One opportunity missed
Talking (as we were) about capitalism expanding to fill every vacuum — and continuing our horticultural theme — it’s astonishing to me that there isn’t a significant US market in homegrown coca leaves and opium poppies.
We certainly learned to grow decent marijuana eventually. America has places that represent every sort of climate on earth, and there’s sure as shit enough money in cocaine and heroin.
I don’t know much about coca, but opium poppies (Papaver somniferum) grow readily enough in lots of places. Near as I can tell from a quick poke around the web, they are legal to grow in the US. They certainly are in the UK. Just not to harvest.
Which is also pretty easy. Shortly after the petals fall off the flowers, you make three very shallow cuts along the seed pod with a razor. A white latex sap, like unto Elmer’s glue, weeps out of the cuts. Leave it overnight, it goes brown and sticky, scrape it into a spoon — and that, ladies and gentlemen, is opium.
Going from raw opium to morphine or heroin requires chemistry and other things that baffle and confuse weasels, but I don’t think it’s rocket science.
I’ve never actually harvested opium, and I’m not just saying that because the British government is intrusive and impertinent. I really haven’t.
But I once harbored ambition to be a sort of Johnny Appleseed — or Stoaty Opiumseed, if you will — sowing somniferum up and down the land. For no good reason beyond sticking a finger in the eye of The Man and the evil bastards who live off the international drug trade.
Problem is, I suck at growing stuff.