Afghanistan: Cannabis and Opium Business

Afghanistan: Cannabis and Opium Business

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Production of cannabis in Afghanistan has increased again according to estimates that have been published for 2012 and the business is now worth $65 million a year. That’s a drop in the ocean maybe in monetary terms but it shows what has happened to the economy of Afghanistan. Afghan farmland might have been destroyed last year where the farmer had turned to growing more-money-spinning cannabis rather than crops, but it was a bumper year for production in 2012. Therefore, despite the destruction of that land, production actually increased.


The number of hectares fell from 1, 000 to just a tenth of that in 2012 in the southern province of Uruzgan as it saw a crack-down by the authorities for fear that it was financing the Taliban and Islamic fundamentalist groups.

  • Overall the resin yields are astonishingly high in Afghanistan compared to the rest of the world’s cannabis-producing nations.
  • Morocco produces 36kg per hectare while Afghanistan turns out 145kg per hectare.
  • Afghanistan is at the top of the list for cannabis production and has been now since 2009.
  • There are 10, 000 to 24, 000 hectares that are dedicated to the production of cannabis in Afghanistan alone today.
  • Afghanistan produces roughly 1, 400 tons of cannabis and that netted $65 million last year.
  • The previous year had seen a smaller crop and yet due to the fact that prices were higher then it brought in around $100 million.

    Cannabis in the USA

The statistics are telling signs of the consumption in the West.

  • Over 24% of the US population has consumed cannabis at some time in the past year.
  • Over 12% of Canadians have consumed the substance in the past twelve months also.
  • 2.5% of the world population consumes cannabis.
  • By comparison 0.2% consumes cocaine.

But, if we look at the number of people that have consumed the substance at one time in their lives, then it’s Canada that comes out in first place, with 44.5% of the total population. The USA is the second country in the world that has 42.4% of the population that has at one time consumed the substance during their lives.

USA Cannabis Legality

Cannabis is decriminalized today (although illegal according to federal law) in many states in the USA and not just for medical use.


But cannabis is nothing compared to the world’s largest producer ofopium in the world.

  • Afghanistan produces approximately 90% – 92% of the opium that is exported around the world.
  • But opium and cannabis seem to be complimentary crops and farmers in Afghanistan produce opium and then harvest in time to be able to plant the cannabis on the same land in time for the summer months when cannabis is also right to harvest.
  • Afghanistan has been the world’s leading opium producer since1992.
  • It was only in 2001 that production fell due to the invasion of the country.
  • However, since the US occupation of Afghanistan opium production has not ceased to increase consistently every single year.
  • Thanks to US occupation and allied forces in the country against the ‘axis of evil’ that former President Bush declared between 2004 and 2007 there was more cultivation and production of opium than at any comparable year under the rule of the Taliban.
  • Export value stands at roughly $4 billion today for the country.
  • That is split between the farmers (who get approximately 25%) and the drug-traffickers or officials in the provinces (that get the 75% left).

In fact, opium farming was reduced by 99% in an agreement with the United Nations under the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan. July 2000 saw Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of Afghanistan come to an agreement with the UN, declaring that it was un-Islamic to grow poppies for the production of opium. But the result was that the farmers simply stored their opium (which needs no special storage requirements at all) and then took advantage of the fact that prices increased due to the un-Islamic ban on the production. Was this market manipulation by the drug lords?

Thanks largely to the war in 2001 and the invasion of the country causing large-scale scarcity of resources and a lack of any real economy, the Afghans turned once again to growing cannabis and opium. Today corrupt officials complacently let the farming continue just as long as they get the money in a big brown envelope at the end of the season. The US and the allied forces have also played their role in the production of cannabis and opium in Afghanistan. The drug barons and the warlords that largely control the production of narcotics in the country have been valuable assets over the past years to the US and the allied forces in providing intelligence information on the Taliban, for example. They have even participated actively in US military operations too.

Is it surprising that the West has complacently accepted the help of the drug barons in Afghanistan in their fight against terrorism and yet at the same time made the Afghan economy dependent on the narcotics industry? Religion was once the opiate of the masses we were always led to believe. Now, it is the very same opium that has been turned into the religion of the people, to be worshipped on mass not only by the war lords and the drug barons or the farmers, but also by the rest of the world. Same thing, just the other way round, isn’t it? It’s still addiction.

The global marijuana market today is worth an estimated $141.8 billion. The medical-marijuana market is set to top $9 billion in the USA alone by 2016.

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