Say what you will against the ol' Taliban in Afghanistan, but at least it kept the poppies mowed.
Yesterday the U.N. announced that opium production in Afghanistan hit a record level this year. You may feel as if you've read this news before: Opium production in Afghanistan also hit a record level last year. This year 193,000 hectares of poppies were cultivated, up 17 percent from last year's 165,000. Thanks to favorable weather that led to high yields, opium production rose even more, from about 6,700 tons in 2006 to about 9,000 tons this year, an increase of 34 percent. The U.N. says Afghanistan's opium now represents 93 percent of the world total, compared to 92 percent last year. [More]
The explosion of opium trade indicates to me why the "war on drugs" is just about as as successful as some other conflicts we are stuck in. Unless you are willing to deal with the demand for illicit drugs, there is little evidence you can stop the production.
Then again, legalizing, taxing, and regulating the drug trade could deflate the profits, crime and policing costs while arguably having little effect on consumption.