MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The governor of a violent, crime-ridden Mexican state that produces much of the local opium used to make heroin on Tuesday backed a proposal from the next government to decriminalize cultivation of opium poppies.
Olga Sanchez, the designated interior minister of incoming president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has said the next administration will explore decriminalizing marijuana and regulating opium production for pharmaceutical use.
“It’s time,” Guerrero state Governor Hector Astudillo told Mexican radio. “I’m delighted that a different way of dealing with the poppy is finally going to be explored.”
A member of outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto’s defeated Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Astudillo in 2016 himself floated the idea of legalizing medicinal cultivation of opium poppies to tackle mounting drug gang violence.
“To curb the violence, we must look for another approach to poppy cultivation, not only in Guerrero but in the golden triangle,” he said, referring to the region in the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Durango where large quantities of marijuana and poppies are grown.
“Because it’s such…