Pages: 29 to 29
Creation Date: 1959/01/01


Present state of the struggle against the abuse of opium in Iran 1

In the three years which have followed the enactment of the law of 1955 prohibiting the cultivation of the opium poppy and the use of opium in Iran, results have been obtained in both the reduction of cultivation and the struggle against opium addiction, as follows:

One thousand four hundred and ten hectares (about 3,000 acres) of poppy cultivation have been converted to other crops; more than 120,000 opium addicts have been cured in government establishments; 3,651 opium dens have been closed; more than 4? tons of opium and opiates have been seized; about 9,000 cases of contravention of the law have been referred to the courts; more than 2,000 individuals have been condemned to prison terms.

According to the estimates of the mission of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the loss of income resulting from the prohibition of opium production is approximately US $30 million. To that sum should be added the expenses incurred in the execution of the law, and the losses incurred by the people who made a living by the trade in opium. This loss has been estimated at about $60 million; it can, however, be considered negligible in comparison with the damage done to public health and the general prosperity by opium addiction, especially since, according to medico-social studies made by Dr. A. Azarakhsh, Director-General of the Iranian Narcotics Control Administration, 87% of all addicts are in the 20-50 age group - that is, the active period o human life.


The present note is a short summary of information furnished by Dr. A. Azarakhsh at the international seminar on narcotic drugs organized by the ICPO in Paris during the spring of 1959. For accounts of the action taken by Iran in suppressing opium production, see Bulletin on Narcotics, vol. VIII, No. 3; vol. X, No. 2; and vol. XI, No. 1.

As a result of the shortage of narcotics supplies for addicts brought about by the Iranian policy of prohibition, the prices of the drugs have sharply risen on the illicit market. While, before prohibition, addicts could obtain a gramme of opium for about $0.02-0.03, they must now pay $1 for a gramme of opium, and $7 for a gramme of morphine on the illicit market. It can be assumed that these prices will tend to increase as the governmental measures become even more effective.

The Ministry of Public Health has lately prepared a bill for Parliament which, in respect of opium, will strengthen the measures by the 1955 law, and deals with all narcotic drugs. This bill provides for very heavy penalties for illicit manufacturers of or traffickers in narcotics, including the death penalty in case of large-scale traffickers.

Iran's experience has shown that in order to succeed in the struggle against the opium evil, quick and comprehensive measures are needed: in the words of the French publicist, Emile de Girardin, "Ineffectual rigour is the worst of all policies; it is like a gun which instead of killing the quarry explodes in the hand of the hunter."

In view of the increased risk of illicit foreign supplies of opium, Iran is counting on international assistance and particularly on that of its neighbours. Some technical assistance has already been given to Iran within the framework of the Technical Assistance Programme of the United Nations and the specialized agencies, and it is hoped that this assistance will be extended.