Letters to the Editor

Legalize poppies in Afghanistan

Thank you for the Associated Press article ("Afghanistan to reap record poppy harvest," Aug. 5, Page A-5) explaining U.S. policy toward opium poppy eradication in Afghanistan.

Clearly, the opium grown in Afghanistan goes primarily to a European population whose governments see drug addiction as a public health issue — not a criminal issue. Eradication efforts by either the Afghan or U.S. troops simply make poor farmers furious with both governments.

It has been well established that the opium trade income not only goes to farmers, but to all levels of government in Afghanistan. Apparently, our government is concerned that the illegal opium trade also funds Taliban terrorists. It probably does!

Why are we squandering more than $400 million a year on poppy field eradication when every year opium production goes up? Are we so ignorant of our own Prohibition history that we can't learn anything from it?

Why don't we allow Afghan President Hamid Karzai to legalize poppy production and tax its export, so that the poor farmers will end up with more spendable income that will increase all kinds of consumerism? I would hope that instead of undermining Karzai, we would be doing all we can to help him.

I am sure that the $400 million we plan to spend for eradication could be more wisely spent with a great deal more benefit to our image in that sad country. Let's not forget that morphine is derived from opium, and has extensive legal medical use. Which one of us wants to die in severe pain without it? Let's get real!

ROLAND C. NYEGAARD, M.D.

Modesto

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