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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Laws and regulations, Papaveraceae (Poppy family)

After reading an essay on opium poppy by Michael Pollan, I'm worried and confused about the legality of planting Papaver somniferum in my parking strip garden. Is this permitted in Seattle?


While our library cannot offer legal advice, I will say that my understanding of Pollan's essay is that knowingly growing the poppies with the intent of manufacturing narcotics would certainly be prohibited. However, the poppy is a ubiquitous plant in our area, and the overwhelming majority of gardeners are growing it solely for its beauty.

There is information about laws concerning controlled substances in the Revised Code of Washington(RCW 69.50.401), which describes prohibited acts as follows:
"[...] to manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance." In the section which defines terms, poppy seeds are excluded:
"'Opium poppy' means the plant of the species Papaver somniferum L., except its seeds."

Washington State University also addresses this issue:
"It is legal to grow Papaver somniferum in the United States for garden and seed production purposes; it is illegal to manufacture opium from the poppies."

If you are concerned, I suggest contacting the King County Law Library for greater detail and professional expertise in legal matters.

Date 2017-08-15
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May 31 2018 13:14:08