Senate Adopts $700 Million for Halting Opium Production

Press Release September 6, 2006
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Bill Piper at (202) 669-6430 or Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384

The Senate approved by voice vote an amendment to the fiscal 2007 Defense spending bill (HR 5631) to add $700 million in emergency spending to combat opium and heroin production in Afghanistan and Iraq, after rejecting 45-51 a motion to table the amendment.

This comes on the heels of a recent report by the Senlis Council – a U.K. think tank – that found that counter-narcotics policies in Afghanistan over the last five years have facilitated insurgency, laying the groundwork for the Taliban to return to power. The Senlis Council suggests moving Afghanistan towards controlled, licensed poppy production for use in making opium-based medicines.

Statement from Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance:

“A large scale eradication campaign would be a political disaster. It would send hundreds of thousands of Afghanis into hunger, even starvation and the arms of the Taliban while enriching and empowering the warlords who control the business.

“Even if opium were to disappear from Afghanistan, whether as a result of eradication efforts or bad weather, it would only move elsewhere, with potentially even more problematic repercussions.

“Legalization of opium may or may not be the solution, but the refusal to even engage the debate reflects the intellectual and political cowardice of current U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

“A better solution would be to make effective treatment as easily and broadly available to people struggling with heroin addiction all around the world.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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