There is no shortage of experts asserting that consumers of cannabis (“the grass”, in colloquial terms) should not be listed as drug addicts due to the fact that the drug causes no addiction. The argument obviously ignores other aspects of the destructive impact of cannabis on mental health: cannabis users are prone to total apathy and typically unable to set or pursue serious individual life programs. In Russia, cannabis consumption has long evolved into a social problem. Recently the fairly old idea of lifting legal restrictions on the circulation of cannabis surfaced in a report released by the so-called UN Global Commission on Drug Policy which suggested legalizing the circulation of non-opiates. The motivation cited in the report is that legalization of non-opiates should somehow undermine the power of organized crime.
The authors of the report pretend to overlook the truth that frequently cannabis consumption is a step on the way to heroine addiction. Statistic data shows that the majority of heavy drug addicts began as users of marihuana and light synthetic drugs (the latter are referred to as “wheels" among the younger generation of Russians) to eventually sink to the category of users of more potent narcotic substances. The consumption of cannabis and other non-opiates is a preschool via which drug users proceed to the school of hard drugs, and the legalization of light drugs would result in the drawing of numbers of children and young people into the orbit of heavy substance abuse.
As for Russia, it is common knowledge that the country faces a huge drug problem. Describing the current situation, Russia’s anti-narcotic agency chief V. Ivanov likened the drug threat confronting Russia to the Apocalypse with a reference to the fact that the annual death toll in Russia attributable to drug use is around 100,000. UN-supplied data shows that Russia with its 1.68m of heroine users tops the list of heroin-addicted countries.
Most of the heroine consumed in Russia is imported from Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s heroin output reached 3,600 tons in 2010, with Russia absorbing half of the amount. Afghanistan also contributes to the less-profitable segments of the drug business. The production of cannabis in the country is rising steadily and at the moment Afghanistan supplies internationally roughly as much of the drug as Morocco, the formerly uncontested leader. The reason why drug groups would not neglect the seemingly less lucrative part of the business is that various forces with vested interests in the process are making major efforts in consumer countries to remove psychological barriers in the way of cannabis use. While heroin is perceived as a dangerous substance, cannabis oftentimes is not, and therefore demand for the latter can be expected to grow. What could be the objectives behind the Global Commission’s report and could they reflect the interests of the drug business? It is an open secret that the UN has a spotty reputation due countless scandals triggered by corruption linked to humanitarian aid supplies, the siphoning of cash from UN programs, the cases of conversion of UN initiatives into a sort of a family business, etc. It would come as yet another disappointment to learn some day that the aforementioned UN report owes its existence to shadowy players’ influence and financial infusions.
The possibility that the UN is used to promote the interests of the drug business cannot be ruled out… In an incident reported by the media four years ago, a CIA-owned vehicle was blown up in Kabul on the way to an airport and the police found around 200 1kg packages containing heroin scattered by the blast. Obviously, the shipment was supposed to be taken out of Afghanistan by US intelligence operatives. Media coverage of the above took almost no time to dwindle, and fighting the drug business continues to occupy a line on Washington’s stated Afghan agenda, while lack of success in the struggle is widely explained by the inability of Afghanistan’s inefficient agriculture to offer farmers a viable alternative to drug cultivation.
The highest echelon of the US Administration is interested in the sales of heroin from Afghanistan. The issue belongs to the realm of politics rather than to that of organized crime alone. Criminal groups hide behind the facade of the US democracy and only occasionally – as in the case of the September 11 tragedy – become visible. Those who believe that – as the US Administration claims – the September 11 attacks were arranged by Al Qaeda should check in the Internet the materials posted by the US Pilots Association, the US Firefighters Association, and the US Association of Former Intelligence Officers proving that the acts of terror had been perpetrated by forces within the US Administration and intelligence community. September 11 became the prologue to the war in Afghanistan, the list of beneficiaries not being limited to the military-industrial complex. Over the past decade, the smoothly running network of drug production and supply has served as a source of magic enrichment for the unknowns some of whom surely belong to the top ranks of the US establishment and enjoy considerable influence over the UN. It is likely that the plan to organize massive drug production and supply was there when the September 11 attack was in the making. The plan fit neatly into a wider scheme of enrichment for a group which at the moment is working to expand its activity sphere with the UN help. As a result, the UN has a chance to become an umbrella for a high-caliber criminal organization.
The Russian foreign ministry’s calls for an overhaul of the UN acquire a deeper meaning in the context. There is no time to lose as the UN is becoming a peril for the world health…