Opium production continues to increase in Afghanistan, but there are no easy, one-dimensional solutions to this problem. Afghanistan unfortunately will not be able to join the small group of countries that produce licit opium for medicinal purposes. The opium it currently produces is both illegal and high-cost. Trying to introduce licit production runs the risk that large-scale illicit production will continue in parallel. In the long term, it is unlikely that Afghanistan could compete in the global market with lower-cost, more efficient growers of licit opiates.
- With large increases in Afghan opium cultivation and production in 2013 and 2014, there is a risk that resulting frustration may give rise to a search for extreme but unproductive solutions.
- There are no easy solutions to the illegal narcotics problem. The proposal that Afghanistan could shift to licensed production of opium for pain medications will not work.