Hit & Run

How To Make Drugs: A Lesson From Your Friendly Government


The US Drug Enforcement Agency has an astonishingly thorough guide to growing and harvesting opium poppies, then converting the products into morphine and heroin. There are even photos and diagrams of the process, information on growing cycles and climate, and detailed instructions. An excerpt:

An empty 55-gallon oil drum is placed on bricks about a foot above the ground and a fire is built under the drum. Thirty gallons of water are added to the drum and brought to a boil. Ten to 15 kilograms of raw opium are added to the boiling water.

With stirring, the raw opium eventually dissolves in the boiling water, while soil, leaves, twigs, and other non-soluble materials float in the solution. Most of these materials are scooped out of the clear, dark brown ?liquid opium? solution.

Slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) or, more often, a readily available chemical fertilizer with a high content of lime, is added to the solution. Lime will convert water- insoluble morphine alkaloid into water-soluble calcium morphenate. (Other opium alkaloids do not react with lime to form water-soluble calcium salts, as does morphine.) Codeine is an opium alkaloid that is slightly water-soluble and some codeine will be carried over with the calcium morphenate in the liquid. Otherwise, for the most part, the other alkaloids will become a part of the ?sludge.?

As the solution cools, the morphine solution is scooped from the drum and poured through a filter. Cloth rice sacks are often used as filters and can then be squeezed in a press to remove most of the solution from the wet sacks. Liquid saponated cresol (?lysol?) is commonly added to the solution to facilitate filtering. The morphine-rich solution is then poured into large cooking pots and reheated but, this time, not boiled…

A great new blog by Chicago law professor Jim Leitzel, Vice Squad, has posts about this and many other government intrusions into drugs, alcohol, prostitution, gambling, pornography, and more.