Saturday, July 03, 2010

How the drug war has warped our justice system, by way of poppies

Michael Pollan, the excellent author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, has an article Opium Made Easy that explores the realites behind poppies and reveals a bunch of surprising facts:
  • You can buy and plant opium-producing poppies easily...but it's illegal to make opium from them.
  • The only reason we don't have poppy farms in the US today is that the government doesn't want it. The government legistlated against it, forcing US drug companies to get the chemicals they still use for drugs from a specific list of Asian countries. This has fostered the idea that that's the only place the poppies can grow...but it's not true.
  • You might think that ornamental poppies don't contain much opium. Actually, varieties that are sold ornamentally can contain plenty.
  • You can easily make opium tea from homegrown poppies...or poppy seed pods you can buy legally.
  • You're unlikely to be bothered for growing poppies...unless you broadcast the facts I've listed so far, such as a fellow Pollan writes about who promoted home opium production and was raided. The government has gone after that guy in a big way.
  • The whole thing serves as a big example of how the drug war has warped a lot of justice out of our justice system. And I say this a someone who has no interest in drugs themselves.
Go read it; it'll provide plenty of food for thought.

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