The legalization of recreational cannabis has been a serious blow to the economy of terrorism
During the war in Afghanistan against the USSR, I had the opportunity to spend several weeks with the guerrillas in the front line of fire. The war was nearing its end and the muyahideen, the fathers of the modern Taliban, received huge amounts of sophisticated weapons that the CIA gave them.
Between combat and combat, I watched with open eyes as caravans of two-humped camels descended the mounts loaded with last-generation missile launchers, rifles, ammunition and everything one could imagine. Because the weapons were so sophisticated and the guerrillas did not know English, they could not read the manuals. So they tested with the “error – test – success” method. They had no control since everything was free.
At night we slept in a very large cave with all the comforts that can be imagined in a war situation. Although I was very scared, I was doing everything possible to hide my fear. This helped me gain their respect and little by little they told me their personal stories and their true feelings.
On one occasion, a commander told me that although they hated Russians, they also hated Americans and enjoyed spending their money.
Five times a day the fighting stopped to pray looking at Mecca; At that moment I used to smoke a joint of the best Afghan hashish. That bothered one of the leaders a lot, who told me that I had to stop doing it because it was not good for the morale of their men. I said yes but then I continued to do it since it was the only way to overcome the insurmountable fear that this war caused me.
One day came a caravan of camels with a very different cargo: drugs. I asked my contact, Ahmed, who replied that it was part of his “dirty war”.
The truth is that his strategy was very effective. Every night, Afghan children visited the Russian camps where the soldiers had no moral incentive to risk their lives in that country. Each child visited several soldiers who were given pure heroin and hashish of the highest quality. This was repeated every night for three months. Suddenly, one night and without warning, the child did not appear anymore.
The soldiers suffered terrible abstinence syndromes due to lack of heroin and the military doctors did not know what to do. At that time, heroin was unknown in the USSR and there were no treatments to combat addiction. The soldiers had to be repatriated to the USSR, which was an important success for the muyahideen.
Upon leaving Afghanistan I interviewed the DEA director in Islamabad (Pakistan). When I asked him about it he told me that it was not true and that the government of the United States did not know anything about it. I replied that I had seen it with my own eyes. As he continued to deny it, I turned off my recorder and ended the interview. The United States had won that battle, but they had lost another war: the war on drugs.
While the Muyahideen fought in Afghanistan, their children studied the Koran in Pakistan and learned the financial aspects of any war.
The profound ignorance of the American people towards the other countries of the world has always attracted my attention.
Afghan guerrillas called Russia Satan. But they called the great Satan the Americans. They hated America more than any other country in the world, even though they accepted their money.
With the legalization of cannabis, the United States has taken a gigantic step to combat international terrorism. For the western countries, one of the most dangerous threats is terrorism. It is a global phenomenon that cannot be fought only at national level. It is absolutely necessary the international cooperation. One of the greatest problems is drug trafficking.
The legalization of cannabis, even at the state level, has been a serious blow for the drug lords who finance jihadist terrorism. However, it is not necessary to explain why legalization is not enough in a few countries. There are still many who sell to continue their financing. But if all the enemies of Jihadist Islam legalized cannabis, the situation would change much more.
It would be very innocent to think that legalizing cannabis would end terrorist financing since they can still continue to traffic in heroin and other harmful drugs.
Drug trafficking has always been one of the main resources of finance for terrorist groups. This has been confirmed by the World Atlas of Illicit Flows study (2018), which is the result of cooperation between Interpol, the RHIPTO and Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. According to the research, 4% of this illegal flow ends up in the hands of terrorist groups.
Taliban is one of the most important terrorist groups financed by drug trafficking. Although their major source of incomes id heroin, they also get important quantities of flow with the famous resin obtained from the legendary cannabis strains cultivated in the Hindu Kush.
The Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, have been the most important cannabis exporter in the US for decades. No need to say how negative has been for this group the new legal status of cannabis in this country.
Afghanistan is the world’s biggest producer of opium and cannabis along with Morocco. It has been estimated that between 10,000 and 24,000 ha of cannabis plants are grown in this country every year.
Even though other countries have larger cannabis cultivation, the incredible yield of the Afghan cannabis crop (145kg/ha of hashish, compared to around 40 kg/ha in Morocco), makes Afghanistan the most important resin producer in the world (between 1,500 and 3,500 tons a year). A recent study found that between 10,000 and 24,000 ha of cannabis plants are grown in Afghanistan every year. And it’s not just a matter of quantity; It is also a matter of quality.
The legendary quality of its genetics and the special climate of the valleys of the Hindu Kush mountains make this country produce a hash of recognized quality.
It is not necessary to explain that Islamic terrorists are aware of the potential of cannabis to finance their activities.
The gross income obtained per hectare of cannabis plant (US$ 3,900) is higher than that of opium poppy (US$ 3,600). Cannabis is three times cheaper to grow and process. The net income obtained of a hectare of cannabis plants is US$ 3,341; much more than the US$ 2,005 per hectare of opium.
The DEA knows very well how the legalization of cannabis has affected the economy of terrorists in America, Canada and other Western countries.
The effect of legalizing cannabis has gone far beyond state government revenue. It has severely affected the drug trade in unexpected ways. The seizure of illegal cannabis at the Southwestern border of the United States has severely decreased after the states began legalizing recreational use of the cannabis. For example, the illegal cannabis seized at the border decreased from 4 million pounds, in 2009, to about 1.5 million pounds in 2015. It is a serious blow to the finances of the terrorist groups.
Behind every fanatic who immolates himself with a bomb and kills hundreds of innocents, there is a meticulous group of evil minds who know all the twists and turns of the underground economy and who know the potential of drug trafficking.
If we could get all countries to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, terrorists would be forced to change all their logistics. Of course, that would not mean the end of terrorism. But it would mean winning a battle in a long war.