A military patrol flies over a Mexican poppy plantation. A military patrol flies over a Mexican poppy plantation.

Poppies replacing pot in Mexico’s drug fields

Opium poppy plantations located by the military up 26% in one year

Once a staple crop for drug traffickers, marijuana is giving way to the opium poppy.


Between 2016 and 2017, the amount of land on which opium poppy plantations were discovered and destroyed by the Mexican Army grew by 26%, from 22,235 to 28,221 hectares.

During the same period, land on which marijuana plantations were located dropped 24%, from 5,395 to 4,086 hectares.

Profit is one of the main drivers behind the larger opium poppy production and its increase, military sources told the newspaper Reforma.

According to figures from the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR), drug traffickers earn US $80 per kilogram of marijuana, while the same amount of heroin — an opium byproduct — can be sold for $35,000.

Mexico is now the third largest producer of opium poppies in the world, behind only the Asian countries of Afghanistan and Myanmar, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Guerrero is the state with the largest amount of land dedicated to growing poppies, followed by the Golden Triangle states of Durango, Sinaloa and Chihuahua.

Military officials believe the states of Oaxaca, Michoacán, Nayarit, Jalisco and Sonora are red flag areas, given the growth seen in the number of opium poppy plantations over the last three years.

The United States State Department acknowledged in April that it intended to fund a redoubled opium poppy eradication program after detecting a surge in recent years.

This comes at a time when the number of overdose-related deaths in that country reached record levels. In 2015, there were 54,404 such deaths, or 149 per day.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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  • Güerito

    Of course marijuana legalization in the US is causing some of this, too.

  • WestCoastHwy

    Senor Guerito, (sorry for the non-Spanish keyboard) you state that recreational cannabis legalization in the USA has affected poppy growth in Mexico, well I don’t see it that way, let me explain: USA cannabis compared with Mexican Brick Weed (MBW) is an insult. The true reason behind the poppy increased growth over MBW is just that, the quality. You can go to any current State’s dispensary and buy quality cannabis that is out of this world. I assume you’re a beer drinker and your favorite drink is some rot gut domestic or you are some kind of box wine drinker; you get my point. So, please understand that false context can lead ignorant people astray.

  • bob

    I drove past a field of opium poppies several times in northern Michoacan. it was right by the road and plainly visible to anyone who knew what the poppies looked like. That was a couple years ago. Haven’t been back to that area recently.

    • WestCoastHwy

      I would advise you not to, I believe the State Department will not respond to USA citizen’s requests for help if: kidnapped, robbed, extorted, held by local security and torched, lost passport, medical assistance, any or all legal assistance…..etc, you get the picture.