Is There Such Thing as a Legal Poppy?

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In the United States of America, opium is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Furthermore, "Opium poppy and poppy straw" are also prohibited. However, this is not generally enforced for poppies grown or sold for ornamental or food purposes.

Some confusion in the law exists because opium-producing poppies are broadly grown around the USA and Canada and the opium poppy seeds are commonly used in cooking, baking, and various desserts. Poppy seeds that are sold in almost every retail grocery store in the USA contain low levels of opiates. Poppy pods are frequently used in dried flower arrangements by florists and craft hobbyists.

Even though general opium poppy cultivation in the United Kingdom does not need a licence, those wishing to extract opium for medicinal products do need a licence.

Opium that is used for legal commercial pharmaceutical purposes is only grown with special government licenses around the world, although small quantities of it is actually grown inside the United States. Large scale illegal underground opium poppy growing is reported to take place in countries such as Afghanistan, Mexico, and Asia. Considerable amounts of the produced opium is refined into heroin because it is easier to transport and brings in a much higher price than raw opium.

Dried Poppy Pods

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