While there\’s still details to be worked out here, Polly Toynbee is on precisely the right lines here:
But one great blundering mistake may in the end destroy all the good done elsewhere. The opium economy will always be stronger than the real economy. Only 8% of GDP comes from commerce: the rest is aid. Off the books the real economy is all opium, more and more by the year. The US wants to spray and impoverish the poorest farmers, causing hatred. The US drives the disastrous prohibition policy imposed by the UN. Unless and until the drug is given as a medicine to registered addicts, cutting demand and cutting drug-driven crime in the west, illegal opium growing will always distort and corrupt everything else here in Afghanistan. Buy it to use for morphine, buy it to destroy, but buy it at a price above the relatively low price the narco barons pay to poor farmers. Agriculture in the EU and the US has always been a strange subsidised distorted market. But there never was a better reason for buying a crop than to bring Afghan farmers in from the world of crime that risks keeping the country lawless indefinitely.
This is, roughly speaking, the Adam Smith Institute view as well. Some form of legalisation, decriminalisation, medicalisation, is the only possible way to deal with the War on Drugs and the foul criminality that ensues.
I\’m not really sure that the world can quite cope with both Polly Toynbee and Madsen Pirie being on the same side of the same question. Perhaps it\’s just a signal that the proposal is so gobsmackingly obvious: I\’m sure both believe that kittens are cute as well.