The governor of Mexico's largest opium producing state that supplies around half the heroin in the US has proposed farmers be allowed to grow opium for legal use.
Hector Astudillo suggested that poor farmers currently forced into growing poppies for drug cartels in order to make enough money to survive should be allowed to produce opium for medical use, AP reported.
The idea of legitimising the growing of poppies for legal opium has provoked mixed reactions, with some saying it would undermine the power of drug cartels, which currently buy from the farmers, while others say the lack of government control in growing areas could be problematic.
Lisa Sanchez from NGO Mexico United Against Crime told AP: "The debate has to be oriented toward legal routes for growing poppies, because any orderly market would take power away from the cartels and reduce the violence, even though that is not a magic solution, nor the only one."
But the representative in Mexico for the UN Office of Drugs and Crime deemed the proposal unviable, explaining that there was not enough demand for medical opium to justify increased production.
In addition it is expected there would be high costs around monitoring the production of legally-grown poppies in mountainous areas. However, the governor was keen to stress that his comments were not a proposal but him "thinking out loud".
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