DEA Leading Americas Drug War Down The Garden Path

  DEA Leading Americas Drug War Down The Garden Path

Posted by FoM on November 13, 2000 at 08:00:44 PT
By Steve Stephens, Dispatch Metro Columnist  
Source: Columbus Dispatch 

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is after my wife. Not directly, of course. Di has never smoked so much as a cigarette. She gets tipsy on a half-glass of wine. But she loves to garden and work her flower beds, which now makes her a suspect in the eyes of the DEA. The evidence came with the arrival of the first seed catalog of the season, usually a joyous event in our household, a bulwark against the gloom of growing darkness and a harbinger of distant spring. 
And the Thompson & Morgan catalog is a horticulturalist's delight. Accurate, comprehensive and illustrated with photos that in the dank Ohio autumn seem heartbreakingly beautiful, the catalog promised Di 202 pages of unending pleasure. But on Page 2, next to a quarter-page photo of a lovely flower with petals like strips of bright red crepe, waited a chilling message: Sorry Not Available:We regret, due to ruling by the Drug Enforcement Administration, we are unable to supply somniferum poppies to the United States. My wife was appalled. Generations of gardeners have grown P. somniferum without becoming opium fiends. But the feds no longer trust Di and her ilk. I called the DEA field office in Columbus to check on poppy madness. The agent, who didn't want his name in the paper, hadn't heard that poppies were illegal. Good news, but small comfort. When I turned to Title 21 of the U.S. Code, I found that the "opium poppy'' is indeed a Schedule II controlled substance. Simple possession is a crime punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine. And someone who sends his sweetie a poppy bouquet -- that is to say, distributes a Schedule II controlled substance -- faces a prison term of 20 years and a $1 million fine. The opium poppy -- which goes by a variety of names, including P. somniferum, P. paeoniflorum, P. giganteum, bread-seed poppy and florist's poppy -- grows in tens of thousands of gardens in this country. Apparently the only things keeping tens of thousands of gardeners out of prison are a lack of bunk space and the goodness -- and perhaps ignorance -- of DEA agents. Although Thompson & Morgan refuses to sell poppy seeds, dozens of other suppliers still seem perfectly willing. In the Pure Land Ethnobotanical catalog, the seed-seller warns: While (P. somniferum) seeds are completely legal, they may or may not be legal to sow in some areas and are not offered for sowing purposes. The Park Seed Catalog from spring 2000 doesn't even bother with niceties. Park sells a packet of demon P. somniferum, either White Cloud or Oase, for $1.60, or two for $2.90, straight up with no warning. The American Horticultural Society also seems perfectly willing to abet felons. The society's new Practical Guide to Annuals and Biennials offers, on Page 73, tips on breaking America's drug laws (Opium poppy -- sow in spring. Often self-seeds.) Something seems screwy, and that something is the DEA. But it's easy to see why the drug warriors might be worried. Brewing a potent opium tea is comically easy, if posts to the Web site (subtitled "The continuing adventures of the world's most controversial flower'') are true. Even the seeds on poppy-seed bagels originate with P. somniferum. If dropped on the ground, the seeds might well germinate and turn the litterer from slob to felon. And many poppy gardeners report success growing somniferum poppies from the seeds found in any grocery-store spice aisle. The DEA has had a tiny bit of success against coke-heads and drug lords. But it has never before taken on a force as powerful and single- minded as America's gardeners. The drug warriors should beware what they sow. Steve Stephens is a Dispatch Metro columnist. He can be reached at 614-461-5201 or sstephen dispatch.comSource: Columbus Dispatch (OH)Author: Steve Stephens, Dispatch Metro ColumnistPublished: Monday, November 13, 2000Copyright: 2000, The Columbus DispatchAddress: 34 S. Third St., Columbus, OH 43215Contact: letters dispatch.comWebsite: DEA Archives:

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Comment #3 posted by FoM on November 13, 2000 at 18:15:08 PT

One More Time

Hi Mari,Try to register and post one more time and if it doesn't work I'll send this on to Matt Elrod the Webmaster and see if he can figure it out. We now have a recent comments page. This will help us find new comments easily.Peace, FoM! I recommend bookmarking this new page. New Comments
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Comment #2 posted by Mari on November 13, 2000 at 18:01:17 PT


 LOL!!That is always the first thing that I think when I see anything about the poppy flower!I was very young when my father explained to me WHY the poppies made them sleep. Fom,I registered some weeks back but my name doesn't come up red.Did I goof somewhere?
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Comment #1 posted by observer on November 13, 2000 at 09:26:36 PT

Poppies! Poppies!

A-hah! So, you won't take warning, eh? All the worse for you, then! I'll take care of you now instead of later! Hah! When I gain those ruby slippers, my power will be the greatest in Oz! And now, my beauties! Something with poison in it, I think. With poison in it, but attractive to the eye and soothing to the smell! Poppies! Poppies! Poppies will put them to sleep.Sleep - now they'll sleep. -- Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Ozsee also: 
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