The Americas

Mexican governor makes waves by touting legal opium poppies

The governor of one of Mexico's most violent states is making waves by proposing to let impoverished farmers grow opium poppies for legal medical use.

Many people in remote mountain communities of Guerrero state already grow plots of poppies, which are bought by drug cartels. The state now supplies about half the heroin used in the United States.

Guerrero Gov. Hector Astudillo suggested this week that farmers be allowed to produce opium for legal medical use, though he later said his comments were more thinking-out-loud than a concrete proposal.

Some say that if more farmers worked for the legal market, it could undermine the power of drug cartels that are now their only buyers. But others say there would be no way to regulate production in the lawless mountain regions.