Pod People Perils

If you were wondering how to transform your homegrown opium into heroin, the new, expanded edition of Jim Hogshire’s Opium for the Masses (Feral House) can help. But the most interesting aspect of the book, first published in 1994, is still its demonstration of how the war on drugs has become a war on knowledge.

People who grow or distribute fresh flowers or dried pods of the opium-producing Papaver somniferum are committing a federal felony if they know the secret Hogshire enthusiastically reveals: Contrary to government misinformation, decorative poppies and opium poppies are frequently one and the same. The ban is widely violated by craft stores, florists, and gardeners.

Hogshire himself is one of the few Americans ever arrested for poppy possession. Although his drug charges ultimately were dropped, it’s weird that he does not mention the experience, since the authorities probably would not have pursued the case against him had he not written a book debunking the government’s poppycock.

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