Poppy farmers in Mexico who helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic say that the price of opium paste — the key ingredient in heroin — has dropped so dramatically that many have stopped growing poppies and are returning to cannabis as their primary cash crop, Fox News reports.

With legalization continuing to spread across the U.S., cartel cannabis smuggled in from Mexico is growing increasingly obsolete, so farmers in the Guerrero state hamlets of Tenantla and Amatitlan switched some years ago to poppy flowers. However, cartels these days are more focused on pushing synthetic opioids like fentanyl and the price of naturally grown opioids has plummeted, sparking a revival of cannabis crops in Mexico’s mountainous southwestern region.

“If I’m working three months to make just 5,000 pesos ($250), I might as well do something else. It’s easier to plant marijuana. It isn’t so prone to pests.” — Farmer speaking under anonymity with Fox News

Many believe that a legal, regulated cannabis marketplace in Mexico would help the impoverished rural farmers who have historically worked for — and suffered under — criminal cartels. Humberto Nava Reyna, who heads the Supreme Council of the Towns of the Filo Mayor, has argued for development projects to help mountain farmers.

“We all know the economy of this region, the high mountains of Guerrero, has been based on growing marijuana and opium poppies. … What we are asking is that be regulated and regularized.” — Humberto Nava Reyna, in an interview with Fox News

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