January 12th, 2010
10:32 AM ET

Marijuana replacing poppy

In Helmand province, CNN's Atia Abawi visits a field where marijuana plants are grown instead of poppies. One farmer says he's growing the drugs out of economic desperation - he says he would grow grapes if they would pay enough.

soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. Kevin

    Have experience with both the Afghan hash & pot (but not since getting saved in 1977), and agriculture in semiarid zones (been to Afghanistan twice.) First the dope: smoked pot daily from 9th to 12th grade. Totally de-motivated me to go to class (i.e. alot bad graded). Got saved after graduating H.S. and did 8 years college in agriculture (now professor of ag at a state university). Second, Afhgan ag: grapes and other high value crops can only be grown in the river valleys (very small area). Rice also can only be grown in the small, narrow valleys where there's irrigation water (Hindu Kush snowmelt). Most of the arable land is either rainfed or only get a few flood irrigations a year. Wheat is the Afghan staple, and will also be the important food crop, but the farmgate price is very low. Whats needed then is a high value, low-water crop. My suggestion is cotton. Soviets destroyed the gins, Americans should rebuild these.

    January 25, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. moses

    Agriculture is the only way out for the developing countries its takes a lot for a poor for a poor man to obtain livelihood and culture can only be out-rooted through eduction so we always have to look at the other side of the coin.
    Uganda christian university

    January 25, 2010 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. gophorit

    As a surgeon I smoke a joint every time before I operate. It helps me to concentrate and to remember what I'm doing.

    January 24, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rick Indiana

    People that bash Mriuanna are just ignorant of the facts.

    January 24, 2010 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Debbie

    If the U.S. would allow its citizens to legally grow pot for personal consumption, the Afghan farmers would be growing grapes instead of pot, because they'd pay the same. When will we ever learn?

    January 23, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Daryl Bauer

    It is ridiculous than marijuana is illegal is the US. I say let the Afghan farmers switch from poppy to marijuana. It will give them a crop that they can make decent living at. If a foreign force came to my home town and forced me to give up my way at making a living without giving me an alternative solution that would be viable as the business I was currently doing, I would be mad and tempted to take up arms against the people who destroyed my income source. It is time for marijuana prohibition to end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 23, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. ecliptafly

    Also, in response to "POLICE will spend less time chasing LEGAL pot dealers, but will need to deal with more addicts committing crimes to afford pot." Posted by: Ret SFC

    Pot smokers are not beating old ladies down in the streets or mugging people, they are home sleeping, b/c thats what pot does remember "lack of motivation" as you said yourself.

    January 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BB

    Again the idea that the Taliban is profitting from the drug money is ridiculous. If that is the case what the people that believe this misinformation are saying that , our troops are letting Karzai's brother make all these profits and that he is sending the money to support the Taliban. Come on now people if that is what is going on then our country has more screws loose than we think. Karzai brother , the President of the country is the main Heroin dealer, he takes the majority of the money . The Taliban had almost gotten rid of all the heroin before America arrived to protect Karzai's investment. It always amazes me that we have this great war on drugs against our own people, yet when it comes to a country like Afghanistan we stand by and let high level officials make profit from drugs in the guise that we can not interfere with the commerce of the said country. If the fields are supplying Taliban, burn the damn things down, end of story, but we can't can we. hmmmmm. Lastly as far as importing MJ from Afghanistan is well a little far fetched because America already has a built in domestic crop that rivals most in the world, and weed grown from these farmers in Afhganistan will not be able to be used as medicine, it could be recreation weed at best. Our troops walking around these fields bringing in journalists to show it and then try to convince us that somehow it is all a Taliban effort, simply naive.

    January 22, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Connie Williams

    Finally, hope for mankind!!!

    January 22, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. peter

    @sgt fc comment #14......your conclusions about marijuana are false. Pot is not more carcinogenic than cigarettes. Zero cases of cancer have been caused by pot alone. There is ample evidence for this, but many people just keep quoting outdated and inaccurate data that was perpetrated by the war on drugs propaganda.
    I would rather people smoked pot over drinking alcohol any day.
    Update your data. It sounds like you are using old 1980s Nancy Regan propaganda (dont get me wrong, I am not some hippy communist. I actually like the Regans a lot and am very "Center Right")

    January 22, 2010 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. Paul

    Wow , Ive never seen so many idiots and druggies......
    Plant food crops , indigenous to the area. There are MANY.
    Friggin' drugs of any sort are NEVER the answer to any economic health . Thats just ignorant.
    Give them something to EAT and take it from there. It would create jobs people would want .
    If they werent starving and desperate to begin with most wouldnt even consider growing drugs.
    I think the majority would rather have a family and a decent life rather than throw it all away on growing garbage to dumb down their kids and create further crime.
    No one needs herion OR pot and they do NOT promote life in any way. Whether slow or fast , they erode away life.
    Grow the hell up.

    January 22, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ananth

    Bottom line – if they dont grow poppy/pot... and forward the funds to Taliban.. they will be killed without a trail...

    Give it a break guys.....it is not that they do not know how to produce wheat or other crops.... its just that the Taliban enforces them to grow poppy/pot and get the much needed funding they need for their causes...

    The only way is to contain the Taliban and the crops will automatically change to wheat... or whatever.. but will not be poppy/pot in the current scale

    January 22, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. BB

    Just look at this video , Talaban my ass, American soldiers are there and alone American female journalist, get a grip people this is not a Taliban facility it is a military protected operation and is obvious. If you do not believe me go to Afghanistan and try to get rid of the fiields and see who shoots at you. Since Americans have been present the poppy fields increased 600%. Notice in the vid how easy the children react around the Americans at the field in the video. Taliban my ass.

    January 22, 2010 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. BB

    It is a much better crop for them to grow with the possibility to import to America in the future, However, they will be behind the curve on quality and may not reach the level of strains that are already being produced in America, Canada and Amsterdam. That said it is a much better choice for commerce than heroin. For the record the heroin growing in the area DOES NOT support the Taliban that is a contrived myth perpetuated by the American govt. All proceeds go to Karzai's brother the kingpin of the heroin trade. Taliban is against all drug use and against its trade, end of story. In fact it is more the other way around like Iran Contra, the US and Karzai's brother use the money to support their goals. But mainly goes into the Presidents brothers pocket. If the Taliban are so involved how is it so easy for journalists to get in there and get images or for Anderson Cooper to talk with them and get out alive?

    January 22, 2010 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. Reality Checker

    Please; there are plenty of crops needed in that country. My understanding is that many in Afghanistan are starving. These "farmers" are growing illegal drugs for export because it pays more than feeding their fellow countrymen. So they line their pockets while their neighbors starve to death. Nice.

    January 21, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  16. fallon

    duh NoNaMe, you use the corn for food and the rest of the plant for biofuels. they process with cheaper corn stover "waste"—the leaves, stalks, husks and cobs of the maize plant itself.

    And really we are still debating over legalizing marijauna!? If you know anything about anything, this should be re-legalized immediately. It can be used as biofuels as well...and pretty much anything from house building materials, to medicine, paper, to oil. Ever modern civilization in the world has used hemp as one of the top five crops produced for just about everything. Only in recent times have we decided to make it illegal to spend more money on making it that way rather than saving money by using this versatile plant.

    2010 people it is 2010

    January 21, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Gardiner

    Maybe if a 3rd world country starts to grow maraijana and sells it in the market place to make a profit then a new world country could do the same. MMMM Lets really think about it.

    January 21, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  18. vanessa


    January 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Dr. Jams

    to A. Smith, Oregon:

    (and all you other nutters)

    Drugs are for people with reality firmly in grasp, I think for safety reasons most of you should abstain.

    The US presidents George Herbert Walker Bush and his son George Walker Bush never had anything to do with Busch beer or Anheuser-Busch / InBev.
    They are not related to Adolphus Busch, the co-founder of AB.

    Marijuana and hemp are two totally different crops.
    Marijuana can sell for over $200 per 1/4 ounce.
    Hemp has been superseded by synthetic fibers and sells for around $12 a ton, IF you can find a buyer.

    January 21, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  20. NUKE

    #62 I totally agree with u. God bless U.S!!!!

    January 21, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  21. Oats

    I recently drove by the Halliburton headquarters (before the big freeze) and couldn't help but notice a thick planting of RED POPPIES under the corporate sign....

    January 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Antoinette Meijrink

    As one of my youth sins was having had a coffee shop where I traded Hashish and Marijouana (Grass, Weed), I can only compliment the U.N. and other parties for bringing back a farming tradition which made Afhanistan a proud Land growing Cannabis to produce into Hashish which enhances peoples lives in the Spirit we all share. When I found out,that Afghanistan had turned to farming poppies did I undrstand,that the American armed forces were well on their way of losing the people's support in the rest of the World even though they were suported by the forces from the pentagon. I can only say that 2011 cannot come a moment too soon.
    George Bush must be quite ashamed,that he let himself in on this armed conflict becasue the growing of poppies at all in Afghanistan reminds me of the shamefull years of Vietnam and an American Army behaving like beasts as we have been able to witness also during these tough years of stupidity alterior political motives and criminal intent on the part of the Bush administration. In 2006 when Musharaf of Pakistan (also hashish growing country) and Hamid Karzai visited the Whitehouse, their appearance on TV giving a Statement to the press and to the World did give me the impression they had been using something. Since it could not have been Cannabis and alcohol would also not be the thing! I can only wonder what it was that made them unable to speak straight and unable to hold their balance in front of the Camera. And yes I witnessed these images watching CNN world service

    January 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  23. JRE

    Some good basic info in the posts. As noted, most of the Afgani cannabis goes into black hashish or keef hash. On the medical side, a recent review by the National Academy of Science of over 1000 studies of the effects of "pot" and there are ZERO incidents of cancer attributed to smoking it. There are pre-cancerous changes in the airway, notably the reduction of cilia that sweep secretions from our air passages, which results in a type of smokers cough. This disappears after cessation of smoking.
    As far as social effects go, it seems reasonable that smugglers and out of state growers will lose market share as folks like me grow more of our own. And taxing it like tobacco or alcohol (the drugs that kill people are legal) will offer funds to educate kids and non-users to combat an up-swell in usage...OTH, more people than one might think have smoked pot, and many will again. Kids shouldn't be among them however, and steps to prevent them accessing it are doomed to fail, so education and parental control are essential, just like for alcohol and tobacco...

    January 20, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  24. David

    Marijuana should be made LEGAL. It should be treated like alcohol.Its no better or worse. You should not dink and drive and the same principle applies to pot.
    I know many successful, respectable , university educated people who smoke pot but are afraid to openly admit it since it is illegal.

    January 19, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Outlaw3455

    Reefer was made illegal by a bunch of rich guys on Capital Hill. Hemp or Reefer was a cash crop and totally legal while alcohol was illegal....soon prohabition ended and we had a BUNCH of Federal officers without anything to do...soooooo the new enemy marajuana. The government never used the word hemp..because most Americans knew hemp as a harmless plant they all knew and grew. Most Americans had no idea that hemp and Marahuana was the same thing, till it was too late. The timber industry lobbied hard...why...it takes 1.5 acres of hemp to make the same amount of paper as 4 acres of timber...Source..USDA 1920. The paper is better quality then wood and hemp is more enviro friendly to change the pulp to paper then Wood. Look it up..USDA. Wood takes a lifetime to grow...Hemp..a year. It also is cheaper because plants block the sun at the base..NO WEEDS...the roots go deep and break up the soil...no need to rip the soil afterwords.

    Then there was a company called DUPONT...that just came out with synthetic fibers and plastics made from you got OIL. Hemp was used for making cloths, ropes etc...they last up to 10X longer the cotton or synthetic fibers....Hemp can also be used to make plastic...FORD's first model A had plastic fenders made from hemp that was bio degradable and 10X stronger then steel and his first car ran on biofuel...HEMP OIL (source popular mechanics)>>>Guess who were the big investors in Duponts NEW plastics and fibers...you got it..all the big wigs on Capitol Hill...remove the competition and guess what, you make MONEY.

    Then there was racism. Our own US senators stated on the floor, that Reefer makes Black men want to have sex with white woman, or make the blacks play the devils music. that Devils music is what we know as JAZZ and SWING. The devils music..give me a break. Then those crazy mexicans smoke it and get all crazy. So race helped win over the RACIST American Public. This is what made me sick to my stomach. Thank god for Jazz, cause I play the saxophone!! Most Rock, Country and classical music get there roots from Jazz and Blues. Source US Archives.

    it keeps going. Then there were the alcohol companies that did not want competition. Did you know the US MEdical Association testified that if they would have known that Marajuana was actually Hemp they would have fought to keep it legal due to its many uses as medicine. Synthetic THC is being used today and most old fogies trapped in the past that are using it dont even know it..LOL. IT helps them manage pain.

    Lets not forget the things that are legal. Alcohol causes bar fights and anger..hence the term liquid courage. How many girls are on girls gone wild videos when they are drunk..ALL OF THEM!! Alcohol causes more deaths on our freeways. I have a brother that is an alcoholic and let me tell you..he ruined his life. But booze is ok.,,,NOT... kids drink in there youth more then anything and it is physically addictive.

    How about Cigs, Nicotine 100 times more addictive then Cocaine or Heroin. Yet we allow the tobacco companies to sell a product that is PROVEN to kill and inject nicotine to make you want to kill yourself even more. But perfectly legal! Kids smoke and get hooked from the nicotine...and continue to smoke and die. IF cig companies removed the nicotine from cigs..they would go under..why...people smoke because of addiction not because of the lovely taste of cigs. What if Nicotine was put in Ice Cream so we would buy more ice cream..the government would have a cow!! get it cow..ice cream. That is why you see the old timers with there Oxygen bottles puffing on a cig...they know its killing them and they cant stop..how sad it that...and our government say it s ok...but make sure you wear a helmet ITS THE LAW..to protect you. But its ok to kill Americans nice and slow.

    Next time you use a CANVAS tarp...the word Canvas means Cannibus. Canvas was used for sails and it was catchy.

    Pot is non-addictive. It is not a gateways drug...booze is. Pot does not cause violence...oh..that leads me to the very person that wanted pot illegal in the 30's stated that Pot caused you to be violent etc etc...then during the Korean war and vietnam war era..the same numbnut said under oath that pot would make our soldiers to calm to fight..to mellow...wait a second...20 years before it made you violent. To be honest I have never seen a violent pot smoker.

    The fact is the American Public was tricked. Hemp has so many uses. Some botanists actually believe that Hemp is an "alien" plant meaning, no plant on the planet can be used for so many different things and the whole plant can be used. Genetically it is like a tree.

    We talk about drug lords...anybody remember Al Capone, Bugsy Malone etc etc...these THUGS or the mob got there fortunes from you guessed it alcohol and with the fall of illegal alcohol was the fall of the mobs...same with the drug lords...cut there freak'n legs off already!! legalize pot.

    Oh..and pot is NOT physically addictive and to solve the BS on the byproducts burning...that his why the make VAPORiZORS...to get the THC without the smoke. You inhale vapor.

    I did a report in college on this very subject about 20 years ago and all the negative points about Hemp were all money and race driven and government propaganda. So sad that a god given plant is outlawed but man made products are legal. I actually was doing the report to prove how bad it is and ended up doing my research and the TRUTH set me free...and the report ended up being why it should be legal and how it came about being illegal. Needless to say the teacher was not happy....baby boomer who was also brainwashed. But that forced her to check my research and when all was said and done..she too was convinced. She had no idea that my essay was all fact backed up by...the USDA, US Archives, Popular Mechanics, FDA and the list goes on!!

    Pot makes you stupid and lazy is FALSE, I know Cops, Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Dentists, City leaders, Small business owners, Investigators, professors, researchers that smoke either every day or every now and then...and guess what...they are VERY respected and successful in there fields..and nobody knows they smoke except a select few...and if it was so bad..dont you think people would know......proof is in the pudding!!!

    January 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  26. ali

    Marijuana coulod be used as medicine.

    January 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
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