March 31st, 2010
08:08 AM ET

U.N.: Afghanistan 'world's biggest producer of hashish'

A U.N. report says Afghanistan, the world's biggest producer of opium, is a "major producer of cannabis" and "the world's biggest producer of hashish."

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime's Afghanistan Cannabis Survey issued Wednesday documented large-scale cannabis cultivation in half of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.

"While other countries have even larger cannabis cultivation, the astonishing yield of the Afghan cannabis crop - 145 kilograms per hectare of hashish, the resin produced from cannabis, as compared to around 40 kilograms per hectare in Morocco - makes Afghanistan the world's biggest producer of hashish, estimated at between 1,500 and 3,500 tons a year," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa in a report issued at the UNDOC's headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

The survey results reflect the significance of Afghanistan's illicit drug trade, exploited by militants to fund their operations in unstable areas, such as the country's war-torn southern region. In 2008, "a massive seizure of cannabis - 245,000 kilograms - was made in Kandahar near the Pakistan border.

"All drugs in Afghanistan, whether opium or cannabis, are taxed by those who control the territory, providing an additional source of revenue for insurgents," Costa said.

The study said the high concentration of cannabis cultivation in the south "marks a shift away from the north, which even five years ago, was the main cannabis-growing region. Illustrative of this trend is the steep increase in cannabis prices in Balkh province" because of a crackdown since 2007.

The report says money "is one of the main reasons" for large-scale cannabis cultivation.

"The gross income per hectare of cannabis (US $3,900) is higher than from opium (US$ 3,600). Cannabis does not need much labor cost: in Afghanistan it is three times cheaper to cultivate a hectare of cannabis than a hectare of  opium.

"As a result, the net income of a hectare of cannabis is US$ 3,341 compared to US$ 2,005 per hectare of opium. In the aggregate, however, because opium cultivation far exceeds cannabis cultivation, in 2009 the value of cannabis resin production in Afghanistan was estimated at between US$ 39-94 million, about 10-20 percent of the farmgate value of opium production.

Costa said the report shows that Afghanistan's drug problem "is even more complex than just the opium trade."

"Reducing Afghanistan's cannabis supply should be dealt with more seriously, as part of the national drug control strategy. As with opium, the bottom line is to improve security and development in drug-producing regions in order to wean farmers off of illicit crops and into sustainable, licit livelihoods, and to deny insurgents another source of illicit income."

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Filed under: Drug trade • Life and Culture
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. sid

    Why is cannabis production not preferred over over opium production? Pls tell

    July 7, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. billied

    To Mike....Well said and so very true....I can't help but wonder if any of the people or companies you refer too are reading this.
    I wonder how we all could take this a step further?

    April 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Concerned Canadian

    First, enough with the 'Weed is bad' propaganda. We know its a lie, give it up. Also I think governments of other countries should stay out of their business, that means you too U.N.. Just think, weed would be legal in Canada right now if it wasn't for the American government sticking their noses in our business.

    April 5, 2010 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Waimeaman

    I may be mistaken but I believe that there are still legitimate pharmaceutical uses for opiates, ie morphione etc. If the Afgans want to grow opium, arrage for a legitimate pharaceutical company to buy it, regulate the production. The farmers there would benifit from selling to legitimate buys and not deal with the Taliban thugs. As far as the cannibis, I think enough has been said about the folly of treating like a narcotic. How many 'bums' have you seen lately asking " hey buddy, spare a fiver for a joint?"

    April 4, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    Big Pharma corrupts and bribes your congressman in the US to keep pot illegal until they figure out how to monopolize the market. FIRE YOUR POLITICIANS. BETTER YET, JAIL THEM. Nobody cares about anything but money and power. TAKE THE POWER AND VOTE AGAINST CORRUPT POLITICIANS WHO CRIMINALIZE POT HERE AND ELSEWHERE.

    April 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. oh man

    just legalize the weed

    April 3, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nick

    tobacco and alcohol are the two leading cuases of early death in the world cardeo and cancer is everybody stupid.

    April 3, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nathanael [desert voice]

    Reluctantly, though, I do endorse the rational of Diana. We may not be able to cure all the Afghans from their addiction overnight. But we can take full control of their crops, by buying them out! This will solve the problem in the short run, until years of reeducation kick in. Afghanistan, to me, is a scary place. The President himself looks like he has been damaged by drugs. This does not forebode well for our relationship. I think that Karzai has began to act erratically and with hostility toward the West! America may need to revisit his election, which was definitely fraudulent!

    April 2, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. David - WA.

    So everybody stop buying pot because it supports the Afkahn insurgents.. . .
    And stop buying oil, because it supports the Arab, Iranian, and Iraqi insurgents.

    April 2, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Diana -Toronto Canada

    Legalize it and make it profitable for the people of Afghanistan – think of the hospitals, schools, sewers roads and infastructure that can be built with the money. The jobs that will be provided for the whole nation. The market is there for western nations that require the opium derivatives for pain management in our hospitals and they will buy all of it. Americans and there draconic attitudes towards drugs makes life miserable for everyone including there own citizens. No more Taliban – their weapons are dependent on the drug trade.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. Zak Sparrow

    Legalize it in the USA, buy it all from Afghanistan! Making it illegal is the only reason all the revenue from it is going to insurgents! Not only should the provincial war lords there tax hash, cannabis and opium so should the karzai Govt.! Our troops shouldn't be used or wasted on spreading our own failure in policies for a world wide "war on Drugs." Drug war policies and continued pressure, create risk, which in turn inflates the price of the product and yields higher profits and revenue for insurgents to purchase weapons and supplies needed to further endanger our troops! Perhaps Afghanistans future stabilization economic stability could come from the production of hemp and the end products it can be used for including clothing, paper and bio fuels, rather than the development of more fossil fuel. "Big oil" corporations will be the biggests opponents of this occurring along with organized crime syndicates who seem to be getting plenty of the product into Canada and the US. These products will find their way regardless of laws, to those with the highest demand whom are willing to pay the inflated costs.

    April 2, 2010 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  12. Nathanael [desert voice]

    From what I understand, we have got ourselves in Afghanistan a drug adicts' protectorate. It's not just a people needing to be liberated from the Taliban, but from themselves. The paradox gets bigger if "themselves" itself means Taliban, as the media has all along been suggesting! In short, Afghanistan is a hard nut to crack! One thing seems clear to this independent observer, and that is: Afghanistan will never be free as long as it is the world's biggest producer of drugs! Any leaders in the West that think otherwise must themselves be on "something"!

    April 2, 2010 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
  13. baccuss

    Who cares. Seriously.
    Like I am worried if bud over there has more resin. Hell that's a reason to not use it.
    Deal with opium and terror.

    I cant think of anyone that would willingly buy Afghan crap.

    Legalize it...problem solved. Not to mention a huge monetary win for the Government.

    April 2, 2010 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. suz

    um, nick...its rhetoric. but i agree.

    April 1, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. A. Smith, Oregon

    Let's at least have some perspective here. The hard-core and hard-liner Shiite Muslim Taliban leaders have zero tolerance to pouring Opium and Hashish across the Middle East and the rest of the world. There were very few if any Opium and Cannabis fields intact thru-out Afghanistan under the brutal boots of the hard-core Taliban Regime.

    The Opium and Cannabis fields across Afghanistan exploded in number and size under the horrific Bush-Cheney administration after they chased out the hard-core Taliban leaders.

    Apparently Western Readers do not realize in many Islamic ruled and Islamic democratically led country's, drug smuggling carries the death penalty and sentencing and punishment for small amounts of illegal drugs is very harsh.

    The sole reason for the huge amount of Opium and Cannabis fields in Afghanistan is the CIA and the previous horrific administration of Bush-Cheney.

    When America pulls its troops out of Afghanistan, the hard-core Taliban leaders will return and that will be the end of the vast majority of Afghanistan's Opium and Heroin exports and most of Afghanistan's Cannabis fields.

    April 1, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  16. nick

    This story is just more goverment redrick aimed at getting the people to belive that terrorism is funded on marihunana use, This tactic is an effective scare tactic, but the truth is that more money is wasted arresting marihuana users in the states than ever. Also, if the HARMLESS, drug was legal, then how could users fund terrorism in Afganistan, when they would could just grow their own? I founding fathers did for 400 years, Only in the last century has irrational law found it ways into society. This story is aimed at getting people mad at a peaceful community of marihuana smokers and it makes me upset.

    April 1, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Mohammad

    I thing there would be no end to the poppy growth in Afghanistan soon, the leaders are not enough qualified.

    April 1, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Billy Bongo


    April 1, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Mohammad

    The world markets are responsible for the promotion of hashish and all other kind of drugs productions in Afghanistan . It is not fair to blame the producers for this , every body should take the share of blames for this unfortunate crisis that the world is facing now .

    Afghanistan has been totally ignored by the West for more that 30 years particularly since 1990 . The country was left alone without a proper government for 12 years and the terrorists and criminals were in-charge of the country and their income was from drugs and exports of items of historical values which is still continue .

    April 1, 2010 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  20. A. Smith, Oregon

    When you hear an 'official make such a outrageous statement as 'Reducing Afghanistan's cannabis supply should be dealt with more seriously (than the Opium Fields), as part of the national drug control strategy'. You know that person is utterly CORRUPT.

    Virtually ZERO deaths around the world come directly from Cannabis and Hashish. Thousands of deaths around the world come directly from Opium and Heroin from Afghanistan's huge Opium Poppy fields. Nearly 1 Billion dollars (10x) comes from the sale of Afghanistan's Opium vs 100 Million from the Hashish. That official sounds very much like someone that is getting some kickback on the Opium crops himself to make such a nonsense statement.

    Even Russia has lately been very loudly denouncing the tidal wave of Heroin flooding the world from Afghanistan's massive Opium fields which greatly expanded under the horrific Bush-Cheney administration.

    April 1, 2010 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  21. A. Smith, Oregon

    I've always found Afghanistan's Hash to be the lowest quality and the cheapest on the market. It has a sandy quality which easily falls apart, likely the Afghan citizens sprinkle it like grains of sand into their cigarettes. Perhaps it's the crude way in which it has been traditionally made, not hot pressed like the Turks or Moroccan brands.

    April 1, 2010 at 3:44 am | Report abuse |
  22. mike

    And what jolly fine stuff it is as well. I remember it from the 60s and being so wrecked I floated around smiling all day. Alas those times are gone and we have to do something about this God forsaken place.

    March 31, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Joe Sixpack

    That's why the US doesn't want to live Afghanistan. All these billions in drug money...

    March 31, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  24. John

    Legalise drugs and the criminal element will fade away. By legalising drugs more can be spent on education health and prevention. The war on drugs must stop as it will never be won.

    March 31, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  25. charlie

    Apparently California has a referendum coming on pot. If they legalize may be the lid will pop off and the rest of the country will do the same. If the cannibis market crashed it would do more harm to america's adversaries than 1000 preditor drones in the air all at once. We know how to protect kids, if the grownups want to get stoned I don't give a rats behind.

    March 31, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  26. ANNA

    The guys not bothering anyone. He's pretty mellow and listning to his radio. The rest of the world should be in this kind of peace.

    March 31, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Moshpit

    I'm following Billy the Canadian!

    March 31, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  28. billied

    The US govt. has been saying drug use is the cause of untold misery for as long as I have been alive. They have a real problem changing tactics once they realize that they were wrong with that typical bone headed approach. Illegal drugs more than likekly would have been de- criminaliized and then legalized a long time ago if it were not for Big Pharma companies and the profit that they, their lobbyists and the soon to be drug (no pun intended) by their feet screaming politicians on to main street. There is very little doubt in my mind that Americans are essentially being raped by the very people that run for and are elected into office and promise to make everything dandy. Ain't's just the opposite, and yet the whole deal is blamed on the GOP the Democrats, the conservatives, the liberals, independents, the t-party and now the coffee party. I really wish we'd just be Americans, and forget all the rest.
    If cannabis and hash were legalized Afghanistan would have a stable economy,the idea of eliminating corruption is a joke because we can't even eliminate it here in the US. But it would sure put a dent in the narco wars, and Mexico could stabalize their economy,maybe. It would offset the deficit in a very short time once everybody makes sure they get their share of the money they would lose, say for instance healthcare for one example. Seems to me the European countries that have made it legal have very few problems with marijuana and hash.
    Narcotics is a different story. That needs to be regulated some how.I have been extremely addicted to oxycontin, oxycodone, or I just call it hill billy heroin for several years because of an on the job injury. It got to the point that my tolerance to these narcotics skyrocketed, and I usually went through a months supply in two weeks, so every month I was going cold turkey for 2 weeks until I got another refill. My doctor, who I must say would not work with me on my doages because he didn't want the DEA coming in and look over his perscription records and lose his license.
    Anyway, it got the the point that I was slamming these drugs to get pain releif and it was causing me more trouble than it was worth
    So on New Years Eve 09 I said that was it, I quit cold turkey. I could still get the dope, but I was running down a dead end road that doesn't have an end. It ain't pretty , if any of you are considering doing the same thing, you better be a tough sob becaused
    it is INDESCIBABLE THE PAIN AND ISSUES YOU WILL FACE and as I sit here typing this stillI have not had a narcotic to ease my pain. When my Dr. told me I needed these drugs because I was gonna die if I didn't wean myself off of them I just said no,HEY DOC, I AIN'T DEAD YET,am I still gonna die??
    So, I went thru a lot of issues, but the one saving grace was smokin'dope.
    Yup, I considered it a medical treartment that was self perscribed, and damned if it didn't make the night's when you cant sleep, and I promise you that will be the case, much easier to deal with. I am not putting in a plug for rehab simply because i'm a little to ornry to deal with that .But it might be the only way for some people to get right
    So how about politicians getting their ducks in a row, and admit that the war on drugs is ignorant, it would get a lot of people out of prison that don't belong there. Farmers can grow it and even if ya don't smoke it has many industrial uses. Simply put, the people that rail about drug use,let's use marijuana as an example, if we could could put your brains and make dynamite out of and put it in Obamas head and detonated it, his ears wouldn't even pop. As I mentioned earlier I don't care if your a redneck or Harry Reid, we are Americans as a whole, why must we always be so divided and hang all the dumb ass labels on one another?
    I could go on, but I'm gonna fire up a roach that I was burning before I started this, and hope that at least somebodys reads it, and maybe even agree on a couple of my points.

    March 31, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Phil

    In order to achieve a lasting peace in Afghanistan, eventually, their people will need to be able to produce income...they need jobs! Currently, most of their population is agriculturally centric...they're farmers Their highest yielding cash crop is poppies. The opium derived from the poppies is refined into heroin. Heroin is the scourge of all societies costing billions in law enforcement and health care, not to mention the other general ills endured by society in general or that its trade is funding our nation's enemies ability to kill us. Poppy production, exportation and refinement needs to be stopped...everywhere in the world!

    So what are the alternatives? The answer is either 1) US styled Gov't farming subsidies, 2) Planting alternative crops, or 3) a combination of 1 and 2.

    Gov't subsidies will cost us a lot of money...that means the US taxpayers will be paying Afghan farmers to not plant poppies in Afghanistan. And we all KNOW systemic corruption doesn't exist there, right? And, all the money will be put towards its intended use, right? WRONG!!! THAT SOLUTION IS PURE FANTASY.

    Planting alternative crops...FARMERS WILL ALWAYS PLANT CROPS YIELDING THE HIGHEST REWARD! That's a fundamental principle of capitalism. Afghanistan used to be an incredible farming nation. So what's the matter with growing cannabis? It's high value, farmers can make a living from its cultivation, it's a traditional crop, its legal in many nations, and the use of cannabis products does not result in 99% of the harms created by heroin use. It's a no-brainer! Grow as much pot as you want! Make as much money as you can!

    But, I'm almost positive the the right-wingers and politicians won't agree. This alternative doesn't provide any mechanism for them to make money on the deal....except if they get their act together and tax the bloody stuff!

    In the US, there is no scientific evidence Cannabis should be a schedule 1 narcotic. That designation is 100% purely political and unsupported by overwhelming documented scientific evidence the FDA refuses, for political reasons to review.

    And, if you believe this isn't the case, I invite you to present any and all credible evidence supporting your point of view. Bet you can't! But, I'm sure that won't stop you from making any points or arguments that rely upon FACTS not in evidence or are unsupported by a vast majority of objective scientists.

    March 31, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Early Wynn Salter

    The U.S. can not police the world.................... and as far as the drug trade goes.U.S. laws do more harm to its citizens than the drugs do. I agree opium is not a drug that should be used unless for medical reasons..........but cannibis should be legal in all forms!

    March 31, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Chase

    I don't smoke weed and never have, but this seems to be a good opportunity to legalize it... it would give Afghanistan a major export and a leg to stand on in the world economy.

    March 31, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  32. billy the canadian

    Finally found out where i'm spending my retirement. lol

    March 31, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  33. JKF

    The continued tolerance of drug poroduction in Afghanistan, at record levels, bodes badly for the Afghan gvmt and its allies- drug prouction fuels the alliance of narco terrorism and terror extremists as it does in Columbia. In parts of Africa, diamonds serve the same type of evil partnership/goals. The damage that drugs do in societies is of far greater value than it would be to pay farmers to grow food crops. The greatest danger is the posibility of the political terrorists using the lines of communications of their narcoterrorist enterprises to deliver terror to the West. It is shear stupidity, to riks the lives of Western forces in fighting the political terrorists while at the same time allowing the political terrorists to use their narco terrorist partners to resupply their finances so they can continue to wage a terror war against Afghanistan and its allies. The political prima-donas in Afghanistan's gvmt and even the Western allied gvmts need to wake up, make the tough decisions, and fight the production of drugs that fuels the terrorists.. hopefully before the terrorist use their narco communication lines to deliver not just drugs to the civ populations in the West..By now they, the the ever consulting/procastinating prima donas, should have realized, that both war actions are required- destroy the political and narco terrorists, or the people of Afghanistan will never win their peace and freedom; nor will Afghanistan be stable!

    March 31, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • PT

      Funny how you call cannabis a drug. Its YOUR illegal drug. Its safer than tobacco or alcohol. Stopping the farmers would be the stupidest thing to do. Legalize it in the USA and import from Afghanistan. Let the Afghan farmer make a living. Why should we impose our hypocrisy on the Afghans? That would be a sure fire way to alienate ourselves.

      June 24, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Hinxy

    What would happen to the illegal cannibis business in Afghanistan if cannibis were legal in the U.S.?

    March 31, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  35. Onesmallvoice

    It seems funny to me that all this drug production went up only after the U.S.led invasion in 2001.On the other hand,drug production fell sharply under Taliban rule,but the right-wing news media won't talk about that and neither will the right-wing thugs in Washington D.C.

    March 31, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  36. Iraq Paramedic

    Why not legalize cannabis, it is less harmfull than tabacco & alcohol, & use the extra resources to combat the hash, cocaine, meth, ect.

    March 31, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • random

      just so you know hash comes from marijuana. just thought that was funny

      June 25, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |