So, just where did all that opium go?


Kelty StapletonTHUNDER BAY – With the amount of cases in which people becoming addicted to painkillers, primarily OxyContin, steadily increasing at staggering rates, I could not help but wonder just where all this opium was coming from initially. 

It is common knowledge that the majority of the world’s opium is grown in Afghanistan, one of may facts our media is more than happy to share with the public, in one of their many attempts to discredit Afghanistan.

What I didn’t know is the events over the last ten years that has increased the levels of opium produced in Afghanistan, which surprisingly has little to nothing to do with Afghanistan itself. 

In 1999, Afghan farmers accounted for 75% if the opium produced globally. These massive opium poppy farms spread all over the country of Afghanistan was responsible for the production of approximately 4000 tons of opium! The following year in 2000, the Taliban government now four years in power, put a ban on this massive opium production market and was successful doing so within the 90% of Afghanistan they effectively ruled. They also vowed that they would never allow the opium poppy production again. This was the first time ever in Afghanistan’s long history of opium farming. (A field of opium poppies growing in Afghanistan) 

After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 and American forces conquered the Taliban regime about five weeks later. Now, I am not saying that in any way I am in agreement with the Taliban regime, especially it’s success in the suppression of the women and girls living under their rule. 

However, when you look at what opiate based drugs such as heroin and prescription painkillers, especially OxyContin, has done to societies and it’s citizens all over the world, it is hard not to feel as though the Taliban had the right idea about seizing the production of opium.

Especially as the next series of events began to unveil. 

Soon after the Taliban were conquered, and their government and laws became null and void. To make a very long story (that is mysteriously missing some pieces) short, within the division of duties, several members of NATO “inherited” Afghanistan from the American forces. I can’t seem to find a legitimate reason why the duty of the opium reproduction was given to the British Army. I can only speculate why, but I feel it wouldn’t be out on a limb to speculate it may have something to do with America and Britain’s close ties during this time. I mean, we can all remember all the photos of Tony Blair and George W. Bush shaking hands and smiling.

They looked like best friends. Britain seemed to have little or no reluctance to join America in their “War against Terrorism.” With the British Military now in charge of the opium production in Afghanistan, the weight produced increased very quickly. Now, these Afghan poppy farms were producing 90% of the world’s opium, which would work out to be around 5500 tons a year! So, where is all this opium going? 

The natural thought among most people which knowledge of what exactly was going on was of extreme concern. It would only make sense that with more opium being produced, there would be more heroin on big city streets. 

Mayors, police, health and other various city officials, braced themselves and tried everything they could think of to make the presence of what they assumed would be large, cheap amounts of heroin would begin to make their rounds. To all of their surprise, nothing changed for the worse, nor did it change for the worse. Even after the increase of opium being produced, more than ever before, the number of heroin addicts as a whole, does not change? 

So, just where did all that opium go?

Kelty Stapleton

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