Is it Legal to Grow Poppy Flowers?


The only kind of poppy that cannot be grown legally in the United States is the opium poppy, which is scientifically known as Papaver somniferum. This plant, which is native to Europe, thrives best in the Mediterranean climes that may be found in the plant hardiness zones 8 to 10 of the United States Department of Agriculture. The milky material that oozes from its seed pod is used to manufacture a range of extremely addictive painkillers. This is the reason why the United States Drug Enforcement Agency is looking into the plant (USDEA).


Opium is classified as a Schedule II substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The potential for misuse or dependence of certain drugs is taken into consideration when classifying them into one of five schedules. Drugs classified as Schedule I have the greatest potential for misuse or dependence, while those classified as Schedule V have the least. The United States imports all of the opium that is used in the manufacturing of medicinal goods because other nations strictly restrict its production.


Because the unripe seed pods of the Papaver somniferum plant contain the milky fluid that may be scraped off and dried to create opium, it is against the law to cultivate Papaver somniferum in the United States. This is because ownership of the plant can be construed as possession of the narcotic. Heroin, which is derived from opium and is classified as a Schedule I substance, does not yet have any medicinal use. This plant may also be used to make morphine and codeine, which contributes to the urgency of the need for control.


Although it is against the law to cultivate Papaver somniferum, there are a number of seed firms that legally sell the plant’s seeds. The seeds, which do not contain opium, are used in the production of salad dressings, bread goods, and soaps. Although it is acceptable to consume the seeds, the milky fluid that is produced by the plant is very poisonous to both people and animals and should be avoided at all costs.


Papaver somniferum may reach a height of up to 3 feet and has blooms that can be apricot, pink, white, or blue in colour. Each flower has between 4 and 8 petals that are around 3 inches in length. It thrives on soil that drains quickly and likes to be in the sun all day. The seeds are often a dark grey to black hue and have an oily consistency. The plant grows as an annual that self-sows in regions that are colder, but in places that are warmer it may be able to thrive all year round.

Legal Varieties

There are several types of opium poppy that may be lawfully cultivated. Both the prickly poppy (Argemone polyanthemos, USDA zones 2 to 11) and the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica, USDA zones 8 to 10) are endemic to the western region of the United States. Neither of these species possess the component that is necessary for the production of opium. Although neither is considered an invasive species, the wind may quickly disperse the plants’ small seeds, which allows the plants to easily exit garden beds.