The country that supplies the lion's share of the world's opium has become the top cannabis producer as well, according to report from the UN's drug agency. Other countries have more land devoted to marijuana, UNDOC chief Antonio Maria Costa says, but Afghan farmers achieve "astonishingly high" yields, producing an estimated 1,500 to 3,500 metric tons of marijuana a year.
The expansive growth is due in part to the low labor costs of growing pot, which are about three time cheaper than those of opium: The net income from about 2.5 acres is $3,341 for the former, $2,005 for the latter. Some of the marijuana is smoked in Afghanistan but large amounts are exported, and insurgents profit from controlling drug smuggling routes. "As with opium, the bottom line is to improve security and development in drug-producing regions in order to wean farmers off illicit crops," Costa told Reuters.
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