Fact of the Day
75% of the world's heroin comes out of Afghanistan; over 3700 tons a year (despite the US occupation) [source]. In fact, many Afghani farmers have switched to growing opium in recent times (some pushed by peer pressure and pulled by dollar signs). Despite the fact that it is against Muslim law to cultivate the crop, money talks and the inhabitants of the land must value their own survival. 1 US dollar is equal to about 50 Afghanistan Afghani (AFA). In the year 2000, the Taliban switched its policy on opium cultivation. Previously, the government had allowed the crop (probably because of the money it brings in), but in 2000 growing opium became punishable by death.
Motions have been passed to spray opium fields in Afghanistan from the air. This practice will surely impoverish many farmers in the country.
Opium is very commonly used in medicine today. Besides recreational heroin, morphine, noscapine and codeine are all be derived from opium poppies. Shallow cuts into the plant produce the potent light-colored milky sap from which the stated derivatives can be produced.
Opium comes originally from the Middle East (circa 5000BC mesopotamia) [source]. Cultivated traces of the plant have been found by archaeologists in Scandinavian regions. Ancient Egyptians used opium tea to put their infants to sleep. From mesopotamia opium eventually made its way to India and eventually China. China has been stuck with epidemic problems of opium addiction ever since (including the Opium Wars). Chinese immigrants to the United States were known to smoke opium due to China's past. San Francisco passed the first US law against opium use in 1875. This was the American government's solution to Chinese immigrants at the time. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that most of these immigrants were not addicts, or even smokers. The reason that the government turned on opium was that women in the cities started frequenting opium dens and this was seem as despicable direction for the nation and a scapegoat for an attack on Chinese immigrants.
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