Pot? Poppies? What's the difference?

High, Matt:

If I had a garden full of marijuana, I'd get a visit from the cops. My neighbor has a garden full of poppies. Why hasn't anybody raided her house?

-- Lawnboy, San Diego

The DEA's horticulture squad is kept hopping what with the weed and all, but if things get slow in the office, maybe they'll be knocking down your neighbor's door too. It all depends on what kind of poppies she's growing. There's a jillion varieties, and they're all related, but only one kind is scary enough to have been named a Schedule II controlled substance. That's Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy. Which doesn't mean there aren't gardens all over the country full of them, because there are, even though that's been illegal since 1942. You can buy the seeds through gardening catalogs and on the spice shelf at the grocery; they're on your everything-bagel and your seedy rye bread and probably half the floats in the Rose Parade. The seeds have never been illegal to buy or sell, since there is little or no opiate in the seeds. But possessing the plant itself can get you busted. The thick white liquid that oozes from the seed pod is the source of the illegal alkaloids that are turned into opium and heroin. But unless granny next door is cultivating acres of P. somniferum, she's probably safe from arrest. A colorful little patch by the front door wouldn�t yield enough sap to pay for the water to grow the things.

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