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This is essentially a success story in a lot of ways, though not in the tangible sense. It's not the kind of success that the Bush regime can tout, mostly because they did nothing to deserve credit for.

More and more Afghans are trading production of, arguably, one of the world's most dangerous drugs - to - producing one of the world's most benign.

As we’ve all heard, Afghanistan’s opium crop topped all records this year; producing an estimated 93%of the world’s supply of the drug. To combat production of the drug, aid workers have tried introducing other [legal] crops in the south of the country - where the bulk of the poppies are grown. However, it seems the majority of southland Afghans don’t approve of the choices offered by the aid workers, instead, many have chosen to keep growing the poppy, and others have decided to try a brand new crop not indigenous to Afghanistan. It’s what they consider a much easier - less riskier crop to grow, although, admittedly, slightly less lucrative. That crop is marijuana.

That’s right. The magical hemp plant is a significantly lower maintenance crop than the poppy. In fact, some farmers have found marijuana growing to be essentially – maintenance free.

But, nirvana it’s not. Apparently, the opium [growing] habit is hard to shake and many of the farmers in the south are conflicted between the two drugs, with the majority still opting for the pink-flowered plant  - not for its effects on the mind - but rather for its potential profits. The poppy plants sell at a price many times that of marijuana. For the farmers, it comes down to a case of simple economics.

But, that doesn’t mean cannabis is completely out of favor with Afghan farmers - it's not yet worn off that patented new-drug-smell.

In the northern provinces, the poppy crop has been nearly eliminated. In fact, Afghan officials have touted the reduction of poppy output in the northern Balkh Province – reportedly reducing production from 7,000 hectares of poppies cultivated in 2006 to virtually zero production - after strong local and tribal government cooperation.

But, as they say, when one proverbial door close, another one opens up.

The Reuters story comes via Yahoo! News:

But around the ancient citadel of Balkh, in fields where pink poppy flowers stood last year, jagged green marijuana stalks poke above other crops and in places whole cannabis fields produce a pungent aroma strong enough to be picked by passing motorists.

The farmers are still cautious. "They are not my fields," said Shamseddin, surrounded by head-high cannabis plants in full flower. "I don't know who they belong to," he said, dropping a sickle to the ground and nudging it away with his foot.

Others said they only planted marijuana to shield their cotton fields from livestock or that it was just a trial crop.

"The landlords used to plant poppy, but then the government came along and destroyed the crops," said farm worker Mohammad Yassin.

"This year we planted marijuana; the dealers will come and buy the crop from us, so we'll see what we make from it. We probably won't plant any next year."

Marijuana, while not as profitable as opium, still makes more money than other legal crops.

"In order to survive and feed their families, the farmers have to cultivate marijuana," said Balkh drug squad Chief Faiz Mohammad. "Other crops don't give a good profit."

The United States unveiled what they called a "carrot-and-stick" strategy to combat opium production just last month, and is planning on spending $25 million to $50 million in the next fiscal year to reward provinces that make significant progress against drugs.

A former warlord, now the governor of Balkh, was credited for much of the success in eliminating opium in his province. The governor is now complaining that he has yet to receive any of the promised incentives for complying with the opium reducing strategy, and he’s raised similar complaints over compensation for cutting back on cannabis production as well.

"Every year the international community announces that it is spending millions of dollars on counter-narcotics but we haven't seen a dime of that money," the Institute of War and Peace Reporting quoted Governor Mohammad Atta as saying.

Balkh drugs squad chief Faiz Mohammad said his officers had made a start in informing farmers they should not plant cannabis and had requested funding from the national and local government to destroyed marijuana fields, but it had yet to arrive.

So, what else is new? Isn’t that standard modus operandi for the Bush regime? Propose a program; get Congress to pass legislation in order to get credit for the program, and then not bother to fund it, letting the program wither and die.

The Bush regime’s "carrot-and-stick" programs, as usual, are no carrots and lots of stick.

Anyone who still believes this administration is incompetent, simply isn’t paying attention. I bet they haven’t forgotten to fund Blackwater USA’s contracts. In total, Blackwater alone has collected more than $1 billion in Contracts since the invasion of Iraq back in 2003.

FedSpending.org.

Amazing

Impede, impeach and imprison

Peace

Originally posted to markthshark on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 04:23 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I prefer coffee ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markthshark

      ... it is a crop, too.  But were I somehow faced with the choice you present in your comment's subject line, I'm just not sure I would come to the same conclusion.

      Can you expand on the Blackwater connection?  It seems we are looking at the collision of two massive, secret, economies (illicit drugs and black-market arms sales) -- and their as-yet-unexplained importance to the Bush mafiosos.

      Where on US Form 1040 does it say "I support War Crimes?" or "Use my taxes to kill for ExxonMobilChevronTexaco profits"?

      by Yellow Canary on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 05:18:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Opium is better than marijuana? Hmm, ok... suit.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yellow Canary

        yourself but I would think the addictiveness of opium to be much more deleterious than marijuana, which is not addictive.

        By including the amount Blackwater is receiving, I was just pointing out the priorities of the Bush regime. They always promise money for worthwhile social programs in these war-torn countries we invade, but only fund the ones like Blackwater.

    •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markthshark

      The United States unveiled what they called a "carrot-and-stick" strategy to combat opium production just last month, and is planning on spending $25 million to $50 million in the next fiscal year to reward provinces that make significant progress against drugs.

      Chump change! Substract 2 or 3 billions from the Iraq disastrous war instead and then you have a whole new ball game: that's incentive for the farmers to grow other crops besides hard (or soft) drugs. Is there a political will to make it happen. Hell, no! They have to feed their own monkeys, Blackwater etc....

      Progressive Dems should be reborn as Aggressive Dems and 1) get out of Iraq asap 2) impeach Cheney then Bush 3) elect Gore.

      by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 05:32:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder what has happpened to the people (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    markthshark

    who now cannot grow poppy plants? How do they feed their families?

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 04:24:32 AM PDT

  •  Rec IT UP!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmcole, poichick, markthshark

    for mj instead of Heroin derivative!

    Matter of fact, please consider taxation and regulation of mj.  www.prohibitioncosts.org

    www.marijuanapolicy.org [please donate to them]

    www.dpa.org

    www.granitestaters.com [lets have an effect this cycle!!]

    LET'S FINALLY MAKE THIS AN ISSUE

    Chris Dodd supports taxation and regulation.  So does Kucinich and Gravel.  The big three need to step up on this issue and finally begin working to enact what is not only the wish of the majority of the American public, but what is the only right thing to do vis-a-vis civil liberties.

    "Every nation has to either be with us, or against us."Hillary Clinton 09/13/2001 sounding much like GWB

    by terrapin station84 on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 04:25:51 AM PDT

  •  As deh seh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    markthshark

    Seems appropriate here to give Bob credit for his lyric:

    "When one door is closed, another is open"

    Halliburton: the bucks stop there.

    by YankInUK on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 04:30:04 AM PDT

  •  Hmm, with a little plant grafting maybe you - (4+ / 0-)

    could get hempium? or opijuana? Two stones with one bird... paranormal free weed! kewl

    There is a corporate dominance of "the national interest" that is completely at variance, 180 degrees contrary to "the public interest."

    by FakeNews on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 04:58:18 AM PDT

  •  It's probably just diversification (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    subtropolis, markthshark

    so they can offer opiated hash. ;-)

    According to  Wikipedia:

    The primary hash-producing countries are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Morocco, Egypt, and India

    (Although it does say "Citation needed") So this shouldn't have been too unexpected. I suspect an Afghan farmer can make a bit more off opium. But if they burn up his poppies, there's always "Plan B"!

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 04:59:27 AM PDT

  •  Problem isn't in Afghanistan...it's in Pakistan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keefer55

    The main problem is Al-Qaeda and Taliban's violent, fundamentalist, extremist islamic ideology is fully supported by majority of population in Pakistan and heavily protected by Pakistani army and Pakistani ISI which is sympathetic to such ideology. World can provide humanitarian aid and start reconstruction projects, but how to and what to counter-offer for such an ideology?

  •  $1 billion is peanuts (4+ / 0-)

    They're gonna give away $15 billion to Blackwater, et al for supposed "global counter-narcotics operations". Charming, eh?

    "Here they come, marching into American sunlight." – Don Delillo, Mao II

    by subtropolis on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 05:08:09 AM PDT

    •  Let's see.... (3+ / 0-)

      Supposedly the US is in control in Afghanistan, and yet opium production has skyrocketed in recent years after the Taliban had nearly eradicated it, and now marijuana production has increased too.  

      Then, to fight the 'war on drugs' we give a private paramilitary force billions of dollars to wipe out the very same drugs we allowed to be grown in the first place.

      That way, we can keep funneling taxpayer dollars to Blackwater to keep them in business for when they are really needed.  

      I'm really glad that my tax dollars are going to fund the same people who may someday be called upon to throw me in the slammer for saying bad things.  That's quite the little racket they've got going.

      I guess it really is true that in a capitalist system, you really can get people to buy the noose which will be used to hang them.

      The meek shall inherit nothing. -F.Zappa

      by cometman on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 07:00:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why not... (4+ / 0-)

    just let pharma companies buy the opium from the farmers at a fair price, and then make it into legal drugs? Surely morphine isn't any more dangerous than oxycontin.

  •  Hashish (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bradspangler, revbludge, markthshark

    or charas (sp?) as it's called in neighboring Pakistan is the main derivative of the marijuana production in these parts (besides hemp.)
    While mj grows throughout both countries, it is low grade and more for the production of hemp than pot.
    But in Pakistans N.W. Frontier Province, where the Pak army doesn't go , but Taliban and OBL hang out with impunity, mj is grown for the production of hashish.
    I wouldn't expect any Afghani pot to enter the world markets as simple smoking weed.  It's conversion to hashish concentrates its potency into more merchantable form for shipping and imbibing.
    The volitility of THC in hashish reduces its shelf life to less than a year.
    Major market for this stuff is Europe and possibly Australia.

  •  Under Bush watch..bush loves drug smugglers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    markthshark

    Under Bush's occupation of afganistan, the drug industry is flourishing right under the noses of OUR 25,000 troops...even with satellites and on ground reconnaissance...

    In america bush and his cronies have jailed border agents for shooting drug smugglers and then give the smugglers a free pass to enter the usa...

    ..the right wrap themselves in the flags off the coffins of our dead troops and declare themselves untouchable patriots

    by redeploynow on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 05:39:43 AM PDT

  •  Are the planting marijuana or industrial hemp? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    markthshark

    I'd love to see our own government make it legal to grow hemp here, especially as an alternatvie to tobacco as a cash crop.

    "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." -- Winston Churchill

    by Spud1 on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 06:04:20 AM PDT

  •  Marijuana and Opium = (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bradspangler, markthshark

    God's great gifts to the human race, hijacked by the Puritan morality dragoons.

    Restore constitutional government in America. Impeach Bush and Cheney.

    by revbludge on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 06:22:12 AM PDT

  •  Afghani Hash was the primo brand in the late 60s (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    markthshark

    and early 70s. Everything old is new again.

    I want to hear somebody asking them why They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are But theyre never the ones to fight or to die - J. Brown

    by OHdog on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 06:43:38 AM PDT

  •  Another factor... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    markthshark

    is that opium cultivation is tolerated because Afghanis, being Muslims, generally do not use opiates, while hashish is more popular there, so cannabis cultivation is seen as a social evil.

    Self parody is a delicate art.

    by gzodik on Fri Sep 28, 2007 at 07:09:27 AM PDT

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