Legal Status of Opium Poppies and Salvia Divinorum in the U.S.
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Charlotte
Posted on: February 15, 2002

I see in your catalog that you sell salvia divinium (Diviners Sage), and seeds for opium poppies. Are these plants legal in the United States? I am an herb grower, interested in a variety of unusual plants for medicinal and culinary purposes. I would like to grow some of these plants, but do not want to do so if there would be a problem. My garden will be included on a local garden tour...and a lot of people will be seeing my herbs, so I can’t have any plants that are questionable.

I have read that opium poppies can be used in herbal medicine. Is it legal to grow and use them for use in herbal medicine?

As of now (Feb. 2002), Salvia divinorum is legal to grow in the United States. But according to newspaper reports in the fall of 2001 the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is reviewing the plant to determine whether it should be controlled. The DEA has published a profile of the plant and its concerns about the plant on its website at http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drugs_concern/salvia_d/summary.htm.

The possession and use of opium poppy seeds in the U.S. is clearly legal because the seeds are ubiquitous in the spice trade. Virtually every poppy seed pastry or bagel is made with the seeds. We have commented previously on the legal status of opium poppy in Canada and you can read our comments in the "Q & A" section of our website. The situation in the U.S. is probably different from Canada and we recommend that you check with a competent lawyer first before beginning a project to grow opium poppy.

We can tell you that poppy varieties have been, and still are, grown for seeds in the U.S. Seeds have been sold to professional growers and home gardeners under a variety of names such as "breadseed poppy". Are these growers and home gardeners breaking the law and are merely escaping the attention of the DEA? That’s for a competent lawyer to answer.

PS: Your catalog is awesome! You have more varieties of herbs and exotics than I have ever seen, and I reccomend your company to all my gardening friends. I will soon be putting in my first order, and am very excited about adding some rare flowers and herbs to my cottage garden. Keep up the good work!

Thanks for the feedback!

Back to Growing Herbs | Q & A Index

Copyright © 1997-2014 Otto Richter and Sons Limited. All rights reserved.