Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Promoting tolerance and justice through knowledge and understanding
Death Penalty

Interview with Top Iranian Anti-Drug Official Dr. Ali Hashemi

Fatemeh Isma'ili and Salmaz Khan/Translation by ABC
Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
June 23, 2015
Newspaper article

(Part One)

In the last three decades, a wide array of policies have been implemented in [the fight against drug addiction] in the country. These include arresting drug addicts, criminalizing drug use, treating drug addiction as an illness, reducing supply and demand, prevention, execution of drug traffickers, etc. These policies have been the subjects of various critiques [and criticisms] by experts, as has been the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs itself, the body in charge of controlling supply and demand levels.

The following is the text of an extensive conversation we had with Ali Hashemi, the Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs, on the occasion of June 26, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

In an interview with Iranian Students News Agency, ISNA’s Social [News and Events Desk] reporter, Dr. Ali Hashemi alluded to the complexity of the drug abuse phenomenon. He added: “Many different factors, including cultural, social, economic, and political factors, contribute to the propagation of drug addiction in society. To resolve this ill, therefore, the participation of all relevant bodies and organizations is a must.”

He further stated: “One wrong economic and social decision can be significant in the spread of addiction and can have an inappropriate effect on society, [while the right policy can have the opposite effect].”


The results of the “Young People’s Hope for the Future” opinion poll

Formerly the secretary general of the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs in the Eighth Government [under President Khatami], Mr. Hashemi continued: “In 1996, for instance, an opinion poll that was conducted in Tehran to assess the youth’s level of hope for the future, showed a rate of [optimism] of [just] 30 percent. The same poll was conducted in early 1999, and the results were completely reversed, showing a rate of optimism of up to 80 percent. This shows how effective political participation can be in people’s lives and well-being.”


Drug addiction has resulted in the people’s lack of trust in the government

Early on in his discourse, he stated that various opinion polls conducted over the years indicate that people’s three main concerns are unemployment, inflation, and drug addiction. He added: “Drug addiction has become one of the population’s permanent worries, and has resulted in a sort of lack of trust in, and dissatisfaction with the government: People say that the government either does not want to or is incapable of addressing this issue.”

Hashemi continued: “The complexity of drug abuse, however, is due to numerous factors. Considering its broad reach, as well as the intensity and immediacy of its consequences, its profound effect on social infrastructure, the cost of controlling it, and the fact that drugs and drug addiction are at the root of so many social ills, it can be said with confidence that this phenomenon is a threat to society’s security, which itself is an umbrella concept covering national security, personal security, social, economic, and political security.”


Criticism of making false statistics about drug addiction

He then harshly criticized the process of the announcement of drug-related statistics in country by stating: “Creating false statistics impairs reaching the objectives of the fight against drugs. Unfortunately, the directors of the Headquarters’ Secretariat are continuing on the wrong path of the previous administration. When I left my post at the end of the Eighth Government and turned the Headquarters over to the Ninth Government [President Ahmadinejad’s first four-year administration], there were 3,720,000 [drug] users, 2,500,000 of whom were permanent users and the rest were recreational users.”

Hashemi continued: “At the time, we had, in fact, 2.5 million definitive drug addicts. What on Earth happened then, that, very early on, the Ninth Government declared the statistics to be 750,000 addicts, which, in the course of eight years, this number reached 1,350,000?! Although, by creating these false statistics, they’re still admitting that during the Ninth and Tenth Governments, drug addiction increased almost one hundred percent.

Stating that this phenomenon is clearly visible to all, that 14 or 15 million people in families are affected by it, and that you cannot hide realities, he continued: “Of course the Eleventh Government [the current administration of President Rohani] is not above criticism, since it keeps repeating and announcing these false statistics. Every statistic has a background and a past, but it has a present and a future as well, and [those in charge] must be held accountable.”

The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs further stated: “I am not, of course, saying that we must paint a dark picture, but we must allow realities to be seen and presented to experts, thinkers, the clergy, etc., so that we can find a solution.”


Four million official users in the country in 2011-12

He gave the following statistics: “In 1941-42, there were 1.5 million drug users in the country; in 1970-71, there were 2 million; in 1977-78, 3 million; in 1987-88, 2 million, in 2004-05, 3.76 million; in 2006-07, 750 to 800 thousand, and in 2007-2008 (the Headquarters’ official statistics) 1.2 million.” He then stated: “An epidemiology study was conducted in 2011-12, but the then-President [Ahmadinejad] did not allow the results to be published. The study concluded that there were four million users in the country, including recreational users.”

Noting that in mid-2005, one of the most important indicators was the use of industrially manufactured drugs, the Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs stated: “At that point in time, the number of industrial pill users was under 10,000 and was hardly half a percent, whereas toward the end of the Tenth Government, that number had reached 330,000, according to their own official statistics. On that basis, 26 percent of drug users were inclined to use industrial drugs, and of course unofficial numbers are much higher.”


The highs and lows of the price of industrial drugs, from 172 million Tumans to 5 million Tumans per kilogram

He continued: “Based on a report by the Ministry of Information, the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs, and the Police Force, the price of industrial drugs was 168 to 172 million Tumans per kilogram at the time. Unfortunately, that price dropped down to 5 million Tumans between 2007 and 2010. Subsequent to amending the law and stiffening the punishments in the Expediency Council, the price of industrial drugs has gone up to 10-12 million Tumans; the steps taken have, therefore, not been very effective.”

Hashemi added: “As the Headquarters’ Secretary General between 2002 and 2006, I had issued warnings in several interviews, given the totality of the reports and the information [at my disposal], submitted by the relevant institutions. As for preventive measures, through the Expediency Council’s special efforts, we passed the Plan for the “Management of [Drug] Use Through the Controlled Production and Distribution of Inexpensive Drugs for Drug Addicts”, which was communicated to the then-President Ahmadinejad at the beginning of the Ninth Government. Unfortunately, however, [the authorities’] carelessness resulted in the great tragedy that was switching from consuming natural products to industrial products; we are now witnessing 300,000 users of industrial drugs.”


100 people become addicted to drugs every day

Noting that another major concern is drug use among women, the Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs said: “In the 1990’s the percentage of women addicts was 4.5 percent of all users. Official statistics indicate that that number has now reached 10 percent.”

Hashemi added: “Based on a general assessment conducted in the last decade, eight persons die daily due to drug-related causes. Furthermore, at least 100 people become addicted to drugs every day.”


65 percent of prisoners are incarcerated for drug-related crimes

He also alluded to the number of drug-related arrests and stated: “Since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution until last year, 18 million arrests had been made (including repeat offenders) of which 45 percent were directly related to drugs (traffickers, petty pushers, etc.) and 18-19 percent were indirectly related to drugs, such as instances where a drug addict commits murder, theft, etc. In fact, 65 percent of arrestees and prisoners are in jail for drug-related crimes.”


The time it takes to obtain drugs is down to 2 minutes

“During my tenure,” he continued, “the time it took to access drugs was 25 minutes. A short while ago, I had travelled to a northern town to conduct some research, and I talked to a drug addict. He said all he had to do was make a call and he would have the drugs he wanted in 2 minutes. About seven years, on an official visit to a drug addiction rehabilitation camp, one addict told me he could have drugs brought to him by courier in 10 minutes. Why are drugs [dealing with which] can result in execution, prison, and cause numerous harms to families, as well as create dozens of other social ills, so easily accessible? Unfortunately, this is indicative of the disastrous state of drug distribution in the country.”

Stating that according to official statistics, 63 percent of drug addicts are married, the Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs added: “Assuming that each of these individuals has two children on average, then we have 1.4 million children with drug addict fathers, and they are in real danger.”


21 percent of laborers in large industrial settings are drug addicts

Hashemi also noted the rate of addiction in workers and said: “Laborers are the cornerstone of Resistance Economics (a term coined by the leader of the Islamic Revolution to emphasize the need to build the economy in spite of international sanctions, using domestic means and manpower). Based on the latest statistics, 21 percent of laborers in large industrial settings are drug addicts.”


The highest rate of drug use is among the 35 to 39 year old segment of the population

He then proceeded to announce the results of an extensive research conducted by Dr. Taqi Azad Barmaki, published in an article in 2011-12: “In 2011-12, the approximate number of drug users was estimated at 3,150,000 individuals. Of these, 52.19 percent of addicts used opium, 2.83 percent used opium residue, 9.77 used heroin, 3.08 used ecstasy, 26.22 used methamphetamines, 15.94 percent used crack, and 6.43 percent used hashish. Some of these people had multiple addictions and that is why the total of these percentages exceeds one hundred.”

The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs also provided some statistics regarding the age distribution of drug users: “The over 60 age group has the lowest, and the 35 to 39 year old segment of the population has the highest rate of drug use.”


Hashemi added: “On the basis [of that same research], 5.6 percent of addicts first experimented with drugs before the age of 15, and the average age for first time use is 19 to 21.”

Regarding the location where use occurred for the first time, he says: “38.77 percent first used drugs at a friend’s home, 22.46 percent in their own home, 8.29 percent in parks, 7.22 percent in run down buildings, 5.88 percent in student dormitories, 4.81 percent at work, 3.74 percent at school, and 2.41 percent in military barracks.”

Hashemi continued: “Based on this research, 33.7 percent of addicts use drugs several times a day.”


28 percent of people have a positive attitude toward drug use

He also alluded to an opinion poll conducted by the Iranian Students Opinion Poll Center: “According to this opinion poll, of the 1280 people polled in the entire country, the average number expressing a desire for drug use was 16.81 percent, which is alarming in and of itself. Also, on average, 28 percent of people have a positive attitude toward drug use.”

The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs added: “65.5 percent of those interviewed stated that the drug situation would get worse in the future, which means they are not hopeful about the actions undertaken.”

He noted that, for more than 77 percent of the population, the main factor in preventing and controlling drug use is the individual him/herself, then it is the family, third, it is friends, and fourth, it is the government. “This is both good and bad,” he said. “If the family is aware and well-informed, it can be a very good controlling factor.”


After 35 years, we still don’t have an effective monitoring center in the country

Noting that as of the first half of 2015, we’re still suffering from a lack of accurate statistics and information regarding drug addiction, he stated: “Instead of distributing its budget among various government organs, the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs itself, must monitor the situation to ascertain the effectiveness of the actions that have been undertaken.”

The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs added: “Why should we not have an effective center for gathering statistics and for monitoring at the Headquarters after 35 years? We need a center that can constantly monitor regional, national, and provincial developments and be accountable, so that we don’t suddenly we wake up one day and realize that the number of industrial drugs users has shot up from 10,000 to 400,000.”

Hashemi emphasized: “In fact, the Headquarters must use specialized and professional manpower to monitor the situation, to conduct important and significant research, and make an accurate assessment of the relevant organs’ performances.”


(Part Two)

Establishment of a National Organization for Addiction and Social Harm Management, the necessity of targeted production and distribution of maintenance drugs domestically, and making good use of the capacities of companies and industries in fighting worker addiction through implementation of the Companies Social Responsibility Plan, are some of the alternatives the Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs proposes in order to address the drug addiction crisis.

In part two of his interview with Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Ali Hashemi proceeds to explain the existing deficiencies, challenges, and barriers to resolving the drug addiction problem. He believes the country’s unwritten strategy regarding illicit drugs is “let the problem linger” and states: “What we do, in effect, is wait for drug traffickers to import the drugs, for the users to use the drugs, and for the relevant organs to get their budgets to fight the drugs. It’s as if we’re supposed to keep continuing on this path, whereas the plan was to reduce the problems.”

He continues: “Financial profits, significant demand, and the faulty infrastructure of the fight against drugs, are the three main reasons for this ongoing crisis.”


The cost of illicit drugs to the country’s economy is 40 thousand billion Tumans annually, not 10 thousand billion!

Hashemi describes the illicit drugs economy: “In 2004-5, a research study on the economics of illicit drugs was conducted in conjunction with the Organization for Planning and Budget, and was published in book form and put at the disposal of the authorities. That research indicated that the cost of illicit drug to the country’s economy that year was 12 billion dollars, equivalent to 10 thousand billion Tumans.

In today’s terms, 2004-5’s 12 billion dollar cost is 40 thousand billion Tumans. Assuming that number, and 2 million addicts, the cost of each addict to the economy is 20 million Tumans a year. The daily cost of the phenomenon to the economy is a very significant 100 billion Tumans.”


The family of the drug addicts’ money fills the pockets of the Mafia

Hashemi states that he had recently asked the Headquarters Secretariat to conduct a research study in conjunction with Shahid Beheshti University, on the economics of illicit drugs under current circumstances. He says: “45 percent of this 40 thousand billion Tuman is related to drug use and flies out of the family of drug addicts’ pockets into the Mafia’s. The Mafia commits numerous crimes with this money including money laundering, bribery, etc.”

The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs adds: “Furthermore, the government spends 10 thousand million Tumans annually in the fight against drugs and in controlling addiction. According to the aforementioned estimate, 65 percent of criminals are in jail for drug-related crimes; therefore, the Prisons Organization’s budget must be allocated to these criminals in that same percentage. Allocations to the Welfare [Organization], the Emdad (Rescue) Committee, the Police Force, and other relevant organizations for purposes of fighting drug addiction, can be analyzed in the same vein.”


The Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs’ weak performance is another reason for the persistence of drug addiction in the country.


The Headquarters continues the mistake of distributing its budget among various organs.

Stating that the Headquarters’ approximate 100 billion Tuman budget must be spent in empowerment programs, he adds: “The Headquarters must keep research, monitoring, the encouragement of directors of organs that perform well, etc., on its agenda, and not distribute its budget among various departments. This is a mistake and it keeps recurring. Unfortunately, one of the reasons for the inefficiency of the fight against drugs is that these budgets never become transparent.”

He emphasizes: “The headquarters’ direct budget must, in effect, be the driving force of the organs. Another problem is lack of fundamental and academic personnel training. It seems to me that the establishment of a university for the [epistemological] study and understanding of addiction and illicit drugs is necessary.


The Headquarters has a structural problem

The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs enumerates other problems with the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs’ performance and functioning: “The President [of the Islamic Republic] is the Head of the Headquarters for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs. As time has gone by, the President has attended the Headquarters meetings less and less, so that, in the last 10 years, there have been maybe three or four meetings where the President has been present.”

Emphasizing that the Headquarters’ [organizational] structure has an issue, he says: “The President doesn’t have time, the Interior Minister is busy, and the work is done by [deputies and] acting [directors]. You can’t make progress that way. Having said that, even if the existing structure is reformed, 50 percent of the problems will be solved.

If an independent secretary general takes over as substitute for the President, there will still be some hope for the fight. Currently, even if the Interior Minister makes every effort, he can give 10 percent of his time to the Headquarters, at best. For instance, he is busy for the rest of the year because of the elections at the end of the year. Of course, he has many other duties and responsibilities as well.”

He states that in the past few days, the President has attended the Headquarters’ first meeting out of concern for drug addiction, a destructive problem in the country. The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs adds: “I personally thank the President for following up on this issue and for the important directives that were issued in said meeting, which include providing insurance coverage for drug addicts, protecting families against drug addiction, and paying serious attention to young people’s free time.”


Proposing the establishment of the National Organization for Drug Addiction and Social Harm Management

Stating that the establishment of the National Organization for Drug Addiction and Social Harm Management is a necessity for accountability at the national level, he continues: “In accordance with Paragraph 11 of the General Policies issued by the Supreme Leader, decision-making in this regard is a top priority. This Organization must be an agile planning, directing, coordinating, and constantly monitoring body, as well as a visionary, facilitating, mission-based, prioritizing, assessor of all activities. This Organization does not play an executive role and, given its responsibilities, must have appropriate authority; its principal role is management and control of demand, as it is the most serious challenge of the coming decades.”


The country’s macro plans do not have social cohesion

Reviewing the demand for illicit drugs, he says: “Economic, social, etc., shortcomings play a role in the increase in demand for drugs. Take a look at the country’s macro plans. Goal-oriented subsidies do not have social cohesion. On the other hand, we face a significant unemployment problem, and there is no cohesive and goal-oriented plan for young people’s free time, whereas they should be provided with recreational and cultural facilities as needed, and at reasonable cost.”

The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs emphasized the necessity to come up with an effective model in order to decrease demand in the country: “In the first two decades after the victory of the Revolution, we used 90 percent of our capabilities to address supply, and 10 percent to address demand. In the last 15 years, 70 percent of our capabilities have been concentrated on supply, and 30 percent on demand. Prevention is an important element in reducing demand, and this is an area where we have performed very poorly, especially in industrial drugs which are our major concern.

Noting that 80 to 90 percent of the implementation of policies and plans for decreasing demand in the world is relegated to the private sector and NGO’s, Mr. Hashemi says: “The government must empower NGO’s, teach them skills and control [mechanisms], and finally facilitate [their functions].”

Regarding existing laws for the fight against drugs, he says: “We don’t have any problems where macro-policies for fighting addiction are concerned. The law is fairly comprehensive, it just has not been fully implemented. There is an emphasis, among others, on the elimination of the economic attractiveness of illicit drugs.”


There is no serious cohesion either at the national level or [within and among governmental] organs

He continues: “We were supposed to proceed in unison. Currently, however, there is no serious cohesion either at the national level or [within and among governmental] organs. In one organ, several deputyships are at odds with each other and have no internal cohesion. The increase in drug addiction in society is a result of the inefficiency of all the various sectors.

In order to find a way out of this morass, priority must be given to policy-making for, planning, and implementing social development programs and to social development [in general]. Drug use has, unfortunately, become a lifestyle for some. In prevention programs, therefore, attention must be given to providing appropriate lifestyles models.”


The Mafia’s footprints are everywhere

Hashemi says: “Sometimes we feel as though there are [impediments resembling] weights attached to our feet that do not allow us to implement the law. These weights consist of the Mafia, and its footprints are everywhere. The drug Mafia is, of course, organized and since it’s highly profitable, it tries to infiltrate wherever it can, unfortunately bringing certain corrupt elements inside and outside [the country] into [its activities].”


Discovery [and seizure] of [only] 5 tons of methamphetamine, while use is 50 tons!

He states: “Last year, meth use was 50 tons and our maximum discovery [and seizure of the drug] was only 5 tons. From 1983-84 until early 2014, 91,891 tons of opium was produced, whereas our total seizure was 7,728 tons, which is 8.5 percent of the total weight produced. If we calculate hashish and heroin using the opium weight measure, seizure reaches 10.5 percent. These statistics are indicative of the necessity to revise and reform the methods for fighting drugs.


Existing approaches for resolving the drug addiction crisis

Continuing his statements at ISNA, The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs talks about existing approaches to resolving the drug addiction crisis, and about foreign diplomacy; he has a new proposal for increasing cooperation in overcoming this issue.

We ask Hashemi about the policy of bringing the fight against drugs (upon which [President Rohani’s administration] places great emphasis) to the fore in [and involving] society [as a whole] [a concept he calls “socialization”]. He responds: “I first presented the concept of “socialization” in the 2000’s when I had responsibilities at the Headquarters, but it was, unfortunately, too late to be implemented in the Eighth Government [President Khatami’s second term in office]. Currently, Dr. Rahmani Fazli has fortunately picked up on this policy. “Socialization” has broad possibilities: the fact that we can delegate 80 percent of drug rehabilitation [activities] to the private sector is a major occurrence, in line with that policy.”


First approach: the necessity of the “Companies Social Responsibilities” Plan

The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs alludes to the necessity of the “Companies Social Responsibilities” Plan and says: “The government is financially strapped, but companies have significant capabilities, and have separate allocations in the budget, which might even be three times the government budget. These companies conduct business and make profits; but how much [do they, and] do they want to spend on the well-being of their workplace and their society? This is the most moral approach and we have not, thus far, considered [and implemented it].

We must come up with mechanisms whereby the interrelation between companies, the government, and the people amounts to a mutually win-win situation. It is time companies’ social responsibility is brought into the realm of the “socialization” of the fight against drugs, in a serious way.

Additionally, we have the two elections of Majles and the Experts’ Council coming up, and, drug addiction being the concern of 90 percent of the population, [candidates and] representatives must announce their plans for reigning it in. The people’s concerns and demands must be the concerns of managers and candidates.”


Second approach: targeted production and distribution of maintenance drugs in the country

One of The Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs’ greatest regrets was [the non-implementation of] the law for the planting of “corn poppy” for the purpose of production of maintenance drugs and targeted distribution thereof among drug addicts. He says: “In the 2000’s, we were able to convince all the organs for the first time, and obtain an Expediency Council Directive for corn poppy farming. Our goal was to manage and control use through domestic cultivation, rather than fight drug traffickers. The objective was to eliminate economic advantage from [the equation of] this phenomenon.

Through production of the plant by Jahad Keshavarzi (a government department engaged in agriculture) and utilization of inexpensive maintenance drugs by the Ministry of health, we could have managed an addict who cost 300,000 Tumans a year, with only 15,000 Tumans. The addict would have been able to obtain his drug every morning from a pharmacy, using a smart card. He wouldn’t fall prey to traffickers, wouldn’t go to jail, his children wouldn’t get involved with drugs, and we would not be facing such great numbers of addiction to industrial drugs. Dozens of corrupting factors could have been controlled.

This directive was communicated to the government but coincided with the change of administrations, and the Ninth and Tenth Governments [Ahmadinejad’s administrations] did not follow it up. At the time of General Ahmadi Moghadam’s tenure as Headquarters’ Secretary General, opium syrup was produced for a limited time, but rotted in storage because of conflicts and disagreements [among authorities], leading to the tragedy that is change in the consumption pattern.”


No addict can quit drugs for the rest of his life

Stating that one cannot, of course, overlook appropriate and positive steps taken by previous administrations in the fight against drugs, which continue today, the Expediency Council’s Head of the Independent Committee for the Fight Against Illicit Drugs states: “Currently 700,000 users are under initial treatment. Of these, 20,000 quit every year. On the other hand, 40,000 users are added. Therefore, inexpensive drugs must always be available. One can easily say that no addict can quit permanently.

The result is that harm decreases. If the vice of use gets the number 1, the consequences of the vice of drug addiction get the number 100. If we are able to take just one person away from drug addiction even for an hour, and make them busy with medications, we have taken a huge step to reducing the harm it entails for the country.

Had cultivation of corn poppy materialized, we would have been able to manage drug use ourselves, and many of the harms caused by addiction would have been controlled.”


Weakness of [our] diplomacy concerning illicit drugs

Concerning international diplomacy regarding illicit drugs, he says: “We are very weak in international affairs. Also, we are the number one victims (more than 30,000 armed and unarmed skirmishes, close to 20,000 martyrs and injuries, etc.) of narco-terrorism (terrorism stemming from illicit drugs) in the world. But in the fight against narco-terrorism, we are also number in terms of discoveries [and seizures of drugs and traffickers].

Managers and others involved in this sector must devise new strategies to utilize international opportunities.

The extraordinary session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning illicit drugs will take place in New York next March-April, with heads of state in attendance. It is necessary for the Islamic Republic to participate in this session at the highest managerial level.

In this session, there will be policy-making for the world for the next 10 years, about important drug-related issues such as drugs and society’s health and well-being, crime, human rights, the youth, women, children, new challenges, and alternative development. Since [in recent years], during the Ninth and Tenth Governments, our diplomacy had been one that created challenges [and friction in our relations with the rest of the world], sanctions had a negative effect and we could not participate in many meetings; we were not provided with equipment [and facilities] and there was no possibility of conducting joint research with other countries.”

In closing, Hashemi alludes to the Supreme Leader’s post script to the general policies in the fight against illicit drugs: “His Excellency voiced serious concerns at the time, as follows:

‘Honorable Heads of the three branches of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Peace Be Upon You

Seyyed Ali Khamenei

October 1, 2008’

As you can see, the Supreme Leader’s concerns remain valid more than ever, given the change in consumption patterns. It is necessary that all officials follow His Excellency’s policies seriously and firmly in the fight against the scourge of drugs.”