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Politics

Hamish McDonald: Afghanistan's opium problem could also be a solution

It's time to revisit scuttled plans to license the deadly crop

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A man tends a poppy field in eastern Afghanistan.   © Reuters

More than 15 years after the Western coalition ousted Afghanistan's Taliban regime, the scourge of illicit opium still dogs the country. At the same time, amid efforts to eradicate Afghanistan's opium industry, authorities in the U.S. and Australia are clamping down on addictive painkillers, leaving millions of people suffering pain without treatment worldwide.

The situation has led to suggestions that it is time to revisit a solution opposed by key Western countries a decade ago: legalizing Afghanistan's opium production.

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