This plant is scientifically referred to as Papaver somniferum, and was cultivated in the ancient civilizations of Persia, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. There is evidence through archaeological exploration that Neanderthal man may have used it around thirty thousand years ago. It was used as a medicine, an entheogen ( religious sacrament ) or a straight up drug for centuries. The very first documentation of the Opium Poppy appears in Sumerian text dated around the year 4,000 BC. Poppies are thought to originate from the Mid-Eastern regions of our planet.
Its use had spread throughout Europe by 2000 BC and by the time the 8th century AD had rolled around, Opium Poppy seeds were widely cultivated throughout India and China, as well as mid-Asia. Word quickly gets out and spreads around the world when people find out about a very useful psychoactive or medicinal plant. Especially when it's as powerful as the Opium Poppy. Sadly, law makers in bed with big pharmaceutical companies outlawed the use of this medicinal plant so that they can control it, distribute it, and profit off of it without any interference. Either way the world consumes opiates. Do you see my point?
As stated above, the Opium poppy plant is a target of major drug company operations. This is because of the medicinally active constituents that it produces. Certain prescription pharmaceuticals could not, and would not exist if it were not for this entheogenic flower. The Poppy plant is responsible for the production of Morphine, Codeine, and all other opiates. With this in mind, we can see how restrictions on the study of medicinal plants prevents medical and scientific break-througs, and attempts to keep medicine out of the hands of the masses.
We need a system that does not restrict naturally occurring medicines from the people who need them and use them responsibly, without causing harm to their-selves or others. Remember that the next time you feel the urge to curse a plant, or refer to it as a "weed". Today, Australia, Turkey and India are the worlds top three producers of poppy derived drugs. While poppy seeds are legal in the United States, the plant is not. Because of this, I see a great economic loss for our country. It also gives drug smugglers an extra opportunity to make profit.
This amazing flower grows from a lettuce-like base, atop one stalk, and often reaches heights of over 4 feet. The flowers are beautiful and grace gardens world-wide. Throughout history it has had quite a few nicknames including "hul gil" and "plant of joy." It has also been referred to as the "Sacred Anchor Of Life", "Milk Of Paradise", "The Hand Of God", and "Destroyer of Grief". Obviously, these nicknames were inspired by the incredible psychoactive effects that the opiate alkaloids contained within the plant material induce. They have even been depicted in the famous motion picture "The Wizard Of Oz".
Papaver somniferum has also been symbolic in many cultures. It's been a symbol of sleep, mourning over the death of a loved one, war, creativity, peace, and even dreams. Poppy seeds can be used in culinary applications, and even have oneirogenic properties! This means that they are considered useful for inducing vivid dreams which are easier to remember. If you think about the scene from the W.O.O. where the group falls asleep in the field of opium poppies, you can see the symbolism for yourself.
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