The Coastal Post - April, 1998

Georgia Man Imprisoned For Twenty Years

For Growing Poppies

By Jim Scanlon

The Coastal Post was able to learn of only one successful prosecution for growing the oriental poppy, papaver somniferum. It involved a young man living in a rural area of Georgia about 50 miles south of Atlanta. Rodney Allen Moore is now in Carol County Prison serving a 20-year sentence. of which 10 years are mandatory before parole can be considered. Moore had no prior record of crimes.

In 1996 Moore was convicted in Spalding County Court of "traffic in morphine, manufacturing morphine and manufacturing marijuana." Charges of "violation of the Controlled Substance Act" and "possession of firearms" were dismissed.

Moore had a small plot of marijuana growing near his house and 40 oriental poppies growing in his back yard. He had in his home a book Opium For the Masses by Jim Hogshire subtitled "A Practical Guide To Growing Poppies and Making Opium."

Moore had no opium or chemicals for making, processing or distributing opium according to his lawyer, Walker Chandler of Zebulon, Georgia, a three-time Libertarian candidate for State Attorney General. "Normally, for growing marijuana, a person might get 10 years and do four, but Moore got a big sentence because of the poppies," Chandler said. In addition, Moore has to pay an enormous fine. "The narcotics police were overjoyed with this case, " Chandler said. "It justified their existence, and their high-paying jobs."

Apparently, Moore's mother was concerned about his activities and asked the local police for help. The local police contacted the State Bureau of Investigation which raided Moore's shack with a heavily armed SWAT team descending from helicopters.

Jim Hogshire, the author of Opium For The Masses was also charged with manufacturing morphine from poppies in Seattle in 1996. This case was written up in a long article which appeared in Harper's magazine in April of that year. A house guest made a pass at Hogshire's wife and Hogshire ordered him out of his home at gunpoint. The house guest retaliated by writing a letter to the police maintaining that Hogshire's home was a drug lab.

A SWAT team raided Hogshire's home and although what they found was something less than a drug lab, he spent a considerable time in jail. The drug charges against Hogshire were eventually dismissed although he plead guilty to misdemeanor possession of an "explosive device" (a termite flare) for which he was sentenced to complete 100 hours of community service work

He is now at work revising his opium book trying to pay back the $50,000 he is in debt because of legal expenses. Hogshire says that contrary to popular belief, all parts of the oriental poppy are psychoactive, dried or green, and that scoring (cutting) the immature green seed pod, as commercial operators do, is not necessary to obtain the concentrated sap. The active ingredients are more soluble in alcohol. (Note: the hops plant is a member of the same family as the marijuana plant, has a resin which is also more soluble in alcohol, hence its use as a flavoring in most beers.)

Does California's state flower contain illegal substances? Native Americans used leaves and seeds as a remedy for toothache and would smoke the leaves to induce calming. It is also used in Europe for hyperactivity in children and insomnia in adults. Dried leaves and flowers are smoked for mild euphoria allegedly without side effects.(Note: we've heard this before!)

The California poppy may not be illegal to possess, but there is a $500 fine for picking them, so beware.

Hogshire once lived in San Anselmo and worked for a time for the Pacific Sun. Besides the opium book, the Marin County Library lists him as the author of Sell Yourself To Science: The Complete Guide to Selling Your Organs, Body Fluids, Bodily Functions and Being a Human Guinea Pig and You Are Going To Prison: Custody, Trial, Prison, Jailhouse Justice, Execution, an Afterthought on Forethought, Available at Sausalito Branch, call number 376.6.

Coastal Post Home Page