What are illegal drugs, except another commodity to be traded?

Either our drugs policy is stupid or crafty. I suspect the latter.

Stupid - if it believes that sending troops abroad to eradicate crops would stop drugs coming in. The evidence in Afghanistan and Colombia proves that it has the reverse effect.

Crafty - if, under the guise of 'eradication' or a 'war on drugs', it actually 'secures' control of illegal supplies and is able to maximise profits by keeping these cheap foreign-made drugs expensive so they don't compete with medicines produced in the UK.

It is feeble minded to suppose that today's British elites take no pointers from our historic past or have suddenly become disinterested in margins...

As with so much of the debate on Comment is Free, the media's framing of discussion of UK involvement in Afghanistan assumes an alruistic intent that was never there in the first place.

A more likely scenario is that our troops are doing great work internationally... to support our commercial interests.

Leading UK companies produce OIL, GUNS and DRUGS.

To put the following in perspective, BP's reported profits were about £10 billion in 2005. Here are some figures for the heroin trade from Afghanistan, rounded up/down for simplicity and extrapolated from government and UN figures.

1000g opium from Afghan Farmer costs £50
1g street heroin from UK dealer costs £50

1000g opium makes around 150g pure heroin
or 375g street heroin (40% pure)
Afghan Farmer gets £50 for 1000g opium
UK street seller collects £18,750 for 375g heroin
Afghan Farmer sees just 0.26% of the final sale value

The sale value of heroin in UK is 375 x the cost of
basic raw material (opium) needed to make it.

4200 tonnes opium produced in Afghanistan in 2004
from which 650 tonnes pure heroin may be made
Cost to buy in Afghanistan = £210 million
Can make 1600 tonnes street heroin (40% pure)
Street value in UK /Europe = £80 billion

Opium production under Taliban in 2001 = 185 tonnes
Opium production under Karzai in 2004 = 4200 tonnes

Ends | 10 July 2006 | Republished Aug 2017 | The Leg | Sources

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