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Expert opinion divided over poppy regulation
The governor of Guerrero has said that regulating the use of the poppy for medical purposes would bring to an end the dispute among organized crime groups that produce it. (Photo: Reuters)

Expert opinion divided over poppy regulation in Mexico

08/05/2016
13:02
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According to security analyst Alejandro Hope, if poppy was regulated domestic consumption would only give about US$73 per year to each of the almost 50,000 producers.

By Esther Sánchez 

Expert opinion is divided over the proposal of Héctor Astudillo, governor of Guerrero, to regulate poppy cultivation for medical purposes and help combat poverty among growers in the state.

However, they agree on the need to do so, as the opiate is a raw material used in the production of multiple morphine-based drugs and Mexico is the largest producer in the Americas.

“It would not help fight poverty,” said Alejandro Hope, a security analyst. He explained that given the global market conditions for raw materials derived from poppies, "is almost unthinkable that the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) will grant export licenses to Mexico."

As for domestic consumption, it would give about 1,304 pesos (US$73) per year to each of the almost 50,000 producers. 

"Even if we multiplied this amount by five to 10, this income would not bring anyone out of poverty," Hope explained.

Astudillo has also said that regulating the use of the poppy for medical purposes would bring to an end the dispute among organized crime groups that produce it.

"Demand for illegal heroin in the United States will continue with or without legal production of opium in Guerrero. Consequently, legal production would complement, not replace, illegal production," Hope added.

Catalina Pérez Correa, who works at the Division of Legal Studies of the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), and Rogelio Gómez Hermosillo, international consultant on social programs, agree that the effect of regularizing production would be minimal.

Pérez said that it would help if fair prices are set, because "otherwise raw material would continue to be purchased at very low prices, as it happens today. However, it would prevent the State from criminalizing and impoverishing these communities."

Gómez also thinks that regulation would not have a big effect on the economic development of these communities.

However Dr. Arnoldo Kraus is convinced that regulation, based on ethical principles and respect for producers, would indeed help to combat poverty because growers would not have to "sell their lives" to drug traffickers.

Juan Francisco Torres Landa, secretary general of the NGO México Unido contra la Delincuencia (Mexico United Against Crime), also thinks that regulation would be useful because this substance is required in the pharmaceutical industry and it is imported from far away places like Turkey.

"If we have the right weather and physical conditions, it is crazy that we prefer to continue giving space and benefits to crime," he explained.

The question is why we have been slow to do so, Torres added.

 

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