Farmers who make a living growing opium are not the enemy, according to panelists at the debate entitled “Drugs and Development: Punishing the Poor,” held February 20 as part of the Central European University School of Public Policy (SPP) debate series co-sponsored by the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program.

"The cultivation of drugs is a sign of poverty rather than a sign of wealth,” said Julia Buxton, head of International Relations and Security Studies, Peace Studies, at the University of Bradford, UK. “Development policy emphasizes community participation, but we cannot engage with drug producers because they are viewed as criminals.”

Rather than a “war,” our treatment of the drug problem must be approached as a development issue, a security issue, and a health issue, the panelists said.

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