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An Afghan opium deal

While we destroy Afghan poppies, the world is short of opiates. The solution is clear

By Johann Hari   October 2006

In Kabul hospital, half the patients who need opiate-based painkillers are writhing in agony because they have none—while in the fields outside and across Afghanistan, farmers trying to grow opiates are having their fields trashed and livelihoods destroyed by western troops. This is just the most ironic intersection between the west’s “war on drugs” and what the World Health Organisation calls “an unprecedented global pain crisis.”

The world is suffering from an opium drought. The International Narcotics Control Board calculates that the US, Britain, France, Canada, Spain, Australia and Japan consume 80 per cent of the world’s medical opiates, leaving…

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