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Crop rotation

10 April 2014

Nick Miroff has a long article in last Sunday’s (6 April 2014) Washington Post suggesting that Mexican heroin from Mexico is flooding the U.S. as a result of tolerance for marijuana use.

While not presented as sensationalism (it’s no secret that people in the U.S. have always had a tremendous appetite for chemically-enhanced means of altering their moods), the story is misleading in a number of ways.  Patrick Timmons of the Mexican Journalism Translation Project said much what I would write about this, and does so much more succinctly than I would:

I find Miroff’s article about Sinaloa’s poppy production to be deeply, deeply flawed. Poppy production in Sinaloa has absolutely nothing to do with US attempts at legalizing marijuana. Since the late nineteenth century poppies have always been a successful Sinaloa product — the work of Froylán Enciso, currently at UCMexus in San Diego’s proves this, and with stunning attention to archival detail.

opium025The story that the myopic Miroff misses is that marijuana cultivation has significantly expanded to the Laguna, much closer to the US border, and much closer to large bodies of water which marijuana needs to grow. (Poppies are much better suited to Sinaloa’s climate, they need less water, and aren’t damaged, like marijuana is, by the coastal climate.) The story Miroff has missed is that the increase in marijuana cultivation in La Laguna is leading to forms of internal displacement that seem unprecedented. There are strong indications of a huge crisis of land ownership and tenancy in the Laguna. There are transplants to Chihuahua from Sonora who tell of being forced from their lands by the marijuana cultivating narco.

I won’t dispute — not in the slightest — that the United States is a huge consumer of illegal drugs, many of which are cultivated in Mexico, but to say that poppies are being grown more now in Sinaloa because of U.S. legalization efforts is deeply deeply problematic, for the reasons that I have identified above.

I am sorry to see that the WaPost’s Mexico coverage has started to slip in quality, and quite drastically.

(written 9 April for later posting)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. NORM permalink
    11 April 2014 7:53 am

    The increase in heroin in the US is because the US is fighting in a region of the world where they grow the plants that heroin is made from. The heroin is being brought back to the US in returning military hardware, the same way it was brought back in the 60s and 70s. The overdose problem is caused by pure heroin hitting the streets from people who are not part of the normal import chain. It fails to be cut enough times, this to was a problem during the Vietnam era . The heroin problem has little to do with Mexico, the increase in supply is coming from Afghanistan and our military people trying to make extra money. And the weed theory…journalists have to eat to, they will write anything if it has a chance to sell. Just my two cents.


  1. Crop rotation | News on Latin America |

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