Without going into why drugs, especially marijuana, should be decriminalized and regulated more like other drugs such as pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and alcohol, I am concerned at the moment with a practical solution to the issue of drug crops in other countries. While our government, through several administrations, has simply tried to create ever more restrictive policies at home, and ever more militaristic ones abroad, we have never tried, as far as I know, a truly practical and simple approach to the issue. Whether we are talking about poppies in Afghanistan, coca in Colombia and its neighbors, or marijuana in any of the various places it is grown, our government could simply use the money that would otherwise be allocated for its militaristic tactics that do not work, and re-routing those funds into purchasing those crops, guaranteeing farmers that they would sell all their crops, albeit perhaps at a negotiated price. This could take off the streets nearly all the crops that are currently going into the black market, becoming a social and legal problem not only in the US but all over the world, and funding gangs and other criminals.
The government could then sell whatever portions of the crops to pharmaceutical companies, as dictated by the market, using the profits from these sales to pay down debts, enhance public services and/or reduce taxes. Furthermore, the reduction of the legal problems associated with these drugs would save even more money.
To prevent this policy from creating a greater demand for these crops in the market, it would also seem beneficial to research other crops that could be grown in the areas where these drug crops are currently cultivated, and offering farmers an equivalent or higher rate of return for these crops, even if it is not consistent with current “market prices” for these alternative crops. Also, farmers in other parts of the world who might already be growing these alternative crops would also need to be paid the “new market” prices for their crops. To prevent the entire financial burden of this policy from falling entirely on the United States, many other national governments who would benefit from it in comparable fashion could be brought in as partners. These “alternative” crops could then be sold back to the private sector, at cost in the case of crops whose prices have been artificially inflated, and at market value for any crops which have been bought at or under market value.