Historically, Vietnam's opium production and consumption was confined to northern mountainous areas. However, under French colonial rule, opium production was systematized, resulting in the widespread cultivation of the opium poppy. Following its independence from France in 1945, the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) experienced tension between prohibitionist objectives and the reality of the role that opium production played in the socioeconomic arena. This tension resulted in dissimilar policies in different regions of the newborn state. While opium cultivation and consumption was tolerated in the mountainous areas, consumption of the drug in other areas outside the producing regions was forbidden.

During the Second Indochina War (1959–75), heroin use had become a serious problem in South Vietnam, mainly among American troops and Vietnamese soldiers. Following ...

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