Home Narcotics Cultivation

Ok, this is a multi-part question (so i don’t clutter up the board don’t ya know :)). First, why is it that every time i see on Cops (or some other law enforcement show) that they only seem to find people growing marijuana and never anything else? And i mean GROWING here folks, not making crack/meth/whatever in their kitchen. But really, no one in the U.S. grows cocaine bushes or opium poppies in thier basement? Why? I mean granted, maybe coca seeds are hard to come by (when was the last time you saw a bag of coke with stems and seeds?) but still you would think some people would do it rather than sneak it across the border.

The other thing is, how do the cops find out about a marijuana growing operation in the first place? I mean, aside from busting some kid with a dime bag and threatening to lock him up and throw away the key unless he tells them the source, how would they find out? What if someone had all these plants in their garage/basement/attic/wherever and never told anyone else about it? It seems that in some of the shows i’ve seen that is the case. Sometimes they vaguely refer to farmer having an unusually high electric bill or some such nonsense. Seriously how much difference could a few grow lights make in an electric bill? Do they drive down the street with a drug dog hanging it’s head out the window or fly over with a helicoptor and some special high tech equipment or what?

<DISCLAIMER> And for the mods and any of you dopers out there who happen to be peace officers, NO i’m not growing anything of my own (believe me i’d be way to scared to), and i’m not asking for gardening tips here either. It’s just these questions have bugged me after watching one too many episodes of Cops. And, i think it might be a tad unapropriate to call up the local sheriff’s department and ask them these things. They don’t have much sense of humor about this kind of stuff… :)</DISCLAIMER>


A lot of the time they get help from utility companies - if someone is using a lot more electricity than is expected for a house that size, they might have a bunch of grow lights.

People figured out how to get around that, growers would buy generators and make their own power for the lights. The cops now also use infrared aerial photography, if you have several thousand watts of grow lights in your basement (and if you are growing a lot, you will) then your house will stick out like a sore thumb.

Another technique that growers use that cops can now foil: growing amongst a legitimate crop.

Growers would place their plants amongst something like corn, which grows very tall. From the ground, it’s hard to see through all the corn to the weed growing in the middle. But from the air, it stuck out because the shade of green wasn’t the same, and the corn looks rather sparsely planted from that angle, so any surrounding vegetation stands out. And other times, the growers wouldn’t keep an eye on their crop, and it would grow even taller than the corn. oops

Growers have tried hiding in better color-matched fields. But with night-vision, cops can still see them because of normally unseen color frequencies that are shifted into visible with the goggles.

I’ve heard there are places on the web which offer opium poppy or coca seeds, but the legality of these transactions is somewhat vague. Some say that the seeds themselves are legal while it’s not legal to own the plants; in any case coca seeds are supposedly viable for only a short period.

IN the U.S., the government took a lot longer to crack down on opium poppies than marijuana, and many varieties were available in the horticultural trade. This wasn’t banned until 1942. It still is possible to come by the seeds, and a recent magazine article (sorry, no cite) quoted a DEA spokesman as saying they wouldn’t bother pursuing someone who just had a few opium poppies in their garden. On the other hand, there was a case recently where a man got serious prison time for doing that.

Growing your own cocaine and opium, from a gardener’s perspective:

  1. Coca needs a tropical climate with high rainfall. In most of North America, it would need to be grown indoors, in a greenhouse.

  2. Coca is a perennial bush that grows slowly. If you grow it from seed, it can take 2 years before it’s big enough to cut pieces off. If you grow it from cuttings, it’s only 6 months, but where are you going to get cuttings? And who has that much greenhouse space they can earmark for this for years and years?

  3. Coca bushes will grow 30 feet tall if you don’t keep pruning them. On the plantations they’re usually kept between 3 and 6 feet tall. Again, who has space for this?

  4. You can only harvest leaves between 2 and 6 times a year.

  5. It takes a lot of coca leaves to make cocaine.

  6. You need a full-tilt-boogie laboratory to process the leaves and end up with cocaine.

All in all, growing coca is a far cry from growing marijuana. MJ is an annual, which means you don’t have to worry about overwintering it, like a prize rosebush. It grows very nicely outside everywhere in North America, it has no special watering or fertilizing requirements, and all you have to do to process it is dry the leaves.

Concerning opium poppies:

Poppies are big plants, 3 or 4 feet tall. You could probably get tiny amounts of raw opium for “personal use” from a backyard patch of poppies, but for commercially viable amounts, you’d need a big field, like a cornfield. Somebody’s bound to notice 20 acres of poppies in bloom and come to check it out.

You can start them indoors in a greenhouse, but after that they need full sun to bloom. You’d have to have full-spectrum or halogen lights to grow them indoors, same as MJ.

Both coca plants and opium poppies are listed as Schedule II Controlled Substances.

It’s economies of scale…

The basic difference between marijuana cultivation and cocaine or Opiate cultivation is the amount of finsihed product per original plant.

For marajuana it’s pretty straighht forward, you basically take the leaves dry them out and crush them and sell them. A single plant will produce a significant amount of product because of the nature of how the drug is ingested.

For Cocaine the coca leaf is highly processed to get the chemical that is eventually processed to make the finished product. This requires an immense amount of initial plant to produce just a small amount of narcotic.

For opiates, it’s even more involved, the drugs are manufactured from the seeds of the poppy, nothing else. You need acres of plants to produce enough seeds for a small amount. Don’t forget too that some of those seeds need to be diverted to renewing the crop.

Basically operations to be worthwhile are not undertaken by a single indivdual, they require large amounts of land for cultivation, and it becomes amazingly diffcult to camouflage. The refinment operations require a great deal of space too.

I will add a disclaimer of my own, I do not use or condone the use of illegal narcotics, nor should anyone attempt to put into practice any of the botanical information I have provided. IF the Fed’s would like to come knock on my door, I have nothing to hide.

Jeesh…Duck Duck Goose types a heck of a lot faster than I do. That wasn’t there when I started my post. With Nifty cites and everything :frowning:

I thought it was the sap of the poppy. Or am I getting caught up in something trivial?

See: http://opioids.com/images/opiumcrop.html

crc, it probably is the sap, I’m not an expert, I only know what I know from watching Magnum P.I. and Simon & Simon. :slight_smile:

I have seen the seeds of the opium poppy, Papaver Somniferum, for sale at some places which sell flower seeds.

This is how you get opium: You cut a tiny slit in the flower head while it’s blooming; sap oozes out. The next day you go and scrape off the miniscule blob of dried sap, and make another tiny slit, which oozes sap, which dries, which you come back the next day and scrape off…

It’s evidently technically possible to extract opium from the dried plant stems (“poppy straw”), but not from the seeds, actually, which is why “poppy straw” is on Schedule II but the seeds are specifically exempted.

It’s legal to own the seeds, it’s just not legal to plant them. I suppose this is the loophole that allows some seed catalogs to carry papaver somniferum, as long as they’re getting their seed stock from somebody else and aren’t propagating it themselves. Somewhere down the line, somebody is growing poppies and harvesting the seeds, but as long as it’s not the seed catalog people themselves, they’re covered.

Then again, just because it does take so many poppies to yield a commercially viable amount of opium, maybe the Feds are content to tolerate the use of these seeds by individuals.

In fact, a couple of years ago there was a special spring gardening issue of Good Housekeeping (or maybe Better Homes and Gardens – anyway it was one of those) that gave pointers on raising opium poppies.


Unless they scrape them off their bagels in the morning

Tee hee

How do the cops find the dope? Pretty easy really, they just go to the place someone told them. I think law enforcement in general like to talk about infrared and other advanced technologies but I’m sure this is only used in a very limited way (usually after someone has been Narced). Yeah, the utilities could give them a lead but you’d have to have a very large operation before they’d even notice. Nothing better than a good ole fashioned tattle-tale.

Quality marijuana is processed by drying out the flowers and associated organs (the buds) not leaves.

When growing outdoors only the truly stupid still interplant with corn. Those were the days when law enforcement hadn’t discovered helicopters. Most people now plant on waste land (strip mines) or in recent clearcuts. Large plantings are not very common, most growers have many small plots (don’t put all your eggs in one basket).