No poppy crops but pot is growing tall in Afganistan

  1. beentheredonethatagain
    KABUL, Afghanistan: The fields of Balkh province in northern Afghanistan were completely free of opium poppies this year, a success touted often by Afghan and international officials. But one look at Mohammad Alam's fields tell the story of another emerging drug problem.

    Towering, 3-meter (10-foot) cannabis plants flourish in Alam's field, part of a wave of farmers turning to marijuana. The crop can be just as profitable as opium but draws none of the scrutiny from Afghan officials bent on eradicating poppies.

    Cannabis cultivation rose 40 percent in Afghanistan this year, to 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) from 50,000 hectares (123,550 acres) grown in 2006, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime estimated in its 2007 opium survey.

    It is being grown in at least 18 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, according to the survey released last month.

    The report singles out Balkh as a "leading example" of an opium-free province, saying that other provinces should follow "the model of this northern region where leadership, incentives and security have led farmers to turn their backs on opium."

    However, a small section of the report addressing cannibis says the increase in its cultivation "gives cause for concern."

    "Cannabis has also spread to the north of Afghanistan and is observed to have increased particularly in Balkh province," according to the survey.

    One of those Balkh farmers, Alam, said he knows that growing marijuana is illegal but says he has to grow it to feed his children. He said the government cannot provide jobs or find markets for legal crops.

    "The government cannot provide a good market for other crops like cotton, watermelon and vegetables, so I have to grow marijuana instead of poppy," said Alam.

    Drug dealers from the southern poppy growing provinces of Kandahar and Helmand travel north to buy marijuana and take it to Pakistan, Alam said.

    Gen. Khodaidad, Afghanistan's acting counter-narcotics minister, who like many in Afghanistan uses only one name, said the government doesn't yet have a good handle on marijuana.

    "This is also a big problem for Afghanistan," he said. "More people will become addicted. It is very cheap. Hashish is more harmful (than poppies) to the people of Afghanistan."

    The U.N. said cannabis yields around twice the quantity of drug per hectare as opium poppies and requires less investment to grow it. Given that, cannabis farmers could earn the same amount per hectare as opium farmers, the U.N. drug report said.

    "As a consequence, farmers who do not cultivate opium poppy may turn to cannabis cultivation," the report said.

    Afghanistan already grows some 93 percent of the world's opium.

    Akbar Khan, a 35-year-old farmer from Balkh province, said that if legal crops could command higher prices, farmers would grow those.

    "We know marijuana is an illegal crop, but we are very poor and we have to grow it to help our families survive," he said. "I don't like growing poppy or marijuana. I don't want people to become addicted to these things, but I have to feed my children and I have no other way."

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  1. rocksmokinmachine
    Maybe we will see an increase in the quality of the Afghan hash here on the Dutch market. SWIM has alays been a fan of dark hash but never really favoured the Afghan varities. He much prefers a Nepalese cream or spicy Indian charas.

    Lets hope we see some nice Afghan polm's about the market.
  2. Orchid_Suspiria
    How is hashish more harmful than poppies?These people may live in the third world but they have lived around these things long enough to know that marijuana isn't going to do any of the damage to a persons life that heroin can.You would think people in places like this would know the truth about cannabis.
  3. rocksmokinmachine
    Did I miss something? I don't think there was anything in the article that indicated hash was more harmful.
  4. Petethemeat
    "Gen. Khodaidad, Afghanistan's acting counter-narcotics minister, who like many in Afghanistan uses only one name, said the government doesn't yet have a good handle on marijuana.

    "This is also a big problem for Afghanistan," he said. "More people will become addicted. It is very cheap. Hashish is more harmful (than poppies) to the people of Afghanistan.""

    Yes you did, a senior drug enforement policy maker, stated that hash is more harmful. However he did say only for Afghanistan, which makes me think he may be referring to the problems of it's production rather than use. I do not know why he would think that however.
  5. Orchid_Suspiria
    "More people will become addicted?"Swim thought ignorance about cannabis was limited to places like the United States and the UK.Guess it is spreading worldwide.
  6. Bajeda
    Perhaps more people would use hashish if it were cheaper than opium. I think it is in most parts of Afghanistan, but with the massive increases in poppy cultivation over the past few years that may have changed. I still don't think hashish would be that much of an issue compared to mass opiate addiction (like China's debilitating epidemic of opium smokers back in the day, one peculiar instance in which a 'drug scare' would have been quite appropriate as nearly a third of the population was hooked). Culturally, hashish is accepted but not condoned. Legality hasn't really been an issue in the area other than how illegality in other countries increases the value of cannabis. Hashish smokers are looked down upon to some extent (particularly the poorest ones who use constantly) and its not an activity someone would advertise. Just like I would suspect for the US, an increase in supply isn't going to mean that huge numbers of people will start using it, especially as the most profitable markets are outside the country and thus merchants would want to export material rather than push it at home. Its hard to say though, as deteriorating social conditions and quality of life could likely increase the demand for means of escape, including those of a psychological nature (and I'm not talking books and movies). Rampant warlordism and socio-economic instability are likely to increase production of illicit drugs and their consumption too (blatantly assuming on the latter point, not sure what research says on that), and should be dealt with as the underlying contradiction to be resolved rather than an economically motivated increase in demand.

    As for Afghanistani hashish in the Netherlands, my dolphin swam about and tried it on several occasions but found himself preferring the weed there as the Afghan hash just didn't compare to what he would get back in the Middle East, which in turn generally wasn't quite as good as what you would get in Afghanistan or Pakistan. As it gets transported it may either be adulterated (mixed with henna, clay, to increase size), or degrade in quality in transit due to environmental factors, or maybe everyone keeps the best quality stuff to sell domestically as the hash works its way to the Netherlands so its the average grade material that is finally sold. I'm not sure why it was that way, but my dolphin says that if he were in the Netherlands again he would stick with the domestically produced hash or some good strains of weed rather than buy the imported hash again as it just didn't compare to the actual stuff.
  7. Orchid_Suspiria
    Wouldn't huge numbers of people using hashish perhaps even be a solution to the mass opium and heroin addiction going on in Afghanistan?Infact it is not a little known secret that cannabis can be an excellent tool in managing opiate withdrawals,it helped swim deal with a bout with heroin withdrawal.Perhaps the hospitals in Afghanistan could use it as a cheap alternative to methadone and buprenorphine?
  8. Bajeda
    I doubt hashish could be used to that effect, even with illegality notwithstanding. Many opiate users in the region also consume hashish (in great quantities at times), and you can find hash mixed with opium and hash mixed with heroin very easily. You can combine the two, smoke hash only (or drink majoon), or only use opiates. Attempting to switch from opiates to hashish would most likely give the person yet another habit to spend money on after they relapse as rehabilitation facilities are practically nonexistent. Additionally, the worst addicts there would be a challenge to treat in most Western countries even with the more advanced facilities there. Humpy the camel recalls an incident in Pakistan where a man was injured in a car crash. Surgery was needed, but they couldn't get him under to perform it because his heroin use was so extensive the drugs had no effect and he stayed completely conscious and awake. Humpy says the man wasn't even a derelict beggar or otherwise unemployed, he worked in a richer domestic household. Heroin is so cheap and easy to find over there that it is probably easier to relapse as well. Farmers are moving to cultivate hashish because the supply of opium is so high that it isn't nearly as profitable to grow anymore. Extremely poor addicts subsist on a meager diet of bread and perhaps vegetables of some kind. They can't eat any spicy food generally (and its hard to avoid there) because it would damage their digestive system due to the sensitivity created by opiate use. That may be the extreme, but in a country without much societal infrastructure it doesn't leave them with many options.

    Humpy isn't sure about using hashish to help with opiate addiction as a method, but knows it didn't work for some of his friends. Perhaps it is because they smoked hash constantly and use didn't change while wrestling with opiate addiction, though he feels some smoked alot of hashish to counter the boredom of not using heroin or opium anymore, which had mixed results. Getting out of all drug use altogether seems to have been more effective for people prone to relapse.

    I'd like to recommend the 2007 Afghan Opium Survey produced by the UNODC. It helps put things into perspective as it is a very thorough report.

    It has some interesting data to peruse. For instance, the main reason farmers gave for not growing poppies was Islam (38%), and the main reason given by farmers who stopped growing poppies as to why they did was also Islam (27%). Also, for this year, gross income from wheat was about $546 per hectare, for opium it was $5,200.

    But yeah, check it out. The report has ridiculous amounts of data, even a nice table showing all the varieties of Afghani opium, their physical characteristics, location grown, and nice colour pictures of each one!
  9. beentheredonethatagain
    I am sure that smoking the strongest hash made from these plants in Afganistan would have less of a negative impact all the way round then the products that are made out of the poppy.

    The poor addicts who can dose for cheap are just going to be helped in the long run, and who knows they just might find a toke or two will advance their well being. (it couldn't hurt).

    I feel for addicts in any country, in the US and Europe they have it the worst because of the law and all it adds to the cost.

    I must admitt I like this news article.
  10. Bajeda
    Some of the best Afghani hash - or at least the variety my panther enjoys most - produces a rapid and powerful yet strangely energetic and calming high. Maybe its the high concentration of THCV and/or its interaction with THC and CBD. Can't say, but my panther wishes that he could get that same quality today, or anywhere in the world. *drools over the possible selection if cannabis was legal* It was the being able to smoke constantly (and keep adding to the high) while not getting sluggish or tired that was the best part. Interestingly enough, cannabis is considered a stimulant of sorts in South African culture and the cannabis there can contain higher levels of THCV as well. I wish there was more study of specific cannabinoids and their effects. Anyways, would have to check, but I think in parts of India, Afghanistan, S. Africa, and maybe other places, cannabis is used by those engaged in physical labour to enhance productivity. It may just be the cultural mindsets (differing perceptions of cannabis from country to country), but perhaps there is a basis in the cannabinoid makeup of plants grown in certain places.
  11. beentheredonethatagain

    Please, I must know more about this stimulant cannabis. Panther of yours said he wishes pot were legal, what would he do with it ? because it is the high power hash that he craves, would he dream about turnning high grade pot into the hash with legs? Nik (no-one I know) loves the thought of peppy pot. Nik likes energy boost, I mean he loves to be energized.
  12. rocksmokinmachine
    The plants indigenous to Afghanistan are indicas, the ones with the 'body stoning' effect. The hash produced from them will probably not produce the effect SWIBTDTA is loooking for.

    The sativa strains are usally the ones producing an uplifting, cerebral sort of 'high' feeling. These are the sort indigenous to sub-tropical climates such as Thailand and Jamaica.
  13. Bajeda
    Cannabis is indigenous to Afghanistan. Period.

    The plants grown there now differ in makeup and different methods are used to produce the hashish depending on the region. Plenty of variety effects wise. You can just call all the plants there Cannabis afghanica if you wanted, but smoke a few different kinds and tell me they produce the same effects.

    It took me a while to understand the whole Sativa - Indica dichotomy when I started smoking bud. I still don't like the overly simplistic definitions used to describe the strains, perhaps because they aren't very useful unless swim is getting a pure sativa to smoke and wants to be able to identify it. Swim still prefers hash to weed by far, and before he takes off wants to say that swiy should read up on cannabis chemistry sometime as he will find all sorts of interesting surprises, especially if he looked at some of the Central Asian varieties (like Afghani which can have a very high level of THCV).
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