, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 55-74

Insights for Contemporary Drug Policy: A Historical Account of Opium Control in India and Pakistan

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Abstract

Opium, as a tradable commodity, has a long history in the Indian sub-continent. This article offers a history of the production and distribution of both licit and illicit opium from 1773 to the present day in order to explore the lessons that the experiences of Indian and Pakistani can offer to contemporary drug policy. Four insights for contemporary drug control policy are developed from the historical analysis: (1) post-independence Pakistan and India illustrate the difficulties of controlling a regulated, licit, opium industry; (2) the relationship between Chinese and Indian opium production and exports may suggest that competition can be an effective impetus to production suppression; (3) developmental approaches to reducing production can limit the damages caused by opium suppression; (4) effective suppression requires alterations to institutional and structural conditions that facilitate production (i.e. reducing violent conflict, improving civil and criminal justice institutions efficiency or extending transport infrastructures).