Papaver Somniferum

Papaver Somniferum

Papaver Somniferum


What is Papaver somniferum?


Papaver somniferum is the scientific name for the poppy plant, which produces opium.  According to the Department of Justice, the plant was grown as early as 5,000 B.C. in the Mediterranean region.  There are several ways opium is derived from the poppy plant. 


One way to create opium is to gather the milky fluid that comes out of the seed pod and their air-dry the substance.  Pharmaceutical manufacturing extracts the alkaloids from a mature dried plant called a poppy straw. 


It is illegal to grow Papaver somniferum in the United States, and all pharmaceutical products are imported to United States from regulated areas abroad. 


Drug Facts from the Department of Justice


Opium is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act.  Drugs with similar affects to opium include morphine, codeine, heroin, methadone, hydroquinone, fentanyl, and oxycodone.  These drugs produce similar effects because they are in the opiate family. 


Opium itself is found in a liquid form, solid form, or power form, but most illegal forms of opium come in a fine brown powder.  The drug can be smoked, injected intravenously, or taken as a pill.  According to the Department of Justice, opium is often abused along with other drugs.  A substance called “Black” is a mixture of opium, marijuana, and methamphetamine, while “Buddha” is opium and marijuana combined. 


Street names for opium include the following:

Ah-pen-yen, Aunti, Aunti Emma, Big O, Black pill, Chandoo, Chandu, Chinese Molasses, Chinese Tobacco, Dopium, Dover's Powder, Dream Gun, Dream Stick, Dreams, Easing Powder, Fi-do-nie, Gee, God's Medicine, Gondola, Goric, Great Tobacco, Guma, Hop/hops, Joy Plant, Midnight Oil, Mira, O, O.P., Ope, Pen Yan, Pin Gon, Pox, Skee, Toxy, Toys, When-shee, Ze, and Zero. 


Affects of the Drug on the Body


People used the drug derived from Papaver somniferum because of its euphoric effects on the mind.  The “high” experienced by opium is similar to the effects of heroin.  Depending on the method of administration, there is often an initial feeling of euphoria followed by relaxation and relief from pain. 

The drug is extremely addictive.  Some of the drugs first side effects on the body include constipation.  Additionally, the drug can cause the mouth and mucus membranes in the nose and sinuses to dry out.  Overdoses are common with opium because of its physical and psychological addictiveness.

Opium overdose effects include the following: slow breathing, dizziness, seizures, weakness, unconsciousness, coma, and even death. 


Legal Definitions Concerning Papaver somniferum


21 U.S.C. §802, also known as the Controlled Substances Act, defines narcotics drugs.  Subdivision (17) states the following: “The term “narcotic drug” means any of the following…(A) Opium, opiates, derivatives of opium and opiates, including their isomers, esters, ethers, salts, and salts of isomers, esters, and ethers, whenever the existence of such isomers, esters, ethers, and salts is possible within the specific chemical designations.  Such term does not include the isoquinoline alkaloids of opium…(B) Poppy straw and concentrate of poppy straw.”


Refer to the Controlled Substances Act for more information about opiates.





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