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Spotlight On Iran

Iran Mulls State Drug Distribution

An Iranian policeman walks past a cloud of smoke rising from a pile of drugs during an incineration ceremony of some 50 tons of illicit drugs in an annual ritual in Tehran, June 26, 2014

After thousands of executions and countless other deaths related to addictive drugs, Iran appears to be on the verge of overhauling its drug-related policies.

While a new bill is being amended in parliament to stop the execution of petty drug smugglers, another plan is also under study for allowing state organs to distribute drugs -- primarily opium -- among addicts.

“The main purpose of the plan is to cut off the connection between drug smugglers and their addicted victims,” said Hassan Norouzi, spokesman for the Iranian Parliament’s Judicial and Legal Commission.

All of the Iran’s decision makers support the new bill, he said.

“The bill’s main target is backing efforts to reduce the number of drug addiction victims as much as possible,” said Saeed Sefatian, head of the working group on drug demand reduction in the Expediency Council, on July 23, according to Iran Students News Agency.

Seventeen percent of Iranians are “willing” to use addictive drugs while 5 percent of that number are “ultimately hooked,” Sefatian said. The remaining 12 percent would also fall victim “if their connection to dealers and smugglers is not cut off,” he, adding that Iran needs a solid action plan for managing drug consumption.

Referring to many European countries but without naming which ones, Sefatian maintained, “There, the addicts have access to facilities exclusively for checking the volume of purity of the drugs they have bought. The facilities check the drug thoroughly and, if found it harmful, supply the addict with a pure replacement.”

Although most statistics published in Iran are not completely reliable, Sefatian said, there are “220,000 to 250,000 drug smugglers in Iran, and that is a serious source of social harm.”

Furthermore, Sefatian declared, “Iran currently has 2.8 million addicts whose cost for the country’s economy is 500 trillion rials (roughly $15 billion). Out of that, 200 trillion rials go to smugglers and dealers.”

However, unofficial figures put the number of addicts in Iran as high as 5 million to 6 million.

The plan, Sefatian insisted, “is not a new one,” and “since former administrations [under Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s presidency] failed to implement it, we are presenting a new version.”

Based on the new plan, government organs will distribute opium among addicts older than 50.

“The plan will significantly reduce the volume of dirty money as well as money laundering,” Sefatian said.

Norouzi noted that giving the government the greenlight to distribute opium among addicts is reminiscent of what was done before the Iranian Revolution, during the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Sefatian implicitly also referred to the necessity of going back to pre-revolution drug policies. “The state needs to manage all areas of drug policy: cultivation, production, supply, and consumption,” he said.

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