international campaign to suppress Afghan poppies appears
next to nil. Outside of legalization of the trade, which does not appear
even remotely likely, the only alternative for suppressing opium
production is to cajole farmers to grow other crops in a bid to wean
them off the poppy, but even those sorts of programs are now in question.
"Should the international community be working with the Taliban to try
to implement alternatives livelihoods?"asked Felbab-Brown. "It's a
difficult question and can't be considered in isolation. It will be part
of the bargaining over a whole set of policies, including women's rights
and human rights."
Uncertainty abounds over what the Taliban's opium policy will actually
look like. In the meantime, the farmers are planting the seeds for next
year's crop right now.
bliss -- Cacao Powered... (-SF4ever at DSLExtreme dot com)
bobbie sellers - a retired nurse in San Francisco
"It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
It is by the beans of cacao that the thoughts acquire speed,
the thighs acquire girth, the girth become a warning.
It is by theobromine alone I set my mind in motion."
--from Someone else's Dune spoof ripped to my taste.